Tribe Returns to KC for Fourth Matchup With Royals
Bob Toth | On 24, Aug 2018
It will be a familiar foe for the Cleveland Indians this weekend as they face the Kansas City Royals in three straight, but there will be plenty of things different on Players’ Weekend.
The Indians (73-54) started their seven-game road trip with a four-game set in Boston against the Red Sox. After taking the first two games of the series, they dropped the latter two in short starts from the staff. The Tribe has taken the last five games with the Royals and are 7-2 against them this season. Like Kansas City, Cleveland will be sporting the special Players’ Weekend jerseys, with the Indians donning red jerseys with navy sleeves and a red cap with a blue block ‘C’ and bill.
The Royals (38-90) are spending plenty of time letting the kids play this year as the club enters the series with the Indians in the American League Central cellar. They are coming off of a four-game sweep in Tampa Bay, which included a tough walk-off loss on Thursday on a dropped force play at the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game, and have lost five in a row overall. Kansas City is the worst offensive club in baseball this season, scoring just 466 runs on the year (the Indians, by comparison, have scored 643 – third in MLB).
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Clevinger has performed well throughout his career against the Royals, posting a 4-0 record in seven games (six starts) with a 2.17 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. Those marks include two appearances this season – a no-decision with seven and one-third innings of one-run baseball on April 8 and a win on May 12 with seven and two-thirds innings of two-run baseball. Clevinger has won back-to-back decisions for the first time since the middle of June, making a quality start with six shutout innings his last time out on August 19 against Baltimore.
Keller has faced the Indians twice this season coming into the series, but both appearances were in relief. The latter appearance on May 11 was a strong one as he worked three shutout innings for the win. The 23-year-old is in his first season in the Majors after joining the Royals in December during the Rule 5 draft (he was selected by the Cincinnati Reds and then traded to Kansas City for future considerations). The 6’5” righty has made 14 starts and 21 relief appearances on the year, going 5-4 with a 3.69 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in a starting role and 1-1 with a 2.01 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP out of the ‘pen.
Kluber has owned the Royals throughout his career with the exception of the 2012 and 2015 seasons. He has earned at least two wins a year in all other seasons, including this year, when he has faced the club twice and posted a 2.08 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. Last season, he went 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP while shutting down the Royals to just one run (via a solo homer). Kluber has quietly ripped off four straight winning decisions in his last five starts and earned the win in Boston in the series opener on Monday, allowing three runs on nine hits with a walk and six strikeouts in six and one-third innings.
Fillmyer, 24, joined the Royals for the first time in late June, making several relief appearances before moving into a steady spot in the starting rotation. He faced the Indians in his third trip in from the bullpen this season on July 4, throwing three no-hit innings with a walk and two strikeouts. He last pitched on August 19, working three innings and allowing six runs on seven hits with three long balls surrendered. He joined the Royals in January, when he was part of the trade that sent Brandon Moss and Ryan Buchter to the Oakland Athletics. He was an MiLB.com Organizational All-Star for the A’s a season ago.
Bieber, 23, will make his 14th start of the season and his second against the Royals. He faced KC on July 3, allowing four runs on nine hits in six innings for his fourth straight win. He is perfect on the road to begin his big league career, posting a 3-0 record in seven starts with a 4.14 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. He has been at his best in the fourth inning, where he has not allowed a run in 12 innings of work while holding opposing hitters to a .154 batting average.
Lopez, a 25-year-old right-hander, is in his third big league season. He made two starts for Milwaukee in 2015 and a relief appearance in 2017 before working in ten games out of the bullpen for the Brewers prior to being traded to Kansas City as part of the Mike Moustakas trade. He has made a pair of starts for the Royals, taking losses in each outing after allowing a combined seven runs on 13 hits with five walks and six strikeouts in nine and two-thirds innings against Toronto and Tampa Bay. He was a second round pick in the 2011 round by the Brewers.
