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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Kansas City Royals

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MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers look to continue their post-break hot streak with a pair of games against the struggling Kansas City Royals.

Both games will be afternoon start times after the Brewers moved today’s first pitch up to make sure everyone was home in time to watch the Bucks in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

Kansas City finds itself in last place in the AL Central and took the first two games of this four-game home-and-home set back in mid-May, toward the end of the Brewers’ May swoon. The Royals have at least been a competent team in Kansas City, going 22-24 there so far this year, but they’re 15-31 on the road. They come into this series at 37-55 overall, but 13 of their wins have come against the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins, the fellow dregs of one of the worst divisions in baseball (if it isn’t the NL Central, it probably is the AL Central).

The Lineup

The Royals’ offense this year has almost entirely been from All-Star Salvador Perez. He leads the team in just about every offensive category, including average (.279), home runs (21), runs driven in (56) and hits (100). Of course, he doesn’t walk much with an OBP of .307.

Possible trade chip Carlos Santana is KC’s top on-base threat, hitting .242/.362/.413, and has been the team’s second-biggest power and run-producing threat with 15 home runs and 51 driven in. The slugging may be a bit lower than you’d like from a first baseman, but you have to take the power-sapping status of Kauffman Stadium into account. His 113 OPS+ still makes him an above-average bat. He’s signed through next season and is due to make $10.5 million next year.

Aside from those two, the only Royal regular with an OPS over .700 has been Whit Merrifield, who’s hitting .270/.320/.407, with his power almost exclusively coming through his 21 doubles. He does have 24 steals in 25 tries, though, so in the rare occasion he does get on base, he can be a pest.

The Probable Pitchers

Tuesday, 3:10 p.m. CDT - Mike Minor vs. Eric Lauer

Minor feels like he’s a long way from dropped flyball shenanigans to get 200 strikeouts these days. The 33-year-old lefty has been hit hard this year, with a 5.67 ERA in 19 starts. He’s still striking out a decent amount of batters with 103 in 106.1 innings. Cleveland hit him around in his last start, tagging him for 6 runs on 9 hits and a walk in 4 innings on July 10th. He hasn’t allowed fewer than 4 runs in a start since June 20th.

Wednesday, 1:10 p.m. CDT - Brad Keller vs. Brett Anderson

Keller throws his 94 mph fastball 60% of the time, and he maybe should not, judging by his results this year. You’ll have a hard time finding a pitcher who’s been hit harder this year than Keller, as he comes into this start with a 5.97 ERA and 1.76 WHIP in 19 starts. According to Statcast, he’s giving up an expected batting average of .297 and expected slugging of .498, meaning his 5.97 ERA is actually lower than his expected ERA of 6.64. His out pitch, if he has one, is his slider, which is generating a 31.1% whiff rate.

Stats courtesy of Statcast and Baseball-Reference