Reds vs. Royals: Pitching preview, prediction, and more

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - AUGUST 19: Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - AUGUST 19: Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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Amir Garrett #50 and Tucker Barnhart #16 of the Cincinnati Reds react to their 4-1 win.
CINCINNATI, OHIO – JUNE 26: Amir Garrett #50 and Tucker Barnhart #16 of the Cincinnati Reds react to their 4-1 win. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

The second-place Cincinnati Reds look to close out the first half strong.

A lot can change over the course of three days. Friday morning, it appeared the Cincinnati Reds (43-40) were on the brink of squandering a golden opportunity as they prepared to close out an 11-game homestand. Fast forward to today, and the Redlegs hit the road after wrapping up a successful 7-4 record in front of the home crowd at Great American Ball Park.

Following this past weekend’s sweep of the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati has swept a series from every National League Central team this season. Additionally, the dismantling of the Cubbies pushed the Redlegs ahead of the North Siders and into second place in the division, entering the final week of the first half of the 2021 campaign.

If the Reds can maintain their grip on second-place heading into the All-Star break, it will be the first time since the 2012 season that they’re only staring up at one team in front of them in the division race. But, of course, much of that good fortune can be attributed to an exceptional 22-12 mark versus their division rivals and an excellent 19-11 record over their past 30 games.

As far as the Kansas City Royals (35-48) are concerned, they are heading in the opposite direction. The Royals have dropped eight of their last 10, 15 of the last 20, and 22 of their last 30 contests. Entering play today, KC finds themselves 14 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central.

Since making consecutive World Series appearances, and winning the Commissioner’s Trophy in 2015 over the New York Mets, the Royals have not finished above .500 and have suffered over 100 losses in two of those campaigns.

Cincinnati is 6-6 all-time at Kauffman Stadium. The Reds have not captured a season series from the Royals since 2006 in five attempts. This three-game set will be the only matchup between the two clubs this year.