Major League Baseball

Lopez battle as Royals visit Marlins

13291130ROYALS (51-90) AT MARLINS (50-89)
7:10 p.m. ET; FS-F, FSKC, MLB.TV

It will be an all-Lopez affair on Friday night.

That’s when the Miami Marlins (-1.5) will play host to the Kansas City Royals (+1.5). It will be Kansas City’s first game against the Marlins since 2016.

The pitching matchup features two right-handers: Miami’s Pablo Lopez (5-7, 4.89 ERA) against Kansas City’s Jorge Lopez (2-7, 6.61). Jorge Lopez, a 26-year-old from Puerto Rico, and Pablo Lopez, a 23-year-old from Venezuela, are not related.

Pablo Lopez has had the better career. He is 7-11 with a 4.58 ERA in his brief major league career, which began last year. In 26 starts, he has a respectable 1.200 WHIP.

Jorge Lopez, who made his major league debut in 2015, has a career record of 5-13 with a 5.99 ERA and a 1.534 WHIP. He has yet to find his stride in any role, making 21 relief appearances (5.79 ERA) this year and 13 starts (7.12 ERA).

He has yet to win at home this year (0-4, 8.79 ERA) and has had only one strong month this season, going 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in seven June appearances, all in relief.

Beyond that, the there isn’t much history for these pitchers against these teams. This will be Pablo Lopez’s first appearance against the Royals. Jorge Lopez has never started against Miami, but he is 0-1 with a 3.86 in one relief appearance against the Marlins while with Milwaukee last season.

As for the teams overall, the Royals — who won the World Series in 2015 — lost 104 games last year and are in the midst of their fourth straight year out of the playoffs.

The Royals lost to the worst team in the majors on Thursday, falling 6-4 to the Detroit Tigers (-1.5). Now the Royals visit the Marlins, who have the worst record in the National League.

Then again, the Royals have already lost 90 games this season, and they join the Marlins as two of the four worst teams in the majors so far this year.

With missing the playoffs a foregone conclusion for both teams, individual performances become the main focus. A case in point is right-hander Jose Urena, Miami’s Opening Day starter this year and in 2018. This week, the Marlins began a transition for Urena, who is now Miami’s closer.

There have been mixed results, as Urena picked up a save on Tuesday but blew a chance on Wednesday.

“He’s aggressive with his stuff,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Urena after Tuesday’s save. “His stuff is always good. He has that energy. Closing the game down at the end fits his personality.”

Offensively, the Marlins are led by Starlin Castro, who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored in Miami’s 10-7 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates (+1.5) on Thursday night. Since June 28, Castro has 33 runs, 16 doubles, two triples, 12 homers and 42 RBIs. His .332 batting average since June 28 is fourth in the National League in that span.

For the Royals, a player to watch is designated hitter/right fielder Jorge Soler, who this week set the Royals’ single-season home run record and also became the first Cuban-born player since Rafael Palmeiro in 2002 to reach 40 dingers.

“Getting to 40 was important,” Soler said after reaching that milestone on Wednesday.

Soler’s 40th homer traveled 450 feet and had an exit velocity of 116 mph, showing his immense power and bat speed.

“That’s a big boy,” Royals rookie Ryan McBroom said of the 6-4, 230-pound Soler. “When he gets a pitch over the plate, it can go really far.”

–Field Level Media

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