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Series #19: Athletics at Royals - Hopes for a Grand Road Trip

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Royals’ Current Record:

20-36, fourth place in the AL Central division. They are 6-4 over their last ten games, most recently winning their last two games versus the Minnesota Twins. The Royals are just 9-19 at home this season.

Projected Lineup:

RF - Jon Jay

CF - Whit Merrifield

3B - Mike Moustakas

C - Salvador Perez

DH - Jorge Soler

LF - Alex Gordon

1B - Hunter Dozier

2B - Ryan Goins

SS - Alcides Escobar

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Ian Kennedy

Jason Hammel

Jakob Junis

Recent Bullpen Usage:

The Royals have had to heavily rely on their bullpen to secure their last two victories, but due to an offday on Thursday, the team should have a fully rested relief corps.

Hottest Hitter(s):

The Royals offense has sputtered for much of this season, and deserves a significant portion of credit for the team’s struggle to date. Late returner Mike Moustakas has provided most of the power for KC’s lineup, smacking twelve home runs that lead the team overall. Jorge Soler has been the best overall hitter on the season thus far for the Royals, hitting .278/.372/.481 in fifty games.

Coldest Hitter(s):

The middle infield has struggled to produce much of anything this season. Alcides Escobar was brought back to man shortstop after nearly departing for free agency, but hasn’t rewarded the team for their loyalty one bit, hitting for just a .598 OPS as a starter for the team. Salvador Perez has been one of the team’s better hitters overall but has struggled more recently.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

Rookie right hander Jakob Junis has been the brightest spot in an otherwise shoddy starting rotation for Kansas City, pitching to a 3.61 ERA in eleven starts this year. In the notorious Kansas City bullpen, Kelvin Herrera has been his dominant self, possessing an 0.83 ERA in twenty outings as the team’s primary closer.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

The Royals’ have the worst team-ERA in all of baseball, and a lot of that is due to a very ineffective starting rotation. All starters beside Junis have ERA’s greater than five, and have a tendency to put games out of hand before KC’s offense has a chance to chip away and keep things close.

Key Injuries:

The Royals have had several players inflicted with minor injuries, but the team has been relatively healthy on the whole. Jesse Hahn is currently on the 60 day DL with a sprained UCL.

* * *

The A’s just survived a tough homestand, the team struggling to win just one game versus the Tampa Bay Rays. Rickey Henderson Field hasn’t been all too kind to the A’s this year overall, the team just 15-15 overall in front of friendly fans, and so it may be beneficial to the offense to play elsewhere, for the time being. After a tough May in which the team simultaneously overperformed and underwhelmed, this series is the first in a stretch of games in which the A’s face teams that have significant holes and flaws, allowing Oakland to potentially rise in the standings. With the Mariners and Astros in a dogfight for first place, the A’s are tantalizingly close to third place, just one game behind the Angels overall, and need just a good series or two to push ahead.

The Royals are just a few years removed from a championship, and have mostly kept the band together in the meantime, but the season thus far has not been kind to Kansas City. The team is struggling to produce even in a relatively weak division that is the AL Central, and a power-starved offense hasn’t been able to make up for a starting rotation that has been rather punchless on the year. The Royals should never be underestimated, but if there was ever a year for the A’s to make a surprising statement on the road, this may be the year to do so.

Game #58: Friday, June 1st, at 5:15 - NBCSCA, FSKC

Frankie Montas vs Ian Kennedy

Montas was surprisingly strong in his first start with the big league club after a year of injuries and struggles in a relief role. Ian Kennedy was strong in his last outing versus the Rangers, but hasn’t been too effective on the year overall. The two righties will go toe-to-toe on Friday night, in a matchup of electric stuff against MLB experience.

Game #59: Saturday, June 2nd, at 12:15 - NBCSCA, FSKC

Trevor Cahill vs Jason Hammel

If not for Daniel Mengden, Trevor Cahill may claim the title to strongest starting pitcher the A’s have at the moment. The veteran has been phenomenal in his return to the A’s, and will look to keep the good times rolling. Jason Hammel may not have the best memories during his time in Oakland, but has been a solid starter over his career. In Hammel’s last start, he managed to get ten strikeouts in just five-plus innings pitched against Texas.

Game #60: Sunday, June 3rd, at 12:15 - NBCSCA, FSKC

Daniel Gossett vs Jakob Junis

Gossett has had just one good start on the year for his big league club, but has been absolutely dominant in the minor leagues this year. This start will be another chance for the starter to get back onto the path of success this season. Junis has been the one consistently decent starter for the Royals this year, and will be the biggest obstacle for the A’s this series.