With Danny Duffy on the mound against Yu Darvish, the Royals managed to eke out a win Friday night. This evening, they try to take the series and win two in a row for the first time since the All-Star Break.
In order to do so, they will have to rely on Yordano Ventura to give them a solid effort. Last time out against the Detroit Tigers, he twirled seven innings of two-run ball with one walk and six strikeouts. It might be fair to say that he has pitched better of late, though it certainly hasn't been the best stretch of his career by any measure. While his ERA over his last ten starts is still a dismal 5.06, his walk rate has improved (1.84, compared to his 3.64 BB/9 on the season) while his strikeout rate (6.75) has stayed relatively flat (6.66 on the year). For a completely arbitrary measure, he also has six quality starts over that span, in which his ERA is 2.29. In the other four games, his ERA is 10.71.
Kansas City will also have to get past Cole Hamels, who is 10-2 on the year with a 3.00 ERA, although he has a 4.31 FIP. The long ball has been an issue for him this season, as his HR/9 is the highest it has been since 2007. He's also projected to have his worst season (by fWAR) since his rookie season in 2006, when he only threw 132.1 innings. So, unlock that puzzlebox and discover a prize.
With a week left until the trade deadline, things would either have to go really well or really poorly for Kansas City to make any sort of serious move. Eight games back in the division and five back in the Wild Card (with more than half of the American League ahead of you) is a precarious position to be in. Still, might as well make it interesting, eh?