The Royals are not yet eliminated from the playoff race. At the rate things are currently going, they probably won’t be eliminated until early September. So does this count as competitive baseball? I mean, sure, they’re 29.5 games back of the division lead and 26 games from a Wild Card berth but anything could happen, right?
Mike Montgomery will start for the Royals tonight. He shouldn’t have a pitch limit more restrictive than any other major league starting pitcher for the first time this year. And, believe it or not, he’s been a net positive since joining the Royals. At least if you believe FanGraphs’ version of the WAR stat. He’s at 0.1 fWAR in his time with KC. That said, he’s made four starts with the Royals, so far, this year and in only one of them has he limited the opponents to fewer than four runs. He did have a five-inning, one-run outing against Cleveland. But he didn’t strike anyone out in that game, either. It was kind of a bizarre one. Also, the Royals still ultimately lost. Maybe tonight’s the night he finally shows everyone why he was once a top-rated prospect for the Royals. Anything could happen.
The Tigers will counter with rookie Spencer Turnbull. He has had a pretty respectable first full season at age 26 with the Tigers. He’s already been worth 2 fWAR and carries a 3.72 ERA in 20 starts. He’s only averaging about five innings a start, though, which isn’t helping Detroit win any games. This will be his fifth start against Kansas City this year. He has a 2.86 ERA against them in the previous outings but hasn’t earned a decision. The first three starts were more than solid; he allowed only three earned runs between them, but in his last start against Kansas City he gave up four earned runs in only three innings. He had an interesting start his last time out, too. He struck out seven batters and gave up a pair of runs. The weird thing is that he did both of those things in only three innings of work. It was his first start after a stint on the Injured List and he was probably on some kind of pitch count. He managed to rack up 76 pitches in those three innings.
The Royals are doing everything they can to get back in the running for the first overall pick in next year’s draft, they are only two games ahead of the Orioles and four games ahead of the Tigers at this point. Losing to the Tigers is a good way to keep things close down at the bottom of the league.