Friday, June 2, 2023
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MLB Preview: Kansas City Royals (12-31) at San Diego (20-22)


SHUT OUT IN SAN DIEGO: The Royals suffered their 4th consecutive loss in last night’s 4-0 defeat in San Diego, which marked their seventh time being shut out this season, matching the Mets for the most in the Majors…Michael Wacha retired the first 13 Royals before Edward Olivares was plunked with 1 out in the 5th, and Wacha didn’t allow a hit until Michael Massey singled to begin the 8th, which broke up the 18th individual no-hit bid of at least 7.0 innings vs. the Royals…Brad Keller issued a career-high 8 walks, 2 wild pitches and a hit batter and needed 94 pitches to get through 3.2 innings, in which he allowed 3 runs (2 ER) on 3 hits…he’s issued a Majors-most 40 walks in 43.1 innings this season, but has allowed 3 hits or fewer in 5 of 9 starts, which trails only Shohei Ohtani and Dustin May (6 each) for the most such starts in the Majors.

The Royals have played 2,327 games since they were last no-hit on May 19, 2008 by Boston’s Jon Lester… it’s the 4th-longest active streak in the Majors without being no-hit (see chart to right)…the Royals have only been no-hit twice in their 55-year history, the fewest among all 30 active Major League franchises.

Neither the Royals or Padres recorded an extra-base hit last night, the Royals 2nd game this season in which neither team had an extra-base hit, following April 26 at Arizona…prior to that, the Royals hadn’t had a game with no extra-base hits on offense or allowed by their pitchers since May 18, 2021 vs. Milwaukee.

HBD, FREDDY!: Royals catcher Freddy Fermin is celebrating his 28th birthday today and shares this date of birth with former Royals pitcher Heath Fillmyer (29), former Omaha Manager Brian Poldberg (66), Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Morris (68), and three-time Rawlings Gold Glove-winning pitcher Rick Reuschel (74).

ROSTER MOVE: The Royals announced today that right hander Max Castillo has been optioned to Triple-A Omaha, after throwing 122 pitches over the last four days, including 80 pitches as the bulk pitcher last Friday night in Milwaukee, and 42 pitches last night in relief of Brad Keller…to his credit, Castillo pitched well despite the circumstances, and in 3 outings since being recalled on May 7, he pitched to a 2.89 ERA (3 ER in 9.1 IP). In a corresponding move, right hander Jackson Kowar has been recalled from Triple-A Omaha…Kowar, who was one of four pitchers the Royals selected in the 1st round of the 2018 Draft, has made 12 of his 13 appearances this season in relief, including his 1st save as a pro pitcher on May 5 vs. Louisville…after allowing 16 runs on 20 hits in his 1st 8 appearances, he’s pitched to a 2.84 ERA (2 ER in 6.1 IP) with 8 strikeouts in his last 5 appearances since April 30, and he hasn’t allowed a HR in 20.2 innings this season.

ROYALS ON THE MEND: The Royals announced yesterday that infielder Nicky Lopez will begin a rehab assignment tonight with Triple-A Omaha…he was placed on the 10-day Injured List on May 2 with appendicitis.

Left hander Daniel Lynch will make his 4th rehab start tomorrow night, as he continues his recovery from a left rotator cuff strain…in his previous 3 rehab starts, Lynch has pitched to a 3.38 ERA (4 ER in 10.2 IP) with 11 strikeouts, and most recently threw 73 pitches over 5.0 innings in a win last Friday night.

Drew Waters, who suffered a strained left oblique in February, is 1-for-18 in 5 rehab games with Omaha. WHAT A RELIEF!: Royals relievers last night combined for 1 run allowed on 2 hits over 4.1 innings, including 2.1 hitless frames by Max Castillo, who threw 42 pitches last night on two days’ rest, after throwing 80 pitches last Friday night in Milwaukee…over the Royals last 9 games, the bullpen has pitched to a 2.75 ERA (12 ER in 39.1 IP) and .213 opponents’ average (30-for-141), despite being called upon for the 4th most innings in the Majors.

