Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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MLB Preview: Cleveland Guardians (72-79) at Kansas City Royals (49-102)


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DRAMA KINGS: The Royals overcame a 3-run deficit in the 6th and scored 4 in the 8th to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 win yesterday at Kauffman Stadium vs. the Guardians…the 8th-inning rally was keyed by a go-ahead, 2-run double off the bat of Drew Waters, who went 2-for-4 to snap an 0-for-12 skid…starter Brady Singer was charged with 4 runs in 6.0 innings, but three Royals relievers combined for 3.0 scoreless innings, including a 1-2-3 9th by James McArthur, who earned his 1st career save yesterday, two days after he picked up his 1st win. yesterday marked their 8th win when trailing after the 7th inning, their most such wins since 2017 (10).

ROSTER MOVES: The Royals announced a flurry of roster moves today, including placing right handers Brady Singer on the 15-day Injured List with a left side lumbar strain and Brad Keller with thoracic outlet syndrome… right hander Jonathan Bowlan (No. 62) has been recalled from Triple-A Omaha and left hander Anthony Veneziano (No. 69) has been selected from Triple-A Omaha…Matt Beaty has been designated for assignment. The Royals have three players on their active roster who have yet to make their Majors debut in Bowlan, Veneziano (vuh-nezz-ee-ah-no) and catcher Tyler Cropley, who was on the roster for two days on the last trip but didn’t appear in a game, and re-joined the Royals yesterday after Salvador Perez was placed on the IL…that trio would be the ninth, 10th and 11th players to make their Majors debut with the Royals this season…they would also be the 57th, 58th and 59th different players to appear in a game with the Royals in 2023, the last of which would surpass the single-season club record set by the 2004 Royals (58). Bowlan and Veneziano would be the 35th and 36th different pitchers used by the Royals in 2023, which would extend their single-season franchise record that is already two more than last year’s total of 32.

STARTING SOMETHING: Steven Cruz is making his 2nd career start tonight in the opener role, after pitching 2.0 scoreless innings with 4 strikeouts last Wednesday night at the White Sox as an opener for bulk pitcher Alec Marsh, who went 4.1 innings and allowed 1 run…the Royals won that game, 7-1, to clinch the series and snap a 6-game losing streak in which they used an opener…the Royals are 5-12 this season in 17 games when they deploy and opener, but the last four openers have combined for 7.0 scoreless innings to begin the game.

WHAT A RELIEF!: Over the last 7 games—in which Kansas City is 5-2—the bullpen has pitched to a 3.34 ERA (11 ER in 29.2 IP) and .194 opponents’ average (20-for-103), and has been responsible for all 5 wins and 4 saves. James McArthur earned his 1st career save with a 1-2-3 9th inning yesterday, two days after earning his 1st Career win on Saturday night in Chicago…it’s been an impressive turnaround for McArthur, who 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 2.87 ERA (5 ER in 15.2 IP) and .192 opponents’ average (10-for-52)…he’s been nearly perfect in 7 appearances since his most recent recall on Sept. 1, a stretch in which he has pitched 9.2 scoreless innings and has retired 28 of 29 batters—including each of the last 19—allowing only a double to Andrew Vaughn on Sept. 6…his active streak of 19 consecutive batters retired is 14 shy of the cub record set by Steve Busby, who retired the last 24 batters he faced during his no-hitter on June 19, 1974 at Milwaukee, and retired the first nine batters of his next start on June 24. Jackson Kowar had a 6.17 ERA (8 ER in 11.2 IP) in 8 appearances over his first three stints with the Royals this season, but in 10 of his 12 outings since his Aug. 17 recall have been scoreless, a stretch in which
he’s 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA (6 ER in 14.0 IP)…he owns a 1.93 ERA (2 ER in 9.1 IP) in his last 8 appearances.

SERIES SPEAKING: With a win tonight or tomorrow, the Royals would clinch their third consecutive series win, something they haven’t done in more than two years, since July 20-29, 2021, when they swept a 2-game series in Milwaukee, swept the Tigers in 3 games in Kansas City and took 3 of 4 from the White Sox at home. Ê A win tonight or tomorrow would be the Royals first vs. Cleveland since July 8-10 of last year, and would snap a run of five straight series losses, a stretch in which they’re 6-13 and have been outscored by 35 runs.

