On Deck: Blue Jays at Royals

ON DECK

Blue Jays at Royals

STARTING PITCHERS

MONDAY, 8:15 p.m.

RHP Sean Reid-Foley (MLB debut) vs. RHP Brad Keller (4-5, 3.57 ERA)

Keller, a Rule V rookie, was in the bullpen when the Royals faced the Blue Jays in April (two games vs. Jays, 0.2 IP, 1 ER). He moved into the starting rotation May 30, and is 3-4, 4.09 ERA in his 12 starts.

TUESDAY, 8:15 p.m.

LHP Ryan Borucki (2-2, 2.81 ERA) vs. RHP Heath Fillmyer (1-1, 3.13 ERA)

Fillmyer made his MLB debut on June 24, and joined the starting rotation in late July. His best performance came on Wednesday, when he threw seven shutout innings against the Cubs to record his first MLB win.

WEDNESDAY, 8:15 p.m.

RHP Marco Estrada (5-9, 4.84 ERA) vs. RHP Burch Smith (1-4, 6.97 ERA)

Smith missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Before this year, his only other MLB experience was with San Diego in 2013 (1.3, 6.44 ERA). He joined the starting rotation on July 11.

THURSDAY, 8:15 p.m.

RHP Sam Gaviglio (2-5, 4.86 ERA) vs. LHP Danny Duffy (7-11, 4.90 ERA)

After his start Saturday, Duffy had an anti-inflammatory injection to deal with shoulder stiffness, so he may not be ready to make this start. His season WHIP (1.49) is his highest since 2012.

THREE STORYLINES

1. Royals’ annus horribilis

At the end of play on April 30, the Royals were 7-21, 8.5 games out of first place in the AL Central — and things haven’t gotten any better. Entering play Sunday, they had dropped two of 10 August games and avoid the MLB basement because Baltimore’s a little bit worse. Mike Moustakas was sent to Milwaukee in a late-July trade, with K.C. adding OF Brett Phillips and (now in triple-A) RHP Jorge Lopez.

2. Importance of Perez

With veterans Jason Hammel and Ian Kennedy ineffective (a combined 3-19), and now in the bullpen and on the DL, respectively, the Royals have been forced to use less experienced pitchers. That means catcher Salvador Perez is more valuable than ever. Entering play Sunday, Perez had only three passed balls and had thrown out 18 of 36 attempted base-stealers in 2018.

3. There’s D in K.C.

One bright spot for the Royals is their defensive play. Entering play Sunday, they had not been charged with an error in 11 consecutive games, which tied the club record. Their season fielding percentage, .987, was second-best in the American League, trailing only Houston (.988).

STACKING UP

(MLB rankings, yesterday’s games not included)

Toronto Stat Kansas City

520 (18th) Runs 426 (30th)

157 (7th) HR 99 (28th)

34 (28th) SB 62 (T-11th)

.243 (21st) BA .240 (23rd)

.313 (23rd) OBP .301 (26th)

4.85 (24th) SP ERA 5.36 (29th)

4.62 (23rd) RP ERA 5.27 (30th)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Danny Jansen, Blue Jays

Called up on Sunday, Jansen is expected to start Monday. Let’s see what he can do with his bat, and working with pitcher Sean Reid-Foley.

UT Whit Merrifield, Royals

The versatile (mainly 2B, but also CF/RF/1B) Merrifield was hitting .307 for the season until a 1-for-20 stretch entering play Sunday. The Royals need their leadoff hitter to get hot.

DUENCH DECLARES

It’s all about the future for both teams, especially with Reid-Foley and Jansen expected to be Toronto’s battery on Monday. Both teams win two games.

WAR BOARD 

Wins Above Replacement Leaders (yesterday’s games not included)

BLUE JAYS

1. Justin Smoak 1.6

2. Marcus Stroman 1.4

3. Ryan Borucki 1.4

4. Aledmys Diaz 1.2

5. Kevin Pillar 1.1

ROYALS

1. Whit Merrifield 3.4

2. Brad Keller 1.3

3. Salvador Perez 1.0

4. Jorge Soler 1.0

5. Alex Gordon 0.9

MLB LEADERS

1. Mookie Betts BOS 7.8

2. Jose Ramirez CLE 7.7

3. Mike Trout LAA 7.6

4. Francisco Lindor CLE 6.8

5. Max Scherzer WSH 5.9

FanGraphs WAR explained: 1-2 season WAR, role player; 2-3 WAR, solid starter; 3-4 WAR, good player; 4-5 WAR, all-star; 5-6 WAR, superstar; 6+ WAR, MVP.

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies