Guardians (39-40) vs Royals (22-58) Game Preview | Thursday 6/29 2:10 PM. EST.

June 29, 2023

Andy Billman

Series Finale Against the Kansas City Royals

3 Things Preview Cleveland Guardians vs. Royals:

1 – Tito Francona health update

Guardians manager Terry Francona did not manage on Wednesday, missing his second straight game but was released from the hospital after his tests came back normal.  He is day-to-day currently, and no word if he will manage on Thursday. 

2 – Bieber on the bump

Shane Bieber is on the bump for the Guards and is looking to turn it around as he has lost his last two starts.  

3 – Back in first 

After the 14-1 victory and the Twins losing in Atlanta, the Guards are back in first place in the AL Central.  The Guardians are also one game under .500, and if they win on Thursday, the Guards will be .500 for the first time since being 13-13 after beating the Red Sox in Boston on April 28th.  

Guardians Notes

In his 10th road start of the season, right-handed pitcher (RHP) Shane Bieber will be taking the mound. However, Bieber has faced difficulties while playing away games this season, particularly in giving up more home runs compared to any other pitching split. His away earned run average (ERA) currently stands at 4.58, and he has managed to strike out 39 batters over 57 innings pitched. Daytime games have been particularly challenging for him, with an elevated ERA of 5.16. Despite these struggles, Bieber has shown signs of improvement in June, with his ERA dropping to 3.60 and striking out 24 batters in 25 innings. Notably, in his three games against the Royals last season, Bieber displayed exceptional performance, finishing with an impressive 1.07 ERA and only allowing two runs over 17 innings. He will aim to rely on his past success in the series finale.

As for the Cleveland team, they enter this game with a run differential of -19, placing them 21st in the league. The Guardians have shown some inconsistency at the plate, just missing out on the top half of the league in terms of batting average. However, their main drawback on offense has been their inability to hit home runs. Cleveland currently ranks 30th in the league, averaging only 0.64 home runs per game. Furthermore, they have struggled to drive in runners in scoring position, ranking in the bottom 10 in that category. On a positive note, the Guardians are on pace for their highest batting average by month (.277) of the season, and they have already surpassed their home run total from any other month so far. Since they rank 28th in extra-base hits, it will be crucial for them to maintain this positive trend in order to approach the series finale with confidence and determination.

Guardians Stats and Insights

GUARDIANS PROBABLE PITCHER – Shane Bieber

  • The Guardians are sending Bieber (5-5) out for his 17th start of the season. He is 5-5 with a 3.69 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 100 2/3 innings pitched.
  • His most recent appearance was on Friday against the Milwaukee Brewers, when the righty threw five innings, surrendering four earned runs while allowing five hits.
  • In 16 games this season, the 28-year-old has amassed an ERA of 3.69, with 6.9 strikeouts per nine innings. Opponents are batting .251 against him.
  • Bieber has recorded 10 quality starts this year.
  • Bieber will look to prolong a five-game streak lasting five or more innings (he’s averaging 6.3 frames per outing).
  • In three of his appearances this season he did not give up an earned run.
  • He will take the hill against a Royals team that is batting .231 as a unit (24th in MLB). It is also slugging a collective .374 (26th in MLB) with 73 total home runs (25th in MLB).
  • Among pitchers who qualify in MLB action this season, the 28-year-old ranks 31st in ERA (3.69), 43rd in WHIP (1.230), and 59th in K/9 (6.9).

GUARDIANS HITTING TRENDS

  • The Guardians have hit just 53 homers this season, which ranks last in the league.
  • Hitters for Cleveland have combined to rank 26th in MLB with a team slugging percentage of just .374 this season.
  • The Guardians’ .247 batting average ranks 16th in the league this season.
  • Cleveland is among the lowest-scoring teams in the majors, ranking 27th with just 318 total runs (four per game) this season.
  • The Guardians have the 22nd-ranked on-base percentage in MLB this season (.312).
  • Cleveland has shown patience at the plate this season with the second-best rate of strikeouts per game (7.2) among MLB offenses.