Royals relievers lead the Majors with 193 strikeouts and a 10.7 K/9, which marks a big improvement over last season, when the Royals bullpen ranked 25th in the Majors with 552 strikeouts and 21st with an 8.5 K/9.

HOMER STREAK HALTED: The Royals were held scoreless last night on 2 hits, which ended their 13-game streak with a HR that marked the 2nd-longest HR streak in franchise history, trailing a 15-game run from April 6-22, 2001…it was the 3rd-longest streak in the Majors this season, and their 23 HR during the streak marked their 2nd most in any 13-game span in franchise history, trailing a span of 24 HR in 13 games from April 5-20, 2004.

Despite last night’s homerless performance, the Royals rank 2nd in the American League this month with 23 home runs, which trails only the Yankees (29)…the Royals 23 HR in 14 games this month are already more than the 20 HR they hit in 29 games in March/April, which ranked tied for 26th in the Majors.

Of the Royals 23 HR in May, a Majors-most 18 have traveled at least 400 ft., 1 more than the Braves (17) for the most in the Majors and 6 more than the Twins (12) for the most among American League teams.

Royals catchers have hit 12 home runs this season, the most of any position on the team and the highest total at the catcher position in the Majors, 2 more than the Athletics (10)…Salvador Perez leads the Royals with 9 home runs, including 8 as a catcher…MJ Melendez has homered once as a catcher and birthday boy Freddy Fermin has 3 home runs in 8 games (5 starts) as a catcher since his May 2 recall.

VS. PADRES: The Royals are visiting San Diego this week for the fifth time and first since 2017, when they won 2 games out of 3…they are 7-12 all-time vs. the Padres—despite outscoring them 109-100 (+9)—and they’re 4-9 at Petco Park…despite being shut out last night for the first time ever vs. the Padres, the Royals average of 5.7 runs per game vs. San Diego is their 2nd-highest mark vs. any opponent, trailing only their average vs. the Rockies (6.0).

The Royals are 3-10 in Interleague play this season—including 5 straight losses—and are 3-7 in National League ballparks…this trip began a stretch in which the Royals are playing six National League opponents in an eight-series stretch, including last weekend’s visit to Milwaukee…the Royals will host the Nationals on the next homestand for the first time since 2016, before playing the Cardinals, Rockies and Marlins in three straight series.

CENTER STAGE: Royals center fielders have combined for 10 Defensive Runs Saves, most in the Majors according to Sports Info Solutions…in fact, the 10 DRS by their center fielders is the highest score for any position group in the Majors…Kyle Isbel ranks tied with Kevin Kiermaier for 2nd among center fielders with 6 Defensive Runs Saved, trailing only Luis Robert Jr. (7)…the Royals defense at the position has remained stellar despite injuries to three center fielders on the 40-man roster, including Diego Hernandez, who suffered a dislocated right shoulder early in Spring Training, Drew Waters, who strained his left oblique during the first week of camp and Isbel, who strained his left hamstring during the first week of May…Jackie Bradley Jr. who won a Rawlings Gold Glove Award in center with the Red Sox in 2018, has started in 9 of the Royals 11 games in center field since Isbel’s injury, and has 4 DRS.

The Royals lead the Majors with 10 outfield assists, 1 more than the A’s and Phillies (9 each), and a Majors-most 4 of those have come from center.

PACE OF PLAY: Through 43 games, the Royals average game time is 2 hours, 34 minutes, which is the fastest average in the Majors this season, ahead of the Guardians, Pirates and Rockies, who all are averaging 2 hours, 35 minutes…the Major League average for 9-inning games is 2 hours, 37 minutes, which is 3 minutes more than the Royals season average, which does include 1 extra-inning game…only four of the Royals previous 54 seasons have ended with a quicker average game time than their current mark of 2 hours, 34 minutes, and all four of those instances came within the team’s first decade of existence…the Royals averaged 2 hours, 28 minutes in both 1969 and 1971, 2 hours, 31 minutes in 1972 and 2 hours, 32 minutes in 1978.

