Gibson looks to continue success vs. Kansas City

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson delivers to the Boston Red Sox during the first inning at Fenway Park in Boston on Friday, July 22.

Elise Amendola/Associated Press/AP

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson has struggled at points during his four-year major-league career, accumulating a 4.50 ERA in 88 starts.

The 28-year-old has been consistently good against several American League Central opponents, however, including Friday’s opponent, the Kansas City Royals.

Gibson is 5-3 with a 2.55 ERA and 35 strikeouts in eight career starts (53 innings) vs. the Royals, limiting them to just a .222 batting average. That’s his second-best ERA against a division opponent (he has a 1.80 ERA vs. the White Sox), a figure compares well to his ERA against the rest of the major leagues.

Kyle Gibson vs. Royals/vs. All Other Opponents — Career

  vs. KC vs. All Others
GS 8 80
W-L 5-3 25-30
ERA 2.55 4.73
WHIP 1.150 1.400
Opp. BA 0.222 0.273

Gibson hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs in a start vs. the Royals and has pitched at least six innings in seven of his eight starts against them. His best start against Kansas City came last July, when he allowed just four hits over eight innings during a 2-0 Twins win. Friday’s start against will be his first against the Royals this season.

The Twins will likely need a strong start from Gibson, as Kansas City has won eight of its past nine meetings against the Twins. The Royals have won four of their past five games, thanks in part to their bullpen, which has a 3.07 ERA in August after posting a 5.96 ERA in July.

The Twins, meanwhile, are 21-16 since July 1 after a 25-53 start to the season. That’s the fourth-best record in the American League over the stretch and the largest win percentage improvement.

MLB, Largest Win Pct. Improvement, Before/Since July — 2016

  Pre-July July-&-After     Diff
Twins    .321 (25-53) .568 (21-16)      .247
Reds     .363 (29-51) .515 (17-16)   .152
Blue Jays .531 (43-38) .647 (22-12) .116
Braves    .342 (27-52)    .444 (16-20)    .102
Pirates    .481 (38-41)    .576 (19-14)   .095

Rookies Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco have been key to the recent success, combining to hit .301 (55 for 183) with 12 home runs and 43 RBI since July 1. Kepler had two hits in the first game of Minnesota’s doubleheader Thursday vs. the Houston Astros, his eighth multi-hit game in the past three weeks. Polanco, meanwhile, is batting .388 (19 for 49) in 12 games since his recall from Triple-A, hitting safely in each.

Rookies, Most Multi-Hit Games — Since July 21, 2016

Max Kepler  Min 8
Cheslor Cuthbert  KC 8
Jorge Polanco  Min 7
Corey Seager  LAD 7
Trea Turner  Was 7

Statistics courtesy STATS LLC