Series Preview: Kansas City Royals (84-70) vs. Cleveland Indians (81-74)

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Sep 12, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco (59) pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Probable Pitchers

Danny Duffy (8-11, 2.42 ERA, 4.27 SIERA) vs. Carlos Carrasco (8-5, 2.65 ERA, 2.62 SIERA)

This will be Duffy’s first start since leaving the mound after one inning back on September 6th. Immediately prior to that he faced the Indians in that series in KC where he lasted 6.2 innings allowing two runs, one earned, and three walks with five hits and six K’s. He was outpitched for five of those innings by TJ House, and this time he’ll be facing House’s complete opposite. Duffy is a firebrand, still early in his career and I’ve noticed he can lose composure on the mound if things go sideways on him. Can the Indians cause that? They did last time a bit but weren’t able to get anything out of it, so we’ll see.

Carlos Carrasco was everything he could have been in his 12 K shutout. When you’re mentioned in the same breath as Sandy Koufax, even in a bit of trivia as he was, that’s something special. Only two pitchers to strike out 12 in a shutout in less than 100 pitches, if you were curious. And when your splitter makes the scoreboard think it’s a fastball because it’s going 90 as Jason Kipnis reported, that’s something special too. If not for that dastardly Altuve, it might have been a no-no. He hasn’t seen the Royals since rejoining the rotation, but he did face the TIgers twice and was solid once, dazzling the other, so that’s probably just as good. And the home cooking will be nice for him too. If the Indians come into this game with two wins in the series, I fully expect him to seal the sweep. It’s cool to be able to expect that out of the guy. Hopefully there’s no hangover from his gem in H-Town.

Yordano Ventura (13-10, 3.19 ERA, 3.89 SIERA) vs. Danny Salazar (6-7, 4.02 ERA, 3.33 SIERA)

Now that I’m confident in who Yordano Ventura is, I’m quite sure this dude can pitch. The rookie has lasted six or more each of his last 10 starts, allowing more than two runs only twice. He gets strikeouts, doesn’t walk the world and gets out of trouble when he’s in it. Everything you’d want out of a rookie starter and more. And of course, he has to be this good if the Royals want to win, since they don’t score bunches of runs. The Indians have seen him for 21.2 innings this year and have been held to just six runs and three walks. I don’t get it, don’t rookies know they’re supposed to be shaken easily?

Salazar has figured things out as a starter? He’s comfortable with his role in the rotation? Everything I think about Salazar has to have that question mark only because every time I watch him pitch I just can’t shake the feeling he could lose it at any time. But he’s been filthy for a while now. His last 10 starts he packs a 3.17 ERA and a 59/12 K/BB ratio in 59.2 innings. That complete game seemed to affect his following start, but he was solid against the Tigers and brilliant in Houston. He can be susceptible to the long ball sometimes, but the Royals have trouble with those so he has some margin for error. If he is what he was last time he saw KC (5 IP, no runs) you walk away happy.

Jason Vargas (11-10, 3.59 ERA, 4.08 SIERA) vs. Trevor Bauer (5-8, 4.06 ERA, 3.88 SIERA)

Vargas is, of course, who I was confusing Ventura with. But he’s still pretty good even if the last time he took the hill he was shelled mercilessly by the Tigers, lasting 3.1 innings with five earned runs. It was a bad start to a series that’s gone poorly for KC. He’s having his best season though, and it doesn’t look to be fluky. His BABIP is actually higher than his career, everyrthing else is holding steady, he’s just not walking people. Could it be that he’s just not throwing balls? He’s been throwing a knuckle curve occasionally this year, but it looks like his alternate two-seamer and curve ball are just behaving properly for him. Maybe it’s that rich, humid air of Kansas that’s doing him right. Though I’ve heard it’s a little moist in Seattle, but who knows what’s up out there. Whatever it is, Vargas is having a fine season.

It was a bummer of an ending for Trevor Bauer’s Friday start in Minnesota, but he was really good in it. Some solo homers were his only blemish and he avoided a miserable first inning. It’s good to see him show growth even if it’s against a crappy offensive squad. They’re still major leaguers after all. He was part of that most-of-a-sweep that I’m trying not to jinx back on August 30th, tossing 5.2 shutout innings.