Saturday, September 23, 2023

MLB Preview: Cleveland Guardians (72-78) at Kansas City Royals (48-102)


The Cleveland Guardians completed a 3-game weekend sweep of the Texas Rangers, downing the AL West Division contenders by a 9-2 margin on Sunday afternoon at Progressive Field…marked Cleveland’s second series sweep of 2023 (3G, June 20-22 vs. Oakland)…Guardians have won 3 straight – one shy of the club’s season-high – 4 of last 5 overall in addition to 6 of last 9 at home… club has gone 15-13-4 over last 32 series (+1G above .500/51-50 record in that span since May 26), as the series victory snapped a skid of 3 straight series losses. Cleveland rallied for all 9 runs on 9 hits (6-singles, 2-2B, 1-HR) in the club’s 4th-inning turn at the dish – the club’s first 9-run inning since April 20, 2022 vs. Chicago-AL (2nd inn: 9R, 9H)…newly minted 31-year-old JOSÉ RAMÍREZ opened the frame with a solo blast (24) – his 4th home run all-time on his birthday – the first of 7 consecutive base knocks by the Guardians offense…Ramírez also tacked on a run-scoring groundout in his next PA, as Cleveland sent 14 batters to the plate…ANDRÉS GIMÉNEZ delivered a 2-1 lead with an RBI-single and later capped the rally with a 2-run double to make it 9-1…GABRIEL ARIAS contributed a 2-run single, while TYLER FREEMAN and STEVEN KWAN mixed in RBI-singles… GAVIN WILLIAMS turned in a quality start to earn his third victory (6.0IP, 4H, 1R-ER, 2BB-1iBB, 7SO, 97 pitches)…lone run allowed came after giving up consecutive 2-out doubles to Leody Taveras and Josh Smith in the 2nd inning…retired 12 of the final 15 batters he faced…Texas southpaw Cody Bradford faced the first 6 batters of the 4th inning before exiting (3.0IP, 7H, 6R-ER, 0BB, 2SO, HR, 64 pitches). With 12 games remaining and the Twins ‘Magic Number’ sitting at 6, Cleveland (72-78) sits in 2nd place in AL Central standings, 7.0 games behind 2nd-place Minnesota (79-71) & 1.5 games ahead of 3rd-place Detroit (-8.5G, 70-79)…despite winning 3 straight and 4 of last 5, Guardians have dropped 8 of 14, 16 of 30, 27 of 47 & 72 of last 135 overall since starting year 9-6.

Fresh off their sweep of the Texas Rangers, the Cleveland Guardians take on their divisional opponent, the Kansas CIty Royals…the Guardians are 7-3 against the Royals this season, winning all three series against KC…the two clubs most recently squared off from July 24-26…after dropping the first game of the series, 5-3, Cleveland won the second matchup, 5-1, powered by an 8.0-inning, one run (earned), gem from Aaron Civale…the Guards took the rubber match, 8-3, helped by JOSÉ RAMÍREZ’s two home runs…Cleveland has not lost a season series to Kansas City since 2015…during the Terry Francona era, Cleveland is 117- 74 against the Royals…overall, the Guardians are 420-362 against the Royals all-time. In 149 career games against the Royals, JOSÉ RAMÍREZ is hitting .277 (151-for-545) with 28 home runs and 92 RBI…among active players, he has the 3rd-most RBI (92), 4th-most hits (151) and T4th-most home runs (28) against Kansas City…in 13 contests against his hometown club, WILL BRENNAN is hitting .340 (18-for- 53) with one home run and 9 RBI against the Royals…in 3 games at Kauffman Stadium he’s 5-for-12 (.417) with 3 RBI, including the game winning RBI on June 27…JOSH NAYLOR is hitting .289 (35- for-121) with 5 home runs and 20 RBI against the Royals.

