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Kris Bubic, Royals look to keep Guardians’ bats at bay

Sep 26, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Kris Bubic (50) pitches the ball during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals won’t go 162-0 in 2022, but two straight wins over the Guardians to start the season looks pretty good after they posted a 5-14 record against Cleveland in 2021.

The Royals will host the Guardians on Sunday afternoon in the third contest of a four-game series.

Kansas City secured a 3-1 victory in the season opener Thursday and a 1-0 win in 10 innings on Saturday.

Royals starting pitchers have allowed one earned run in 11 2/3 innings through two games. Guardians starters were nearly as good, combining for one earned run in 10 1/3 innings.

The difference has been the bullpens, as Kansas City’s relievers have thrown 7 1/3 scoreless innings. The Guardians, meanwhile, have allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings. Both Kansas City wins came against Cleveland’s bullpen.

The next man up for the Royals will be left-hander Kris Bubic, who finished the 2021 season with a 6-7 record and a respectable 4.43 ERA. Walks and the long ball hurt Bubic last year, as he served up 59 walks in 130 innings. He also allowed 22 home runs, second most on the club.

Bubic didn’t allow a home run in two appearances this spring. He allowed one earned run in five innings. After adding a second breaking pitch in the offseason with the help of his former pitching coach at Stanford, Thomas Eager, Bubic knows he needs to keep finding the strike zone.

“He recommended sliding my fingers up toward the top of the horseshoe,” Bubic said of Eager. “Then I told myself to pre-set it a little bit because if I stay behind it too much, it’s going to look exactly like a fastball. I want to have some break. When I went to that grip, where I was just holding the side of the ball and just trying to throw a fastball with my wrist a little pre-set, it came out a lot cleaner and had the shape I was looking for.”

The Guardians will counter with right-hander Cal Quantrill.

Quantrill had a solid, if not spectacular, 2021 season. He was 8-3 with a 2.89 ERA for Cleveland. He started 22 of his 40 appearances, and he hopes to build on that.

He started the 2021 season in the bullpen, but once he got into the rotation, he pitched well. He led the starting rotation in innings pitched (149.2) and ERA.

He was pretty much guaranteed a spot in the rotation this spring, but he took nothing for granted.

“You’re always a little nervous for the first one,” Quantrill, 27, said in mid-March. “That being said, yeah, I do feel my approach this year is smarter, safer and makes way more sense for having a successful year.

“It’s tough. Part of being a young player is earning your spot on the team. You have to be prepared.”

With Cleveland’s offense sputtering, Quantrill had better be prepared to keep Kansas City’s offense off the board.

–Field Level Media