We're living in a world where the Kansas City Royals and Houston Astros are both crushing the baseball odds. Who will prevail when they meet Tuesday night in Houston?
Jason's 2015 record as of June 29: 28-19, plus-8.84 units ML; 0-3, minus-3.30 units Total
Has it really been 10 years since the Houston Astros were in the World Series? Amazing. Then again, the Kansas City Royals went nearly 30 years before making it back to the Fall Classic in 2014. Both teams went through some hard times in between, but here we are on the other side with the Astros (45-34, +8.73 units) leading the AL West and the Royals (44-29, +14.49 units) leading the AL Central. You know you gotta have hope. You know you gotta be strong.
Too bad only one of these teams can win when they meet Tuesday night (8:10 p.m. ET) at the Juice Box. This is the second game of a three-game set; Houston drew first blood on Monday with a 6-1 victory, cashing in as a –124 chalk on the MLB odds board. At press time, the Astros are up to –150 for Game 2 with Dallas Keuchel (3.04 FIP) due up against fellow southpaw Danny Duffy (4.19 FIP).
Dallas Does Houston
You may remember Keuchel as the guy who was fourth on the MLB money charts back in early June. We did warn you about that .220 BABIP, though, and sure enough, Houston went 2-3 in Keuchel's last five starts to knock him down to 23rd place at +4.01 units. Note that Keuchel's BABIP has been pretty normal for the last two months after going .157 in April, and his FIP has climbed to 3.44 in June. Still pretty good, but not earth-shattering by any means.
Having said that, Keuchel is coming off his third complete-game shutout of the season, allowing just six hits while striking out 12 in a 4-0 win over the New York Yankees (+136 away). Who are we to doubt Dallas Keuchel? It helps that the Astros rank No. 11 in hitting with 10.7 WAR, and just in case Keuchel doesn't pitch nine innings on Tuesday, Houston's bullpen ranks 10th overall with 2.0 WAR.
Duff Extra Cold
This wouldn't have seemed like such a mismatch going into the new campaign. Duffy was a top prospect in the Royals organization before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012; he enjoyed something of a breakout season last year, posting a 3.83 FIP in 25 starts for Kansas City. Sadly, the Royals only went 12-13 in those starts for a deficit of 2.28 units, driving the UNDER to a 15-9-1 record.
The 2015 season has been... interesting for Duffy. Kansas City won four of his first six starts, then Duffy got hammered in his next three outings before going on the DL with biceps tendinitis. In last Wednesday's return, Duffy only went 4.2 innings, but he gave up just one earned run in an 8-2 win over the Seattle Mariners (–108 at home). Are the good times back? It's hard to say, but Duffy's .357 BABIP and 5.44 ERA tell us he's got some betting value in reserve. And the Royals bullpen ranks sixth in the majors with 2.5 WAR.
If you believe in the power of Duff, he's only owned in 18% of Yahoo leagues as we go to press, and he's also listed as an SP/RP, so that's not nothing. But since betting value isn't part of the equation, let's give Astros 2B-3B Luis Valbuena (.718 OPS) another kick at the can. Valbuena's got a .845 OPS over the past 30 days, and he's 40% owned at press time.
Of course, betting value counts for our baseball picks, so we're going to take a ride on the Duffmobile. Our consensus reports show the Royals were preferred by 57 percent of early bettors, so we're in with the in crowd, at the best price on the board.
Free MLB Pick: Take the Royals +143 at WagerWeb