With his 216th career home run in Sunday’s contest, JOSÉ RAMÍREZ tied Carlos Santana and Hal Trosky for 5th-most in club history…he passed Larry Doby (215), who had the 7th-most in club history…the home run came on Ramírez’s 31st birthday…his 4 home runs on his birthday are the most in Cleveland franchise history…in 8 games on his birthday, he is hitting .333 (11-for-33) with 4 home runs, 9 RBI and 6 runs scored…he has tallied a hit in 7 straight games on his birthday, marking the longest active streak in the majors. Ramírez has 24 home runs and 25 stolen bases in 2023…his 5 seasons of 20-or-more home runs and 20-or-more stolen bases are the most in club history, passing Grady Sizemore (4) and tied for the most among active players with LAA’s Mike Trout…he is T10th in MLB history in 20-20 seasons…Ramírez has turned the trick in each of his last 5 full seasons (2018-19, ‘21-’23)…his next home run will give him his 3rd season of 25-or-more home runs and 25-ormore stolen bases, the most in club history…he and Francisco Lindor are T1st with two each…Ramirez turned the trick in 2018 and 2021…Ramírez is one stolen base away from joining Mike Trout, Jose Altuve and Andrew McCutchen as the only active MLB players with 200+ career home runs and stolen bases.

ANDRÉS GIMÉNEZ leads the American League and is 3rd in MLB with 19 defensive runs saved, trailing PIT’s Ke’Bryan Hayes (22) and SD’s Fernando Tatis Jr. (26)…his 366 assists this season rank T1st in the American League and T2nd in MLB with TEX’s Marcus Semien and COL’s Ezequiel Tovar (366), trailing NYM’s Francisco Lindor (377)…he leads all middle infielders with 35 defensive runs saved since the start of last season. STEVEN KWAN ranks T2nd in the American League and T4th in MLB with 17 defensive runs saved this season…he and TOR’s Kevin Kiermaier are tied for the most DRS among American League outfielders and trail only Tatis Jr. (26) in MLB…Kwan’s 38 defensive runs saved since the start of last season are the most by any AL player and rank 2nd in MLB behind Hayes…he’s T6th in the American League with 9 outfield assists…his 5 assists since August 8 are T3rd in MLB with LAA’s Randall Grichuk and STL’s Jordan Walker.

The Guardians have struck out 1,055 times in 2023 and have a strikeout per plate appearance rate of 5.36, both the best marks in MLB, ahead of Washington (1,068, 5.26)…the club has had 5-orfewer strikeouts in 43 games this season, leading MLB, ahead of Washington (41)…STEVEN KWAN (3rd, 9.67) and JOSÉ RAMÍREZ (4th, 9.65) both rank in the top 5 in PA/SO rate this season, with nearly identical marks…since 2022, Cleveland is the only MLB team that has fewer than 2,200 strikeouts (2,177) and has 112 fewer punchouts than the next closest team (Washington, 2,289).

At 72-78, Cleveland needs to go 9-3 in their last 12 games to avoid the second losing season under Terry Francona…the club finished 80-82 in 2021, snapping a streak of 8 straight winning seasons for Cleveland and 16 straight winning seasons for Tito, the 3rd-longest streak for a manager in MLB history…since 2013, Cleveland has played 18 total games out of Postseason contention…Francona’s 917 wins as a Cleveland manager are the most in club history…since 2013, Cleveland (917-749, .550) has the 3rd-best win percentage in MLB, trailing New York-AL (934-734, .560) and Los Angeles-NL (1,022-645, .613).


2023 3-6 5.40 16 16 85.0 93 52 51 30 48
Career 34-22 3.82 129 91 556.0 537 258 236 160 417

2023 2-2 4.93 9 9 49.1 54 28 27 15 30
Career 13-15 4.16 60 38 244.1 254 129 113 76 189

The 28-year-old right-hander is making his 17th start of the season, tenth on the road, in the opening matchup of this 3-game set with the Kansas City Royals…missed 48 games due to right shoulder inflammation, the most time he’s missed due to injury in his career…the 5-year veteran has missed 72 games this season over two stints on the Injured List, both with right shoulder inflammation…was sidelined June 2-30 earlier this year…is starting on extended 5 days’ rest; is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA (20ER/40.0IP) in 7 starts on 5 days’ rest.

