MLB Picks: Rangers vs. Royals Weekend Coverage

Willie Bee

Friday, September 20, 2013 12:28 PM GMT

With the series tied 1-1, it's crunch time as the Rangers face the Royals at home for Sunday's series finale. Will KC find its playoff hopes dashed? Read on for our picks and analysis.
22nd SEPT
Sunday Game Three

By: Willie Bee

 

Matt Garza bounced back from three consecutive losses on Saturday, and it couldn't have come at a better time for the Texas Rangers who evened their series with the Kansas City Royals. The loss dealt KC's playoff hopes a blow, setting up one helluva' atmosphere for Sunday's rubber game at Kauffman Stadium.

Texas now turns to Alexi Ogando to keep the pressure on Tampa Bay and Cleveland in the AL wild card chase, while the Royals lean on James Shields to get them right back in the hunt. MLB odds have Shields the favorite around -130 on the money line; scoreboard bettors are staring at a 7-run total juiced to the ‘Under’ after pitching duels in the first two contests combined for just seven runs.

Royals Turn To Shields to Keep Postseason Hopes Alive

Kansas City won't be officially eliminated with a loss on Sunday, but a defeat sure would put a dent in playoff dreams.  The Royals certainly have the right pitcher on the mound to end the crucial series and homestand on a winning note.

Shields was up to the task his last two starts, beating the Indians twice in those outings. The most recent dubya for 'Big Game James' came Monday with six innings of 1-run ball and a season-high 10 K's in a 7-1 decision vs. Cleveland. Shields had a similar outing in Texas on June 1st (7 IP, 1 ER), and would love nothing more than to atone for a couple of poor ALDS efforts vs. the Rangers in 2010-11 (combined 9.1 IP, 11 ER).

Ogando came up big for the Rangers this past Tuesday at Tampa Bay in his first start in over a month. The lanky Dominican made it through five innings on 69 pitches in the 7-1 triumph, and should be stretched out to 80 pitches this afternoon. He missed the Royals when they came to Texas in June, and the Rangers are 2-0 in his previous two career starts vs. KC, each a no-decision for Ogando.

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 Behind The Plate, Mother Nature & a Pick

Plate duty for the series finale falls to Ed Hickox. The 19-year veteran has cashed twice as many ‘Over’ tickets this year as ‘Under’ (16-8-1 O/U/P), but four of his last seven appearances behind the mask failed to reach the sports betting total.

The first official day of autumn should find very nice conditions in the Kansas City area; sunny skies and the mid-70s are forecast for the first pitch, along with a 10 mph SSE wind (out to left).

This is exactly the kind of game the Royals got Shields for, but he's going to need some help from his hitters to give him an early lead to work with. So far, the KC lineup has been stymied by Texas arms, and that's why I'm going to offer the Rangers as small 'dogs for my free Friday MLB picks.

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MLB pick: Bet the Rangers +115 on the money line, at William Hill

Check out SportsbookReview's report on Sports betting websites with the best prices on 2013 MLB Futures!

 

21st SEPT
Saturday Game Two

By: Willie Bee

 

Winning in your last at bat is always exciting, even on a bases loaded walk. That's how this series started Friday when the Kansas City Royals walked past the Texas Rangers, 2-1.

Texas fell out of the AL wild card slots with the setback, a half-game behind the Indians who caught a break with a rain-shortened victory over the Astros by the same score. Kansas City remained 2.5-games behind Cleveland for a shot at the postseason.

Game 2 originally went out as a pick at several shops charted by SBR's live MLB odds, but overnight trading has since made Texas the slight favorite behind Matt Garza. Jeremy Guthrie is up next in the KC rotation, and the 8 run total favors the UNDER. 

Garza In 3-Start Losing Rut

September has been rough on Garza who has lost all three starts this month with an ERA over 8.00. That has raised his mark since joining Texas to nearly 5.00 after posting a 4.04 ERA in his first eight starts for the club. The latest defeat was a real egg at Tampa Bay on Monday, Garza getting the yank from manager Ron Washington in the fifth having already allowed all of the Rays runs in a 6-2 decision. 

He is facing the Royals for the first time in about three years, his final regular season start in a Rays uniform coming on this mound Sept. 30, 2010. Garza pitched well (7 IP, 3 ER), but as has been the case against KC, it was a losing effort; his lifetime numbers vs. the Royals include a 1-5 record despite a respectable 3.83 ERA. 

Guthrie was no mystery Sunday in Detroit vs. the Tigers, allowing two homers among 13 hits. But the former Stanford standout worked through it to keep the Tribe in the game for eight innings of a 3-2 loss. His 4.37 ERA at home in 15 starts is more than a half-run higher than 16 road assignments, but the Royals have brought out their bats to the tune of 11-4 in the W-L columns those games. This is Guthrie's first time to see the Rangers in 2013 after facing them three times in 2012 (once in long relief for the Rockies). He split his two starts after joining the Royals, combining for 13 IP and five runs allowed.

