Two pitchers who ended seven-game losing streaks in their most recent outings will face off on Saturday when the visiting Kansas City Royals oppose the Cleveland Guardians to continue a six-game series.
Royals left-hander Kris Bubic (2-13, 5.81 ERA) will oppose Guardians right-hander Zach Plesac (3-11, 4.39), who is set to return from a monthlong stay on the injured list.
Cleveland (89-68) has won 21 of its past 25 games after defeating Kansas City 6-3 on Friday. The Royals (63-94) jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but the Guardians got a run in the fifth and five in the sixth. The big blow was Jose Ramirez’s 29th home run, a three-run shot.
Bubic has been a part of the Royals’ rotation most of the season. Other than a quick stint in the minors in May, the left-hander has gotten the start every fourth, fifth or sixth day beginning June 4. In his eight starts since Aug. 15, he is 0-7 with a 7.78 ERA. Yet he keeps heading to the mound.
But who else is available? Only Brady Singer, Kansas City’s starter on Friday, has displayed that he can be a dependable starter in 2023. Veteran Zack Greinke, who has been pitching well lately, hasn’t announced whether he’ll return for his 20th season, and if so, whether that would be with the Royals.
The other starters in the six-man rotation have plenty to prove. Singer and Bubic were part of a 2018 Royals draft heavy with college pitchers. Daniel Lynch joined Bubic and Singer in the first round. Jonathan Heasley was taken later in that draft.
Bubic has struggled the most. His ERA has not been below 5.02 all season. In his latest start, when he snapped a seven-game losing streak with a no-decision against the Seattle Mariners on Sept. 24, he allowed three runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings.
“It was messy,” Bubic said of the outing. “There was a lot of traffic, but I was fortunate not to let the big inning come into play there. Obviously, they left a lot of guys on base. We were able to pitch out of some jams that could’ve hurt us a lot more.”
Bubic is 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA in four career appearances against the Guardians, including 0-2 with a 10.29 ERA in two starts this season.
Plesac is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three starts this season against the Royals. He’s 6-1 with a 2.65 ERA in 12 career starts vs. Kansas City.
Plesac had lost seven straight decisions before picking up a win at Seattle in his latest start on Aug. 27. He allowed three runs on three hits (three solo home runs) in seven innings.
“It’s a shame that he gave up three hits and they were all homers,” manager Terry Francona said. “But he competed like crazy. If he didn’t, we wouldn’t have had a chance.”
However, after giving up one of those homers, Plesac punched the ground on the pitcher’s mound, fracturing his right hand, landing him on the IL. He made a quick recovery in time to get the start on Saturday, but he is likely to pitch out of the bullpen in the postseason.
–Field Level Media