Now officially eliminated from playoff contention, the Kansas City Royals are set to begin their final farewell to several franchise cornerstones. A day after their wild-card hopes ended, the Royals figure to rest a few regulars on Wednesday as they continue their three-game series against the visiting Detroit Tigers.
Minnesota’s victory over Cleveland on Tuesday sealed the Royals’ fate and likely signaled the beginning of the end for pending free agents Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain. Escobar started his 328th straight game and is expected to be in the lineup for all 162 for a second straight season. Another pending free agent, Jason Vargas, tossed six strong innings in Tuesday’s 2-1 victory as the Royals handed the Tigers their eighth straight loss. Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera has missed the last two games after an MRI revealed two herniated disks, but he’s seeking a second opinion and hasn’t ruled out a return before Sunday’s season finale.
TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit, FSN Kansas City
PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Jordan Zimmermann (8-13, 6.19 ERA) vs. Royals RH Jason Hammel (8-13, 5.32)
Zimmermann’s back problems have been an ongoing concern, but he was encouraged after allowing three runs over four innings in Thursday’s loss to Minnesota. “This was probably the best location and best velocity I’ve had in two years. I felt great,” Zimmermann told reporters. “The ball was coming out good. It was going right where I wanted it to.” The 31-year-old has dominated Kansas City throughout his nine-year career, going 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in five games (four starts).
Hammel is looking to finish the season on a high note after allowing a total of 19 runs - 18 earned - and 29 hits in 12 2/3 innings over his last three starts. The 35-year-old is 3-2 with a 6.27 ERA in 13 career games (10 starts) against Detroit, including 1-0 with a 4.03 ERA in four outings this season. Ian Kinsler is 6-for-15 with two home runs against Hammel, who is 1-3 with a 5.73 ERA in his last six starts at home.
1. Detroit 3B Nick Castellanos has hit safely in 23 of his last 25 games.
2. Kansas City has won eight of its last nine meetings with Detroit.
3. Tigers 3B Jeimer Candelario (knee) returned to the starting lineup Tuesday after missing one game with a bruised right knee.
PREDICTION: Tigers 6, Royals 2