TV: Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all); Fox Sports Kansas City (all)
Radio (all): Cleveland Indians Radio Network (CLE); KCSP 610 (KC)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NOTES
Cody Anderson (P) – 60-day disabled list (2/25) – recovery from April 2017 UCL surgery
Trevor Bauer (SP) – 10-day disabled list (8/12) – stress fracture of right fibula
Lonnie Chisenhall (OF) – 60-day disabled list (7/3) – strained left calf
Rajai Davis (OF) – 10-day disabled list (8/22) – non-baseball medical condition
Edwin Encarnacion (1B/DH) – activated from 10-day disabled list (8/22)
Nick Goody (RP) – 60-day disabled list (5/3) – right elbow inflammation
Leonys Martin (OF) – out for season (8/9) – bacterial infection
Tyler Naquin (OF) – 10-day disabled list (7/26) – right hip surgery
Neil Ramirez (RP) – 10-day disabled list (8/23) – lower back spasms
Danny Salazar (P) – out for season (3/26) – recovery from right shoulder exploratory surgery
Josh Tomlin (P) – activated from 10-day disabled list (8/23)
Bradley Zimmer (OF) – out for season (7/21) – right shoulder labrum surgery
Cheslor Cuthbert (3B) – 60-day disabled list (5/16) – back strain
Danny Duffy (SP) – activated from 10-day disabled list (8/23)
Brian Goodwin (OF) – 10-day disabled list (7/29) – left groin strain
Jesse Hahn (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/6) – UCL sprain in right elbow
Nate Karns (SP) – 60-day disabled list (3/26) – right elbow inflammation
Ian Kennedy (SP) – 10-day disabled list (7/11) – left oblique strain
Eric Skoglund (SP) – 10-day disabled list (5/26) – UCL sprain in left elbow
Jorge Soler (OF) – 60-day disabled list (6/16) – left toe fracture
Glenn Sparkman (P) – optioned to Triple-A Omaha (8/23)
ROYALS NEWS AND NOTES
The Royals have the worst ERA in all of baseball this season, coming into the weekend with a 5.25 mark over their 128 games. They have blown 20 saves on the year, saving 26 of 46. As a staff, the club has also allowed the highest WHIP (1.50) and highest batting average against (.279).
Lucas Duda hit .306 in his first nine games against Cleveland pitching this season with four doubles, two homers, and five RBI while striking out 11 times in 36 plate appearances. The positive numbers against the Indians overall have not translated to his results against the rest of the game, as he has provided a .235/.307/.391 line with eleven doubles, one triple, eleven homers, and 44 RBI on the year.
Whit Merrifield slashed .294/.324/.471 against the Indians in his first nine games against them with three doubles, a homer, and four RBI. Merrifield has been one of the more productive weapons again in the Royals lineup, hitting .306 with a .374 on-base percentage with 33 doubles (a team high), one triple, nine homers, and 44 RBI. His 28 stolen bases are tied for the league lead.
Salvador Perez is the team’s leading home run hitter with 21 on the year and is the active leader with 61 RBI. The traded Moustakas remains the Royals’ top RBI man with 62.
TRIBE BY THE NUMBERS
The Indians enter the weekend as the only team in the Majors with more than 100 stolen bases on the year. They have swiped 101 in 127 chances. The Cleveland lineup is also third in homers (175) and RBI (621).
Greg Allen has been on a tear in the second half, especially in his most recent call-up. While his 14-game hitting streak came to an end on Wednesday, he wrapped up the team’s stay in Boston with a two-hit game in the series finale on Thursday afternoon. In 16 games since the All-Star break, he is hitting .382 with 21 hits (including a double and a homer) while scoring eleven runs and driving in six. He is also six for seven in that span stealing bases.
Michael Brantley is one of the top hitters in the American League still, coming into the day with a .301 average on the season. He is third on the team with 31 doubles and his 68 RBI leave him two short of becoming the fifth Indians hitter to reach the 70 mark, something no other team has done this season.
Jose Ramirez is tied with Merrifield for the AL lead in stolen bases with 28 on the year in 33 attempts, putting him just two short with five weeks to play of becoming the first 30/30 player for Cleveland since Grady Sizemore in 2008. Joe Carter also accomplished the feat in 1987 (after falling one homer and one stolen base shy the previous season).
Yandy Diaz is hitting .333 through his first 14 games with the club in 2018. Thirteen of his 16 hits have been singles, as he is still yet to launch his first Major League home run. His stay on the roster was extended after Davis was placed on the disabled list to make room for Encarnacion’s return during the week.
A REAL HOMESTAND
The Indians will get their first extended stay at home in a while as the team returns to Progressive Field to kick off a three-team, nine-game homestand against Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and Kansas City. The Twins will start the visit Tuesday night.
The Royals will continue their own eight-game homestand with two against Detroit beginning Tuesday night and three with Baltimore next weekend.
The two teams will meet seven times in the final month of the season, including the final series of the regular season – a four-game set from September 27-30.
Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images