Series Preview: Kansas City Royals vs. Detroit Tigers


For the Kansas City Royals (62-56), this is the big one. This 5-game tilt over the next four days is one of the most important, if not the most important series’ the franchise has been involved in for a very, very long time.

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A successful series could make a dent in the Tigers’ lead in the AL Central and give a glimmer of hope that they can be overtaken, and maybe Kansas City can move up in the wild card standings. A mildly successful series, 2 or 3 wins, keeps the Royals in the wild card race. A bad series, and the Royals post season hopes will most likely be dashed. This series is that important.

This series of games will most likely boil down to if the Royals can find ways to score. Lorenzo Cain is on the DL. So is Miguel Tejada, and he is gone for the rest of the season, having been placed on the 60-day DL yesterday. We don’t know yet how serious Mike Moustakas‘ calf injury is. The fact he was in a boot yesterday does not inspire confidence he will return in the next few days.

The Royals suddenly find themselves with less offensive punch than usual. The last two games against the Miami Marlins indicated a serious deficiency in the lack of offensive depth on this team. General Manager Dayton has been scrambling this week to find some help. The best he came up with was two light hitting utility fielder types in Jamey Carroll and Emilio Bonifacio. While the latter would be an upgrade at second base over Chris Getz, Bonifacio is not much of a replacement for Moustakas at third if Moose has to miss much time.

The pitching has to keep the potent Tigers offense at bay, and the Royals have to find ways to score. When they get opportunities to push runs across the plate, they must take advantage.

The Royals are 4.5 games out of the last wild card spot. A 1-4, or 0-5, series will most likely bury the Royals. If they can find a way to win at least two, that should keep them from falling much farther behind. Being optimistic, winning 3 or more games would be great cause for celebration for Royals fans, and will keep the hope alive that Kansas City can still make a run at the playoffs down the stretch.


Game One: Thursday – Jeremy Guthrie (12-8, 4.10 ERA) vs. Anibal Sanchez (10-7, 2.58 ERA)

Game Two: Friday, first game of a double header – James Shields (7-8, 3.33 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (12-8, 3.57 ERA)

Game Three: Friday, second game of a double header – Danny Duffy (0-0, 4.91 ERA) vs. Jose Alvarez (1-2, 5.03 ERA)

Game Four: Saturday – Wade Davis (6-9, 5.29 ERA) vs. Doug Fister (10-6, 3.60 ERA)

Game Five: Sunday – Bruce Chen (5-0, 1.62 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer(17-1, 2.85)

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A look at those match-ups would give the indication that, other than the Saturday game, pitching is pretty evenly matched. Of course, the Royals pitchers have to throw to the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Torii Hunter, Victor Martinez, and Austin Jackson. They do have some holes in their line up, but they are small ones.

The Tigers pitchers do have to face Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, and Eric Hosmer. They also get to face Chris Getz, Jamey Carroll, Emilio Bonifacio, and Jarrod Dyson. The Royals big three hitters – Butler, Gordon, and Hosmer – have 36 combined home runs. Miguel Cabrera has 38. By himself.

The Tigers’ rotation features maybe the most talented foursome in majors. Verlander, Scherzer, Sanchez, and Fister – Kansas City is missing no one this series. Miguel Cabrera is the most dangerous hitter in baseball and he is surrounded with talented guys. With all of this being said, they are not invincible. They just lost two in a row to a dismantled Chicago White Sox team. As talented as the Tigers, in baseball, any team can be beat on any given day, or on any given five days.

The Royals must execute – on defense, on the base paths, at the plate, and on the mound.

The Royals pitchers must keep the ball down. Kansas City has allowed the third fewest home runs (113), but the Tigers hitters have bashed the 4th most (139). James Shields and the boys must keep the ball in the park because if it becomes a home run contest, the Royals will lose.

The Tigers pitchers have allowed the fewest home runs, by far, of any American League staff (91). The Royals, of course, have hit the fewest home runs, by far, in the American League (80). Don’t expect the Royals to be knocking many balls out of the park.

The Royals also must limit the walks they issue. Detroit is 3rd in the AL in taking walks (416 – 104 more than Kansas City), and they are first in On Base Percentage (.346). If the big boppers from the Motor City do hit some home runs, one way to minimize the damage is to eliminate the freebies. Don’t give anything away. This sounds simplistic but it is necessary if the Royals want a chance to win.

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On offense, the Royals just have to find ways to get on base against a very talented rotation, then with good base running and clutch hitting, push those runs across the plate. They must be patient against some workhorse hurlers. They must try to get into that shaky bullpen of Detroit’s. In a close game, most would take the Royals’ pen, if the games come down to that. Kansas City’s hitters must put the last two games, in which they only had 9 hits in 19 innings, aside mentally and concentrate on each at bat.

It is always difficult for any team to score on the Tigers but the Royals have the better ERA, if only slightly – 3.52 to 3.56. Kansas City must keep up their incredible defense and help out their staff whenever possible.

It won’t be easy to win a 5-game series on the road, but the Royals have been playing as well as any team in the majors over the past 4 weeks. If they are a playoff contender, they must win some tough games on the road, and things will not get tougher than this series.

It should be an exciting 5 games. There are a lot of fans’ hopes riding on this weekend. By Monday, it should be more obvious if the Royals are pretenders or contenders.