Teams with entirely different plans to wrap up the season will square off Tuesday night as the Atlanta Braves begin a two-game series at the Kansas City Royals.
Royals manager Ned Yost, who announced his retirement Monday, will be managing his final games this week, and the team will be celebrating the man who led the team to the 2015 World Series title.
The Braves have clinched their second straight National League East crown and will be getting things in order for the postseason. They have locked up at least a top-two seed, with a long-shot chance of catching the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the NL.
The Royals, meanwhile, just lost their 100th game for the second straight season and they’re using September to figure out which players best represent their organization’s future.
Right-hander Julio Teheran (10-10, 3.55 ERA) will take the mound for the Braves, while lefty Danny Duffy (6-6, 4.30 ERA) will get the start for Kansas City. The Royals swept a two-game series in Atlanta in July, and both pitchers picked up decisions.
Teheran has an unusual career stat line against the Royals — 0-2 with a 0.69 ERA in 13 innings. He allowed at least one unearned run in each of his two starts against KC, including two in a 2-0 loss in Atlanta two months ago.
Getting everyone healthy is a priority for Atlanta, so instead of traveling to Kansas City for the two-game series this week, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman will remain in Atlanta to undergo treatment on his right elbow. He has been bothered by a bone spur over the past few weeks.
“It’s obviously not ideal, but it responded pretty well with that off-day last week,” Freeman said. “So, we’re just going to hope four days off will do the real trick.”
Duffy fired seven scoreless innings last Wednesday in Oakland, allowing two hits and one walk. He also had six strikeouts, though he didn’t factor into the decision in KC’s 1-0 loss in 11 innings. He ran his scoreless-inning streak to 12, spanning his last two starts after he permitted a run in the first inning on Sept. 13 vs. Houston.
His recent success has come since he moved from the first-base side of the pitching rubber to the third-base side.
“Once I came off the (injured list), (pitching coach) Cal (Eldred) and (bullpen coach) Vance (Wilson) made that change for me, and it’s made a world of difference,” Duffy said. “Really, all the credit goes to them. It has given my changeup more room to work. Just something that minor can make all the difference.”
Duffy struck out 11 in KC’s 5-4 triumph July 23 in Atlanta, allowing one run on five hits with a walk and two hit batters over six innings. It was his highest strikeout total since setting a franchise-record 16 strikeouts in Tampa Bay on Aug. 1, 2016.
In two career appearances vs. Atlanta, he has allowed one earned run in nine innings.
The Royals are in the midst of concluding the season with 15 games against teams that already have clinched postseason berths or on the cusp of doing so. They’re 2-8 in the first 10 of those games.
–Field Level Media