The Royals went 4-6 on their recent road trip, which doesn't seem alarming on the face of it, but losing three of four in Toronto and dropping disappointing games in the last two Detroit contests has shaken the fan base a bit. However even the best teams can have a poor week, and the Royals have done this on the road against some decent teams with one of their best players out with injury. The Royals begin a ten-game homestand tonight against Chicago, and the best recipe for a team in a rut is some home cooking.
After a disappointing start to the season, the White Sox had a nice July, going 16-10, including a seven-game win streak. The have cooled down since then, dropping five of their last seven to stand at 51-55. The White Sox are dead last in the league in runs scored and slugging percentage and have the third-worst on base percentage. They have eight hitters with seven or more home runs, but have hit the fourth-fewest home runs overall.
Melky Cabrera, courted by the Royals last winter, got off to a horrendous start but has been on fire lately. Since a five-hit game on June 21 he is hitting .364/.407/.616 in 39 games. Slugger Jose Abreu has also been in a groove with five home runs in his last 13 games, and a .362 average over that time. The roster still has a lot of holes however with six players playing below replacement level this year, including Fort Scott, Kansas native Adam LaRoche.
Chicago's defense has been horrendous this year and they rank dead last in baseball in defense rating according to Fangraphs.They have -39 Defensive Runs Allowed (DRS) with outfielders Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia both in the top ten in worst DRS in the majors. Tyler Saladino has served as an upgrade defensively at third over Conor Gillespie, who was traded to the Angels.
The pitching has also been an issue with the Sox allowing the fourth-most runs with 4.4 per game. The Royals will miss White Sox ace Chris Sale in this series, but John Danks tossed six shutout innings his last time out against the Royals on July 17. Danks has allowed zero runs in six or more innings in three of his last six starts. Jeff Samardzija will make his first start in Kansas City since his Opening Day assignment when he gave up five runs in six innings and intentionally plunked Lorenzo Cain. Samardzija was rocked for nine runs in less than five innings, giving up two runs and hitting two hitters his last time out against the Yankees. Jose Quintana starts the series finale, bringing one of the best curveballs in the game.
The White Sox bullpen is middle-of-the-road in the league in ERA at 3.65 but have done a good job closing out wins. The team is 32-4 when leading after seven innings, although closer David Robertson has five blown saves this year and has given up runs in three of his last four outings. The White Sox bullpen does allow the second-most walks with lefties Dan Jennings and Zach Duke struggling with command at times.
The Royals have taken seven out of ten this year from the White Sox, including all three in Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City can get right here on this homestand, and as long as they take care of business (and stay out of any potential brawls) they should be back on the right track to a division title.