Quantrill took the hill on Tuesday at Oracle Park against San Francisco in a 3-1 Cleveland victory…he earned his third victory of the season and his first win since May 7 vs. Minnesota… produced 6.0 innings of work with 5 hits, one run (earned), 3 walks and 2 strikeouts…retired 5 of the first 7 batters he faced in the 1st and 2nd innings, the 2 blemishes being walks allowed to Mike Yastrzemski and Joc Pederson…following a leadoff double from Brandon Crawford in the 3rd, Quantrill retired the side…after a scoreless 4th, he allowed a Blake Sabol solo home run with one out in the 5th…after a pair of 2-out singles in the frame from Luis Matos and Yastrzemski, a groundout ended the inning…after holding the Giants scoreless in the 6th, his outing came to an end.

In 9 career games/6 career starts vs. Kansas City, Quantrill has a perfect 6-0 record with a 2.93 ERA (13ER/40.0IP)…he has earned the win each of his 6 starts against Kansas City dating back to July 10, 2021…Quantrill is one of 12 pitchers in MLB history to earn a victory in 6-or-more consecutive games against the Royals…with a win today, he would join Roger Clemens (8, 4/26/1985-7/15/1988), Eric Milton (8, 8/15/2000-6/19/2004) and Sonny Gray (9, 4/16/2016-4/30/2023) as the only MLB pitchers to win 7 straight starts against Kansas City. Against the AL Central in 2023, he is 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA (6ER/17.0IP) in 3 starts…has handcuffed divisional hitters to a .161 average, .214 SLG and .472 OPS…holds a 16-4 record with a 3.23 ERA (62ER/173.0IP) in 40 games/27 starts against the division in his career…is tied with CWS’s Dylan Cease for the most wins against the AL Central since 2021.

Entering today’s start, Quantrill has performed well in 3 September starts…he is tied with NYY’s Gerrit Cole (1.50) for the 3rd-best ERA in the AL this month, behind DET’s Tarik Skubal (1.42) and Reese Olson (1.37)…he also ranks among AL pitchers in September (min. 15.0IP) in batting average against (.164, 4th), BABIP (.180, 4th), H/9 (5.00, 4th), SLG (.262, T4th), OPS (.534, 5th), fewest pitches per inning (14.1, 5th), HR/9 (0.50, T7th), WHIP (1.00, T8th) and BR/9 (9.50, 9th).

Quantrill has produced 3 straight quality starts since returning on September 1…owns a 1.50 ERA (2ER/18.0IP) in the 3 starts… opposing hitters are batting .164 (10-for-61) during that stretch… has made 8 quality starts in his 16 outings this season…he last tossed 3 straight quality starts from May 1-13 earlier this year. Quantrill has made 8 starts of 6.0+ innings this season, going 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA (11ER/50.1IP)…Cleveland is 7-1 in those games, despite scoring 4-or-fewer runs in 7 of those 8 contests…when Quantrill doesn’t work 6.0-or-more innings, he is 0-6 with a 10.38 ERA (40ER/34.2IP) and Cleveland is 1-7 in those contests…in his tenure with the Guardians, he has made 42 starts of 6.0-or-more innings, going 20-4 with a 2.38 ERA (71ER/268.1IP)…Cleveland owns a 30-12 record in those outings…he is 6-9 with a 6.39 ERA (93ER/131.0IP) in all other starts, while the Guardians are 12-18 in such contests.


STREAKS SNAPPED: The Royals suffered a 7-1 loss to Houston yesterday here at Kauffman Stadium, snapping their 4-game winning streak, but still won 2 of 3 vs. the 1st-place Astros…the Royals took an early lead in the 2nd on their American League-leading 53rd sacrifice fly of the season, but Jordan Lyles was tagged for 2 runs on the 3rd and solo home runs in the 4th and 5th, the last of which was his 38th homer allowed, matching Darrell May in 2004 for the club’s single-season record…when the 3rd inning ended with the Royals down 2-1, it snapped their streak of 38 consecutive innings in which they either led (33) or were tied (5) after the frame.

