Kansas City Royals @ New York Yankees

Yankees -275

Games Total: 9.5

Game Play Predictions

Kansas City Royals

  • The Royals are huge underdogs, which is especially insulting considering they are facing a pretty hittable starting pitcher in Sonny Gray . Gray is 7-7 with a 5.34 ERA in 19 starts this season.

  • That being said, Gray has been better against teams with a losing record, and at 31-70, the Royals certainly qualify. Gray is 6-2 with a 4.30 ERA in 13 starts against losing teams.

  • In fact, one of Gray’s best starts of the season came in Kansas City May 20. Gray retired the first 14 batters faced while allowing one run on four hits and one walk with five strikeouts in eight innings.

  • One encouraging sign for the Royals is that Gray has been much worse at home this season. He has a 7.62 ERA, 6.52 FIP and 5.43 xFIP in 41.1 innings at home. He has a 15.6 percent strikeout rate and 13.1 percent walk rate at Yankee Stadium this season, and he has also allowed 1.96 HR/9 there.

  • Sonny Gray ’s 8.53 K/9 is his highest since his rookie year, but his 3.94 BB/9 is the highest of his career.  Gray has the 10th highest BB/9 among pitchers with at least 90 innings this season.

  • Gray has thrown 40.8 percent of his pitches in the strike zone this season, and he has a 57.2 first pitch strike percentage. Both are career lows. Opponents are swinging at just 42.6 percent of Gray’s pitches, which is his lowest mark since his rookie season.

  • The Royals put the ball in play as much as any team in MLB, with the eighth lowest strikeout rate (20.8 percent) and the second lowest walk rate (6.8 percent). They are third in MLB with a 48.9 swing percentage. They also swing at the third highest percentage of pitches outside the strike zone.

  • Whit Merrifield has reached safely in 21 of his last 22 games, batting .367 during that stretch.

  • Lucas Duda saw his five-game hitting streak end Tuesday, but he is still 7-for-18 with a home run since the All-Star break.

  • Most of the Royals have struggled in their careers against Sonny Gray . Alex Gordon , Alcides Escobar , Mike Moustakas and Salvador Pérez are a combined 10-for-56 against Gray.

  • Zach Britton has a chance to make his Yankees debut Thursday after he was traded from the Orioles Tuesday. Britton struggled early in the season and spent some time on the DL, but he comes to the Yankees on a streak of eight consecutive scoreless appearances.

  • The Yankees already have the best bullpen ERA in baseball at 2.76. Their relievers have 11.57 K/9 this season.

New York Yankees

  • This game has the potential to get out of hand early. Jakob Junis has allowed 2.04 HR/9 this season, highest among qualified pitchers.

  • He managed to keep the ball in the yard in his last start, which was his first since missing nearly three weeks with a back injury. Junis has managed to escape seven of his 18 starts this season without allowing a home run, but he is unlikely to make it eight Thursday.

  • The Yankees have hit 162 home runs this season, 21 more than any other club.

  • Of course, the Yankees can be a bit strikeout prone, with a 23.3 percent strikeout rate.

  • Junis has 98 strikeouts in 105.2 innings this season, but he has done a good job limiting his walks, and he has a respectable 3.27 K/BB rate this season.

  • Junis is 1-1 with a 6.55 ERA in two career starts against the Yankees.

  • The Yankees have been led of late by Miguel Andujar , who has at least two hits in each of his last five games.

  • Giancarlo Stanton is 7-for-18 since the All-Star Break, but he has been stuck on 23 home runs since July 14.

  • In fact, the Yankees have hit just one home run as a team since the Break; every other team has at least two.

  • Aaron Judge is batting .371/.486/.754 at home this season. His 1.241 home OPS is the highest in baseball among qualified hitters.

  • Even if Jakob Junis can get through the Yankees’ lineup relatively unscathed, things could get ugly in the late innings. Kansas City’s 5.46 bullpen ERA is the highest in baseball. Their relievers have 6.90 K/9 this season; the next lowest team is Arizona at 7.81. Kansas City relievers also have a 4.13 BB/9 this season.