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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Royals series preview

The Cubs host this A.L. Central ballclub for a three-game series.

Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

The Cubs should definitely not look past this series. The Royals are a MLB team just like all the others and the Cubs need to continue to play hard, as they have all season, and keep the pressure on the opposition.

For more on the Royals, here’s Max Rieper, manager of our SB Nation Royals site Royals Review.

So you can look at the Royals’ record which has them on pace for a club record in losses and conclude this is a team that should roll over and die. But they’ve suddenly gotten pretty feisty the last three weeks, winning seven in a row at one point and seemingly battling in every game. That has largely come on the backs of the offense, which has been on fire recently. Leading the charge has been Bobby Witt Jr., who seems to be blossoming into a star and is currently eighth in MLB in fWAR. He has cut down on his strikeouts and has become a feared power hitter with elite speed and he has turned his defense around at shortstop and will almost certainly be a Gold Glove finalist if not the winner.

Other young hitters like MJ Melendez, Michael Massey and Kyle Isbel have been hitting lately after very disappointing first halves. Maikel Garcia has had a terrific rookie season playing some of the best defense in the league at third base, showing good plate discipline, and using his speed on the bases. Dairon Blanco, a 30-year-old rookie from Cuba, also has blazing speed and has bunted in two runs this year, including a walk-off bunt to win this week against the Mariners.

The pitching has been the big weakness for the Royals, although the starting pitching has improved recently. Cole Ragans, acquired from the Rangers for Aroldis Chapman, has shown a velocity bump and a cutter to get off to a good start with the Royals and might be a hidden gem. Brady Singer got off to an awful start, but has a 3.43 ERA since the start of June and flirted with a no-hitter his last time out. But it hasn’t been enough — Jordan Lyles has been god awful, and the bullpen was bad even before they traded away their two best relievers — Chapman and Scott Barlow.

The Royals’ could get good starts on Friday and Saturday, and the way they are hitting lately, they aren’t really out of any games. But protecting a lead means relying on a bunch of has-beens and never-weres, which could ultimately doom the Royals this series.

Fun fact

The Cubs’ three games this weekend against the Royals will increase their total against Kansas City since interleague play began to 34 — matching the number they played against the St. Louis Maroons, in 1885-86, but still two fewer than against the Worcester Ruby Legs, in 1880-82!

During the 19th Century, the Cubs played 1,317 games against teams that later folded, with a high of 159 vs. the Cleveland Spiders and 102-126 against five other teams.

Those 159 are 17 more than the Cubs have played against the White Sox, their most frequent modern AL opponent.

The most they have played against any other current AL team is just 40, vs. the Twins. They played more than that against 12 defunct clubs.

(Courtesy BCB’s JohnW53)

Probable pitching matchups

Friday: Jameson Taillon, RHP (7-7, 5.71 ERA, 1.394 WHIP, 4.68 FIP) vs. Cole Ragans, LHP (2-3, 5.92 ERA, 1.397 WHIP, 5.28 FIP overall; 1-1, 2.38 ERA, 1.324 WHIP, 2.51 FIP in four starts with Royals)

Saturday: Justin Steele, LHP (13-3, 2.79 ERA, 1.175 WHIP, 3.20 FIP) vs. Brady Singer, RHP (8-8, 4.91 ERA, 1.319 WHIP, 3.88 FIP)

Sunday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (4-6, 4.00 ERA, 1.148 WHIP, 4.11 FIP) vs. Jordan Lyles, RHP (3-13, 6.30 ERA, 1.302 WHIP, 5.54 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Friday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, MLB Network (outside the Cubs and Royals market territories)

Saturday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Sunday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network


Here’s how I look at this weekend set. The Royals are a bad, bad team. The Oakland A’s got all the notice for their awful start — during which the Cubs swept them, in Oakland — but the Royals have been just about as horrid all year. In fact, since May 28 they’ve actually been worse than the A’s, 23-46 to Oakland’s 24-42.

K.C. has allowed 369 runs in that span, 40 more than the A’s. (Comparison point: In that same time frame, the Cubs have allowed 303 runs and gone 40-28.) For the full season, the Royals have allowed 117 more runs than the Cubs and scored 110 fewer. Cubs’ run differential: +63 (seventh-best in MLB). Royals’ run differential: -164 (third-worst in MLB).

The Cubs will sweep this series.

Up next

The Cubs travel to Detroit for a three-game series against the Tigers which begins Monday evening.


How many games will the Cubs win against the Royals?

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  • 34%
    (68 votes)
  • 56%
    (112 votes)
  • 8%
    (16 votes)
  • 1%
    (2 votes)
198 votes total Vote Now