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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Salvador Perez #13 of the Kansas City Royals slides into third base against the Cincinnati Reds.
CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 25: Salvador Perez #13 of the Kansas City Royals slides into third base against the Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Battered pitching staff and lack of power top Kansas City’s woes.

Having a team ERA of 5.02 is bad enough, but when you issue the second most free passes in the American League, you’re placing an almost unbearable burden on the offense. Much of the Royals’ demise during the 2021 campaign can be directly linked to their inability to throw strikes.

The KC pitching staff has walked 330 opposing hitters, and their 4.2 BB/9 rate is the worst in the junior circuit. Additionally, their 2.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio occupies the basement of the American League rankings.

Needless to say, there’s a lot of traffic on the base paths when the Royals are on the mound, as evidenced by their league-worst 1.466 WHIP mark. However, I would caution against trying to run on Royals catcher Salvador Perez. The longtime KC backstop has nailed 39% of would-be base stealers. Well above the 32% AL average.

Entering play today, the Kansas City offense has launched a league-low 82 long balls. Additionally, their team slugging rate of .390 places them 12th among their AL rivals. However, Salvador Perez has done his best to carry the offensive load.

Not only is he playing his usually stellar defense, but the seven-time All-Star is hitting .280 with a team-high 20 homers and 50 RBIs. Making his sixth start in the Midsummer Classic, Perez, barring injury, should easily eclipse his career-high of 27 round-trippers.

Unfortunately, the rest of the KC lineup has not provided Perez with nearly enough help. Kansas City third basemen, right fielders, and designated hitters are dead last in bWAR in the AL. Much of that blame can be attributed to the awful season Hunter Dozier is having.

Appearing in 26 games in right field and 32 at third base, Dozier is slashing an anemic .172/.240/.341 with an embarrassing 56 OPS+ mark. Designated hitter Jorge Soler hasn’t been much better. After leading the AL with 48 homers in 2019, he’s now slashing .184/.280/.310 with only six round-trippers.