The Kansas City Royals fly home to play host to the Cleveland Indians for a four-game series. They had a lot of success in an interleague series out in Atlanta, as they took two of two games off the Braves at SunTrust Park. There isn’t any hope of going to the postseason now, so it’s all about upsetting others and ruining their postseason aspirations. They’ll have an opportunity to frustrate a divisional rival over the next four days.
The Braves have some breathing room, while the Indians are in the midst of a wildcard and NL Central race. The Tribe could win one or none at this point. Minnesota are in the lead in the AL Central by a few games, with the Twins pending against the Yankees at the moment. If the postseason started today, they’d be in against the Athletics in the Wild Card Game. All-Star Game MVP dazzled the Blue Jays last night with a dominant performance in Toronto.
Shane Bieber went toe-to-toe with Marcus Stroman, who was fantastic on the bump as well. Bieber brought a no-hitter into the 7th until Eric Sogard hit a ground-rule double to right field. He was able to continue on at only 70 pitches on his pitch count. Bieber was rolling through innings before getting into a bit of trouble there. Freddy Galvis wasn’t able to bring home Sogard in the ensuing at-bat, having Gurriel Jr. getting drilled by an HBP in the next plate appearance. Bieber went on to neutralize the threat, though, and get out of the jam.
Neither pitcher should have went without a win in that game. A trade to a contender would give Stroman more opportunities to win with better run support. It looks like a foregone conclusion that Stroman is on the way out. For the Indians, Bieber has been quite the electric rod in the face of an injury to Corey Kluber and Carolos Carrasco cancer diagnosis. Adam Plutko, who has been pitching well too, will get starting honors for Cleveland this evening. Left-hander, Mike Montgomery, is expected to counter for the Royals. Head below for our free Indians vs. Royals pick.
Cleveland Indians vs. K.C. Royals Pick:
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Mike Montgomery is in his first season with the Royals after spending time in Seattle and Chicago with the Cubs. Montgomery was with the Cubs to start the season and made 20 appearences out of the bullpen. With the Royals shipping out Homer Bailey, there was a void for another spot in their rotation. The Royals landed on Montgomery, who the Cubs gave up for almost nothing.
He posted an ERA of 5.67 in 27 innings before getting shipped out to Kansas City. Montgomery was a major contributor in 44 appearances for the Cubs, with a 3.38 ERA in 130.2 innings. He was moved to the starting rotation as a result of injuries and the Cubs didn’t know what to do with him when they got healthier. Because he was pitching so good, they had a good problem to have. In any event, Montgomery has tailed off significantly of late.
The Royals’ newcomer got his first start as a Royal against this Indians team got rocked in Cleveland. He allowed 6 hits and 5 earned runs in just 2 innings of work. That equates to a 22.50 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, and .545 OBA. The Indians have done well against Montgomery in his career, hitting him for a .296 average and .329 OBP.
On the other side, Adam Plutko has been flat out dominant against the Royals’ hitters. Their roster is hitting only .115 with 2 runs in 52 at-bats against Plutko. He enters Thursday with a respectable 3.86 ERA and 0.73 WHIP in his previous three games. If he could keep the ball down his ERA would be higher than that. Plutko yielded 5 long balls in those three outings. The Royals are 28th with just 0.98 home runs per game, so he shouldn’t have to worry too much about deep ball threats tonight. Look for the Royals to have a letdown spot at home after enjoying a nice series in Atlanta the past couple of days.