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Series Preview: Rebuilding Rays host Struggling Royals

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals
Souza Jr. survived the trade deadline.
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The trade deadline has passed with three players dealt, but there is still baseball to be played. Now the Rays take on the struggling Royals in a four game set.

The Rays are fresh off a sweep of the Yankees and have won four in a row. The Royals have lost four in a row, eight of nine, and 19 of 26. The Royals streak of run bad is approaching the Rays level of futility that was seen before the All-Star Break.

Matchups (as they currently are setup and subject to change):

Monday: Danny Duffy vs Chris Archer

Tuesday: Yordano Ventura vs Matt Moore Matt Andriese

Wednesday: Edinson Volquez vs Jake Odorizzi

Thursday: Ian Kennedy vs Drew Smyly

Scratched from his Tuesday start is Matt Moore, who was dealt to the Giants earlier this afternoon. At first pitch, the Rays will likewise be without utility cogs Brandon Guyer and Steve Pearce, who were dealt to contenders.

You can find links at the end of this article.

Danny Duffy is the ace of the Royals. Who would have thought?

Danny Duffy is pitching really well since moving the rotation. He’s thrown 82.2 IP in 14 starts while allowing a 3.27 ERA and posting a 3.75 FIP. Duffy has maintained his strikeout rate in the rotation and allowed fewer walks. He’s been more homer prone, but that’s really the only negative.

Yordano Ventura has a big fastball that average around 96 MPH, but hasn’t been able to put up results you would expect out of a power pitcher. He has a 4.88 ERA and 4.87 FIP. His strikeouts have plummeted to 17.4% and his walks have increased to 9.3%.

Edinson Volquez is back to being a posting ERAs more in line with his career averages as he’s putting up a 4.70 ERA and 4.25 FIP. After two years of ERAS at 3.04 and 3.53 he has turned back into a pumpkin. His HR rate has spiked and he has limited strikeout potential and doesn’t avoid walks.

Ian Kennedy was a big free agent signing for the Royals as he signed a 5 year $70 million contract this off-season. Kennedy is pitching to a similar level that he did last year with the Padres as he’s posted a 4.23 ERA and 5.10 FIP. Royals are trying to move him, but they will have to include a lot of money to get somebody to take him off their hands in the first year of the deal.

The Royals are given credit for the rise in relievers values, but this year they have been underwhelming.

Wade Davis is back on the disabled list and has battled injuries this year. He’s still putting up good results, but hasn’t been available much for the last month.

Kelvin Herrera has stepped into the closers role and has really stepped up. Herrera has seen his strikeout rate elevate to 32.4% after two years in the low 20s. He’s also dropped his walk rate from around 9% to 4.0%. He’s having an incredible year, but he’s now their closer where in the past he would come in the sixth or seventh inning.

Royals offense that overproduced for years is now struggling to put up runs.

The Royals as a team are batting .264/.314/.398 and 90 wRC+. They have put up a .261/.311/.391 and 87 wRC+ against right handed pitchers. The Royals have been more successful against left handed pitchers as they have hit .274/.325/.420 and 99 wRC+.

Eric Hosmer has been the most productive at the plate of the Royals regulars as he’s batting .280/.339/.448 and 111 wRC+. Salvador Perez (104 wRC+) and Chester Cuthbert (108 wRC+) have been his biggest supporting bats.

The Royals continue to play good defense as they are ranked sixth by UZR at +21.7 and fifth by DRS at +26.

Somebody has to win and it might as well be the Rays.

The Rays are definitely outplaying the Royals recently and the Rays will look to continue their four game winning streak. The starters are also in a good spot to continue to build momentum as the front office evaluated talent for next year.

Full trade deadline coverage:

Rays trade Matt Moore to San Francisco Giants

Rays trade Steve Pearce to Baltimore Orioles

Rays trade Brandon Guyer to Cleveland Indians