BRADY SINGER is making his 9th start of the season and 72nd of his career tonight vs. San Diego…it’s his 1st career start vs. the Padres…Singer is 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 University of Florida.

SINGING IN THE RAIN: Singer did not figure into the decision of Kansas City’s 4-3, walk-off win over the White Sox last Thursday at Kauffman Stadium, in which he allowed 1 run on 5 hits and 2 walks in 6.0 innings, with 4 strikeouts…he erased a 1-out single in the 1st inning with a 4-3 double play and stranded two baserunners in the 2nd, but allowed a double and an RBI single with 2 outs in the 3rd to even the score at 1-1…following that RBI knock, he retired nine of his next 12 batters, stranding a 1-out single in the 4th and working around a leadoff walk in the 6th…he exited with a 3-1 lead and in line for the win, before Luis Robert Jr. tied the game with a 2-run double in the 8th, but the Royals walked off in the 9th to improve to 4-4 in Singer’s 8 starts.

First pitch was delayed by 1 hour and it continued to rain throughout the game.

JEKYLL AND HYDE: Brady has surrendered at least 5 runs in 5 of his 8 starts this season, but in his other 3 starts, he’s allowed exactly 1 run…the two extreme outcomes have yielded a 7.71 ERA (34 ER in 39.2 IP) for Singer this season, but the Royals have won 4 of his 8 starts…these numbers aren’t what the Royals were hoping for this season, after Singer pitched a career-best 153.1 innings in 2022 and went 10-5 with a 3.23 ERA (55 ER in 153.1 IP) over 27 appearances (24 starts).

Maybe some poor luck has factored into Brady’s rough start, as evidenced by his .339 BABIP, which is the 6th-highest mark among AL pitchers (min. 8 starts).

He’s also walking more batters this season, already 13 in 39.2 innings (3.2 BB/9), after issuing only 35 walks in 153.1 innings last year, 8th best in the AL.

Opponents are batting a whopping .350 (14-for-40) in scoring situations this year, after he held them to a .198 (20-for-101) clip in those spots last season.

One positive sign through Brady’s 8 starts this year is his first-pitch strike rate, which is 64.4%, a significant improvement over last season’s rate of 59.9%.

ONE YEAR OF LOVE: Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Brady’s return to the Majors, following a month-long stay in Triple-A to refine his arsenal and build innings…Singer began the 2022 season in the bullpen, but was sent to Omaha after pitching in only 3 of the Royals 1st 16 games…he returned last May 17 with a new pitch—a changeup—and from that point on, he led the Royals with 24 starts and went 10-5 with a 3.11 ERA (51 ER in 147.2 IP)…despite a rough start to this season, he’s 12-9 with a 4.08 ERA (85 ER in 187.1 IP) in 32 starts dating back to last May 17, after going 9-15 with a 4.67 ERA (103 ER in 198.1 IP) in his 1st 42 big league appearances.

WALK THIS WAY: Since the start of last season, Singer has recorded at least 5.0 innings without issuing a walk in 12 of 32 starts—including 3 this year—which are tied for the 3rd most such starts in the Majors, trailing Corey Kluber (15) and Aaron Nola (13)…he’s issued 49 walks in 193.0 innings since the start of 2022, and his 6.1% walk rate during that time is tied for 9th best in the American League (min. 190.0 IP).

CASTING CALLS: In 32 starts since his May 17 recall last year, Brady has induced a called strike on 619 of 3,047 pitches (20.3%), tied with Gerrit Cole for the 2nd most in the Majors, trailing Logan Webb (631)…Singer’s rate of 20.3% called strikes since last May 17 leads the Majors by a wide margin (min. 2,500 pitches), ahead of Sonny Gray (17.7%)…since his 2020 debut season, Singer’s called-strike rate of 21.0% ranks 2nd in the Majors (min. 5,000 pitches), trailing only Adam Wainwright (21.2%).

