Guardians (49-51) vs. Royals (29-73) Game Preview | Tuesday 7/25 7:10 PM

July 25, 2023

Andy Billman

Game 2 of 3 Against the Kansas City Royals

3 Things Preview Guardians vs. Royals:

1 – AL Central  

The Guardians are off to a slow start after the all-star game going 4-6 since coming back.   It is starting to get unnerving as the Twins are now four games up on the standings over the Guardians as Cleveland is now two games under .500.  

2 – Civale 

Big start for the Guardians lone veteran Aaron Civale who is having a strong July pitching to an ERA of 1.93.  Cleveland will be up against the Royals veteran Zack Greinke. 

3 – Who’s catching?

The Guardians have had three catchers on the roster most of the season, not the norm for most teams.  Cleveland has been rotating the three catchers recently pretty evenly when it comes to starts for Cam Gallagher, Bo Naylor, and David Fry.  The one note that has become apparent is manager Terry Francona wants to find at-bats for Fry, who has been starting in the outfield as well to get more chances at the plate. Will the Guardians start Fry over the other two at catcher is something to watch in the coming weeks. 

Guardians Notes

The AL Central champions of 2022 are currently trailing the top spot in the standings by a few games. This situation is somewhat reminiscent of the previous year when they spent much of the season chasing the Twins. Now, they are gearing up for a crucial matchup against the Royals, a team they have already scored an impressive 39 runs against in seven games. Despite struggling to score for most of the year (ranking 24th in runs per game), they seemed to have found some form in July, averaging 5.0 runs per game until Monday’s match. The team’s strength lies in their exceptional contact skills, boasting the MLB’s lowest strikeout rate and a respectable 13th ranking in batting average. However, they do face challenges in their walk rate, ranking 25th, and they have hit the fewest home runs in the entire league, which reflects the issues they encountered last season. On the bright side, like the Royals, the Guardians excel at stealing bases, maintaining an impressive 80.0% success rate entering the week.

Cleveland’s pitching has remained impressive, even though their bullpen experienced a rough month. Despite the slump, the group of relievers still ranks 12th in FIP and an impressive third in ERA for this season. The rotation has also done its part, and Aaron Civale has been a standout performer in his 11 starts. Despite experiencing a career-high walk rate and a career-low strikeout rate, Civale has achieved a remarkable 2.71 ERA, 1.079 WHIP, and 3.71 FIP, all representing career-best numbers for seasons where he has faced at least 250 batters. Notably, in his sole start against Kansas City this season, Civale displayed his brilliance by pitching seven innings of two-hit ball, striking out nine batters while issuing no walks. The Royals never posed a serious threat during that game. Although the Guardians have lost both of his starts since then, a repeat performance from Civale would be enthusiastically embraced and much needed to bolster their chances.

Guardians Stats and Insights


  • Civale and his team have a record of 6-5-0 against the spread when he starts.
  • The right-hander gave up two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings pitched on Wednesday in his last outing, a matchup with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Civale has pitched five or more innings in six straight games and will look to extend that streak.
  • He has finished three appearances without allowing an earned run in 11 chances this season.
  • Civale’s team has a record of 4-3 this season when he starts and they are the favorite on the moneyline.
  • Civale’s team has a 5-6 record in his starts this season.
  • Out of Civale’s 11 starts with a total this season, six have hit the over.


  • The Guardians are 13-5 this season in games when they hit at least two long balls.
  • Cleveland has gone 14-5 in its 19 games this season with five or more extra-base hits.
  • The team is 34-29 in the games this season it has strung together at least eight hits.
  • Cleveland has a 29-8 record in games this season when it scored at least five runs.
  • The Guardians have drawn at least five walks in 22 games this season, and are 13-9 in those contests.

Royals Notes

In the series standings, the Kansas City Royals find themselves just above the Oakland Athletics, with the worst winning percentage. Their performance has been disappointing in various aspects of the game, but the offense stands out as the main weakness. With a rank of 29th in runs per game and the MLB’s lowest on-base percentage (OBP), the Royals’ batting struggles are evident. In July, they are among six teams scoring fewer than four runs per game.

However, it’s not all bleak for the Royals. They do have a strong steal game, ranking 5th with 84 successful steals out of 110 attempts, resulting in a 76.4% success rate. But aside from their base-stealing prowess, their overall performance at the plate has been lackluster. They rank poorly in home runs (28th), walk rate (28th), slugging percentage (27th), and batting average (25th).

On the pitching side, the team’s ERA ranks 28th out of 30 teams. The bullpen has been particularly problematic throughout the season, and the trade of Aroldis Chapman hasn’t helped matters. Additionally, the starting rotation features pitchers who are likely in the twilight of their MLB careers, including Zack Greinke, who may have a future spot in Cooperstown but currently shows signs of decline. Greinke has struggled with a 5.40 ERA this season and an even worse 7.42 ERA in away games. This year’s ERA represents the second-worst of his 20-year career, along with a current 4.92 FIP.

In June, Greinke managed to secure a rare win for the Royals by limiting the Guardians to two runs over 6.0 innings despite giving up 11 hits. However, that win stands as the only one in his past 11 starts, highlighting the challenges the team faces in finding success on the field.

Royals Stats and Insights


  • Greinke (1-10 with a 5.40 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 96 2/3 innings pitched) gets the start for the Royals, his 20th of the season.
  • The right-hander’s last time out came on Thursday against the Detroit Tigers, when he threw four innings, surrendering two earned runs while giving up four hits.
  • Greinke will look to pick up his 16th outing of five or more innings pitched this season. He averages 5.1 innings per appearance.
  • He has had two appearances this season where he held his opponents to zero earned runs.
  • The Royals have a 4-13 record in Greinke’s 17 starts this season when they were the underdog on the money line.
  • Greinke’s team is 4-15 in his 19 starts.
  • Greinke’s starts with a set total this season have gone over the run total in seven of 19 contests.


  • They’ve hit two or more homers in 23 games this season and are 8-15 in those matchups.
  • Kansas City has won 10 of its 24 games with five or more extra-base hits this season.
  • They have won 21 of the 56 games in which they’ve collected eight or more hits this season.
  • Kansas City has won 19 of its 31 games this season in which it scored more than four runs.
  • In 14 games this season with five or more walks drawn, they’ve posted a record of 3-11

Final Thoughts/Pick

Having experienced a five-game losing streak heading into Cleveland, the Royals are continuing their season’s trend of struggling. The Guardians, have dominated them throughout the year, and with a skilled pitcher on the mound, the chances of another loss appear quite certain. Adding to the Royals’ concerns is Zack Greinke’s poor performance on the road this season, while the Guardians have been impressive with their hitting this month.

Even if the game remains competitive in the later innings, Cleveland’s bullpen offers a significant advantage, further favoring the home team. All signs point to a decisive victory for the Guardians, likely by multiple runs.

Our Pick: Take Guardians Run Line -1.5

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