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Kansas City Royals Face Ace Jose Fernandez in Miami

Aug 2, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez (16) reacts after the umpire calls a balk on him against the Chicago Cubs during the fifth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez (16) reacts after the umpire calls a balk on him against the Chicago Cubs during the fifth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Kansas City Royals continued their hot streak last night beating the Miami Marlins last night. Tonight the Royals take on a stud pitcher, Jose Fernandez. Can KC pull of the upset?

The Kansas City Royals face Jose Fernandez in a critical game in the three game series. The Royals took game one of the series 1-0 in a pitcher duel last night. KC looks to steal game two against one of the best pitchers in baseball tonight.

Fernandez is putting up some great numbers for the Marlins this season. He’s got a 3.04 earned run average (ERA) with a 1.115 walks hits divided by innings pitched (WHIP). He’s reached 204 strikeouts to 42 walks this season for a 4.86 strikeout to walk ratio in 141 2/3 innings pitched.

Fernandez’s numbers get even better at home.  He’s won nine games and lost just two. He’s ERA is a minuscule 2.07 at home nearly 2.50 runs less than on the road (4.42). The man from Cuba has 119 strikeouts to 23 walks and two intentional walks for a 5.7 strikeout to walk ratio at Marlins Park in 82 2/3 innings.

He’s striking out 13 batters per nine innings pitched. That is an insane number. The 24-year-old is a strikeout machine. By the way, he’s WHIP dips below 1.000 at 0.992 at the friendly home ballpark. Those are crazy numbers. How does he do it?

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According to Fangraphs.com, Fernandez throws three pitches. A fastball, curveball and a changeup. On average, his fastball hits 95 MPH. He can top it out at 100 MPH on occasion.

He couples the fastball with two great off speed pitches. His curveball averages 12 MPH less than his fastball. The drastic speed difference leaves hitters off-balance for the strikeout.

Fernandez sometimes will sneak a faster changeup in as well. It averages 88 MPH throwing the hitters timing off even more.

One of the best things Fernandez does is utilize the outer side of the strike zone, better known as the black. Here‘s a heatmap showing where Fernandez typically throws his pitches.

On the heatmap chart you can see that Fernandez loves to throw the ball toward the right of dead center and further right on the black of the strike zone.

Another spot he throws to frequently is low and outside to the left side of the strike zone. Unlike before, this spot is nowhere near the strike zone. This could be a show pitch to get hitters off-balance even more by trying to expanded the strike zone further.

How can the Kansas City Royals beat this guy? There is good news. Fernandez hasn’t pitched well recently. In six games in the second half, his ERA rose to a pedestrian 4.72. His WHIP went up to 1.427 as well in those six games.

Here’s the Kansas City Royals lineup Fernandez will have to face tonight, via Royals beat reporter, Rustin Dodd on Twitter.

He gave up five earned runs in five innings pitched against the St. Louis Cardinals at home on July 28. However, the last game he played at home he went six innings allowing one earned run to the San Francisco Giants. This might not mean much because the Giants have struggled during the second half. The Giants are 18-26 since the month of July.

The last game Fernandez pitched came against the terrible Cincinnati Reds. He got through four innings and allowed five earned runs on the road. Not the greatest of starts against a Reds team that’s has 54 wins and 71 losses.

The Kansas City Royals bats have gotten hot lately. The KC Royals team slash line during the past seven days is .278/.346/.420. This means guys are getting on base and other guys are driving the runs in with power. The KC Royals have scored 26 runs in the past week.

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Dillon Gee gets the start for the Kansas City Royals tonight. Gee is coming off of his best performance as a starter for the Kansas City Royals. He pitched seven innings of one run baseball against the Minnesota Twins at home on August 18.

Gee’s overall ERA is a decent 4.52. His ERA as a starter is still horrible at 5.68 through 52 1/3 innings pitched. He’s got a 2.88 strikeout to walk ratio and 7.9 strikeouts per nine. His WHIP is 1.662 as a starter this season.

Gee will need another performance close to what he did last time if the Royals want to have a good shot of winning the game tonight.

The bullpen will have to continue to be lights out. The pen set a franchise record last night completing 32 straight scoreless innings in a row. That’s pretty impressive for a team without Wade Davis, Luke Hochevar and Greg Holland.

Next: Royals Ten Best Closers of All-Time

If the Kansas City Royals can score runs early on Fernandez and the starting pitching and bullpen can continue to dominate, the Royals will win this game. Now we wait and see if this improbable win comes to fruition and keeps the winning streak alive at ten. If the Royals win, they must thank the pen.