Injury-riddled Cleveland will still pose a serious threat to the KC Royals.
Cleveland is hurting. Literally. Premier starter Shane Bieber (7-4) and fellow front-liners Aaron Civale (10-2) and Zach Plesac (4-3) are all on the Injured List. So are power-hitting DH Franmil Reyes and outfielder Josh Naylor, and left fielder Eddie Rosario left Thursday night’s game with Houston with abdominal tightness.
Their exact times of return don’t seem to be definitively known, but one look at the injury report on the Indians’ website suggests Naylor probably won’t be available to face Kansas City when the clubs’ four-game series begins July 8, that Bieber, Civale, and Plesac may not be, and Reyes and Rosario very well could be.
But despite the injuries, there the Indians are, sole possessors of second place in the AL Central at 42-36, and squarely in the playoff hunt. They’re only five games behind Chicago and 3.5 games behind in the Wild Card.
Cleveland is where it is largely because third baseman Jose Ramirez has 18 home runs and 50 RBIs and second baseman Cesar Hernandez has 12 homers and 30 RBIs. Emmanuel Clase’s 11 saves and 3-2, 1.10 work out of the bullpen don’t hurt. Nor does the stewardship of Terry Francona, one of the big leagues’ finest managers.
The Indians just seem to grind things out and find ways to win. And if they get Reyes, who had 11 homers and 29 RBIs in 40 games before going on the IL, and one or two of their starters back before arriving in Kansas City next week—or during their series with the Royals—they’ll give KC an even harder time than they will without those stars.
Prediction: Cleveland faces two tough tests before they play the Royals, from whom they’ve taken five of six games this season. The Indians are in Houston now for four games (they lost to the Astros Thursday), then head to Tampa Bay for three before getting to The K. They’ll be flying high if they do well against those clubs, and hungry for wins if they don’t. Either way, Cleveland is a much better team than the KC Royals; leaving Kansas City with three wins, or even a sweep, isn’t out of the question.
How will the struggling KC Royals fare on this crucial 10-game homestand?
Unless the club improves drastically overnight, and changes take place, Kansas City will face three better teams in an ominous 10-day stretch. Don’t count on many wins when the Royals need them most. And if they don’t get them, this team will be out of contention for good by the time the All-Star Break rolls around.
All things and their three opponents considered, the Royals are in for a rugged 10 days. Things don’t look good for this homestand or the season. Time, and 10 games, will tell.