CAN’T TOUCH THIS: Singer has recorded 379 strikeouts in 385.2 innings since his 2020 debut for an 8.8 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)…Brady’s 379 strikeouts are the most by a Royal through 74 career appearances ahead of Junis (374)…he needs only 2 strikeouts tonight to pass Junis and Yordano Ventura for the most strikeouts by a Royal through 75 outings (380).

CHANGE OF TUNE: A big part of Singer’s breakthrough last season was his addition of a changeup, a pitch he threw 182 times in 24 starts last year, which accounted for 8.0% of his 2,273 pitches after returning from Triple-A Omaha last May 17…that total was more than double the 88 changeups he threw in 27 starts in 2021, which equaled 3.8% of his pitches thrown…after returning from Omaha last May 17 with a focus on mixing in the changeup, Singer went 10-5 with a 3.11 ERA (51 ER in 147.2 IP), after going 9-15 with a 4.67 ERA (103 ER in 198.1 IP) in his previous 42 career appearances (39 starts)…from last May 17 through last season’s end, opponents went 8-for-34 (.235) vs. his changeup.

Through 8 starts this season, the changeup has accounted for 7.2% of his pitches, and opponents are 3-for-8 in at-bats ending on the pitch.

UNFAMILIAR FOES: Singer is facing the Padres tonight for the first time in his career, but he’s 4-3 with a 4.77 ERA (29 ER in 54.2 IP) in 10 career starts vs. National League teams, including a win on April 25 in Arizona, where he held the Diamondbacks to 1 run in 6.0 innings…that marked his 1st win in a National League ballpark, after he lost a game in 2020 at Wrigley Field, and did not figure into the decision of 2 starts in San Francisco.

ON TOUR: Singer is 1-1 in 3 road starts this season but is 7-11 on the road in his career, despite holding opponents to 2 earned runs or fewer in 18 of his 32 road starts (56.3%)…that’s a slightly higher rate than at Kauffman Stadium, where he’s held opponents to 2 earned runs or fewer in 21 of 39 starts (53.8%), but is 14-13…tonight he’ll attempt to avenge his last road start on April 30 at Target Field, where he allowed a career-high-tying 8 runs in 2.2 innings.


Michael Wacha punches out a career-high 11 batters and goes 7.0 scoreless with 1 hit allowed in San Diego’s 4-0 shutout win

  • Michael Wacha flirted with a no-hitter last night, which was ended with Michael Massey’s single to right field to lead off the 8th inning…Wacha earned the win (4-1) with 7.0 innings of 1-hit, scoreless ball and a career-high 11 strikeouts.
  • San Diego went 2-for-9 with RISP, and Fernando Tatis Jr. went 2-for-5 with an RBI.

Machado update

  • Manny Machado was hit in the left hand by a pitch in the 2nd inning, and he was later pinch-hit for in the 4th by Rougned Odor…Machado received and X-Ray that came back negative, and he’ll be re-evaluated today.
  • Machado has not been placed on an Injured List since 2014 with Baltimore with a right knee sprain (has gone over 8 years without being placed on an Injured List)…since he was reinstated from the IL in 2015, he has played the 2nd most games of any player in all of baseball (1,196)…those 1,196 games trail just Paul Goldschmidt’s 1,199 games for the most of any player since 2015…Manny’s 255 home runs since 2015 also rank 4th in MLB behind just Nolan Arenado (278), Nelson Cruz (265), and Mike Trout (260).

Friars snap 5-game losing skid

  • Michael Wacha has been responsible for both of the Padres’ last 2 wins (won 6-1 on May 9 @ MIN and 4-0 last night vs. KC)…the 5-game losing streak was the Padres longest this season, and they’re in position to win their 1st series since taking 2 of 3 from the Reds from May 1-3.

Lugo gets the start

  • Seth Lugo toes the rubber tonight, having made his staff-leading 5th quality start and his 3rd in his last 4 outings last Wednesday @ MIN, tossing 6.0 innings of 5-hit, 2-run ball in SD’s eventual 4-3 defeat in extra innings…his 5 quality starts lead SD’s staff and rank T-8th in the Majors, while his 3 winning decisions trail only Michael Wacha’s 4 for most on the club.