ROSTER MOVES: The Royals this morning announced that catcher Salvador Perez has been placed on the 7-day Concussion Injured List, retroactive to Sept. 17…Salvy exited Saturday’s game in the 5th inning and yesterday was diagnosed with a concussion…in a pair of corresponding moves, catcher Tyler Cropley has been selected from Triple-A Omaha and catcher Freddy Fermin has been transferred to the 60-day Injured List. Cropley spent two days on the active roster on the last trip, but did not appear in a game…he would be the ninth Royals player to debut this season, following Austin Cox on May 4, Samad Taylor on June 17, James McArthur on June 28, Alec Marsh on June 30, John McMillon on Aug. 17, Steven Cruz on Aug. 29, Nick Loftin on Sept. 1 and Logan Porter last Tuesday…he would also be the 57th different player to appear in a game with the Royals this year, which would be 2nd most in franchise history behind 2004 (58).

HOME STRETCH: After winning 2 of 3 vs. the 1st-place Astros over the weekend, the Royals continue their penultimate homestand of the season today with the 1st of 3 games vs. the Guardians…counting today, the Royals have only 12 games left on their 2023 schedule, including 6 home games and a 6-game trip to Houston and Detroit…the Royals will end the season with a 3-game home series from Sept. 29-Oct. 1 vs. the Yankees. The Royals are 26-31 in their last 57 games at Kauffman Stadium after starting 2-16, and are 15-16 at home since the All-Star break, but have outscored their opponents 169-158 (+11)…during their last 31 home games since the break, the Royals lead the American League with a .283 batting average and 5.5 runs per game, and rank 3rd in the American League in both slugging percentage (.465) and OPS (.794).

Despite ranking 29th in the Majors with 28 home victories, Kansas City’s 8 walk-off wins are tied for 4th most in the Majors this year behind the Twins (10), Reds (10) and Rays (9) and are its most since 2017 (8).

EN GUARD!: The Royals today begin a 3-game set vs. the Guardians, a team they’ve lost five consecutive series to since they last took 2 of 3 from July 8-10 of last season here at Kauffman Stadium…the Royals are 3-7 vs. Cleveland this season and have been outscored 55-26 (-29), and all 10 of their previous meetings came during a 30-day stretch from June 27-July 26…Kansas City is batting .204 vs. the Guardians this season while averaging just 2.6 runs per game, and has been out-homered 12-5 while allowing 5.5 runs per game.

AFTERNOON DELIGHT: Today’s 1:10 p.m. CT start marks the Royals 2nd of 3 days games in a 4-game span, including yesterday’s loss to Houston and Wednesday’s 1:10 p.m. CT series finale…this marks the only day game in the Majors today, and is Kansas City’s 63rd matinee of the season, 4th most in the American League…the Royals are 21-41 in day games this season, but are 11-8 in their last 19 day games at home after starting with 8 straight losses, and half of their 8 walk-off wins this season have come in day games.

BIG MAC: James McArthur was charged with 7 runs in 1.0 inning during his Major League debut on June 28 vs. these Guardians, and was optioned to Triple-A Omaha two days later…but in 11 appearances (2 starts) across three big league stints since his debut, McArthur owns a 3.07 ERA (5 ER in 14.2 IP) and .204 opponents’ average (10-for-49)…he’s been nearly perfect in 6 appearances since his most recent recall on Sept. 1, a stretch in which he has pitched 8.2 scoreless innings and has retired 25 of 26 batters—including each of the last 16—allowing only a double to Andrew Vaughn on Sept. 6…in his most recent outing on Saturday night vs. Houston, McArthur escaped a jam in the 7th inning and pitched a 1-2-3 8th to earn his 1st Major League win. In 6 games over the last two series, the Royals bullpen has been responsible for all 4 of the team’s wins, 3 of which required a save…Royals relievers have pitched to a 3.71 ERA (11 ER in 26.2 IP) and .204 opponents’ average (19-for-93) during this stretch, while averaging more than 4.0 innings per game.

SEPTEMBER SLUGGERRRS: The Royals offense ranks among the best in the American League in several offensive categories since the calendar flipped to September, including 3rd in batting average (.269), on-base percentage (.340), slugging percentage (.456) and OPS (.796), and 4th in runs per game (5.7)…they’ve produced 4 games with a double-digit run total and are 7-8 this month while outscoring opponents 86-80 (+6).