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Behind The Plate, Mother Nature & A Pick

Veteran arbiter Jim Wolf is scheduled to call balls and strikes in Game 2, his first time to work the dish this year in a game involving the Royals or Rangers. His last two plate assignments have gone past the total to leave him 6-11-2 O/U/P overall.

Clear skies and a first pitch (6:10 PM local) temp around 72º is what the weatherman has for Game 2. What little breeze there is will be from the SE (right to left).

I went against the betting trend on the total in Game 1 and got burned on the OVER, and the number tonight has also fallen after starting at 8.5. Call me stubborn, but I'm going against the move again with a free pick on the OVER.

MLB pick: Rangers-Royals Over 8 (+105) at Bet365

 

20th SEPT
Friday Series Opener

By: Willie Bee

 

We are witnessing history this weekend in Kansas City where the Royals and Texas Rangers.  Never have the two teams met in September with so much on the line, going all the way back to the Royals' heyday in the late-70s into the mid-80s.  Even then as division rivals in the old AL West, Texas and Kansas City rarely met in the final few weeks of a campaign for some strange reason, and the next three days will indeed decide the postseason fate for at least one of them. 

It really is a potential rivalry that MLB missed with all of the realignment baseball has gone through the past 20 years.  At least the Rangers had two time-zone friendly division opponents in the pre-'94 era, and Kansas City was a natural rival, about twice as far as a road trip to Houston these days. 

Getting off my soapbox for a moment, the opener of this series has Martín Perez toeing the rubber for Texas, KC countering with Ervin Santana.  The Royals opened as $1.25 favorites, and those MLB odds held steady overnight while the 7.5 run total swung from favoring the OVER to favoring the UNDER. 

Rested Royals Eye 1st Home Sweep Of Rangers Since '07

It has been a little more than six years since the Royals broomed the Rangers in a home series, and this weekend would be a great time to end that string.  Kansas City swept three from Texas in late-July 2007, and has not won any of the subsequent eight home series while compiling a 7-16 record vs. the Rangers at Kauffman Stadium. 

The Royals dropped five of seven to Texas on this diamond a year ago, three of the last five in 2012 going OVER along with a pair of pushes on 9 run totals.

Ned Yost's squad enjoyed an off day on Thursday, a welcome respite after trotting his bullpen out for more than 10 innings in the series with the Cleveland Indians the three previous days.  It has been a pretty reliable unit in 2013 -- KC relievers 2nd in the majors with a 2.58 ERA, 2nd with 1.14 WHIP and 1st with 3.08 K/BB rate -- but they did blow a win vs. the Tribe. 

Yost should feel pretty confident about not needing his bullpen early with Santana on the hill.  The veteran righty has gone at least six frames in 27 of his 30 starts, and quieted a potent Tigers lineup in Detroit last Saturday with nearly seven innings of shutout baseball in the 1-0 win. 

Santana has a ton of experience against the Rangers, much of it pretty rough while he was with the Angels from 2005-12.  Fortunately for him, he had offense behind him in Anaheim to help balance his 6.04 career ERA vs. Texas in a Halos uniform; unfortunately for Santana, he didn't have any offense to back his start in Arlington on June 2, a 3-1 loss in which he allowed just one unearned run in a 3-1 KC loss. 

Texas Tied For Wild Card After Split In Tampa

Texas won two of three in that series, UNDER backers cashing all three games.  Perez was still down on the farm then, and faces the Royals for the first time in his career while looking to stop a 2-game losing run, both contests at home.  I watched both of those games, and the little Venezuelan never had his A-game against either the Pirates on Sept. 10 or the Oakland Athletics just five days ago, though he gutted through the loss to the A's with an eventual quality start

The Rangers were enjoying a 7-game win streak in Perez's assignments before that, the 22-year-old winning six straight himself, five of those on the road.  He'll be facing a KC lineup that is 21-23 vs. lefties this year.

It should be a pleasant evening in Kansas City with mostly clear skies during the game and a first-pitch temp of 68º.  A 6-8 mph NW breeze (left to right) is also in the forecast.

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The importance of this series is obvious as the clubs begin the weekend three games apart in the AL Wild Card race.  Texas broke out with 16 hits and eight runs in the series finale at Tampa Bay to earn a split, and I'm looking for some of that offense to carry into Friday. I'm going against the line move in Game 1 with a free MLB pick play on the OVER.

MLB pick: Rangers-Royals Over 7.5 (-105) at Bet365