The Pirates and Royals play a rubber match Wednesday night, and this handicapper found plays on both the side and the total.
Pirates-Royals Wednesday Betting Odds
As of Wednesday AM the best price we could find on Kansas City with Edinson Volquez was the -129 offered at BetOnline, while Pittsburgh and Chad Morton could be gotten at +121 at Heritage. And most shops were listing a total on tonight's game of eight runs, with some heavy grease slopped toward the UNDER.
These teams have split the first two games of this series, Pittsburgh winning Monday night 10-7, KC taking Tuesday's contest 3-1.
Last night's game went scoreless into the bottom of the eighth, when a terrible Neil Walker error led to three Royals runs. The Pirates then scored a run and had the bases loaded in the top of the ninth, but KC closer Gregg Holland wiggled out of trouble with a whiff of Gregory Polanco.
So the Royals have won 11 of their last 14 games, and at 56-36 overall own the best record in the American League and a 6.5-game lead over second-place Minnesota in the AL Central.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has lost four of its last five, but at 54-39 still leads the National League wild-card race by 3.5 games over the second-place Cubs and 4.5 games over third-place San Francisco.
Also, KC is 31-17 at home this season, while the Pirates are 22-23 on the road.
Wednesday's Starting Pitchers
Volquez (8-5, 3.28), who helped Pittsburgh reach the playoffs last year by going 13-7 for them, is nine-for-19 on quality starts this season. Last Friday he held the White Sox to two runs through 6 1/3 innings, and over his last three starts he's allowed four earned runs through 16 2/3 innings. On the season Volquez has allowed 100 hits through 112 innings, walked 41 and struck out 83.
Kansas City is 13-6 in Volquez' starts, with the totals leaning OVER by 9-7 margin.
This will be the first time Volquez has started against the Pirates since 2012, when he was with San Diego.
Morton (6-3, 4.34) is five-for-ten on quality starts this season, which for him didn't begin until late May. Last Friday he gave up four runs in six innings against Milwaukee, while in his last two starts before the All-Star break he spread five runs through 12 innings against Cleveland and San Diego. But he's also walked 10 over his last three starts, covering 18 innings. On the season Morton has allowed 57 hits through 58 innings, with 19 walks and 32 strikeouts.
The Pirates are 7-3 in Morton's starts, with the totals leaning UNDER 5-3.
This will be Morton's first start against Kansas City since 2009.
Wednesday's Batting Splits
Pittsburgh ranks 13th in the Bigs this season against right-handed pitching with a .256 team batting average, and 13th in team on-base percentage at .317.
KC ranks third against righties with a .276 average and fifth in OBP at .326.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at Kauffman Stadium this season are 22-21 on the UNDERS, averaging 8.2 runs per.
Kansas City is playing without OF Alex Gordon (11 HR, .394 OBP), who's on the DL with a pulled groin. But since losing him the Royals are 7-3, averaging 4.9 RPG.
Pittsburgh is playing without IFs Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer, who are also both on the DL.
Wednesday Free MLB Picks
We've got a little more faith in Morton than perhaps his numbers indicate he deserves, so nonetheless we'll take the Pirates and the underdog price. Also, we like playing UNDERS on teams with good bullpens, and these two bullpens ranks among the best in baseball.
MLB Picks: Pittsburgh +121 at Heritage and UNDER eight runs (-120) at JustBet