Odds Analysis & Free MLB Picks On Royals vs. Astros 4-Game Series

Willie Bee

Thursday, April 14, 2016 1:10 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 14, 2016 1:10 PM UTC

A long 4-game series begins Monday night in Houston where the Astros host the Royals in their home opener, and we're following the set with free MLB picks for each tilt.

14th April
Royals vs. Astros Game 4

By: Willie Bee


It's still early, but it's beginning to look like the Houston Astros vastly overpaid for reliever Ken Giles in last winter's trade with Philadelphia. Giles served up a game-winning 2-run homer in the eighth inning to Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez, and now the Astros need a win in Thursday's series finale to just gain a split in the set.

Game 4 features a couple of veteran righthanders on the hill as Ian Kennedy hurls for KC against Houston's Doug Fister. The Astros are slight favorites on the MLB odds, BetOnline listing them at -113 with a 7½ run total for scoreboard bettors to consider.


Fister Makes Astros Home Debut
Kennedy was solid in his Kansas City debut, delighting the Kauffman Stadium crowd with scoreless baseball into the seventh inning of a 7-0 Royals victory over the Twins. The former USC start struck out seven against just one walk, allowing five hits along the way. He's facing the Astros for the first time since they moved to the AL in 2013, and just the third time ever. The previous two both came in this ballpark and each went into Kennedy's win column with a combined 12.2 IP and only one run scoring.

Thanks to some early offense by Astros hitters, Fister got the win in his Houston debut last weekend in Milwaukee. The righty did strike out six in the appearance, but only managed to get through five innings while allowing three runs, one coming plateward on a Scooter Gennett homer. He saw the Royals often going back to his days with the Detroit Tigers, Thursday's matchup his 13th career start against them plus one relief appearance. Fister wound up with a 3-6 record in the previous 12 despite owning a decent 3.73 ERA in the 82 frames.


Umpire Notes. Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Jim Wolf completes one full circuit through the umpire rotation by sliding in behind the plate for the series finale. It's the third time for the 17-year veteran to call balls and strikes this season, one of the prior two going 'over' and the other pushing a 7 run total on the closing baseball odds. Wolf trended to the high side of the number the last two seasons when totals ran 33-22-3 in his plate assignments, and his last two games under the mask in Houston also skipped above the tally.

Each of the first three games have been played with the roof shut, and that should be the case tonight with lingering rain chances in the Houston area. I'll take the Royals on a plus-moneyline with my MLB pick to make it three in a row.

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Free MLB Pick: Royals +116
Best Line Offered: at Heritage 
Season: 4-6 (-2.05)

13th April
Royals vs. Astros Game 3

By: Willie Bee


If not for the first inning Tuesday night in Houston, the Astros and Kansas City Royals might still be playing. But just as the saying goes about the fat lady, the overture counts as well, and it accounted for all of the runs in Game 2 of this set.

Lorenzo Cain's 3-run shot in the top of the first was enough to help the Royals to a series-tying 3-2 victory over the Astros who scored both of their runs in the bottom of the initial frame. The clubs will break the deadlock tonight beginning at 8:10 PM (ET) when Yordano Ventura and Scott Feldman lock arms in Game 3. The contest is currently a pick 'em at Bookmaker, KC slightly favored at other sportsbooks, 8½ the total on the MLB odds board.


Both Hurlers Seeking 1st Win Of '16
Wild at home last week vs. the Twins, Ventura walked six in five innings of a no-decision, the Royals rallying for a 4-3 triumph. He's had mixed results against the Astros over the last few years, facing them five times (including two postseason starts) and KC winning three of the contests while the young Dominican pitched to a 4.94 ERA. Two of the starts came in Houston, Ventura splitting the decisions (9 IP, 4 ER).

Feldman was roughed up early in Milwaukee last Friday, allowing four runs to the Brewers in the first two innings and coming out after the fourth. Three of the runs came courtesy of Scooter Gennett and Chris Carter homers. The lanky Californian faced the Royals once in 2015, pitching into the eighth and allowing just one run for a no-decision in what eventually was a 2-1, 10-inning KC victory at home.


Umpire Notes. Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Eric Cooper is the next member of Crew F to squat behind the plate calling balls and strikes. The veteran of 20 big league seasons has worked two games this year, both NL affairs, both ending in victory for the visitors and each one finishing 'under' the baseball odds. The Iowa native was partial to the 'over' last season (18-11 O/U), and had the plate in last fall's AL Wild Card Game in New York where the Astros posted a 3-zip decision. It's his first plate assignment in Houston since 2014, and the 'Stros are 1-4 in Cooper's last five games here behind the dish.

More rain in the forecast means another game indoors. I'm really not very excited by either pitcher, and that has me going 'over' for my free MLB pick

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Free MLB Pick: Over 8.5 
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

12th April
Royals vs. Astros Game 2

By: Willie Bee



The Houston Astros picked up right where they left off in 2015 when they led the American League in home wins. Monday's home opener featured a strong showing by the top of the order that helped the Astros to a big early lead, and Collin McHugh snuffed the Kansas City lineup for an 8-2 win over the Royals.

