The Royals own the best record in the American League and they come off of an interleague series sweep in Cincinnati, but they could be vulnerable in Boston Thursday.
The team with the best record in the American League could be in trouble Thursday night in a battle of southpaws vs. a team absolutely pummeling left-handed pitching as of late when Danny Duffy and those Kansas City Royals (73-46, 31-26 away) pay a visit to Wade Miley and the Boston Red Sox (54-66, 31-30 home) in the first game of a four-game series from Fenway Park in Boston, MA at 7:10 ET in a game available on NESN.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Boston as a tiny home underdog for this contest at current odds of +106.
First Division Title Since 1985
The Royals are the defending American League Champions, but they reached the World Series as a wild card last season, meaning that they are now on their way to their first division title in 30 years! Kansas City has won five straight games, winning the last three games of its last home stand over the Los Angeles Angels before sweeping the Reds in a two-game series in Cincinnati, leaving the Royals 14½ game ahead of Minnesota in the American League Central.
The Red Sox meanwhile are in last place in the American League East again, not showing the improvement expected this season after also being the worst MLB picks in the division last year at 71-91. However, Boston actually remains one game over .500 here at Fenway Park at 31-30 after beating the Cleveland Indians the last two nights here by scores of 9-1 and 6-4 respectively. And remember that Boston scored 45 runs in its prior three-game set vs. Seattle.
Video Game Numbers vs. Southpaws Lately!
The Kansas City starter Duffy has been mediocre at best this year, going only 6-5 for a team that is 27 games over .500 with just a 4.03 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. Furthermore, he has poor command numbers with only 58 strikeouts in 98.1 innings vs. an alarming 38 walks. He also has just seven Quality Starts in 18 starts overall, contributing to Duffy’s ugly 4.65 FIP and even worse 5.01 xFIP.
Now the southpaw must deal with a Boston lineup that has been putting up video-game numbers vs. left-handed pitchers over the last 10 games, batting an obscene .408 while pulverizing them for 12.30 runs per game during this span! In fact, the Red Sox have been hitting all types of pitching in the last six games, as if you toss the outlying 8-2 loss to Cleveland on Monday, Boston scored 15, 22, 8, 9 and 6 runs on the other five games respectively.
Duffy simply does not seem like the type of pitcher to cool off the Boston bats right now, and remember that he has allowed eight runs (seven earned) in 10.1 innings (6.10 ERA) in his two career starts at Fenway Park.
Miley Held Royals Scoreless Twice
Miley has been rather inconsistent this season while going 9-9 with a 4.58 ERA, but he is in good current form having allowed two runs or less in three of his last five starts. That includes allowing just two runs and four hits with eight strikeouts in seven innings in his last start vs. the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
Furthermore, the Boston southpaw held the Royals scoreless on five hits in six innings the first time he faced them this season in Kansas City, marking the second time in three career starts vs. the Royals that he has held them scoreless, going seven innings on the prior occasion. Moreover, Miley has a respectable 3.98 FIP and 1.5 WAR this season as the only Red Sox starting pitcher to have enough innings for them to qualify for the league rankings.
Finally, despite these teams being nearly 20 games apart in the standings right now, it was the Red Sox that took two out of three games from the Royals in Kansas City the first time these teams got together, bringing Boston to a sparkling 8-2 in the last 10 head-to-head meetings overall.
Given what the Red Sox are doing to southpaws right now, Duffy being a weak rotation link in the first pace and Miley’s past success vs. the Royals, look for that uncanny series dominance by Boston to continue at a small home underdog price when it hosts Kansas City on Thursday.
MLB Pick: Red Sox +106