MLB Picks: Dodgers vs. Royals Series Coverage

Willie Bee

Monday, June 23, 2014 11:43 AM GMT

Clayton Kershaw didn't throw a no-hitter, but he was still on his A-game Tuesday for the Dodgers to set up a rubber match in their MLB odds series against the Royals.

 

25th June
Dodgers vs. Royals Game 3

By: Willie Bee

 

Considering how dominating his no-hitter was last week, Clayton Kershaw's eight shutout innings Tuesday night almost seemed ho-hum.  Kershaw picked up his 5th-straight win in the 2-0 victory for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Kansas City Royals, and it leaves both teams three games out of their division leads heading into Wednesday's series finale at Kauffman Stadium.

The rubber game of the set finds a pair of veteran righthanders on the Missouri mound as LA's Dan Haren faces KC's James Shields in the 8:10 PM (ET) contest. Shields and the Royals went out in the -130s, and that moneyline has barely moved after overnight wagering.  What started as a 7.5 run total at most shops charted by SBR's live MLB odds is now at 8.

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Shields Set For 1st Career Start Vs. Dodgers
Haren opened the Padres series in San Diego last weekend for the Dodgers, and while it wasn't an awful outing, it certainly wasn't one of his best efforts (5.2 IP, 3 RT, 2 HR). He left with a 5-3 lead, but the LA bullpen coughed that up in a 6-5 Dodgers loss to snap Haren's modest 2-start win streak.

The veteran out of Pepperdine will be making his 10th career start against the Royals, dating to his days in the A's rotation, and has enjoyed some decent success at Kauffman Stadium over the years (2.33 ERA in 5 starts). Lifetime vs. Kansas City, Haren is 5-2 with a 3.11 ERA.

Shields opened this homestand for the Royals and got knocked around a bit by the Mariners. Big Game James was charged with five runs in his seven innings of work, three of them scoring on a pair of Seattle homers, and took a no-decision in what turned out to be a 7-5 KC defeat. Wednesday will be his first appearance vs. the Dodgers, and the Royals have won all three of their interleague starts this season.


Umpire Notes, Final Thoughts & A Free Pick
Brian Knight is next in line to call balls and strikes for this umpire crew, and is 8-7 O/U on the year. It's his second plate assignment in KC, the other an 'under' in early April, and will also be the third time Knight has had the dish in a game involving the Royals as well as the Dodgers. His previous two looks at the Dodgers went 'over' while both Royals games stayed 'under.'

It's thunderstorm season in the Midwest, and there's a 40% shot one will pass through KC tonight. The game isn't really in jeopardy of being played to its fullest, but there is the chance a storm could screw up the starting pitchers.

Veterans like Haren and Shields are very capable of hooking up in a pitchers duel anytime they take the mound. But for some reason, I'm not expecting that this evening so I'm placing my free pick on the high side of the total.

MLB Pick: Dodgers-Royals Over 8 (-105)

Season: 71-73 (-2.05)

 

24th June
Dodgers vs. Royals Game 2

By: Willie Bee

 

One thing is for certain after Monday's series opener in Kansas City between the Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers: The Royals will not go winless on their current 9-game homestand.

Kansas City built a 5-run lead against former Royal Zack Greinke and the Dodgers, then turned back LA's late comeback attempt for a 5-3 victory. The triumph halted a 4-game losing streak for the Royals and gave KC a 5-2 all-time edge in interleague contests vs. Los Angeles, 4-0 at Kauffman Stadium.

Keeping that unbeaten home record against the Dodgers intact will require Kansas City to take down LA's ace in Game 2. Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers went out as -140 chalk on the MLB odds, the moneyline inflating to around -150 after overnight trading. The Royals counter with a fine young lefty of their own in the 8:10 PM (ET) contest, Danny Duffy, and a 7 run total that leans a bit to the 'over' is the scoreboard hurdle.

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Fade Kershaw Off The No-Hitter?
Kershaw is coming off what many are calling the greatest single pitching performance in MLB history, striking out 15 Rockies last Wednesday in his first career no-hitter that was a Hanley Ramirez error away from being a perfect game. The 8-0 win was his fourth in a row, and fifth in his last six assignments during which Kershaw has a 1.50 ERA.

Baseball betting rules have always said fade a pitcher coming off a no-hitter, but that's going to be tough to do in this case. Many Royals hitters will be seeing Kershaw for the first time, and he has allowed just 15 hits and a walk in 29 June innings, striking out 40.

