Kansas City Royals (64-61) vs. Cleveland Indians (69-56)
MLB Baseball: Friday August 25th, 7:10 pm EST
Jason Vargas (14-7, 3.59 ERA) vs. Ryan Merritt (0-0, 3.12 ERA)
The Royals head to Cleveland for three against the division leading Indians, it what is one of the most important series in baseball this weekend. They played less than a week ago in Kansas City, but the Indians won two of three. They eventually went up seven games on the Royals, and it seemed like all chance of a a division title for KC was lost, but they have fought back. They have won three straight while Cleveland has lost two and they are back within five games.
The Royals are still a half game behind the Twins, but they seem to have the momentum right now. They won the last game of the Indians series and have won the first two over Colorado with one game left on Thursday. Despite their two game losing streak, the Indians still have the lead and are the clear favorite to win the division. They lost 9-1 to Boston on Tuesday, and then 6-1 on Wednesday.
Vargas hasn’t kept up pace
For the first half of the season, Jason Vargas was one of the top 10 starters in the league. He single handedly kept the Royals afloat when their starting pitching wasn’t that great and their bats hadn’t come around yet. But now, he is starting to come back towards the mean, which shouldn’t be surprising considering he is 34 years old and a lifetime .500 pitcher.
Over his last four starts, he’s gone 1-3 and allowed at least three earned runs in every start. Quite the difference when he was shutting teams down seemingly every start earlier in the season. Over those four starts, he’s gone 20.1 innings and allowed 16 earned runs and his ERA is headed in the wrong direction.
Indians turn to Merritt
The Indians will be turning to Ryan Merritt on Friday, and it will only be the third start of the year for him and fourth career start. He came into the season having made four career appearance and now he makes his fourth appearance on the season. This will be his third start while he’s made one appearance out of the pen.
He’s been solid, even though there’s not much to go on. He’s pitched a total of 8.2 innings and allowed only three earned runs which is good for an ERA of 3.12. It’s a little scary that he’s allowed 14 hits in that span, and he’s been pretty lucky not to give up more runs. To his credit, he’s only walked one batter this year.
The Kansas City Royals are:
- (no trends available)
The Cleveland Indians are:
- 9-2 in their last 11 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
- 8-2 in their last 10 vs. a team with a winning record.
- 41-14 in their last 55 Friday games.
Kansas City has the advantage in pitching on paper, but I think Jason Vargas is starting to wear down. I’m predicting the Indians get to him early and pick up a lot of runs. I like the home team.