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Series #21: Athletics vs Royals - Reset

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MLB: Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Angels Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Royals’ Current Record:

21-41, last place in the AL Central. They have lost four consecutive games, including the series finale against the Athletics on Sunday.

Possible Lineup:

CF - Whit Merrifield

SS - Alcides Escobar

3B - Mike Moustakas

C - Salvador Perez

RF - Jorge Soler

LF - Alex Gordon

1B - Hunter Dozier

2B - Ryan Goins

DH - Abraham Almonte

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Jason Hammel - RHP

Jake Junis - RHP

Danny Duffy - LHP

Brad Keller - RHP

Recent Bullpen Usage:

Since the two teams last played, in the Royals’ series versus the Angels, the Royals had to rely heavily on their bullpen, but for the last two days have been able to get by on individual long relief performances, and the most effective, core pieces of the bullpen are all fully rested.

Hottest Hitter(s):

Following their trade of Jon Jay to kick off trade season in the MLB, the Royals currently only have two players who have OPS’d above .700 over the last week, as the weak hitting squad has continued to struggle. Whit Merrifield and Jorge Soler have provided almost all the offense for the team since the A’s and Royals met last weekend.

Coldest Hitter(s):

Alex Gordon, Abraham Almonte, and Ryan Goins each have OPS’s under .500 during the last week, as each player is struggling to reach base and hit for any sort of power during the team’s most recent cold streak. Cleanup hitter Salvador Perez has a .158 batting average, and hasn’t provided the thump necessary from the middle of the order.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

While being stretched out to start long term, Brad Keller excelled in his most recent start versus the Angels on Tuesday, giving up one run in four-plus innings pitched. While sparingly used, both Kelvin Herrera and Trevor Oaks have been strong out of the bullpen.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

In large part due to the Athletics, Ian Kennedy has been awful out of the starting rotation of late, the veteran giving up eight runs in three innings pitched in his outing against the A’s last week. Beyond Herrera and Oaks, the once legendary Royals bullpen has seriously thinned out, and the rest of the relief corps has struggled to get outs all week. .

Key Injuries:

There hasn’t been any new injury news for the Royals since the teams last met.

* * *

The A’s are returning home to lick their wounds after a frustrating short series sweep at the hands of the Texas Rangers, and are taking on a very familiar opponent. The A’s have fallen back to the .500 mark, and are currently 15-15 at home and 16-16 on the road, so the team has potential to show improvement in at least one, if not both, of those areas. Due to injuries up and down the pitching staff, the team is making an unconventional move by turning Paul Blackburn’s minor league rehab assignment into a major league rehab assignment, and then relying more heavily on the bullpen.

The Royals got swept by the Angels in Anaheim after losing two of three to the A’s in Kansas City, and have fallen behind the Chicago White Sox into last place in the AL Central and now possess the second worst record in all of baseball. The team is struggling to find consistency on both offense and defense, with a thin pitching staff that simply doesn’t match up against most other teams. This is the sort of team the A’s should sweep, but things are rarely that easy in baseball.

Game #63: Thursday, June 7th, at 7:05 - NBCSCA, FSKC, MLB.tv

Paul Blackburn vs Jason Hammel

Blackburn’s rehab assignment was rather accelerated as the righty will be making his first start of the year on a strict seventy-five pitch limit. Last season, Blackburn possessed an ERA of 3.22 over ten starts with Oakland last season, and despite not having overwhelming stuff, is able to rely on strong sequencing and location to baffle opponents.

Game #64: Friday, June 8th, at 7:05 - NBCSCA, FSKC, MLB.tv

Frankie Montas vs Jake Junis

Montas has been an unexpected breath of fresh air since being called up to start for the A’s. In two starts, the fireballer has an ERA of 0.64, and in his last start, versus the Royals, he threw eight shutout innings. Jake Junis was strong against the A’s in that same series, but took the loss after giving up late runs.

Game #65: Saturday, June 9th, at 1:05 - NBCSCA, FSKC, MLB.tv

Trevor Cahill vs Danny Duffy

Against his former team, for whom he struggled mightily, Cahill had his first poor start of the season after giving up four runs in less than five innings pitched while carrying a high pitch count throughout the performance. He is going up against an inconsistent Duffy, who did not face the A’s last weekend, but did give up four runs in five innings with three walks and no strikeouts against the Angels earlier this week.

Game #66: Sunday, June 10th, at 1:05 - NBCSCA, FSKC, MLB.tv

Sean Manaea vs Brad Keller

In his last start, while still not looking great, Manaea finally snapped his streak of consecutive starts of giving up four runs or more. The lefty will have a chance to pitch against the team that traded him, along with Aaron Brooks, to the A’s for Ben Zobrist in an exchange that has been a win-win for each squad.