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Series Preview: Rays vs Royals

Kansas City Royals v Minnesota Twins Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays went into the All Star break winning six of their last seven and now look to get a fast start to the second half in Kansas City.

The New York Yankees got their second half started with two losses to the Houston Astros yesterday bringing the Rays to 12.0 games back, the Toronto Blue Jays 13.5 games back, the Boston Red Sox 15.5 games back, and the Baltimore Orioles 17.0 games back. The Rays control the first wild card spot and are 3.5 games up on the Red Sox as the first team out of the playoffs.


Friday 8:10 PM: Drew Rasmussen vs Brad Keller
Saturday 7:10 PM: TBA vs Brady Singer
Sunday 2:10 PM: Jeffrey Springs vs TBA

Brad Keller has been a solid starting pitcher for the Kansas City Royals after being selected in the 2017 Rule 5 draft. He’s posted a 4.00 ERA/4.14 FIP/4.50 xFIP over 591.2 innings. This year hasn’t been much different with a 3.96 ERA/4.22 FIP/4.14 xFIP. He doesn’t get many strikeouts (16.4% strikeout rate) and doesn’t limit walks (7.8% walk rate). His biggest skill appears to be the ability to keep the ball in the ballpark (0.81 HR/9). Keller works off two fastballs using a 94.0 mph four-seam fastball and 93.1 mph sinker. His go-to breaking ball is a 86.8 mph slider that he throws over 36% of the time. Against left-handed batters he will mix in an 89.7 mph changeup. The sinker is the pitch most hitters have gotten to with a .401 wOBA allowed while his wOBA allowed by his other three pitches have all been under .300.

Brady Singer was the Royals first round pick in the 2018 draft out of the University of Florida. Singer has taken a step forward in 2022 putting up a 4.02 ERA/4.10 FIP/3.52 xFIP over 71.2 innings. He’s posted an above average 23.4% strikeout rate while walking 6.1% of batters faced. Left-handed batters have done a majority of the damage against Singer putting up a .271/.349/.496 line and .365 wOBA. Singer works primarily as a two-pitch pitcher using a 93.8 mph sinker and 85.4 mph slider. Against left handed batters he will work in a 87.0 mph changeup.

The Kansas City Royals have had difficulty scoring runs.

The Royals have hit .244/.308/.378 and put up a 94 wRC+. Their 359 runs scored are fourth lowest in the league.

Former Red Sox Andrew Benintendi has been their best hitter this season. He’s hit .317/.386/.401 and put up a 127 wRC+. However that’s been built off an elevated .365 BABIP and very little power (0.84 ISO).

Hunter Dozier (118 wRC+) and Michael Taylor (108 wRC+) have been solid veterans.

Whit Merrifield (78 wRC+) has struggled after being one of the better hitters for average in the league. This year his BABIP has cratered to .266 and his speed has showed declines.

Bobby Witt Jr. (108 wRC+) was one of the top prospects in the game entering the season. He made the Opening Day roster and leads the team in homers (13) and stolen bases (17).

Salvador Perez (87 wRC+) has had a drop off from his breakout 2020 and 2021 seasons at the plate. He hits for power, but the strikeout rate has ballooned. Currently Perez is on the Injured List with a thumb injury.