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Red Sox Take on Royals in Four-game Series: Fan Preview

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Still without a series win in August, the 59-66 Boston Red Sox will continue their quest for a top ten draft pick in a four-game series against the 55-68 Kansas City Royals from August 24 to 27. After helping the Los Angeles Angels climb within striking distance of a wild card spot, the Red Sox are now closer to the worst record in the American League (7.5 games) than to a playoff spot (8.5 games). Following a four-game winning streak to close out July, the Red Sox lost 15 of their last 21 games.

Pitching matchups:

August 24: Jon Lester (5.03 ERA, 133/46 K/BB) vs. Bruce Chen (5.45 ERA, 103/34 K/BB)

Better late than never, Lester appears to be back in form and pitching like a front of the rotation starter. Over his last four starts, he has a 2.93 ERA, 27 strikeouts, and only six walks in 27.2 innings. Chen made it through six full innings only three times in his last ten starts. In that stretch, he has a 7.06 ERA and .932 opponents' OPS.

August 25: Josh Beckett (5.23 ERA, 94/38 K/BB) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (5.41 ERA, 76/39 K/BB)

Beckett hasn't thrown a quality start since July 15. The Red Sox won just two of his last 12 starts. In six starts since joining the Royals, Guthrie has looked much more like the guy who as an above average pitcher in Baltimore. He hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 22.2 innings, striking out 19 with just three walks in that span.

August 26: Felix Doubront (4.70 ERA, 119/52 K/BB) vs. Will Smith (5.40 ERA, 38/20 K/BB)

Following a two-week break, Doubront will try to finish his first season as a Major League starter on a high note. He gave up 17 earned runs and 17 walks in 26.2 innings since the All-Star break before landing on the disabled list. After allowing six home runs and an ERA of 9.00 in his first three starts, Smith has a 4.22 ERA and just three home runs allowed in his last seven.

August 27: Daisuke Matsuzaka (6.65 ERA, 20/8 K/BB)/TBD vs. Luke Hochevar (4.95 ERA, 110/46 K/BB)

Matsuzaka worked his way back into the Red Sox' rotation in June until a lingering neck injury derailed his progress and sent him back to the DL. He will pitch on Monday, either in AAA or the majors. If the Red Sox opt to wait until September to activate Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz or Aaron Cook would pitch the finale. Hochevar's coming off his best start of the season: eight shutout innings with just one walk and ten strikeouts against the Tampa Bay Rays. He's struggled with inconsistency, holding opponents to zero or one run eight times while allowing six-plus runs six times.

Sources:

Baseball-Reference.com

Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals, Yahoo! Sports

MLB Stats, ESPN.com

FanGraphs.com

William Menna is a native New Englander and longtime Boston sports fan.

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