May 25, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals first basemen Eric Hosmer (35) at bat against the Los Angeles Angels during the fourth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Chicago White Sox vs. Kansas City Royals

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The Kansas City Royals and the Chicago White Sox start a three-game series in Kansas City starting this weekend. Here are the things you need to know before the first pitch.

PITCHING PROBABLES

Friday: Hector Santiago (2-5, 3.30) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (7-4, 3.72)

Saturday: Jose Quintana (3-2, 3.86) vs. Wade Davis (4-5, 5.18)

Sunday: Dylan Axelrod (3-4, 4.39) vs. James Shields (2-6, 2.72)

The good news for the Royals is they will not have to face Chris Sale, who is having an absolute ridiculous season for the struggling White Sox. The bad news is it may not matter. We’ll get to that later.

After losing a very winnable series in Cleveland, Kansas City needs to get back on track at home against Chicago. KC’s pitching staff has been the most consistent  aspect of the Royals attack and the they will need solid starts from Guthrie and Davis before heading into Shields start on Sunday.

Davis is on a mini run of success. In his last three starts he is 1-0 with a 2.04 ERA in 17.2 innings pitched, and has allowed three runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts. He is still struggling with throw strikes consistently but seems to be improving this a little bit over his last two starts.

Injuries have forced Santiago to jump from Chicago’s bullpen to their starting rotation. In his seven starts Santiago is 2-3 with a 3.00 ERA, striking out 10.4 batters per nine innings. Santiago will walk guys and has allowed five homers in seven starts so if KC can manage disciplined approach for once, they could have some success off of him.

BATTING BITS

– KC’s lineup is loaded with players with an OPS+ under 100: 1B Eric Hosmer 91; 2B Chris Getz 57 / Elliot Johnson 73; 3B Moustakas; RF Jeff Francoeur 62 / David Lough 99.

– Chicago is having their own offensive issues as Alex Rios is the only player on the team with an OPS+ of 100 or better. Jeff Keppinger has a 34 OPS+ in 218 plate appearances.

– With that said, Adam Dunn is on a hot streak heading into Kansas City. He’s 13-for-40 (.325) with six home runs and a double in his last 11 games. Dunn is a career .197 hitter at Kauffman Stadium but he did homer four times in nine games in KC last season.

Paul Konerko may have also used Houston and Minnesota to get back on track. He’s 11-for-26 with two doubles and a home run in his last seven games.

– Dayton Moore commented this week the reason why the Royals do not walk a lot is because of Kauffman Stadium. Well, maybe the Royals should try to overcome this and try to walk more than five times per every 100 plate appearances. The list of Royals who are walking at a 5% rate or less includes Jeff Francoeur (4.4), Elliot Johnson (4.3), Alcides Escobar (3.4), Salvador Perez (2.7), and David Lough (1 – yes, 1 walk per 100 plate appearances).

I’ll listen to an argument that opponents throw a lot of strikes because they know A) the Royals can’t hit for power and B) the Royals will get themselves out for about 0.37 seconds until I remember that Chris Getz walks at a 7.7% rate. The idea KC batters cannot walk more than 5 times per every 100 plate appearances (or once every four or five games) is ridiculous, no matter what park they are playing in.

– A Royals Power update. KC hit 14 homers in 28 games in May, a month in which they went 8-20 and fired/demoted their hitting coaches. In June KC has hit 8 home runs in 18 games, a pace slightly below what they did in May.

Mike Moustakas is batting .300/.323/.333 with one extra-base hit (a double) in his last 31 plate appearances. This has been enough to get his batting average up to .195. His slugging percentage sits at .293. This I suppose is the positive. Among the negatives, Moose is 3-for-50 this season with runners in scoring position and 0-for-22 with runners in scoring position and two outs.

MOMENTUM

Chicago is 29-41 are 13-27 on the road this season. On their current road trip they are 1-6 against Houston and Minnesota. While the Royals are coming off a bad series loss against Cleveland, they are having an excellent month of June and should have more positive vibes about them than Chicago right now.

PICK TO CLICK

Eric Hosmer.

Hosmer is batting .327/.397/.473 with five doubles and a home run since June 6. You can really feel Hosmer starting to get closer to putting things back together. Against a the back-end of Chicago’s rotation and a team that is on the downslide, this could be the series Hoz breaks out.

Note: You can find more about Hosmer’s progress from this excellent Arron Reese piece a few days ago.

PREDICTION

Kansas City should win this series, but they really need to sweep it to regain the momentum they had before the Cleveland series.

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Tags: Chicago White Sox Kansas City Royals

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