Game 148 Preview - Royals vs. Tigers

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals really need to win today's game to stay in the Wild Card race.

The Kansas City Royals will look to put Friday's disappointing loss behind them as they face the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

Ervin Santana will start the game for Kansas City. Santana has been excellent this season, posting a 3.35 ERA with a 3.65 xFIP over 191 innings. The right-hander has done a good job throwing strikes, sporting a 5.8% walk rate. His strikeout rate is around league-average and he's lowered his HR/FB percentage from last year (although it's still above average).

Santana has also been aided by a .271 BABIP and a 76.4% LOB%, which has helped him out-perform his peripherals. It's dificult to assign how much credit should go to Santana for the improvement, how much the defense has helped him and how much has been better fortune. Either way, he has been a much better pitcher this season than last.

The starter has faced Detroit once this season, shutting out the Tigers for 7 1/3 innings. Santana only allowed two hits, walking one while fanning six. I'd be plenty pleased if Santana could turn in a similar performance tonight.

Doug Fister will take the mound for Detroit. Fister has also turned in an impressive 2013 campaign, as he owns a 3.77 ERA with a 3.31 FIP over 186 innings. The right-hander has done an even better job than Santana limiting free passes, posting a 4.8% BB%.

Fister forces a ton of groundballs; he is third in the AL among qualified starters in GB%, only trailing Justin Masterson and Rick Porcello. His BABIP has been 30 points higher this year than his career average, with the Tigers defense sharing some of the blame with bad luck.

The Royals have faced Fister four times this season and done a decent job against him, scoring 12 runs over 26 2/3 innings. Fister's last start was at Kauffman Stadium, where he surrendered five runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings.

This should be a fairly quick game, barring a complete meltdown by one of the pitchers. Given their track records, a low-scoring game seems more likely.

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