Royals Notes

The Kansas City Royals find themselves ranked 25th or lower in four key hitting categories. Their performance on the field has placed them at the 25th spot in WHIP with a rating of 1.41, as well as in batting average allowed, where they stand at .260. Additionally, their team ERA ranks 28th at 5.17, and they hold the last position, 30th, in terms of the number of Quality Starts, with only 12 out of 79 games. Leading the team in victories and strikeouts is Brady Singer, who has accumulated four wins and 70 strikeouts. Taking the mound for Kansas City in the upcoming game will be Zach Greinke. Throughout this season, the seasoned right-hander has struggled, holding a record of 1-8, an ERA of 5.31, and 61 strikeouts.

When it comes to their offensive performance, the Royals are also lagging, ranking 24th or worse in four major hitting categories. The team’s batting average currently stands at .232, placing them at the 24th spot, while their slugging percentage drops to 26th with .377. Furthermore, their on-base percentage ranks 28th with .296, and they find themselves in the 28th position in terms of runs scored, with a total of 296. Salvador Perez leads the team in home runs, hitting 15, closely followed by Bobby Witt Jr. with 12. Perez also tops the Royals in RBI with 39, while Witt trails with 38. In 79 games, Kansas City has managed to hit 124 doubles, 19 triples, and 73 home runs.

Royals Stats and Insights

ROYALS PROBABLE PITCHER – Zach Greinke

  • Greinke makes the start for the Royals, his 17th of the season. He is 1-8 with a 4.87 ERA and 61 strikeouts over 81 1/3 innings pitched.
  • The righty’s most recent appearance came on Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays, when he went 4 2/3 innings, surrendering seven earned runs while allowing nine hits.
  • During 16 games this season, the 39-year-old has put up a 4.87 ERA and 6.8 strikeouts per nine innings, while allowing a batting average of .273 to opposing hitters.
  • Greinke is looking to pick up his second quality start of the year.
  • Greinke will try to secure his 14th game of five or more innings pitched this season. He averages 5.1 innings per appearance.
  • He has held his opponents without an earned run in two of his 16 appearances this season.
  • He will match up with a Guardians team that is batting .247 as a unit (16th in the MLB). They are also slugging a collective .374 (26th in the league) with 53 total home runs (30th in MLB play).
  • Among qualifying pitchers in MLB play this season, the 39-year-old’s 4.87 ERA ranks 61st, 1.217 WHIP ranks 39th, and 6.8 K/9 ranks 62nd.

ROYALS HITTING TRENDS

  • The Royals average 0.9 home runs per game to rank 25th in MLB action with 73 total home runs.
  • This season, Kansas City is slugging .374, the fifth-lowest percentage in the majors.
  • The Royals rank 24th in the majors with a .231 batting average.
  • The offense for Kansas City is No. 28 in MLB play scoring 3.7 runs per game (297 total runs).
  • The Royals’ .296 on-base percentage is the second-worst in baseball.

Final Thoughts/Pick

Cleveland’s manager Terry Francona is unlikely to participate in Tuesday’s game as he was hospitalized and kept overnight for observation. Despite Francona’s absence, Cleveland has been performing well, winning six out of their last eight games. The team has particularly excelled against right-handed starting pitchers, winning four of their last five matchups. The current run total is set between 9.0 and 10.5, and when it falls within this range, Cleveland has emerged victorious in four of their last five games. For the upcoming match, the run total is at 9.0.

In contrast, Kansas City has struggled against Cleveland in recent matchups. They have lost 22 out of the last 31 home games against the Guardians and have dropped 43 out of the last 63 games overall against their American League Central rival. As previously mentioned, Kansas City faces difficulties both at the plate and on the mound. They rank 24th or worse in four hitting categories and 25th or worse in four pitching categories.

Kansas City’s starting pitcher, Zack Greinke, has encountered significant challenges in his last four outings. He has allowed 19 runs in 19 innings and surrendered five home runs during this span, resulting in four consecutive losses for Kansas City. In fact, the team has lost each of Greinke’s last eight starts.

Our Pick: Take the Guardians and the Run Line at -1.5

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