Padres walk it out, have 2nd most walks in MLB (170)

  • San Diego drew 10 walks last night, their 3rd game this year with double-digit walks…their 170 walks rank 2nd behind just the Dodgers’ 188 BB.
  • Juan Soto’s 38 walks headline MLB (ATL’s Matt Olson ranks 2nd with 33).

Padres starters going the distance

  • The Padres rotation has pitched the most innings of any National League team (233.0 IP), and they rank 2nd in MLB behind just the Twins’ 238.1 IP.
  • San Diego starters have tossed 94.1 pitches per game, also leading the National League and ranking 2nd in the Majors to the White Sox’s 96.6
    pitches per game…the Royals rank 3rd behind SD with 93.1 pitcher per game from their starting pitchers.

Against the Royals

  • The Friars have won 12 of the 19 all-time matchups against the Kansas City Royals dating to their 1st meeting in 2022…their .632 winning percentage (12-7) vs. the Royals is the Padres’ all-time best winning percentage against any opponent…this series is the 1st time the Padres have hosted the Royals since 2017.

Lugo set for 1st career start, 2nd appearance vs. Royals
33-year-old Seth Lugo takes the ball for his first career start and 2nd career appearance vs. the Royals, having made a relief appearance @ KC on Aug. 17, 2019…earned his 6th career save in the outing, retiring all 3 batters faced on 12 pitches.

Lugo quality again vs. MIN last Wednesday
Made his staff-leading 5th quality start and his 3rd in his last 4 outings last Wed @ MIN, tossing 6.0 innings of 5-hit, 2-run ball in SD’s eventual 4-3 defeat in extra innings…his 5 quality starts lead SD’s staff and rank T-8th in the Majors, while his 3 winning decisions trail only Michael Wacha’s 4 for most on the club…he’s now allowed 2 ER-or-fewer in 5 of his 7 starts…tonight will be his first career start vs. KC, and that comes after making just his 2nd career start vs. both the Reds on Wed, May 3 and last Wed, May 10 @ the Twins.

Run support
17 of the 25 runs of support Lugo has received have come in 2 outings, when he got all 10 runs of support in his 2nd start on Sun, Apr 9 @ ATL in SD’s 10-2 win, and all 7 runs on Wed, May 3 vs. CIN in SD’s 7-1 win…Lugo has received 3 runs-or-fewer in 5 of the other 7 starts, including 1-or-fewer in 3 of the 7….entering today, he has a 5.67 run support average, (runs scored while he’s in the game)T-17th-highest in the NL among all pitchers who have made at least 7 starts.

Pitch counts
Lugo tossed a season-low 84 pitches across 6.0 innings in his most recent start last Wednesday @ MIN, his fewest in a start since his final start in the 2020 campaign (38 pitches across 1.1 IP on Sept, 27, 2020 @ WSH)…2 of Lugo’s 7 100+ pitching outings have come in ’23, highlighted by his 109 pitches on April 9 @ ATL, the 2nd-most in his career and trailing only his 114 on Aug. 11, 2017 @ PHI w/ NYM…entering today’s action, his 96.3 pitches per game so far in ’23 are 16th-most in the Majors (min .7 starts) and 9th-most in the NL.

Filthy with the curve
Per Statcast, last season he relied on his curveball 34% of the time with opponents hitting .159 (11-69) against the pitch and ranking in the 99th percentile in spin rate (3,253 rpm)…this season, he again is relying heavily on the curveball (35.2%), registering a 3,233 spin rate in the 99th percentile and opponents hitting .308 (16-52) against the pitch….he is averaging 61.9 inches of vertical drop on his curve – which is the 6th-highest vertical drop – and an average of 7.7 inches and 14% more drop – of all ML curveballs.

Walk percentage
Lugo has walked 2-or-fewer in 6 of his 7 starts this season, including 2 starts (4/2 vs. COL & 4/27 @ CHC) with 0 free passes…he’s making his first starts since the 2020 season, and his 5.4 BB% is the 2nd-best rate of his career, behind only his 5.1 BB% from 2017.

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