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Game 91 Preview - Royals vs. Indians

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Only two games left before the All-Star break.

Jamie Squire

The Kansas City Royals will look to snap a three-game losing streak on Saturday and pick up a victory over the second-place Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.

Jeremy Guthrie will take the mound for Kansas City. Guthrie leads the Royals with eight wins this season, and has a 4.12 ERA. The veteran starter has been out-pitching his peripherals; his 5.69 FIP, 5.03 xFIP and 5.17 SIERA all suggest he doesn't deserve a spot in the Royals starting rotation.

Guthrie only has 55 strikeouts compared to 44 walks in 113 2/3 innings pitched. For a fun comparison, Greg Holland has 60 strikeouts and 11 walks in 35 innings pitched. The Stormin' Mormon has survived because of a .260 BABIP and a 79.8 LOB%, which are both better than his career average.

I don't expect Guthrie to completely meltdown the second half of the season, his career BABIP is .275 and LOB is 73.1%. He's managed to carve out a solid career for himself by stranding runners and forcing solid contact, and has managed to do the same in 18 starts this season. If that skillset starts to slip, however, things will start to get really ugly quite quickly.

Scott Kazmir will start the game for Cleveland. I'm moderately amazed the Indians have received 15 starts from the southpaw, and he hasn't been a complete disaster, posting a 4.74 ERA in 79 2/3 innings. Kazmir does own a 3.94 xFIP and 3.86 SIERA, which suggest he should pitch better in the second half of the season as long as his peripherals stay the same.

The lefty has done a good job missing bats this season, fanning 74 hitters while issuing walks to 27. He is on pace to have his highest strikeout percentage since 2008. when he had a 3.49 ERA as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Home-run issues have plagued Kazmir, as his HR/FB% sits at 15.1%. That's lead to Kazmir posting a HR/9 of 1.58, a number he will need to get under control to continue his renaissance. Still, The Indians should feel like their gamble to sign Kazmir has been worth the risks, and it may continue to pay dividends.

The Royals cannot get to .500 before the All-Star break, which is disappointing. They do trail the Indians by 4 1/2 games for second place in the AL Central, and would like to close that distance over the next two days.