SB Nation Blog
The Opponent in one sentence
The Royals are firmly in the middle of another rebuild and stand as one of the worst teams in baseball.
Red Sox 3, Royals 0
Down. Way down. The Royals are obviously, as mentioned above, one of the worst teams in baseball. So, in other words, they’ve been trending down all year. They are trending especially down right now, though. This series is actually going to be a matchup of two teams who are coming off back-to-back sweeps, as the Royals were just swept by the Indians and Twins. They’ve lost six in a row and nine of their last ten.
8/5: Rick Porcello vs. Mike Montgomery, 7:10 PM ET
Every Red Sox pitcher is struggling right now. It’s not fair to single out any specific guy because it’s every single starter. Over the course of the entire season, though, it feels like Porcello is the guy who has never really had a period of getting on track. It’s been forever since he’s gotten in even a mini-groove. Going back to June 23, he’s made seven starts and has allowed at least five runs in five of them. That’s not giving his team a chance to win, and frankly it just can’t happen. He’s coming off an outing in which he allowed three homers, he’s allowed a homer in six straight outings and he allowed nine homers in five July starts. This will be Porcello’s first start against the Royals this year.
Montgomery is probably best known for being the pitcher on the mound as the Cubs recorded the final out of the 2016 World Series. He stayed in Chicago for a few years after that before being dealt to the Royals just a few weeks ago. The southpaw has had a tough start to his Royals career, allowing ten runs in 11 1⁄3 innings over his first three starts with his new team. Including his time with the Cubs, where he pitched exclusively out of the bullpen, Montgomery has pitched to a 6.34 ERA with a 5.89 FIP and an 8.50 DRA. Montgomery will throw two different fastballs, with an emphasis on the sinker, as well as a curveball, a changeup and the occasional cutter.
8/6: Andrew Cashner vs. Jakob Junis, 7:10 PM ET
It was only last week that Cashner was back in the good graces of Red Sox fans after a really rough first two starts with the team. The righty was fresh off shutting down the Yankees at Fenway and endearing himself to Red Sox fans by talking about growing up hating New York. Then, he made his next start against the Rays and, well, you know. Cashner allowed seven runs (six earned) against Tampa Bay and his changeup once again left him. His ERA with Boston is now almost up to 7.00 since getting to the Red Sox. He has not faced the Royals in 2019.
Junis has now been in the majors for three years and in that time he has consistently shown some flashes of a good major-league pitcher. He has not, however, put it together consistently and has been something a little less than a league-average arm. Junis misses bats at a decent clip, but he can lose command too often and has had homer issues throughout his career. Through 23 starts this season the righty has pitched to a 5.03 ERA, a 4.88 FIP and a 5.52 DRA. In June, the Red Sox scored six runs (five earned) off Junis over 4 2⁄3 innings. He will lean heavily on his fastball and slider while also featuring a sinker and a curveball.
8/7: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Glenn Sparkman, 7:10 PM ET
Eduardo Rodriguez is the best starter on the Red Sox right now. Yes, that is much more of an indictment on a rotation with Chris Sale and David Price than it is a compliment to Rodriguez, but the lefty has been solid. Even in his last time out, when he was far from great against the Yankees, he managed to do what no one else could and limit damage. He gave up a big grand slam to Gleyber Torres and walked six batters overall, but managed to allow no more than the four runs. The bar is low right now, but Rodriguez is clearing it. More importantly, he’s going deep into games for the first time in his career, throwing at least six innings in four of his last five starts and in seven of his last ten. Back in June, he allowed two runs over 5 2⁄3 innings to the Royals with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Sparkman has split his time between the rotation and the bullpen this year, but he’s been consistently starting since the end of May. He did throw a very impressive complete game shutout in the middle of July, but he’s struggled mightily since then allowing five, eight and six runs in the following three starts, respectively. Over 88 2⁄3 innings for this entire season the righty has pitched to a 5.58 ERA, a 5.93 FIP and an 8.50 DRA. Sparkman does not miss bats and he’s already allowed a whopping 20 homers on the year and is tied for the seventh highest HR/9 rate among all pitchers with at least 80 innings. He did pitch well against the Red Sox earlier this year, allowing just one run over 5 1⁄3 innings. Sparkman features a fastball, a curveball, a changeup and a slider.
Notable Position Players
Whit Merrifield is the best player on the Royals these days and was involved in trade rumors before the July 31 deadline. He remained in Kansas City and will stay atop their lineup. Merrifield makes a lot of contact and turns it into a lot of hits while also hitting for solid power and providing big value with his legs.
Jorge Soler is having something of a breakout year in the middle of the Royals lineup. The former Cubs prospect will strike out a ton, but he makes up for it with a good walk rate and big power.
Hunter Dozier has been Kansas City’s best hitter in 2019 by wRC+. He’s doing pretty much everything well at the plate save for a slightly worse-than-average strikeout rate.
Alex Gordon is no longer the player he was in his prime, but he’s having a solid bounce-back year thanks to a high contact rate and solid patience.
Cheslor Cuthbert basically never walks and doesn’t hit for power, relying solely on BABIP to provide his value at the plate.
Nicky Lopez is the same as Cuthbert except with fewer strikeouts and a much lower BABIP. He has a 43 wRC+ this season.
Bubba Starling was just recently called up and is struggling with a huge strikeout rate and almost no power.
Ryan O’Hearn draws walks at a rate above 11 percent and still has a 53 wRC+.
Cam Gallagher is hitting solidly for a catcher, which means he’s solidly below average overall but has average plate discipline to carry most of his value.
Ian Kennedy is somewhat quietly blossoming late in his career as a reliever and the only reason he was not trade bait this summer is because of his contract. He’s doing everything well and is a very rare bright spot on this Royals pitching staff.
Scott Barlow and Kevin McCarthy are the primary setup men after the Royals traded Jake Diekman and, well, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones with a subpar bullpen in this series.
Salvador Pérez, the face of this franchise, underwent Tommy John surgery before the season began. He should be ready for the start of next season.
Adalberto Mondesí, the most exciting player on this team, suffered a shoulder injury in mid-July and is hoping to be ready to return in a week or two.
Jesse Hahn underwent elbow surgery about a year ago and is hoping to make his way back before this season is over.
Trevor Oaks underwent hip surgery before the season. He hopes to be back at some point late this year but the chances of that are unclear.
It should be a nice week at Fenway for this series, at least for the first two games. There may be some issues on Wednesday, with thunderstorms in the forecast. Right now, they are expected in the afternoon so hopefully they will clear out and not effect the series finale.