The Royals and White Sox enter the week at the bottom of the AL Central standings through the first two weeks of the regular season. Kansas City has won just five of their first 15 games, while Chicago has won five of their first 14 games, including just one of their first six at home, to set them back in the division race early in the season. Can Chicago reverse their struggles at Guaranteed Rate Field with a series-opening victory over the Royals on Monday?
Fillmyer hoping for better outcome vs. White Sox
Kansas City is expected to hand the ball to right-hander Heath Fillmyer on Monday for his second start of the season. Fillmyer came on strong as a starter towards the end of last season, posting a 4-1 overall record and a 4.46 ERA in 12 starts after the All-Star Break. However, the 24-year-old stumbled in his 2019 debut, giving up five earned runs on six hits in three frames against the red-hot Seattle Mariners. He will be tasked with turning things around against a team that had his number as a rookie in 2018.
— FOX Sports Kansas City (@FSKansasCity) April 15, 2019
The Royals’ right-hander made two appearances (one start) versus the White Sox last season, allowing a whopping seven earned runs on five hits in 5 ⅓ innings of work for an unsightly 11.81 ERA. According to Baseball Savant, the current White Sox roster is batting a healthy .364 with a weighted on-base percentage of .447 in 24 plate appearances off of Fillmyer. StatCast data predicts an expected batting average of .288 and an expected slugging percentage of .569 for the White Sox heading into Monday’s matchup.
The Royals had been struggling on offense all season long, but that changed this weekend in their series versus the division-leading Cleveland Indians. Kansas City swept Cleveland by out-scoring them 20-9 during their three-game series, including a season-high nine runs in Sunday’s win. Despite their poor record, the Royals actually rank in the middle-of-the-pack on offense so far this year. They rank 15th in runs scored with 74 through 15 games while slashing .251/.319/.433 at the dish with 17 home runs as a team.
Santana hopes to rebound in second start with White Sox
Chicago will counter by sending a familiar face to the hill at Guaranteed Rate Field against the Royals. Veteran right-hander Ervin Santana will take the mound for his second start in a White Sox uniform, but he’s no stranger to pitching in the AL Central after spending the better part of the past four seasons with the Minnesota Twins. Santana also made 32 starts as a member of the Royals’ starting rotation in 2013. The 36-year-old had a forgettable White Sox debut though, surrendering seven earned runs on 3 ⅔ innings of work in his first start of the season against the Tampa Bay Rays. He missed most of last season with a finger injury that required him to have surgery in the offseason.
2019: the year of Yoan Moncada pic.twitter.com/vKweN8niD6
— Mike (@ChiSoxFanMike) March 31, 2019
One of Santana’s five starts last season came against the Royals, who knocked him around for three earned runs on seven hits in 4 ⅓ innings of work. Dating back to the 2016 season, Big Erv is 2-3 with a 4.98 ERA in 10 starts versus Kansas City and he comes in with a career 7-10 with a lifetime 4.75 ERA in 26 starts against the Royals throughout his career.
According to Baseball Savant, the current Royals’ roster is batting .266 in 120 plate appearances versus the White Sox right-hander. StatCast data predicts an expected batting average of .276 and an expected slugging percentage of .450 off of Santana heading into Monday’s start.
- Royals are 3-10 in their last 13 overall.
- Royals are 1-4 in Fillmyer’s last 5 starts after allowing 5 runs or more in their previous game.
- Royals are 1-5 in Fillmyer’s last 6 road starts.