Just as with the Rangers and Blue Jays, the ALDS between the Astros and Royals will be decided by a Game 5 on the favorite's home field Wednesday.
Astros-Royals ALDS Game 5 Odds
As of mid-Wednesday morning the best MLB odds available on Kansas City with Johnny Cueto was the -124 offered at 5Dimes, while Houston with fellow righty Collin McHugh was getting +124 at Heritage.
These teams have split the first four games of this best-of-five affair, alternating wins and losses. Houston took Game 1 in KC, but the Royals salvaged a split at home by taking Game 2. The Astros then grabbed Game 3 behind ace Dallas Keuchel, and owned a 6-2 lead in Game 4 Monday. But Kansas City came back with five runs in the top of the eighth inning and two more in the ninth to steal a 9-6 victory, sending this series back to Kauffman Stadium for the decider tonight.
Houston took the regular-season series from KC four games to two.
Game 5 Mound Match-Up
Cueto (11-13, 3.44) started Game 2 of this series last Friday, a 5-4 Kansas City come-from-behind victory, giving up four runs through the first three innings, but then settling in, throwing three more scoreless innings. So over six innings he allowed four runs – three earned – and seven hits, including a home run by Houston's Colby Rasmus, walked three and struck out five. In the process Cueto threw 103 pitches, 66 for strikes.
Since Cueto came over in that trade with Cincinnati the Royals are only 5-9 in games he's started, but 3-1 over his last four outings.
Prior to last Friday Cueto's most recent start against Houston came back in 2013, as a Red.
McHugh (19-7, 3.89) started Game 1 of this series, holding KC to a pair of Kendrys Morales solo homers through six innings, with one walk and one strikeout. He left the game with a 4-2 lead and the Astros bullpen held on from there. On the day McHugh threw 92 pitches, 62 for strikes.
For the season Houston is 22-11 in McHugh's starts, 7-1 over his last eight outings.
In two career starts against Kansas City, the other coming back in May of last season, McHugh has allowed two runs and nine hits through 13 innings; the Astros won both those games, and both games played UNDER.
Game 5 Batting Spits
Houston ranked 18th in the Majors this season against right-handed pitching with a .312 team on-base percentage, but fourth with a .439 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 this season leaned UNDER by a 38-36 margin, as they averaged 8.5 runs per.
ALDS Game 5 Free Picks
Our handicapping factors for tonight's game balance out to about a wash; we can't discern a clear advantage for either side in the pitching match-up, with the sticks or in the bullpens. But after rallying from the brink of elimination Monday we have to believe Big Mo sides with Kansas City today. So for our free MLB pick on this contest we'll go with the home team.
Pick: Royals -124 at 5Dimes