Good things come in threes or so goes an old adage. Well, in the series against the A’s the Royals magic number was three. If they scored more than three runs, they were good enough to beat the A’s who scored 3 runs in each of the games this week. This weekend will be the first of two consecutive weekend series versus the Indians. This weekend is at home and next weekend will be the Royals last away games of the season. Evaluations of the team’s current talent and/or potential future talent will still be essential. However, trying to win ball games will not be ignored.
Game 1: Carlos Carrasco (0-0) vs. Kyle Davies (8-9)
Carrasco was among the late season call-ups for the Indians but does have previous experience versus the Royals. He has pitched 6 innings and is 0-1 in his short professional career. Since the beginning of September he has pitched well. He doesn’t have a win yet but his ERA of 2.18 would indicate that he probably should have. Among his appearances this month was a 7.1 innings start, where he allowed zero runs against the division leading Twins.
The Royals could jokingly call Kyle Davies Mr. September. In his third September, he has worked himself up to a 9-1 record with an ERA of 1.78. On the other hand, he has struggled against Cleveland. He is 3-4 with an ERA of 5.40. His last start against the Indians resulted in a no decision. He went 7.1 innings, gave up three earned runs on seven hits.
Game 2: Justin Masterson (6-12) vs. Sean O’ Sullivan (1-5)
After being sent to the bullpen for the remainder of the season just a short while ago, Masterson is back in the rotation due to an injury of teammate Mitch Talbot. He is 1-2 lifetime against the Royals with an ERA of 5.19. His last appearance against the boys in blue was a five inning no decision back on May 19th. He gave up 2 earned runs on five hits and four walks.
Sean O’Sullivan has yet to prove to the Royals that he was worth the trade. He is running out of time to prove it too. He still doesn’t have a win as a Royal since he was traded back in July. His ERA since coming to Kansas City has been an atrocious 7.40. This will be his first career start against the Indians. Maybe, just maybe, if he wins his remaining starts he will be invited back next spring.
Game 3: Josh Tomlin (4-3) vs. Luke Hochevar (5-5)
Josh Tomlin has been consistent, if not the most consistent Indians pitcher as of late. He has gone at least five innings in every start since he was called up and has a winning record. In his lone start versus the Royals he was able to notch a victory despite having a gaudy ERA of 5.40.
Luke Hochevar is coming around the way the Royals expected. He probably will be kept on a low pitch count again on Sunday, just to make sure he doesn’t reinjure himself. He will have to do better than he has in the past against Cleveland though. He is 2-4 lifetime versus the Tribe with an ERA of 4.98. Shin Choo-Soo has had Hochevar’s number in nearly every single game they’ve played. Choo-Soo has a lifetime average of .556 with two home runs and four RBIs.
The Royals offense clicked during the last two games of the Oakland Series. The Royals will need to continue to do that against a pitching staff that is worse off than Oakland’s. Cleveland’s offense has struggled in September. They have averaged just above 2.5 runs per game since September 1st.
Both of these teams’ defensive stats are among the bottom of the American League. If either defense makes an error during any part of the series, the questionable pitching staff on both sides will begin to unravel. Play mistake free defense, and you give your team a chance to win.
Like the defense, both teams’ pitching staff have operated on a roller coaster of highs and lows all season. Some have been good, such as Greinke’s complete game efforts or Soria’s saves. However, there’s been too much poor execution on both teams that now they are left to battle to see who is going to end up in the cellar this year.
Both teams have the desire not to finish in the cellar of the Central division. Cleveland has to travel after playing a late game on Thursday night. Between this series and the series next weekend will determine a lot for each franchise. These seven games will probably determine their placement in next year’s draft as well as their place in the Central division. These games will also help evaluate the talent level going into next season. If you want to be a contender, you have to be able to beat your own divisional opponents consistently.