Duffy is making his 10th start of 2014 after beginning the season as a member of KC's relief corps. The 25-year-old has been nearly as good as Kershaw this month, pitching to a 1.75 ERA in four assignments and surrendering just 14 hits with 23 K's in nearly 26 innings. He was solid last Thursday in Detroit (7 IP, 2 ER) but got no support from his lineup in a 2-1 setback.


Umpire Notes, Final Thoughts & A Free Pick
Zeroing in on his 2,000th regular season contest as an umpire, Hunter Wendelstedt brings a 5-5-2 (O/U/P) mark behind the plate into Game 2 of this set. This is his first game under the mask at Kauffman Stadium in 2014, the Royals and 'over' cashing his lone appearance behind this dish a year ago.

There is a slight chance of rain in the KC forecast for Tuesday, but it's not expected to interfere with tonight's contest. Look for the thermometer to be in the mid-80s at game time with only a slight breeze from the NW (left to right).

I'm playing this one by the book by fading Kershaw and the Dodgers with my free MLB pick.

MLB Pick: Royals +140

Season: 70-71 (-1.05)

 

23rd June
Dodgers vs. Royals Game 1

By: Willie Bee

 

A pair of 2nd-place squads square off Monday for the start of a 3-game series, and it's a matchup that is among the rarest interleague battles.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are sending Zack Greinke to the mound in the opener of set at Kansas City, the Royals trotting Jeremy Guthrie out to make the first pitch at Kauffman Stadium (8:10 PM ET). Los Angeles began as -135 chalk, and that moneyline is now closer to -130 at most chops monitored by SBR's live MLB odds which shows 7.5 across the board for the total.

This week's series will be only the third time the Royals and Dodgers have met, and first time in just over nine years. Kansas City owns a 4-2 overall lead, and swept the last series meeting in 2005 at Kauffman Stadium where two of the three contests never made it to the total.

Los Angeles hosted the Royals a couple of years prior to that, winning two clashes in that set. To give you an idea how much roster turnover there has been since the two clubs last got together on a diamond, Mike MacDougal saved three of KC's four victories in this interleague rivalry.

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Dodgers Wrap Up 6-Game Trip In KC
Los Angeles (42-35, -4.3 units, 38-35-4 O/U/P) continues to climb in the NL West, the gap between the Dodgers and Giants down to four games to start the season's 13th week. The Dodgers began a 6-game road trip this past weekend in San Diego where they took two of three from the Padres.

We saw Greinke this past week when he pitched the middle game of the Dodgers sweep vs. the Rockies. Los Angeles snapped a 3-game slide with the righty on the hill, leaving the Dodgers 9-6 in his assignments for a measly half-unit of MLB odds profit.

Greinke obviously has a ton of experience at Kauffman Stadium having grown up in the Royals organization, and the success he enjoyed off this mound towards the end of his days in KC have continued in two starts here as the bad guy. Both outings came in 2012 when he split the year with the Brewers and Angels, and though each ended in the L column for Milwaukee and Anaheim, Greinke recorded two no-decisions with a strong 1.17 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP.


Royals Remain Winless On Current Homestand
Kansas City (39-36, -2.7 units, 35-36-4 O/U/P) has come right back down to earth following a 10-game winning streak that ended in Detroit last Thursday. The Royals have since dropped three straight at home to begin this 9-game homestand, Seattle capping it's sweep with a pair of 2-1 victories in KC. Four of the Royals' last five games have been 2-1 finals, Ned Yost's outfit 1-3 in those matches.

Guthrie deserves better than a 4-6 record at this point, and Kansas City's 8-7 mark with him on the mound helps to bear that out.  The old (35) Stanford ace has really been on his A-game the past month or so, one 7 IP/4 ER performance against the Yankees the only real blemish on Guthrie's scorecard.

Even though he spent half a season in the NL West with the Rockies a couple of years back, this will be Guthrie's cherry vs. the Dodgers.  His lone interleague start this year was a good one in San Diego, eight innings of 1-run ball only to no-decision in KC's ultimate 3-1 win in 11.

Scattered thunderstorms are in Monday's Kansas City forecast, but they're supposed to be gone by game time when muggy temps in the low-80s are left behind under cloudy skies.  A light northerly breeze in the 6-10 mph range is also expected (in from left field).

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is going to have to give closer Kenley Jansen the night off after using him in all three games at San Diego, but I've still got enough confidence in LA to make my free pick on the visitors.

MLB Pick: Dodgers -130

Season: 70-69 (+1.25)