After stumbling in the first two games of a four-game set, the Royals are back to .500 after a walk off win Wednesday followed by a 16-4 beat down of the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. Kansas City will look to gain more ground in the AL Central as they open a three-game series against the last place White Sox on Friday.
James Shields vs. Ian Kennedy
Ex-Royals pitcher James Shields takes the mound in the opening game for the White Sox. His 2-2 record with a 5.10 ERA has left something to be desired, as he’s given up 10 earned runs in his last 10 innings of work. The right-hander will look to get back on track and get his first win since late June.
Ian Kennedy is trying to snap a 12 game winless drought at Kauffman Stadium. After starting out 0-6 with a lack of run support, he seems to have righted the ship, winning three of his next six starts. In his last outing, he pitched 6.2 innings and only allowed two runs while striking out six. Perhaps on Friday, he records his 4th win of the season.
Mike Pelfrey vs. Jason Vargas
Pelfrey has struggled to pitch late into games recently. In his last 10 outings, only once has he reached the sixth inning. The right-hander is 3-7 with a 4.64 ERA this season. Pelfrey has struggled so far in July, giving up 8 earned runs in 8 innings pitched; and that’s in 3 appearances.
Despite his last two dismal starts, Vargas has pitched exceptionally for the rest of the year. His 12-4 record with a 3.06 ERA is among the best in the American League. He will look to get on the right track after only pitching two innings and giving up six runs in his last game against Detroit.
Derek Holland vs. Travis Wood
The left-hander Derek Holland has lost in two of his last three outings, giving up an average of almost 6 runs in each. His 5-9 record with a 5.8 ERA can be misleading when it comes to facing the Royals. In his last start against the division foe, he only allowed one run on three hits through six innings.
With the absence of Nate Karns, Travis Wood will be making his third start of the year on Sunday against Holland. His ERA ballooned to above six after a rough outing against the Tigers, where he gave up six runs on nine hits through only four innings. He will have a tall task as he tries to prove he belongs at the back of the rotation.
Despite the bad start after the All-Star break, the Royals have moved to within 1 1/2 games of the first place Cleveland Indians. The 16 runs and 19 hits were both season highs for Kansas City on Thursday night.