Royals & Orioles: One team has maintained its standing as a top contender for the AL pennant, while the other has fallen off the map and will certainly not make the playoffs.
Neither team has a whole lot of momentum, but if you had to narrow things down to the past few games and make a betting decision solely on the basis if this one criterion, it would be the Orioles. Baltimore won a series in New York against the Yankees, showing that while it is almost certain to miss the playoffs, it will continue to fight and play hard through the remainder of the season. That’s something bettors want to identify: Will a team tank, or will it fight at every inch and opportunity? The Orioles are going after it instead of going through the motions.
Kansas City is bored. The Royals are going to win the American League Central. This has been known for some time. The Royals are cruising to the finish with a double-digit game lead over the Minnesota Twins. They are completely unthreatened and have no real urgent need to win any one game as though it matters for the playoffs. This team is already in a position where it wants to rest its starters and make sure they are injury free for October. The Royals want to get their pitching rotation in line for the playoffs. They don’t want to overtax their high-end relievers who are so central to their success. They are managing their lineup, and it shows. Kansas City lost two of three at home to Minnesota earlier this week before losing, 14-8, to Baltimore on Friday in the first game of this series. The Orioles scored 10 runs in the bottom of the eighth to win. These things would not be happening if the Royals urgently needed to win games, but they don’t.
With Johnny Cueto on the mound, the Royals have a Cy Young-level pitcher who has not been pitching at a Cy Young level. The former ace for the Cincinnati Reds has had a rocky transition from the National to the American League. He has a 3.24 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP, but in his last four starts, he has given up at least four runs each time, at least six runs in two of them. Cueto has simply gotten shelled, putting his early-August quality starts into the rearview mirror. Cueto needs to begin to prepare for the playoffs the right way. The Royals thought he’d be a slam-dunk addition to their rotation, but it has not turned out that way so far.
Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen has a 3.48 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. In his last two starts, he has given up five runs apiece. He hasn’t been on quite as much of a slide as Cueto, but he’s getting close. He also is not as good as Cueto when in top form, so that has to be considered.
What’s The Pick?
With neither starter being very good right now, the feeling here is that Cueto, who should feel some pressure in terms of being ready for October, will rev up the engines and give Kansas City a good start, though probably not a great one. That should be enough to beat Chen and the Orioles which leads us to our MLB pick for Sunday night.
MLB Pick: Kansas City -115 at BetOnline