After surviving the ALDS defending league champion Royals & bat-happy Blue Jays open this year's AL Championship Series with Game 1 Friday night in Kansas City.
Blue Jays-Royals ALCS Game 1 Odds
As of this writing the best Game 1 MLB odds we could find on Toronto with Marco Estrada was the -122 offered at Heritage, while Kansas City with Edinson Volquez was getting +119 at 5Dimes as a home dog.
Kansas City is back in the ALCS for the second straight season, after outlasting Houston in five games in an ALDS, winning Game 5 Wednesday 7-2.
Toronto, meanwhile, is back in the ALCS for the first time in 22 years, after taking out Texas in five games in that ALDS, winning a raucous Game 5 Wednesday 6-3.
The Royals earned home-field advantage for this ALCS by going 95-67 during the regular season, beating the 93-69 Blue Jays by two games.
Toronto took four of seven games from Kansas City during the regular season, outscoring the Royals 39-33, with the totals splitting 3-3-1. The series also included a near-brawl back in early August, with a couple of beanings involving Volquez, who almost seemed to taunt the Jays on a couple of occasions, and a retaliation.
ALCS Game 1 Pitching Match-Up
Volquez (13-9, 3.55), by our strict standards, went 16-for-33 on quality starts during the regular season, but only one for his last four, allowing 11 runs over his last 25 innings. He then started Game 3 of the ALDS against Houston, and gave up three runs through 5 2/3 innings, striking out eight but walking four, in a 4-2 Kansas City loss.
On the season the Royals are 22-12 in games Volquez has started, with the OVERS going 16-15.
In two starts this season against Toronto Volquez allowed six runs – three earned – through 11 1/3 innings; KC split those two games.
Estrada (13-8, 3.13) went 16-for-28 on quality starts this year, and four for his last four, allowing seven runs over his last 28 2/3 innings. He then started Game 3 of the ALDS against Texas, with the Jays on the brink of elimination, and came up big, allowing just one run and five hits through 6 1/3 innings, walking none while striking out four in a 5-1 victory.
In two starts this season against KC Estrada gave up four runs and 12 hits through 12 1/3 innings; the Jays split those two games, while both games played UNDER.
ALCS Game 1 Batting Splits
Toronto led the Majors this season against right-handed pitching with both a .335 team on-base percentage and a .455 team slugging percentage.
Kansas City, meanwhile, ranked 11th against righties with a .321 team OBP and sixth with a .416 team slugging percentage.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at Kauffman Stadium leaned toward the UNDERS during the regular season by a 38-36 margin, as they averaged 8.5 runs per.
ALCS Game 1 Free Picks
We give Estrada the edge in the pitching match-up, and Toronto the edge with the sticks. So for our free MLB picks on this ALCS opener we'll back the Blue Jays.
MLB Pick: Toronto -122 at Heritage