Reeling after two straight losses to the New York Yankees, the World Champion Kansas City Royals cling to an outside shot at the playoffs as their intradivisional rivals, the Detroit Tigers, come to town. This three game tilt does provide the Royals with the chance to draw even with the Tigers in the playoff chase, though to do so the Royals would need to sweep their foes. The Tigers sit tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the second wild card spot thanks to an 8-2 record in their last ten games, built on sweeps of both the Twins and White Sox.
*All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference
Game One - Friday, 7:15 PM CDT
This is hardly the first time the Royals have faced Sanchez this season, and it is not the first time that his 2016 struggles have been detailed in this space. Of course, despite Sanchez's difficulties this season - and when a pitcher making his salary gets demoted to the bullpen for an entire month, there is no way to say he hasn't had difficulties - Sanchez had his best start of the season against the Royals, a no-decision two weeks ago that saw a lack of run support and the bullpen (or at least Justin Wilson and Shane Greene) fritter away his eight-strikeout, one-hit, two-walk gem.
Game Two - Saturday, 6:15 PM CDT
After a dominant first half built on sterling K-rates and strong helping of good luck, Fulmer's second half has seen his K-rates dip and his FIP jump up more than half a run. His walk-rate since the break has been a comically low 1.17 BB/9 and 3.3 BB% off-setting his dip in Ks, but his strand rate has come back down to earth, and his BABIP is still screaming for some regression to the mean. Fulmer didn't get the win in either start in which he faced the Royals earlier in the season, so hopefully the Royals can keep him winless against them in 2016 with this game having the added importance of factoring heavily in the playoff picture.
Game Three - Sunday, 1:15 PM CDT
|Daniel Norris (L)||9||39.2||33||14||3.86||4.18||4.49||4.55||0.5||0.7|
The key get in the David Price deal, Norris spent much of this season toiling away in the minors as he had options (and had service time that could potentially be gamed). It would be hard to argue that Norris wouldn't have been preferable to Sanchez or Mike Pelfrey for the bulk of the season, but life ain't always fair. Still, options and a short DL stint with a strained oblique have limited the southpaw to just 39.2 innings in the majors this season with mixed results in those innings. Nothing has stuck out as particularly impressive or terrible in Norris's 2016 major-league campaign, but he hasn't done much to distinguish himself either. He's been solid if only average.
|Victor Martinez (S)||DH||511||23||55||75||0||.299||.352||.489||.354||122||1.1||1.6|
|Jarrod Saltalamacchia (S)||C||250||12||29||37||0||.188||.308||.394||.305||88||0.7||0.4|
|Erick Aybar (S)*||IF||407||3||32||28||3||.240||.292||.318||.264||60||-1.3||-0.2|
|Andrew Romine (S)||IF||135||1||14||12||6||.225||.301||.300||.270||64||0.0||0.0|
|Tyler Collins (L)||OF||126||4||12||13||1||.230||.302||.381||.297||83||0.0||-0.4|
Stats through Wednesday, August 31 | * 368 PA with Atlanta Braves
The top and heart of the Tigers' order has been as productive as one would expect. Ian Kinsler has been as solid as the Tigers have come to expect. J.D. Martinez has lit the world afire since his return from the disabled list, slashing .404/.446/.712 in 27 games with 7 HR, 21 R, and 15 RBI in that stretch. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez have done precisely what is expected of them. The bottom 44% of the order, however, has left Brad Ausmus a bit to be desired. Perhaps recent call-up JaCoby Jones can spark that part of the order with atypical capitalization, suspension-worthy drug use, and toolsy if free-swinging profile, but his stint in AAA this season (the first time as a minor league that he wasn't at least a little old for a prospect relative to the level) suggests that the Tigers might want to temper their expectations a little bit.
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