The Royals play host to the Tigers tonight in the first of a three-game set between the current and former kings of the American League Central. While the Royals' reign may well be significantly shorter than the Tigers' was, the chasm in the standings between the Royals and the rest of the division speaks loudly and bluntly.
Tonight's starting pitchers are the Tigers' Matt Boyd and the Royals' Johnny Cueto. Both pitchers were acquired in deadline deals, though the difference in the deals and why each pitcher was acquired could not be more stark and surprising.
Boyd is probably familiar to most Royals fans. Just five days ago, Boyd threw seven innings of one-run ball against the Royals. Of course, he struck out just two and allowed no walks, which doesn't speak to utter dominance; but as historically happens to the Royals, a barely touted rookie came from nowhere and shut down the Kansas City offense.
Boyd, a 24-year-old southpaw, was one of the prospects netted by former General Manager Dave Dombrowski in the David Price deal. Toronto--who seem to be able to grow pitching prospects on trees--turned the 2013 sixth round pick out of Oregon State into a borderline top-200 prospect after Boyd's velocity jumped for the second time in four years. Still, Boyd was clearly not the key piece for the Tigers in the trade and projects as a back-of-the-rotation arm.
Cueto is not Matt Boyd.
These are tonight's lineups. Note who the Royals are trotting out in right field and second base. Or don't.