MLB Picks: Bet Royals As Underdogs vs. Cardinals In Big State Rivalry

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 4:59 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jun. 29, 2016 4:59 PM UTC

A couple of second place teams with identical records meet in this Show Me State interleague rivalry, and the Royals seem to offer nice value as the underdog MLB pick in St. Louis.  


MLB Record: 45-38-2, +9.46

This Show Me State rivalry cannot be any closer with the Missouri teams having identical records, and that could lend value to the road underdogs Wednesday when Edinson Volquez and the Kansas City Royals (40-36, 13-25 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Carlos Martinez and the St. Louis Cardinals (40-36, 15-21 home) for the third game of a four-game home-and-home series from Busch Stadium in St. Louis, M0 at 8:15 ET on FOX Sports - Midwest.

The posted money line at BetOnline has Kansas City as a large underdog for this contest at current MLB odds of +160.

Teams Split Two Games in Kansas City
This home-and-home series began with two games in Kansas City that the teams split, with the Royals winning the opener 6-2 on Monday and the Cardinals coming back to prevail last night 8-4. The defending World Series Champions from Kansas City are having a tough time defending their American League Central title with the Indians being the hottest team in the majors right now, so the Royals’ 40-36 mark leaves them six games behind Cleveland in second.

Speaking if being 40-36 and in second place, the exact same thing can be said about the Cardinals, except in their case it is in the National League Central and they are a rather distant 10 games behind the Chicago Cubs. St. Louis may have its home record to blame for its predicament, uncharacteristically going just 15-21 as the MLB pick at Busch Stadium this season after traditionally being one of the best home clubs in the Major Leagues.


Is Martinez Worth the Price?
Now, we are not saying that Martinez is not a good big league pitcher for the Cardinals, as he is on a nice steak right now has him with five straight Quality Starts, but rather, we do not think that he merits this steep price tag vs. a team of the Royals’ caliber. Although Carlos is pitching well now and is 7-5 with a 3.02 ERA and 1.09 WHIP, he has always been a streaky pitcher capable of imploding at any given moment.

Furthermore, Martinez has overachieved at least a little bit according to his peripherals, especially considering his 4.00 xFIP. He has a rather ordinary ratio of 7.05 strikeouts vs. 3.02 walks per nine innings and he has benefitted from allowing a BABIP of just .246, which becomes more pronounced for someone that is not a huge strikeout guy.

Now he must contend with a hot lineup as Kansas City is second in the Major Leagues with a .277 batting average overall and has been better than that over the last 10 games, batting a scorching .318 while averaging 5.70 runs per game during this span!


Volquez Cannot Pitch Any Worse, Right?
As for Volquez, we have always thought him to be overrated and he is coming off of the worst start of his career where he was charged with 12 runs (11 earned) on eight hits plus three walks in just one inning vs. the Houston Astros Friday! As harsh as we have been with Volquez in the past, he is not nearly that bad either, setting up this rare opportunity to back the Royals at an inflated price in a classic “buy low” spot.

It also helps that Volquez has had some recent success vs. the Cardinals allowing three runs or less in each of his last four starts against them, with the first three of those outings coming two years ago while pitching in the same division as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the most recent one coming as a Royal during interleague play last year when he held St. Louis to two runs and four hits in six innings.

We look for Volquez to bounce back from his atrocity of Friday and if he comes close to his performance vs. a better St. Louis lineup last season, it would do just fine here given the great Kansas City bullpen.


Differing Interleague Records
Finally, the Royals are generally fond of these interleague games going 33-15 in their last 48 such contests vs. right-handed starters, while conversely the Cardinals are 2-8 in their last 10 interleague games overall with the second win coming last night. Additionally, the Royals are 9-1 in Volquez’s last 10 interleague starts.

Given the rare value available on the generally overrated Royals in this spot, expect those trends to continue and back Kansas City as a large underdog when the venue for this home-and-home series switches to St. Louis on Wednesday.

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MLB Pick: Royals +160
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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