• Philip

Red Sox-Royals Series Preview

Tonight, the Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals begin a four-game series at Fenway Park. This is the second meeting between the teams, the first seeing the Royals take two of three at Kauffman Stadium from June 18-20. Let’s take a look at where each team stands heading into the series and what we can expect from this matchup.

Starting Pitchers

Monday: Danny Duffy (4-3, 1.81 ERA) vs. Garrett Richards (4-5, 4.74 ERA)

Tuesday: Brad Keller (6-8, 6.40 ERA) vs. Nick Pivetta (6-3, 4.00 ERA)

Wednesday: Mike Minor (6-5, 5.12 ERA) vs. Martin Pérez (5-4, 4.10 ERA)

The Sox are trotting out a trio of starters who have had mixed results all season. Richards started terribly, of course, before turning it around for a few fantastic starts. Since then, he has settled into a groove of mediocrity. He’ll probably keep the team in it, but is unlikely to ever truly shut down an opponent. Pivetta has been more consistent than Richards, and has shown he has the ability to dominate from time to time. He seems better than his 4.00 ERA suggests, but a few disastrous starts have hurt his overall numbers. Pérez is who he is. He won’t be amazing, and he won’t go deep into a game, and he might give up a lot of runs, but more often than not he gives Boston a chance to win. That’s about as much as you could hope for out of a 5th starter.

The Royals are handing the ball to Danny Duffy to kick off the series, and he’s been phenomenal all season. He sports a 1.81 ERA, with a similarly fantastic 2.36 FIP. That FIP would be good for 2nd in all of baseball and first in the American League if he had pitched enough to qualify. He hasn’t been as incredible recently, however, giving up 4 runs in 6 innings on May 12, missing a bit over a month, and having a few very short appearances on June 23 and 25, during which he went 3 innings combined without allowing a run. He’s been great when he’s been available, for the most part, but he’s likely still getting back into the swing of things after missing time. Keller and Minor, on the other hand, have been awful all season. Both give up runs in bunches, have issues putting hitters away, and give up an home runs at an alarming rate.

If Duffy is able to make a full start, the Royals will have the pitching advantage in game one. If he can’t and it becomes a bullpen game for Kansas City, it’s anyone’s guess what could happen. Games two and three look to be decisive advantages for Boston, especially given Boston's fantastic offense (the Sox are 3rd in baseball in batting average and runs scored).

Recent Play

The Red Sox are 47-31, are 6-4 in the team’s last ten games, and are fresh off of a sweep of the New York Yankees, which catapulted Boston back into first place in the AL East. The team’s pitching has been very good for the most part, and the offense has come back to life after an a bit of a slump. The middle of the order, consisting of J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Rafael Devers has been especially fantastic, and guys like Hunter Renfroe and Christian Vazquez have also been productive. When the Sox can produce runs without relying exclusively on Martinez, Bogaerts, and Devers, their lineup is one of the best in baseball.

The Royals, on the other hand, are 33-43, are just 3-7 in their last ten, and have lost five straight. The Royals took two of three from Boston earlier this month, and won the first game against the Yankees in the following series. They then dropped the final two games against New York before being swept by the 30-48 Texas Rangers. They’ve scored 1 or 0 runs three times during their five-game skid, and have allowed 5.9 runs per game over their past ten. The offense is struggling to score, and the pitchers are struggling to get batters out. Getting swept by the Rangers is awful, and if something doesn’t change, the Royals could see their losing streak grow to 8 by the end of the series.

Players to Watch

Danny Duffy, as stated above, has been awesome when healthy. He started off the season on an absolute tear, but got hurt and has only pitched 3 innings since May. It will be interesting to watch him in game one. If he can make a full start, the Royals have a good chance of winning, but if he can only go a couple of innings, Kansas City’s bullpen will have their hands full with Boston’s lineup.

Xander Bogaerts had a fantastic series against New York, and is now 6th in MLB in batting average at .330. He was named an All-Star Finalist a few days ago, and is more than deserving. He looks to keep it going against some relatively weak pitchers.

Nick Pivetta has had an up and down season, but has mostly been good. He’s Boston’s 3rd starter behind Nathan Eovaldi and Eduardo Rodriguez, and if he can get his ERA down a bit it could do wonders for the team’s playoff hopes. Kansas City has a pretty weak offense, so Pivetta could get himself back on track with a good start in game two of the series.

Head-to-Head Record

The Royals took two of three in the teams’ first meeting this season, making the season-series 2-1 Kansas City.