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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Royals series preview

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Things are different since these teams last met.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The last time these teams met, in 2015, the Royals were on their way to their second straight World Series, which they won. The Cubs were beginning their current run of three straight appearances in the NLCS, capped by the 2016 World Series victory.

The Cubs, though struggling a bit, still seem headed to the postseason again. The Royals? Not so much. Only the awful Orioles prevent them from having the worst record in the major leagues.

So I asked Max Rieper, manager of our SB Nation Royals site Royals Review, to give us an update on his team.

The Royals have been one of the worst teams in baseball this year (somehow they can’t manage to out-suck the Orioles) but have played better since the All-Star break. Although they lost All-Star third baseman Mike Moustakas in a trade to the Brewers, new acquisitions Brian Goodwin (who is currently on the disabled list) and Brett Phillips have been sparkplugs for the team in the outfield.

Combined with other young players like Adalberto Mondesi, Jorge Bonifacio, and Rosell Herrera, the Royals will at least give fans some players for the future to get a look at in the second half. The pitching staff is still made up of crummy old veterans like Ian Kennedy and former Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel, demoted to the bullpen recently, but Jakob Junis shows some promise despite issues with home runs and Brad Keller, acquired from the Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 draft, has been a real diamond in the rough despite a lackluster strikeout rate. The bullpen was once a strength for this franchise but is now a total mess with the club just auditioning pitchers for next year. Wily Peralta will get most save opportunities, and Ned Yost continues to throw Brandon Maurer out there in close ballgames despite an astronomical ERA of 10.69. Who says the Royals aren’t tanking?

Fun fact

The Cubs are 9-9 all-time against the Royals: 4-5 in Kansas City, 5-4 at Wrigley Field. The Cubs took two of three in 2015 at Wrigley, the last time these teams met.

Pitching matchups

Monday: Cole Hamels, LHP (6-9, 4.53 ERA, 1.358 WHIP, 5.04 FIP) vs. Jakob Junis, RHP (6-11, 5.12 ERA, 1.353 WHIP, 5.41 FIP)

Tuesday: Mike Montgomery, LHP (3-4, 3.90 ERA, 1.354 WHIP, 4.05 FIP) vs. Brad Keller, RHP (4-4, 3.39 ERA, 1.360 WHIP, 3.67 FIP)

Wednesday: Jose Quintana, LHP (10-7, 4.12 ERA, 1.381 WHIP, 4.62 FIP) vs. Heath Fillmyer, RHP (0-1, 3.86 ERA, 1.418 WHIP, 4.84 FIP)

NOTE: Cole Hamels with the Cubs: one start, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 1.36 FIP. Numbers above include his 20 starts with the Rangers.

Times & TV channels

Monday: 7:15 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago Plus

Tuesday: 7:15 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago

Wednesday: 7:15 p.m. CT, WGN

Prediction

The Royals are just... bad. They’re worse at home (15-37) than on the road (19-40), the last time contending teams came to the K — the Indians and Red Sox in early July — the Royals got swept by both of them, and... well, I hate to predict sweeps, but the Cubs really ought to take two of three here without much difficulty. A sweep would be nice.

Oh, and former Cub Jorge Soler? We won’t see him. He’s on the disabled list... again. Hasn’t played in almost two months.

Up next

The Cubs have Thursday off, then return to Wrigley Field to host the Washington Nationals in a three-game series that begins Friday afternoon.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Royals?

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    3
    (114 votes)
  • 37%
    2
    (87 votes)
  • 10%
    1
    (25 votes)
  • 2%
    0
    (5 votes)
231 votes total Vote Now