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Royals series preview: The Boston Red Sox

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Facing the best in the East in Fenway.

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MLB: Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels
What would Mookie do?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Riding an eight-game winning streak that makes them the hottest team in baseball, the Kansas City Royals commence the difficult stretch of their current road trip as they head into Fenway Park to face the formidable Boston Red Sox. The Rouge Hose hold a slim half-game lead over the New York Yankees in the American League East, and their 56-47 record puts them 1.5 games up on the Royals in the mix for a Wild Card spot were they to get overtaken by an AL East foe.

David Price was scheduled to start the Friday game, but went on the disabled list today with an elbow injury. The Red Sox had an off-day yesterday, so they will simply move everyone up in the rotation. The game times and pitching matchups are as follows:

  • Friday, July 28, 6:10 PM CDT - Jason Vargas (L) versus Rick Porcello (R)
  • Saturday, July 29, 6:10 PM CDT - Trevor Cahill versus Eduardo Rodriguez (L)
  • Sunday, July 30, 12:35 PM CDT - Jason Hammel versus Drew Pomeranz (L)

Royals at Red Sox pitching matchups

Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Jason Vargas 19 114.0 84 17.9 30 6.4 3.08 4.12 4.90 4.74 1.7 3.6
Rick Porcello 21 133.1 121 20.7 25 4.3 4.52 4.26 4.34 4.13 1.9 0.2
Trevor Cahill 11 61.0 72 27.4 24 9.1 3.69 3.40 3.35 3.62 1.3 1.0
Eduardo Rodriguez 13 71.2 79 26.5 27 9.1 3.89 4.20 4.22 4.00 0.9 1.1
Jason Hammel 20 112.1 87 17.4 36 7.2 4.81 4.35 5.19 4.87 1.4 1.1
Drew Pomeranz 20 107.2 115 25.1 43 9.4 3.59 3.78 3.91 4.13 2.0 1.9

Fortunate enough to avoid Cy Young front-runner Chris Sale, the Royals will draw the trio Porcello, Rodriguez, and Pomeranz. Porcello has seen his home runs spike, his BABIP jump back up to .331 after a .269 mark last year, and his ground-ball rate has dropped to its lowest point of his career. Rodriguez seems to have taken a step forward and is arguably enjoying his best season yet, upping the Ks.

Boston Red Sox position players

Player Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Player Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Mookie Betts RF 462 17 70 61 17 .273 .348 .472 .347 113 4.3 5.0
Xander Bogaerts SS 397 6 53 43 9 .284 .340 .416 .324 96 2.3 1.3
Dustin Pedroia 2B 379 6 36 54 4 .310 .385 .416 .347 112 2.1 1.9
Jackie Bradley Jr. (L) CF 352 12 39 40 5 .269 .341 .453 .337 106 1.9 3.0
Eduardo Núñez IF 318 4 37 31 18 .308 .334 .417 .323 100 1.2 0.2
Andrew Benintendi (L) LF 413 12 48 54 9 .266 .347 .412 .324 97 1.1 1.1
Sandy Leon (S) C 202 6 23 26 0 .242 .294 .382 .289 73 0.2 0.5
Hanley Ramirez DH 366 17 45 40 1 .256 .342 .451 .338 106 0.2 0.6
Mitch Moreland (L) 1B 381 12 43 44 0 .239 .328 .405 .313 89 0.1 0.6
Rafael Devers (L) 3B 10 1 2 1 0 .250 .400 .625 .424 165 0.1 0.1
Deven Marrero IF 166 3 30 23 5 .212 .258 .318 .250 46 0.0 0.4
Christian Vázquez C 203 1 18 17 4 .251 .291 .330 .271 60 -0.1 -0.3
Brock Holt (L) Util 58 0 16 2 1 .196 .276 .196 .223 27 -0.4 -0.4
Chris Young OF 196 5 20 18 3 .243 .327 .382 .310 87 -0.5 -0.5

With the Red Sox having just traded for Eduardo Núñez, the future in the form of Rafael Devers may be getting put on hold. Maybe the deal with the Giants was just for depth to ensure that the Red Sox aren’t going forward with a potential black hole in the lineup in the form of a third baseman, as 20-year-old prospects don’t tend to set the world ablaze in their first stint in the majors, but the last two months of the 2017 season certainly appear to be fraught with uncertainty.

With the only possibly plugged hole at third and the hole at first, the Red Sox offense has not been what was expected heading into this season. As a whole, they’re slashing .260/.331/.402 with a .316 wOBA and a 91 wRC+. That 91 wRC+ barely edges out the Royals’ mark of 89. They’re a middle-of-the-road unit in spite of having one of the game’s best players in Mookie Betts, largely because they’ve got three positions that have not been producing.

Poll

How will the Royals fare in Boston?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Royals sweep
    (56 votes)
  • 61%
    Royals take two of three
    (257 votes)
  • 23%
    Red Sox take two of three
    (96 votes)
  • 1%
    Red Sox sweep
    (6 votes)
415 votes total Vote Now

All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference through action on Wednesday, July 26.

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