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2021 Series Preview: Houston Astros @ Kansas City Royals

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The Astros (70-47, 1st in AL West) return to a decent time zone with four games against the Royals (49-67, 5th in AL Central)

MLB: Exhibition-Houston Astros at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Notes

The Royals started off the season on a red hot tear, looking like one of the most dominant teams in baseball for the first two weeks. They were able to hold on to first place in the Central for all of April before finally surrendering the spot, as well as any real chance at contention, to the White Sox.

Now KC sits at the bottom of the Central and seem destined to be October spectators this season barring a miracle. The damage has mostly come on the road, but they’ve only been a 500 team at home so that’s not really raising any expectations either. While the Royals have suffered from the injury bug here and there, the results are still somewhat surprising for a team that made some rather aggressive moves in the offseason.

The Royals were sellers at the deadline thanks to the abysmal play, ejecting several short term players but holding on to some of their bigger names who are under control. Danny Duffy is gone, as is Jorge Soler, but in Soler’s case his contribution of -1.2 WAR in 2021 should be more than easy to replace.

Last 10 Games: 3-7 Record, 2 Series Lost, 1 Series Swept, -20 Run Differential (35 Scored, 55 Allowed)

W/L Splits: 29-30 at home, 20-37 on the road, 24-35 against teams over .500


Offense

When it comes to offense there just hasn’t been much there for KC this season. Their teamwide .686 OPS places them firmly in the bottom five of the league and their collective .241/.301/.385 slash line doesn’t do much better.

The team’s calling card has been speed, as evidenced by their 79 stolen bases and 22 triples, good for 3rd and 4th in the league, respectively. But speed only gets you so far as the Royals struggle to drive runs in, sitting at 27th in the league with just 447 RBI.

There’s really not much to write home after that. While there are bright spots and some shiny names on the team, the collective results have ranged from mediocre to bad for a majority of the season in Missouri.

Notable Players:

  • Salvador Perez (.277/.310/.521) has seemingly found a new gear in the last couple of seasons, upping an already impressive game into a dominant one. Along with his impressive .521 OPS, Perez leads the Royals in both home runs (30) and RBI (75). He’s also played in all but 1 of the Royals’ 116 games this season.
  • Whit Merrifield (.273/.320/.390) remains one of the most iconic Royals after Perez, though his stats aren’t exactly blowing anyone away. One impressive thing Merrifield did do is take over the franchise record for consecutive games by a Royal. He now sits at 423 after yesterday’s contest.
  • Andrew Benintendi (.249/.303/.396) hasn’t exactly delivered the goods after the Royals completed a trade with the Red Sox for him during the offseason. To be fair, his season has been somewhat hampered by injury and the Royals didn’t really break the bank to get him here, but it’s still a disappointment.

Pitching

The Royals’ pitching staff has certainly not been up to the task this season, having dropped a 4.94 ERA across their 1,007 innings in 2021. The starters have been the main culprits when it comes to the poor play, though that may equalize a little now that veteran reliever Danny Duffy has been traded away.

Relievers have been slightly better than the starters as a group, but not by enough to really say they’ve been good. The bullpen has ponied up a 4.64 ERA so far this year, partially thanks to being 8th in the league with 63 homers surrendered.

Of course, it doesn’t help that KC’s starters aren’t exactly going deep into games. The rotation has only worked 563 innings this year, which is tied for third-fewest of any team in 2021.

Notable relievers:

  • The back end of the Royals’ bullpen has been fluid this season but it looks as though Scott Barlow (RHP, 2.60 ERA, 55.1 IP, 72 K’s) has been handling the closing duties as of late. Barlow has been rolling through August so far, having only given up 1 run in 5.1 IP across 6 games. He has successfully converted 5 of 10 save opportunities.
  • Greg Holland (RHP, 5.79 ERA, 46.2 IP, 47 K’s) has converted 7 of his own saves this season, though he has had a rough go of it lately. Unlike Barlow, Holland’s August has been a nightmare with 9 runs surrendered across his last five innings of work. His command has been lacking in that time as well, with 5 walks and just 3 strikeouts on his ledger.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Jake Odorizzi (RHP, 5-6, 4.59 ERA, 60 K’s) vs Carlos Hernandez (RHP, 3-1, 4.11 ERA, 51 K’s)

In a season that has seen him back and forth from the minors, Carlos Hernandez has been perfectly serviceable as a starter for the Royals. Coming off a clunker against Detroit in late July, Hernandez’s has gone at least 5 innings in his last three starts (all against the Yankees or White Sox) and he has given up just one or less run in each of them.

Game 2: Framber Valdez (LHP, 8-3, 3.09 ERA, 81 K’s) vs Daniel Lynch (LHP, 2-3, 5.97 ERA, 26 K’s)

Lynch made his MLB debut back in May of this season and things have been a little rough for the southpaw. Recently recalled from AAA, he has surrendered 7 runs in 15.2 innings across his last three start. Lynch has lowered his ERA by almost two full runs in that time though, just to give you an indication of how his season has been going.

Game 3: Zack Greinke (RHP, 11-3, 3.51 ERA, 107 K’s) vs Brady Singer (RHP, 3-8, 5.42 ERA, 94 K’s)

After returning from a an IL stint for shoulder fatigue, Singer looked pretty lackluster in his last outing. He allowed 10 hits and 5 runs across just across just 3.2 innings of work. That wasn’t his worst start of the season or his shortest though, as Singer seems to regularly leave games in the third or fourth inning.

Game 4: Luis Garcia (RHP, 9-6, 3.30 ERA, 134 K’s) vs Mike Minor (LHP, 8-33, 5.35 ERA, 135 K’s)

After masquerading as one of the best pitchers in the AL just two seasons ago, Minor has fallen to a level of mediocrity not seen before in his career. Minor had a 6-inning, 3-run quality start in his most recent game, but he gave up 4 in each of the two before that.


For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Monday, August 16th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2 / Royals - KCSP 610
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Royals - Bally Sports Kansas City

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Game 2: Tuesday, August 17th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2 / Royals - KCSP 610
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Royals - Bally Sports Kansas City

Game 3: Wednesday, August 18th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2 / Royals - KCSP 610
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Royals - Bally Sports Kansas City

Game 4: Thursday, August 19th @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010 / Royals - KCSP 610
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Royals - Bally Sports Kansas City / MLB Network (out-of-market only)


Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (25 votes)
  • 60%
    Astros Win 3-1
    (64 votes)
  • 6%
    Series Split 2-2
    (7 votes)
  • 3%
    Royals Win 3-1
    (4 votes)
  • 4%
    Royals Sweep 4-0
    (5 votes)
105 votes total Vote Now