BOSTON — If you enjoy well-pitched baseball games, Sunday afternoon’s affair between the Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals should provide plenty of entertainment.
The Red Sox will send their young stud, 22-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez, to the mound. He will be opposed by Edinson Volquez, a 32-year-old veteran having a fantastic season for the team with the American League’s best record.
Rodriguez has emerged as a potential ace in the making for the Red Sox this season. He’s 7-5 with a 4.48 earned run average and a 1.24 WHIP, while also displaying a blistering fastball and an improving breaking ball. He was excellent in his latest outing against the Cleveland Indians on Aug. 18, giving up only one earned run on six hits with five strikeouts over eight innings.
Rodriguez still is searching for more consistency, but he’s allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven of his last nine starts. He’ll need his best stuff Sunday against a Royals team with the second-best batting average (.268) in the AL.
The Royals acquired Johnny Cueto from the Cincinnati Reds before the trade deadline to bolster their rotation for another deep playoff run, but it’s been Volquez who’s led their staff throughout the 2015 campaign. He leads all KC pitchers in wins (11), ERA (3.20) and strikeouts (114).
Volquez enters Sunday’s game with the eighth-best ERA in the AL, and he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of his last nine starts. He gave up eight hits and four earned runs in 5 1/3 innings during his only outing against the Sox this season — a 7-4 Royals victory June 20 at Kauffman Stadium.
The Red Sox are not mathematically eliminated from the AL playoff race with a little more than a month remaining in the regular season. However, they are 7 1/2 games out of the second wild-card spot with a tough nine-game stretch beginning Monday that includes three-game series against the New York Mets and New York Yankees.
If the Red Sox are going to make a legitimate push toward playing October baseball, the pitching staff — and specifically the rotation — must lead the way. While the offense has struggled at times this season, the Sox rotation has been the primary weak spot with a AL-worst 4.78 ERA.
Rodriguez, as the team’s best starter, has a great opportunity to increase the confidence of his team going into the final stretch with a quality performance Sunday against a Royals club that several experts believe will make back-to-back World Series appearances.
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