This sports handicapper has several reasons for placing his MLB picks on the KC Royals tonight as they face the Twins in Minnesota. Expect a starting pitcher matchup of Vargas vs. Hughes.
KC Royals (Vargas) vs. Minnesota Twins (Hughes) (-105) 8:10 ET
The KC Royals visit the Minnesota Twins for the first of a 3-game set to begin this week. They will do so, knowing they trail Minnesota by 1 game in the standings (both in the win column) for the Central Division lead. A quick review of our OPS numbers indicate the Royals are the superior hitting team with an OPS advantage of 40 points and the superior pitching team with an OPS advantage of 70 points. In a pitching matchup which I believe favors Kansas City, we gladly step in with a highly motivated Royals team in this situation with pick ’em MLB odds.
The Minnesota season is a bit of a mirage, based on the OPS numbers quoted above. I expect them to return to earth in the next couple of weeks, as they host KC then travel to Texas and St. Louis. In the previous 3 seasons, Minnesota won no more than 70 games. When they started 6-10 this season, it appeared they were again headed to the bottom of the Central Division, where they had been projected to finish. A closer look at their recent 27-13 run, which has lifted them to 33-23, shows a number of close wins, fortunate wins, and victories over inferior teams. But going 3-4 in the last week against Boston and Milwaukee (1-2 against whom they scored 9 runs) does not inspire confidence nor does the fact they are sending Hughes to the mound. The Twins have won just 4 of 11 Hughes’ starts in which he has a 4.96 ERA. His .302 BAA is especially disturbing. Hughes comes off a start which he allowed 5 runs in 4 1/3 IP in a 6-3 loss to Boston. Though he is 3-0 recently on this field, he has a 5.03 ERA to show for his work.
Kansas City proved their World Series appearance last year was no fluke with a 28-14 beginning. A 3-9 recent plunge in which they have scored only 27 runs seemed inevitable as only the St. Louis Cardinals are playing greater than .589 baseball at the moment. And with only 3 teams (Milwaukee, Philly and Oakland) playing sub-.421 ball, it looks like we are headed for another year of parity in MLB. Phrased another way, we note that after fewer than 60 games have been played, 26 of the 30 teams are playing between .421 and .589 baseball. Time for the Royals to rally based on their superior numbers and jumpstarted by their 4-3 win vs. the Rangers yesterday. Keep in mind when preparing your MLB picks that in his last 4 starts, Vargas has pitched his best baseball of the year, going 3-1 with a 3.43 ERA. Consider that to be far more representative of his abilities, rather than the 2 outings against Minnesota in April, when he posted a 9.35 ERA.
In the PERCEPTION/REALITY game of the day, look for the cream to rise to the top, as KC (at a pick ‘em price in MLB odds) takes the first of this 3-game set and pulls even with the Twins for the division lead.
MLB Picks: Take KC Royals -102 at YouWager