2015-06-18

MILWAUKEE BREWERS (24-43) at KANSAS CITY ROYALS (37-25)



The Kansas City Royals hope to continue playing at a very high level when they take on the Milwaukee Brewers this Thursday night.



Milwaukee has had a horrible season and they enter this battle riding a five-game losing streak. Three of those losses came at the hands of their current opponent, Kansas City, and they have put up a mere nine runs (2.3 runs per game) in that time. They are on the brink of losing four straight against the AL Central leaders after the 10-2 loss on Wednesday in which they had just six hits and were 1-for-5 with RISP. OF Carlos Gomez (.275) has not had quite as spectacular of a season as most are accustomed to, but he is starting to come around and is 13-for-42 (.310) with five runs scored in his last 10 performances. It has been another successful start to the season for the 2014 AL Champions as they come into this one riding wins in seven of their past nine contests. The recent stretch has vaulted them into first place and they now hold a 3.5-game lead over the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. This will be the fourth consecutive game against the Brewers and they have won each of the last three, capping it off on Wednesday with a big 10-2 dismantling of the last place team behind 12 hits. OF Lorenzo Cain (.291) continued his solid season with a 2-for-3 night and he is now 11-for-32 (.344) with two doubles, two homers and six RBI over his current eight-game hitting streak. The pitching matchup will feature two very different pitchers as 26-year-old RHP Jimmy Nelson (3-7, 4.60 ERA) takes on 36-year-old RHP Jeremy Guthrie (4-4, 5.79 ERA) of the host Royals. The Brewers have not performed well wherever they are playing and on the road thus far they are 13-19 as they go against this Kansas City group which is 20-11 at Kauffman Stadium. The two clubs have not played often in recent memory and these four games this year have been dominated by the Royals, winning each of the first three while outscoring Milwaukee 25-9. Trends show that the Brewers are 48-45 (.516) in road games with an on-base percentage of .300 or worse in its last 10 games over the past three seasons while Kansas City is 29-10 (.744) at home with a money line of -100 to -125 in the past two years. OF Carlos Gomez (Leg) is questionable to play in this one as OF Khris Davis (Knee) is on the DL for the visitors and the Royals will be playing with a full squad of healthy offensive players.



Nelson earned himself a spot in this rotation after a solid yet unspectacular first season of starts. In 2014, he managed 7.4 K/9 and did great with his control (2.5 BB/9) while giving up a mere 0.78 HR/9. His numbers should have been much better, though, as the opposition hit .344 BABIP while Nelson left just 66.6percent of runners on base. Hes been able to increase his strikeouts (8.0 K/9) this year, but has already allowed 10 homers in his 78.1 frames (1.15 HR/9) with balls leaving the park on 14.7percent of his fastballs. In his last four starts, he sandwiched a six-inning scoreless outing against the Pirates with three starts where he totaled 16 innings, giving up 17 runs on 18 hits while being 1-2 in that time. He has yet to take on the Royals in his short career, but needs to be careful against 3B Mike Moustakas (.323) who has jumped leaps and bounds this year and ranks fourth in the AL in batting average. On the other hand, 2B Omar Infante (.227) has struggled in his second season with Kansas City as he has struck out at his highest rate (15.3percent) since 2007. The Brewers bullpen hasnt been too bad, going 10-6 with a 3.48 ERA (1.24 WHIP) as they are 13-for-17 (76percent) in save chances. Francisco Rodriguez (1.13 ERA, 13 saves) is perfect in his 13 save attempts, allowing just 12 hits in his 24 innings on the mound.



Guthries biggest asset to his teams has been as an innings eater, pitching at least 200 innings in five of the past six seasons as a member of the Orioles and Royals. His performance hasnt been all too impressive in that time, though, as he posted a sub-4.00 ERA just once in that time and is on pace for his worst full season as a starter. Hes never been much of a strikeout pitcher, but this season is just sad as he is mowing down a meager 4.0 K/9 and has seen his control at its worst mark (2.8 BB/9) since 2011. Guthrie is also giving up a ton of homers (1.52 HR/9) and getting batters to hit the ball on the ground a putrid 35.7percent of the time. Hes actually been impressive over his last three starts, compiling 17 innings and giving up just six runs on 15 hits in that time with a 10:4 K/BB ratio. In his long career, Guthrie has faced the Brewers just once, going seven strong innings of one-run, three-hit baseball and earning a win back in 2012. Despite not seeing Milwaukee much, he has faced 1B Adam Lind plenty has done poorly with the lefty going 17-for-47 (.362) with three doubles, a triple, a homer and two RBI. On the other hand, C Jonathan Lucroy and 3B Aramis Ramirez are a combined 2-for-11 in the matchup. The Kansas City relievers have continued to be some of the best around, going 11-4 with a 1.97 ERA (1.04 WHIP) and are 19-for-28 (68percent) when attempting a save. Greg Holland (3.52 ERA, 11 saves) did horrible (0 IP, 3 ER, 4 H) in an attempt to get some work against the Brew Crew on Monday but is a solid 11-for-12 in save opportunities.