The two clubs get right back to work Tuesday with an 8:10 PM (ET) first pitch from Houston's Mike Fiers, KC countering with Kris Medlen on the mound. The Astros are priced -135 at where the MLB odds also list 8 for the total and favoring the 'under.'


Astros Looking For First Back-to-Back Wins of '16
The oft-injured Medlen is climbing the hill for the first time in 2016 after splitting about half a season last year between the KC bullpen and rotation. He missed the entire 2014 season and first half of 2015 due to Tommy John surgery, and posted a 4.01 ERA in his nearly 60 innings. His spring numbers weren't great -- 5.94 ERA, 7 HR, 16.2 IP -- and Medlen could be on a short leash at the back end of this rotation if he falters his first few starts of 2016.

Fiers was no mystery to Yankee hitters last Thursday in the Bronx, the righthander taken deep by both Brian McCann and Starlin Castro in the 8-5 Houston setback. He did pitch well at Minute Maid Park once he came over to the Astros last July, logging a 1.67 ERA in four assignments and whiffing 24 in 27 frames. Fiers pitched out of the 'pen in the ALDS against the Royals last October, allowing a run in his lone appearance, and was roughed up in a start in KC while still with the Brewers, getting charged with six runs in five innings.

Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Crew chief Gary Cederstrom is next in line to don the mask and set up behind the dish tonight to call balls and strikes. It's his third plate assignment of 2016 already, the first two splitting on the totals and divided with a win for the visitors and a win for the home side. The North Dakota native slightly favored the 'over' a year ago on the MLB odds (15-13-1 O/U/P), but his last game behind the plate in Houston finished 'under' the mark.

As we expected, the roof was shut last night and should be again this evening when there's a 50%-90% chance of rain in the Bayou City throughout the day. My free MLB pick is on Houston more for not trusting Medlen and less having faith in Fiers.

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Free MLB Pick: Astros -135
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

MLB Record 4-2 (+2.40)

11th April
Royals vs. Astros Game 1

By: Willie Bee


The Kansas City Royals are off to a good start in defense of their 2015 World Series title. After splitting a quick 2-game interleague series to begin the 2016 campaign against the New York Mets, their opponents in the Fall Classic, the Royals swept the winless Minnesota Twins over the weekend to resume their position at the top of the AL Central, the most impressive early stat being just 11 runs allowed in five games.

All of that came at home, however, and now Kansas City has to hit the road for the first time with a long 4-game set against the Houston Astros who led the American League a season ago with 53 home wins. The rematch of one of the two ALDS last October begins Monday night at 8:10 PM (ET) in what should be a loud and raucous home opener for the Astros.

Getting things started on the mound are a couple of righthanders who each took the loss in their first starts of 2016, Chris Young for the Royals and Collin McHugh on the Houston side. MLB odds for the series opener started with the Astros in the low -130s before overnight wagering bumped that up about 10 cents at most sports books. Likewise, the total inched up a bit since it was released, now standing on 9 runs at BetOnline where the 'under' is priced -125.

Must Read: Joe Gavazzi's Predictions On Royals vs. Astros' Game 1

'Stros Seeking A Little Payback From Playoff Collapse
Houston appeared set to become the first team to play in both an AL CS and NLCS last October when they were up two games to one and ahead 6-2 at home heading into the final two innings of Game 4 against the Royals. Then, the bottom fell out for the Astros as Kansas City plated seven runs over those final two frames to send the ALDS back to Missouri where the Royals eventually took the fifth and deciding game.

That tightly contested postseason series mirrored what has been a close history between the two clubs so far. Houston holds a slight 26-22 edge in regular season meetings, the clubs halving their 18 matchups since the Astros joined the American League in 2013. Including the two playoff games played at Minute Maid last October, the teams are level 13-13 in Houston.

The Astros did take four of the six last year, the first four meetings, in fact, with none of the moneylines on the baseball odds getting as high as tonight's number. The three games played in Houston split 1-1-1 O/U/P on the totals with all three contests at Kauffman Stadium falling short of the marks.

Expecting Roof To Be Shut In Houston
The only loss Kansas City has suffered in the early going came last Tuesday when the Royals hosted the Mets and Young was on the hill. The big righty really only made one mistake in his five innings of work, but it was enough to lift New York to a 2-0 victory as Neil Walker's 2-run jack plated the game's only runs. He missed the Astros in both series during the regular season a year ago, but saw them for four innings of relief, allowing one run on a George Springer homer and striking out seven.

McHugh was lit up in the Bronx last Wednesday, managing to get just one out in the first before manager AJ Hinch was forced to go to his bullpen. The 28 year old was solid at home in 2015, Houston winning 12 of his 16 starts while McHugh compiled a 3.73 ERA. Like Young, he didn't face the Royals during the regular season, then split his two assignments against them in the playoffs.

Rain in the Houston forecast should lead to Minute Maid being buttoned up tonight and possibly the entire series. Both pitchers have been pretty stingy to the hitters they'll face, but I trust Young a little more than McHugh for my free MLB pick.

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Free MLB Pick: Royals +127
Best Line Offered: at Bovada

MLB Record: 4-1 (+3.40)

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