One year ago, the Cleveland Guardians were right around .500, which still kept them in the Central Division race, but 4.5 games back of the Twins. They actually dropped two out of three to the Royals that weekend to put them under .500, but they went 51-28 after that point and captured the division with 92 wins.
This year’s Guardians are off to another slow start, but are hanging around .500 heading into their four-game weekend series against the Royals. They’ve played better recently, winning 10 of their last 16, including taking two of three from the Royals in Kansas City last week.
Kansas City Royals (25-62) at Cleveland Guardians (42-44) at Progressive Field, Cleveland, OH
Royals: 3.75 runs scored/game (29th in MLB), 5.43 runs allowed/game (28th)
Guardians: 4.01 runs scored/game (27th in MLB), 4.20 runs allowed/game (8th)
The Guardians offense has struggled much of the year, but they’ve picked it up in the last month. Since June 1, they’re averaging 4.7 runs per game and hitting .273/.330/.406 as a team. They put the ball in play with the second-lowest strikeout rate in baseball, but also one of the lower walk rates. But they have a hard time hitting it over the fence - no team has hit fewer home runs.
Jose Ramirez has been playing like an MVP lately, hitting .340/.422/.641 with 7 home runs in hist last 26 games. Steven Kwan has traditionally been a Royals-killer, hitting .325/.426/.450 against them in 20 career games. Slugger Josh Bell has been sapped of his power and hitting just .162/.230/.279 over his last 18 games. Cleveland has been a good baserunning team, tying for 11th all of baseball in steals with a 78 percent success rate.
Guardians lineup and bench
|LF Steven Kwan (L)||385||2||14||.270||.344||.361||1.4|
|SS Amed Rosario (R)||349||2||9||.263||.309||.359||0.2|
|3B Jose Ramirez (S)||368||13||9||.287||.361||.502||3.1|
|1B Josh Naylor (L)||303||10||5||.295||.337||.468||1.1|
|DH Josh Bell (S)||319||8||0||.221||.310||.364||-0.3|
|2B Andres Gimenez (L)||327||6||11||.247||.320||.381||1.4|
|RF Will Brennan (L)||237||5||6||.271||.304||.400||0.7|
|CF Myles Straw (R)||315||0||10||.237||.300||.300||-0.4|
|C Bo Naylor (L)||48||1||0||.136||.208||.205||-0.1|
|C Cam Gallagher (R)||98||0||0||.140||.173||.183||-0.6|
|IF David Fry (R)||48||1||2||.295||.354||.386||0.2|
|IF Gabriel Arias (R)||154||4||0||.187||.292||.313||-0.3|
|IF Tyler Freeman (R)||68||0||2||.290||.328||.387||0.3|
Rookie Tanner Bibee has gotten off to a terrific start in the first 12 starts of his MLB career. The former Fullerton pitcher throws a mid-90s fastball with a slider, changeup, and he gets the most whiffs from his change up. He tossed 5 2⁄3 scoreless innings his last time out against the Cubs. Jordan Lyles can tie the Royals club record for most losses before the All-Star break set by Mark Gubicza in 1996.
Aaron Civale has yet to give up more than four runs in a start this year, and has gone at least five innings in seven of his eight games. He has a plus cutter that he throws often with a curve, sinker, four-seamer and slider. His strikeout rate is down significantly, but he missed time at the beginning of the year with an oblique injury. Daniel Lynch has gone at least five innings in every start this year, and has given up just four runs in 18 innings over his last three starts.
Rookie Gavin Williams allowed just one hit in seven shutout innings against the Royals back on June 27. The right-hander is a former first-round pick out of East Carolina who throws in the mid-90s. Brady Singer has a 3.12 ERA over his last seven starts.
Shane Bieber is sixth among all pitchers in innings pitched. His strikeout rate has fallen significantly while his walk rate has spiked and he has given up four runs or more in three of his last four starts. He has never lost to the Royals, going 6-0 with a 2.80 ERA in 14 career starts. The Royals have not yet named a starter for Sunday, and may go with a bullpen game in the last match before the All-Star break.
Expected pitching matchups
|Thursday, July 6 - 6:10 CT||ERA||FIP||IP||K/9||BB/9||fWAR|
|Thursday, July 6 - 6:10 CT||ERA||FIP||IP||K/9||BB/9||fWAR|
|RHP Jordan Lyles||6.68||5.61||91.2||6.3||3||0.1|
|RHP Tanner Bibee||3.46||3.63||65.0||9.3||3.2||1.4|
|Friday, July 7 - 6:10 CT||ERA||FIP||IP||K/9||BB/9||fWAR|
|LHP Daniel Lynch||4.14||4.84||41.1||6.1||2.8||0.3|
|RHP Aaron Civale||2.96||4.08||45.2||6.9||3.2||0.7|
|Saturday, July 8 - 3:10 CT||ERA||FIP||IP||K/9||BB/9||fWAR|
|RHP Brady Singer||5.52||4.37||89.2||7.4||3.4||0.9|
|RHP Gavin Williams||3.79||5.87||19.0||5.7||2.8||-0.1|
|Sunday, July 9 - 12:40 CT||ERA||FIP||IP||K/9||BB/9||fWAR|
|RHP Shane Bieber||3.66||4.14||110.2||7.2||2.7||1.5|
Cleveland relievers have the second-best bullpen ERA at 3.12 despite the ninth-lowest strikeout rate. Closer Emmanuel Clase has been one of the most valuable relievers, by fWAR, despite a drop in strikeout rate, and he is second in the American League with 24 saves. Eli Morgan, Enyel de los Santos, and Sam Hentges have combined to inherit 35 runners this year, and have allowed just two to score. Overall, the bullpen has allowed just 20 percent of inherited runners to score, the lowest rate in baseball.
|RHP Emmanuel Clase||3.54||2.92||40.2||8.2||2.4||1.0|
|RHP Trevor Stephan||2.68||4.43||37.0||9.5||3.2||0.1|
|RHP Eli Morgan||1.77||3.26||35.2||8.8||2.5||0.5|
|LHP Sam Hentges||3.57||3.78||22.2||8.3||3.6||0.2|
|RHP Enyel de los Santos||2.57||3.63||35.0||8.0||3.3||0.3|
|RHP Nick Sandlin||2.87||3.86||31.1||9.2||2.9||0.3|
|LHP Tim Herrin||5.75||4.13||20.1||10.2||2.7||0.0|
|RHP Xzavion Curry||3.11||4.11||46.1||5.8||1.9||0.1|
The Guardians are trying to kick start their season to give them momentum going into the second half, while the Royals limp into the All-Star break on pace to set the club record for losses in a season.
How will the Royals fare this series against the Guardians?
This poll is closed
Royals sweep 4-0
Royals take 3 of 4
Series split 2-2
Guardians take 3 of 4