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Royals look to keep rolling against Twins

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A resurgent Royals club (again) opens a six game road trip in Minneapolis against the Twins.

Ed Zurga

Don't look now, but the Royals have won two in a row. The way this season has gone, this feels like the start of another hot streak where they can rip off nine wins in ten games. Especially with the Twins and the spiraling Blue Jays on the docket for this week.

Would it surprise you?

First up, our AL Central rivals. The Royals have played the Twins six times in the last month, winning five. The lone loss was a 7-0 shutout where Andrew Albers outpitched James Shields.

They say that good teams are supposed to handle the bad ones. That happened during the Royals hot streak post-break, when they feasted on the likes of the Twins, Mets and White Sox. (Of course, they forgot how to beat those kinds of teams when they slowed down, losing to the Marlins, Nationals and White Sox again. It's been that kind of summer.) Overall, the Royals are 12-3 against Minnesota this year. This is the last series of the year against the Twins. I will miss them.

James Shields pitches tonight for the Royals. I find it interesting that in his first nine starts, Shields averaged 7.1 innings pitched and pitched into the eighth inning five times. In that stretch, he had a 2.45 ERA with a 8.5 SO/9 and 2.0 BB/9. In his 18 subsequent starts, he hasn't pitched in the eighth innings once and has averaged a little over 6.1 innings per start. His ERA over that time is 3.66, but that comes with a 6.5 SO/9 and 3.2 BB/9.

Shields has been good for the Royals. Although it's worth noting that he currently owns a 2.9 fWAR. Streamer and ZIPS projects him to finish around 3.6 fWAR for the year. If that happens, it will be the third lowest fWAR in his career going back to 2007.

2007: 4.3
2008: 3.9
2009: 3.5
2010: 1.7
2011: 4.5
2012: 3.9
2013*: 3.6

*Projected

Last December, Jeff Zimmerman noted that based on data Shields carried a higher risk for injury. In that post, Jeff mentions that Shields has a reputation as a "gamer" and has never been on a major league disabled list in his career. Kind of makes you wonder if the stats are telling us a story here. There's an injury and Shields is making an effort to work through it. We will need Jeff to crunch some more data to shed some light on this.