The World Champion Kansas City Royals will not be defending their title, but they can make sure that the new division winners in the American League Central do not have home-field advantage in either round of the AL side of the playoffs. Cleveland is a half-game behind the Boston Red Sox for the second seed with Boston squaring off at home against the Toronto Blue Jays. The 2.5-game deficit they face with the Texas Rangers with three to go render the likelihood of Cleveland seizing homefield throughout slim.
Game One: Friday, 7:15 PM CDT
|Ryan Merritt (L)||3||6.0||2||0||1.50||2.48||3.31||3.07||0.1||0.2|
In the first game of the series, the Royals draw southpaw rookie Ryan Merritt, who has been thrust into the the rotation for the first time on the heels of a minor injury to Corey Kluber, and more serious ones to Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco. Judging by his minor-league numbers and scouting reports, Merritt seems to fit the bill of the back-of-the-rotation southpaw with pedestrian stuff. Of course, that middling package screams Cy Albers, so how the Royals deal with the rookie making his first major league start is anyone’s guess.
Game Two: Saturday, 3:15 PM CDT
While still coming up short of his high ceiling, the former third overall pick of the 2011 draft has quietly put together his best season as a big-leaguer. His ERA, FIP, and xFIP are all lower than in any other season than his 2014, which was a decidedly different run environment. His walk-rate is lower than it’s ever been in the majors. Some of the success probably owes to his having scrapped his slider and replacing it with a cutter.
Game Three: Sunday, 2:15 PM CDT
Josh Tomlin has allowed 15 more hung dongs than walks. That is next-level bonkers.
|Carlos Santana (S)||DH||674||34||86||85||5||.256||.362||.489||.365||128||3.3||2.7|
|Jason Kipnis (L)||2B||675||23||91||81||15||.275||.343||.469||.348||117||4.8||4.0|
|Francisco Lindor (S)||SS||671||14||96||72||19||.300||.355||.428||.336||109||5.9||5.4|
|Jose Ramirez (S)||3B||605||11||84||75||22||.311||.363||.463||.355||121||4.5||3.8|
|Coco Crisp (S)||LF||493||13||53||55||9||.233||.303||.400||.303||90||-0.3||0.5|
|Tyler Naquin (L)||CF||355||14||50||42||6||.298||.374||.522||.378||137||2.5||1.0|
|Abraham Almonte (S)||RF||192||1||23||22||8||.267||.297||.406||.297||82||0.4||0.7|
|Michael Martinez (S)||Util||98||1||13||4||0||.245||.268||.319||.256||54||-0.1||0.1|
|Lonnie Chisenhall (L)||OF||407||8||42||56||6||.291||.334||.443||.332||106||1.3||1.4|
*Stats through Thursday, September 29
It sure seems like these guys have played the Royals a few times. Francisco Lindor is having an MVP-caliber season as a 22-year-old. Jason Kipnis and Jose Ramirez are both enjoying 4-5 WAR campaigns. Mike Napoli hangs dong with aplomb. Michael Brantley has been on the DL for pretty much the whole season and is out for another four months. Their offense has been roughly league average 102 wRC+, but their sterling defense and their great baserunning has made the position players the third-most valuable squad in terms of fWAR.
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