HOME STRETCH: The Royals continue their penultimate homestand of the season tonight with the 2nd of 3 games vs. the Guardians…the Royals have won 4 of their last 5 games and are 3-1 on this homestand with 2 games left…a win tonight or tomorrow would clinch their first winning stay since July 28-Aug. 3, when they swept the Twins and Mets in back-to-back series to complete a 6-0 homestand, their longest unbeaten stay since 2016. Counting tonight, the Royals have 11 games left this season, including 5 at home and a 6-game trip to Houston and Detroit…they will end the year with a 3-game home set from Sept. 29-Oct. 1 vs. the Yankees. The Royals are 27-31 in their last 58 home games after starting 2-16, and are 16-16 at home since the All-Star break, but have outscored their opponents 175-162 (+13)…during their last 32 home games since the break, they lead the Majors with a .281 batting average and lead the American League with 5.5 runs per game. Despite ranking 29th in the Majors with 29 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).

BOBBY BASEBALL: Bobby Witt Jr. has 9 stolen bases in his last 8 games and now ranks 3rd in the Majors this season with 48, trailing only Ronald Acuña Jr. (66) and Esteury Ruiz (61)…Bobby’s 48 steals are the most by a Royal since Tom Goodwin had 66 in 1996, and his 78 career steals are the most by any player through two Major League seasons since Ichiro Suzuki had 87 stolen bases in his first two seasons from 2001-02. His 166 hits rank 3rd in the American League, trailing only Julio Rodríguez (174) and Marcus Semien (173). Witt Jr. remains 1 HR shy of becoming the first Royals player to record 30 HR and 30 steals in a season. Bobby is 1 HR and 2 seals shy of becoming the fourth player in Major League history with at least 30 HR and 50 steals in a season, and would join Eric Davis (1987), Barry Bonds (1990) and Acuña Jr. (2023)…his combo of 49 career HR and 78 steals is unmated through two seasons in history.


Steven is making his 2nd appearance as an opener today against the Guardians, having also done so in last Wednesday’s series-clinching win over the White Sox, which was his 1st Major League start, in Which he worked 2.0 scoreless frames and recorded a career-high 4 strikeouts. His last 5 outings have been scoreless and he’s yielded just 3 hits and 1 walk with 8 strikeouts. He was named Omaha’s Pitcher of the Month for August, in which 8 of his 9 outings were scoreless. Cruz signed as an undrafted free agent by Minnesota in 2017 out of the Dominican Republic by Twins scout Fred Guerrero, and was acquired by Kansas City with left-handed pitcher Evan Sisk in exchange for outfielder Michael A. Taylor on Jan. 23 of this year. He had his contract selected from Triple-A Omaha on Aug. 29, marking his third stop this season after beginning the year with Double-A Northwest Arkansas…between his two minor league stops, he recorded 9 saves in 43 games while posting a 3.81 ERA (21 ER in 49.2 IP) with 64 strikeouts.

ALEC MARSH is making his 15th career appearance tonight as the bulk pitcher vs. the Guardians, who he is facing for the second time in his career…he was selected by the Royals in the 2nd round of the 2019 Draft out of Arizona State University.

WINNER WINNER: Alec earned his 1st career win in his most recent outing last Wednesday night on the South Side of Chicago, where he held the White Sox to just 1 run in 4.1 innings of a 7-1 Royals victory…he entered in relief of opener Steven Cruz—who pitched 2.0 scoreless frames—and retired 11 of his first 14 batters faced, stranding a 1-out single in the 3rd inning, erasing a leadoff walk in the 5th with a 6-4-3 double play and working around a 1-out walk in the 6th…three straight batters reached to open the 7th, including a leadoff double, an infield single and an RBI fielder’s choice from Yasmani Grandal, who reached first base on an error…with runners on the corners, he recorded his 5th strikeout of the night and exited in favor of James McArthur, who induced an inning-ending double play to preserve the lead. In 8 starts, he owns a 7.64 ERA (30 ER in 35.1 IP) with 13 HR allowed, compared to his 2.88 ERA (8 ER in 25.0 IP) and 2 HR in 6 appearances out of the bullpen.

