By June 27th of last year, both the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals had well over 40 wins and had sizeable leads in their respective divisions. Now, one year later, both teams are scuffling as they head into the All-Star Break at 39-35, and both teams are looking for a series win to get back on track. For the Royals, Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, and Chris Young will all take the mound. St. Louis will be throwing Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, and Mike Leake.
Game One: Danny Duffy (2-1, 3.38 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (6-4, 4.73 ERA)
Danny Duffy, arguably one of Kansas City’s best starters this year, will look to get back on track against the powerful St. Louis offense. As a starter, Duffy is 2-1 with a 3.54 ERA and a WHIP of 1.08. With an overworked bullpen, Danny Duffy will need to eat some innings. Duffy has made just eight starts this year, but has never pitched a full seven innings. His last start was cut short, when he only threw 4.2 frames against the Mets on June 22nd.
Kansas City will have a tall order ahead of them, as Adam Wainwright has dominated in the month of June. He has a 2.36 ERA in 26.2 innings this month, and has thrown 6 innings or more in every start since May 12th. His last start against the Cubs was a solid effort, as he threw 6.2 innings and allowed 3 earned runs.
Game Two: Yordano Ventura (6-4, 4.54 ERA) vs. Michael Wacha (3-7, 4.41 ERA)
Fresh off of his suspension for the brawl with Manny Machado earlier in the month, Yordano Ventura has, from a pitching standpoint, had a sparkling month of June. Ventura has allowed eight runs in 23.2 innings, and six of those runs came in the disastrous start against the Baltimore Orioles.
Like Ventura, Michael Wacha has also had a solid month of June. His last start against the Cubs, Wacha went 6.2 innings and gave up 2 runs while striking out 5 hitters. He’s had a very up-and-down season thus far, and is due for a rough start.
Game Three: Carlos Martinez (7-5, 3.02 ERA) vs. Edinson Volquez (7-7, 5.15 ERA)
Edinson Volquez’s last start is something to be remembered, but not in a good way. Volquez allowed eleven earned runs, and failed to make it out of the second inning with an out. His last quality start was on the 13th of June against Cleveland, where he threw a 2-hit shutout in seven innings.
On the flipside, the Royals’ offense has their work cut out for them against Carlos Martinez. In his last start, Martinez fired seven innings of 1-run baseball against the Seattle Mariners. Like Michael Wacha, he’s had a rollercoaster of a year, and is certainly due to be roughed up.
Game Four: Chris Young (2-7, 6.54 ERA) vs. Mike Leake (5-5, 4.25 ERA)
Last year, Chris Young helped the Royals win a title with his 3.06 ERA. This year, he’s regressed big time, with many calling for his release. Young had an impressive showing on Father’s Day, but came back with a 2.1 inning, 7-run (4 earned) nightmare last time out. Busch Stadium is, though not sizably, smaller than Kauffman, and with the powerful offense of the Cardinals, he may have bit of trouble.
Unlike his teammates, Mike Leake will not have fond memories of June. His last start was just 3.1 innings, where he gave up four earned runs. Kansas City may have trouble, as Mike Leake is a pitcher who rarely throws four-seamers, and mixes in a slew of cutters and sinkers.
This series looks to be the most even series in recent history. Both teams are 39-35, second place in their division, and aren’t playing the best baseball right now. St. Louis struggles at home (15-21), but plays well on the road (24-14). Similarly, Kansas City plays very well at home (26-10), but is an abysmal 13-25 away from Kauffman Stadium. Both offenses are hitting pretty well, and St. Louis has the upperhand with the starting rotation. This I-70 series might be the most evenly matched that we’ve seen in a long time.
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