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Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals

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John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays take to the road after a disappointing home stand that at least showed some signs of the rotation getting on track. Kansas City hasn’t been kind to the Rays as they are 27-38 all-time and 9-18 since 2008.

The Royals haven’t been lucky with injuries recently as Mike Moustakas will miss the rest of the year with a torn ACL in a collision that also will sideline Alex Gordon for at least a month. This weekend they also suffered the loss of their everyday catcher, Salvador Perez, as he will be sidelined for at least a week.

Matchups:

Monday: Matt Andriese vs Ian Kennedy

Tuesday: Drew Smyly vs Dillon Gee

Wednesday: Chris Archer vs Danny Duffy

The backend of the Royals pen covers a lot of warts in the starting rotation.

As is true in facing the Yankees, KC opponents need to score on the starter early, because if they are behind after six innings the game might be over. Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, and Luke Hochevar make for a very difficult 7, 8 and 9 inning. Their names might not be as well known as the Yankee's threesome, but they have been just as effective.

Ian Kennedy is coming off an abbreviated start where he allowed two runs over 3.1 innings against the Twins. Three starts ago he was lit up by the Yankees for seven runs over 6.1 innings while allowing three homeruns.

Dillon Gee and Danny Duffy have moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation. Gee is coming off a rough outing against the Twins where he allowed six runs over four innings with three homeruns.

Duffy is coming off a tough game against the White Sox where he allowed five runs over 5.1 innings while allowing two homers. His two previous starts he only went a total of 7.1 innings, but he didn’t allow a run. Duffy is a lefty, so the Rays should be able to take advantage of the matchup.

Davis and Herrera both have ERAs under 1. Davis has had a problem with walks as he’s walked 12.2% of batters this year. He has kept runs off the board, but he hasn’t been as dominant as he has been in the recent past. Herrera has been dominant this year as he increased his strikeout rate to 31.9% and lowered his walk rate to 3.2%

Hochevar has been good as the first in line to get the ball with a lead late in the game. He has put up much better results as he’s a full year from his return from Tommy John Surgery that saw him miss the 2014 season. He is striking out 31.3% of batters while walking only 4.8% of those faced.

Joakim Soria hasn’t been great in the first year of his 3 year deal with the Royals. He has posted a 3.47 ERA and 3.92 FIP over 23.1 innings. The quality of arms drops off after the four main arms the Rays will want to avoid.

Who’s on first?

Eric Hosmer is still covering first base, but the rest of the offense will look much different than one would expect due to injuries. Hosmer has been a beast slashing .319/.368/.532, .385 wOBA, 146 wRC+ on the season. Lorenzo Cain has picked it up after a rough April as he’s hit .350/.382/.563, .403 wOBA, 159 wRC+ for the month.

There will be many new faces in the lineup in Cheslor Cuthbert, Whit Merrifield, and Brett Eibner. Many role players have had to step up into larger roles as the injuries have taken their toll on the team.

The Rays can’t afford to look past the Royals.

The Royals have managed to win five of their last six while dealing with a host of injuries. So we may see different names on the backs of the jerseys, but we can expect a tough series.