STRIKEOUT SURGE: Alec has 71 strikeouts in 60.1 innings to start his career (10.6 K/9, 25.4 K%), which are tied for the 2nd most by a Royal through 14 career Outings, behind only teammate Brady Singer, who recorded 72 strikeouts in his 1st 14 outings from 2020-21…Singer also holds the club record through 15 games with 78 strikeouts. Since his Major League debut on June 30, his 10.6 K/9 ranks 5th in the American League (min. 60.0 IP), trailing leader Nick Pivetta (13.0 K/9)…his 25.4 K% in that span ranks T-15th among all American League pitchers. Marsh made his 3rd career start on July 15 in Game 1 of the Royals split doubleheader vs. the Rays, in which he set career highs in innings (6.0) and strikeouts (11)…his 11 strikeouts marked the most by a Royal since Brady Singer had 12 on July 23, 2022 vs. the Rays…it was the most strikeouts by a Royal within a player’s 1st 3 career outings, breaking the previous mark set by Runelvys Hernández, who had 9 in his 2nd start on July 20, 2002 (Game 1). Alec became just the sixth American League pitcher this century to record an 11-strikeout game within his 1st 3 career appearances, following Kyle Bradish (May 10, 2022), Shohei Ohtani (April 8, 2018), Chris Archer (Sept. 8, 2012), Matt Moore (Sept. 22, 2011) and Félix Hernández (Aug. 15, 2005). He recorded 5 strikeouts in his debut on June 30, which were the most by a Royal in his Majors debut since Brady Singer had 7 in his debut on July 25, 2020.

SWING AND A MISS: In just 14 outings (8 starts) this season, Marsh has already recorded 155 swings and misses (according to Baseball Savant), including 5 outings with at least 15 whiffs, on July 15 vs. Tampa Bay (15), July 5 at Minnesota (15), Aug. 16 vs. Seattle (15), Aug. 21 at Oakland (15) and Aug. 27 at Seattle (16)…since the start of July, he’s induced 147 swings and misses, which accounts for 14.4% of his 1,020 total pitches and is the T-9th highest rate in the AL in that span (min. 1,000 pitches)— and the T-15th highest rate in the Majors—trailing leader Tyler Glasnow (16.7%). Alec induced 51 swings and misses in the month of July alone, accounting for 11.3% of his total pitches thrown (450)…his 11.3% rate of pitches whiffed on led the Majors in July (min. 400 total pitches), ahead of Gavin Williams (9.8%).

THE GOOD, THE BAD…AND THE UGLY: Alec has surrendered 15 home runs in just 60.1 innings to start his career, and has allowed at least 1 home run in each of his first 8 career starts, while his only homerless appearances have come in relief outings…his 8 straight starts with at least 1 home run allowed is the longest such streak of starts by a Major Leaguer to begin his career since Baltimore’s Kyle Bradish yielded a home run in 8 consecutive starts to begin his career last season…
it’s the longest streak of starts with a home run to start a career in Royals history. Marsh has pitched to a 5.67 ERA (38 ER in 60.1 IP) in 14 appearances this year, however of the 38 earned runs he’s allowed, 21 have come via home runs (55.3%)…he’s held opponents to a .238 batting average (15-for-63) with runners in scoring position this season, and 4 of those 15 such hits were home runs. His 15 home runs allowed through 14 career appearances are the 4th most in franchise history through a pitcher’s first 14 career games, behind 2009 Cy Young Award winner and current teammate Zack Greinke, Jim Pittsley and Keith Creel who each yielded 16 homers through their 1st 14 career games.

PITCH TRACKING: As pointed out by’s Anne Rogers, Marsh introduced a sinker to his arsenal prior to his start on Aug. 27 in Seattle, a pitch he hadn’t thrown since he was drafted in 2019 out of Arizona State University…according to Baseball Savant, he’s thrown the pitch 42 times over his last 4 outings, which accounts for 14.0% of the 300 total pitches he’s hurled in that span, and opponents have batted 5-for-16 off of it with 1 strikeout…in an attempt to supplement his elevated fastball, his new sinker is a pitch that is aimed at attacking the middle of the strike zone, and 17 of the 42 sinkers he’s thrown so far have been located in the heart of the zone, which Statcast identifies as the innermost attack region of the strike zone. His repertoire now features five different pitches, and his lowest opponents’ avg. has come off his curveball (.219), according to Brooks Baseball.

VS. CLEVELAND: Tonight marks Alec’s 2nd career appearance against the Guardians, who will become the third opponent that he’s faced multiple times in his career, joining the Red Sox and Mariners…in his start at Cleveland on July 26, he was dealt the loss after allowing 4 runs in 2.2 innings

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