While the euphoria of acquiring Johnny Cueto for the stretch run continues to intoxicate the Greater Kansas City area, the Royals still have to play actual baseball games. As The Haberdasher started for Cincinnati on Saturday, everyone will have to wait until at least Thursday to see him on the mound for the Royals.
While the world waits expectantly, the Royals hit the road, landing in Cleveland to play the future Halifax Highlanders at [insert name of boring corporate sponsor here] Field.
Sitting a robust 21 games over .500 for the first time since the Royals were 18 - 11, the first-place Royals send Edinson Volquez to the mound. Dayton Moore's big off-season acquisition has performed better than even Moore expected, posting his best FIP (3.59) and K/BB (2.17) since 2008 and maintaining a 3.14 ERA after switching to the tougher American League. Moreover, in a season in which the Royals have struggled to get production from their rotation, Volquez leads the pitching staff in games started (20), innings pitched (120.0, 12.1 more than Jeremy Guthrie), fWAR (1.6), strikeouts (91, 26 more than Yordano Ventura), and wins (9, not that this really means much).
Volquez will face Cody Anderson, who heading into this year was a prospect whose ceiling was thought to be #3/#4 starter with a relief role being possible given his command struggles. Anderson looks like he has pitched well this year on a superficial glance--1.91 ERA in 33.0 major-league innings--but that covers up the fact that he has struck out just 12 batters. His three walks issued for Cleveland are impressively low, but his 3.79 FIP and 4.05 xFIP would at least imply that he's not quite the stud his ERA would suggest.