The Kansas City Royals are in first place.
Yes, I stole that line from my colleague and appropriated it as my own (you can call me George Handel), but it is a sentence that carries significant weight. I joined the Royals Review community in August 2011 after a year reading in the shadows, and through parts of four seasons I have never been able to say that the Royals are in first place after June. Clearly, our community is very excited about this; I loaded up Josh Duggan's recap late last night to find out every single comment was green. Like a father checking in on his sleeping son, I did not disturb the beauty, and did not leave another comment.
Unfortunately, this is only an Event because of the unwavering, indestructible incompetence of the Royals organization over the last 20 years. The Royals have not actually accomplished anything yet, and while leading the American League's weakest division is something, it is a fragile thing.
That fragility is tested today, as a Royals loss puts the Tigers back on top of the standings and the Royals back in the Wild Card chase column. However, a Royals win insures that they come back to Kansas City this Friday as the kings of the Central Division. That is no small feat.
To do that, Kansas City and Detroit send these lineups to the mound:
Summer's Colour Lineup: Infante 4, Hosmer 3, Butler DH, Gordon 7, Perez 2, Cain 9, Moustakas 5, Escobar 6, Dyson 8, Guthrie 1. #royals— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) June 18, 2014
#Tigers lineup v. KC: Davis LF Kinsler 2B Cabrera DH V. Martinez 1B J. Martinez RF Avila C Castellanos 3B Kelly CF Suarez SS Smyly P— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) June 18, 2014
The Royals' Jeremy Guthrie has been very Guthrie-ish this year: few strikeouts, an average ERA, innings-eater, and constantly outperforming his FIP and xFIP stats. For his career, Guthrie's ERA has been 0.53 under his FIP. This year, however, that gap is all the way to 0.86. The 5th starter of the group, Guthrie is the one to worry about, and against a good Tigers offense, Ned should be keeping a close eye on Guthrie.
Detroit will send Drew Smyly, full member of the 'Names To Not Be Taken Seriously' club, to the mound. Smyly throws a low 90s fastball with the capability of touching the mid 90s if need be. His best pitch is a slider that invokes a swing-and-miss 16.7% of the time. The Tigers shuffled him into the bullpen last year but is back in the rotation this year, and is having a decent season to the tune of a 3.58 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 7.61 K/9, and 0.4 fWAR. Like Guthrie, Smyly is outperforming his FIP, and he also might be a candidate for the red-hot Royals to smash.
Oh, and this game would be 10 in a row; no Royals team has won double-digit games straight since 1994. Let's do it, guys.