BOBBY BASEBALL: Bobby Witt Jr. went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in the 6th inning yesterday, which was his 1st since Sept. 8 vs. Toronto’s Yusei Kikuchi, snapping a streak of 37 consecutive plate appearances without a strikeout, which was the longest active run in the Majors…in the 8th he hit a 391-ft. fly ball to left that would’ve been a homer in 23 of 30 ballparks—and would’ve been his 30th of the season—but instead counted as an out. He remains 1 HR shy of becoming the first Royals player to record 30 HR and 30 steals in a season…he would be the fifth player in Major League history with a 30 HR and 40 steals at age 23 (or younger), and would join Bobby Bonds in 1969, José Canseco in 1988, Álex Rodríguez in 1998 and Mike Trout in 2012. Witt Jr. has 8 stolen bases in his last 7 games and 47 for the season, which are tied with Corbin Carroll for the 3rd most in the Majors, trailing only Ronald Acuña Jr. (66) and Esteury Ruiz (59)…Bobby’s 47 steals are the most by a Royal since Tom Goodwin had 66 in 1996, and his 77 career steals are the most by any player through two seasons since Ichiro Suzuki had 87 steals in his first two seasons from 2001-02. His 165 hits rank 3rd in the American League, trailing only Julio Rodríguez (174) and Marcus Semien (171).

I BELIEVE I CAN FLY: The Royals have recorded at least 1 sacrifice fly in each of their last 5 games, 2 shy of the franchise record of 7 straight games set from June 11-18, 1976…they have 8 sac. flies in their last 5 games to up their season total to 53, which leads the American League and ranks 2nd in the Majors to the Dodgers (63)…the Royals are attempting to lead the American League in sacrifice flies for the first time since 2000 (70).

THE RUNNING ROYALS: The Royals rank tied with Arizona for 3rd in the Majors with 151 stolen bases, trailing only Cincinnati (173) and Tampa Bay (155)…they’re on pace for 163 steals, which would mark the 8th-best single-season total in club history and would be their most since 1996 (195)…since June 1, the Royals have 111 steals in 94 games, which leads the American League and ranks 2nd in the Majors to Cincinnati’s 130…in 59 games since the All-Star break, the Royals lead the Majors with 75 steals, 13 more than the Cubs and Guardians (62 each)


BRADY SINGER is making his team-high-tying 29th start of the season and 92nd of his career today vs. Cleveland…it’s his 11th career start vs. the Guardians and 3rd this season…he’s in his fourth season in the Majors and was selected by Kansas City in the 1st round (18th overall) of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft out of the Univ. of Florida. Among players drafted in the 1st round in 2018, Singer’s 5.8 bWAR ranks 4th, trailing Nico Hoerner (11.5), Shane McClanahan (8.5) and Logan Gilbert (6.8).

THE LAST TIME: Brady suffered his 11th loss of the season in a 6-2 defeat in Game 1 of last Tuesday’s doubleheader in Chicago, in which he was charged with 6 runs on 9 hits and 2 walks in 5.1 innings, with 2 strikeouts…the White Sox scored 5 runs in the 1st inning on 2 RBI singles, a 2-run single and an RBI groundout, as six of the first seven batters reached vs. Singer, after which he retired 14 of 19, holding the Sox scoreless until his final batter in the 6th, a 1-out RBI single by Elvis Andrus.

I’M STILL STANDING: Following a breakout season in 2022, Brady has struggled this year, as he’s been charged with at least 4 earned runs in half of his 28 starts, something that happened in only 5 of his 24 starts last season…the Royals are 3-11 in games that he allows at least 4 earned runs…but on the flip side, he’s held opponents to 3 earned runs or fewer in his other 14 starts, in which the Royals are 10-4. After going 2-4 with an 8.82 ERA (33 ER in 33.2 IP) in his 1st 7 starts, Singer went 6-4 with a 3.62 ERA (41 ER in 102.0 IP) over his next 17 starts, including 3-0 with a 2.85 ERA (13 ER in 41.0 IP) in his 1st 6 starts out of the All-Star break. In his last 4 starts, Singer is 0-3 with a 10.00 ERA (20 ER in 18.0 IP) and .414 opponents’ average (36-for-87), allowing at least 9 hits and 4 runs in all 4 starts.

