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Series #44: Athletics at Royals - Unspoiling

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing quite takes the wind out of your sails after taking both the Astros and Yankees to task like getting swept at home by your well-to-do crosstown rivals.

Fortunately, the A’s are being presented a nice opportunity to be able to bounce back and get themselves right back into a Wild Card spot by playing their next four games against the Kansas City Royals.

It hasn’t been all too long since the Royals were the envy of the American League and went to back to back World Series, winning one of them. However, the collapse and fallout that many in baseball believed would happen years earlier happened in 2018 after the team hung around the .500 mark for a couple of seasons after their World Series victory. This year hasn’t been much different than last year for Royals’ fans, as the team is 46-85 and only ahead of the hapless Tigers in the AL Central. The Royals have already been eliminated from postseason contention.

That isn’t to say that the Royals are pushovers or that their games are meaningless. Right now young ballplayers are all auditioning and competing for more playing time in future seasons. Many of their future studs are at the big league level or rapidly getting closer to their debut. Veterans are auditioning for bigger contracts in future seasons. Some of those veterans have already been dealt to contenders, like Jake Diekman and Homer Bailey getting dealt to Oakland for some high-speed outfielders in their system.

The Royals’ offense has been the team’s greatest weakness this year, but there are a few key players who have been having breakout seasons. Former first round pick Hunter Dozier has been the Royals’ best hitter this year, slashing .283/.360/.543 on the year with 22 home runs and 31 doubles and triples. Also having surprisingly good seasons are Jorge Soler and Whit Merrifield. Soler had long been a disappointment at the big league level prior to this year, but all of a sudden has hit 36 home runs and has driven in 91 runs with an .876 OPS. Merrifield has been hitting .300 all season long and has wreaked havoc on the bases.

Kansas City’s pitching hasn’t been wonderful, but there are some bright spots on the staff as well. The starting rotation has stayed mostly healthy the full year, with only three guys outside of the regular rotation ever needing to jump in and make an emergency start or two. That sort of health can be a real boon for a team that needs competent, warm bodies on the roster. Brad Keller has been the best of the bunch, pitching to a 3.95 ERA in 27 starts this year.

However, with a team OPS of .701 and a team ERA of 5.01, it is clear that this year’s Royals have had several problems on both sides of the ball, and despite the talent that is on the roster and will be on the roster in a few years time, these are the types of games the A’s must win if they are to have a chance at a playoff spot. The Royals have played spoiler for the A’s before, certainly the team would love to do so again.

Possible Lineup

Whit Merrifield - RF

Jorge Soler - DH

Hunter Dozier - 3B

Alex Gordon - LF

Ryan O’Hearn - 1B

Bubba Starling - CF

Nick Dini -C

Humberto Arteaga - SS

Nicky Lopez - 2B

Pitching Matchups

Homer Bailey vs Brad Keller

Mike Fiers vs Mike Montgomery

Tanner Roark vs Jakob Junis

Chris Bassitt vs TBD

Game Information

Game #131: Monday, August 26th at 5:15

Game #132: Tuesday, August 27th at 5:15

Game #133: Wednesday, August 28th at 5:15

Game #134: Thursday, August 29th at 10:15

Games #131-133 will be on NBCSCA. Game #134 will be on MLB Network.