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Guardians Preview: Opening Series vs Royals

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With the 2022 season approaching quickly, let’s take a look at how the Guardians shape up against their Opening Day opponent, the Royals.

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A Familiar Foe

The Kansas City Royals are no new face for the Guardians. The two have been interlocked in the AL Central for decades now, and regularly face each other 19 times a season. The Guardians and Royals have a little rivalry amongst themselves too, as they both competed in World Series as recent as the middle 2010s. Cleveland came up short in 2016, while the Royals captured a title in 2015.

On Major League Baseball Opening Day 2022 (April 7th), these respected clubs will face off and start a three-game set at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

Cleveland was the victor in the season series last year, winning 14 out of the 19 games they played. Kansas City will look to bounce back in 2022 by winning the season series for themselves.

X-Factors

Both squads will need the help of these key players or “x-factor players” if they have any hope of winning come Opening Day.

For the Guardians, it’s no doubt they have two studs in Jose Ramirez and Shane Bieber. Ramirez had a clip of .278/.354/.501 in 2021, with 36 home runs and 103 RBIs, good for finishing top 6 in the AL MVP race. He is a sparkplug that leads the charge in their offense day in and day out. Shane Bieber is the ace on the mound for Cleveland and a 2020 Cy Young recipient. Despite injuries in 2021, he still shoved, posting a 3.17 ERA. He will toe the rubber for the Guardians on Opening Day.

On Kansas City, their x-factor players to watch are Salvador Perez and Whit Merrifield. Both are solid bats that the Royals will throw in the heart of their lineup.

Salvador Perez made MLB history last year, hitting 48 home runs (the most out of any catcher ever). His career resurgence was rather impressive, as it came out of nowhere. The Royals will also lean on Whit Merrifield to play solid defense, get on base, and steal them. Merrifield collected an impressive 184 hits in 2021.

Looking Ahead

I personally am looking forward to this divisional opening series matchup. These teams see each other a lot, and I expect the games to all to be rather close. Here are the projected pitching matchups for the series:

Game 1: Shane Bieber vs Zack Greinke

Game 2: Cal Quantrill vs Brad Keller

Game 3: Zach Plesac vs Brady Singer

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