THE CLIMB: Last Tuesday marked Brady’s 28th start of the season, setting a new career high while passing his previous best of 27 starts in 2021…he also reached 153.2 innings in his most recent start, setting a new career high in that category, after recording 153.1 innings in the Majors last season…Singer enters tonight with 499.2 innings for his career and needs just 1 out to reach 500.0 innings.

SONG OF THE SOUTH(PAWS): Opponents have stacked their lineups with lefthanded batters vs. Singer, who has been mostly a two-pitch pitcher, as his sinker and slider account for 91.1% of his pitches…of the 677 batters he has faced, 394 of them (58.2%) have been left handers, which is the highest rate in the Majors (min. 600 BF).

CALL ME MAYBE: In 52 starts since his recall on May 17 of last season, Brady has induced a called strike on 946 of 4,4911 pitches (19.3%), 7th most in the Majors behind Logan Webb (1,051), Aaron Nola (984), Gerrit Cole (959), Chris Bassitt (951), Miles Mikolas (951) and Corbin Burnes (947)…since his 2020 debut season, Singer’s called-strike rate of 20.2% ranks 2nd in the Majors (min. 5,000 pitches), trailing only Adam Wainwright (20.9%)…Singer’s career rate is also the highest by
any Royal in the Pitch Tracking Era (since 2008), well ahead of Bruce Chen (18.0%).

CAN’T TOUCH THIS: Singer has recorded 471 strikeouts in 499.2 innings since his 2020 debut for an 8.5 K/9, which is the best rate in Royals history among pitchers who’ve started at least 70 games, ahead of Ian Kennedy (8.4), Jakob Junis (8.1) and Danny Duffy (8.1)…his 471 strikeouts are 2nd most in franchise history through 94 career appearances, trailing only Royals Hall of Famer Steve Busby (474)…Brady needs 7 strikeouts today to match Busby, who had 478 strikeouts through 95 outings.

DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’: Singer has had success following a Royals loss, and he’ll attempt to be the stopper again today following Kansas City’s loss yesterday… in 57 career appearances following a Royals loss, Singer is 19-15 with a 3.98 ERA (136 ER in 307.1 IP), and 6 of his 8 wins this season have followed a Royals loss.

AFTERNOON DELIGHT: Today marks Singer’s 16th daytime start of the season, 1 shy of Patrick Corbin and Justin Steele (17 each) for the most in the Majors…it’s also 1 start shy of the Royals single-season record held by James Shields, who made 17 day game starts in 2013…Brady is 4-7 with a 5.63 ERA (53 ER in 84.2 IP) in his 15 daytime starts this season, but in his 7 daytime starts at home, he’s 4-1 with a 2.62 ERA (13 ER in 44.2 IP), including wins vs. the Rockies, Dodgers, Rays and Mets.

CLEVELAND BLUES: In 11 career appearances (10 starts) vs. the Guardians, Brady is 2-2 with a 4.88 ERA (32 ER in 59.0 IP)…the Royals have lost his last 4 starts vs. Cleveland and Brady himself hasn’t earned a win vs. the Guardians since Sept. 20, 2021 at Progressive Field, a game in which he pitched 7.0 innings of 2-run ball…his only other win vs. Cleveland came on Sept. 10 of his 2020 rookie season, in which he took a no-hitter into the 8th inning but settled for 8.0 scoreless frames and 1 hit allowed. Singer is 0-1 in 2 starts vs. the Guardians this season, including a no-decision here on June 27 in which he pitched 6.0 scoreless innings, and a 10-6 loss on July 8 in Cleveland, where he was charged with 6 runs on a career-high 13 hits.

TAKE ME HOME: Singer is 5-4 with a 4.35 ERA (44 ER in 91.0 IP) in 16 starts at Kauffman Stadium this season…his ERA is almost 3 runs lower at home than it is on the road, where he’s 3-7 with a 7.18 ERA (50 ER in 62.2 IP)…Brady has held opponents to 2 runs or fewer in 10 of his 16 home starts, including 8 of the last 10, a stretch in which he’s 4-1 with a 2.74 ERA (19 ER in 62.1 IP)…the Royals have won each of Singer’s last 6 home starts, during which they’ve scored 36 runs in his 40.1 innings.

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