Royals host Tigers with struggling veterans on mound (Sep 27, 2017)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Detroit Tigers’ Jordan Zimmermann and the Kansas City Royals’ Jason Hammel will start Wednesday in the middle contest of this three-game series.

The veteran right-handers, who own the same won-loss record, have struggled lately.

Zimmermann (8-13, 6.19 ERA) is 0-2 with an 8.00 ERA in his first two September starts, allowing eight runs on 17 hits over nine innings. He had a 19-day layoff between the outings due to neck pain.

Opponents are hitting .395 off him with a .581 slugging percentage and a .990 on-base-plus-slugging percentage this month.

In 11 starts in the second half of the season, Zimmermann is 3-6 with a 6.71 ERA, with opponents hitting .341 and producing a .909 OPS.

Zimmermann, however, has fared well against the Royals. He is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in five career appearances (four starts) vs. Kansas City. His only start against the Royals this season was July 17, when he picked up the victory at Kauffman Stadium, where he yielded one run on seven hits with seven strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

Hammel (8-13, 5.32 ERA) is 2-3 with an 8.64 ERA in five September starts, allowing nine doubles, one triple, four home runs and 45 hits over 25 innings.

Hammel won his first two starts this month, but he is 0-3 in his past three outings with a 12.79 ERA. He has failed to make it out of the fourth inning in two of those three. Opponents have scored 18 earned runs on 29 hits in 12 2/3 innings in that stretch with a .636 slugging percentage, a .432 batting average and a 1.095 OPS.

Hammel is 3-2 with a 6.27 ERA in 13 games (10 starts) versus Detroit, including 1-0, 4.03 in four turns this season.

The Tigers have lost eight straight, matching their season high. They also dropped eight consecutive games from June 16-24.

Detroit (62-95) is battling the Philadelphia Phillies (63-95) and San Francisco Giants (62-96) for the worst record in the majors.

“None of that affects me,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who has already been told he will not be back next year. “I don’t want to lose a hundred. I don’t want to lose tomorrow. I’d rather win the last five games, quite frankly. That’s why I came to the field tonight.

“As far as the (top) draft pick goes, that doesn’t affect me. I certainly don’t want the worst record.”

While the Royals went to the 2014 and 2015 World Series, winning it all in 2015, they will not be returning to the postseason. They beat the Tigers 2-1 on Tuesday night but were officially eliminated from playoff contention when the Minnesota Twins topped the Cleveland Indians 8-6.

“We’ve still got games to play,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “I’m not going to sit here and reflect on that right now.”

The Royals (77-80) will need to win out to have a winning record. They were 81-81 last year.

One more Kauffman Stadium victory would give the Royals their fifth straight winning home season.

Yost said he plans to rest center fielder Lorenzo Cain and catcher Salvador Perez on Wednesday. Yost said he plans to start Cain, Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar in the weekend games against the Arizona Diamondbacks. All four can be free agents. All were part of the core that won back-to-back AL championships.