Pick Royals to Win Over Other AL Central Wildcard Hunter

Doug Upstone

Saturday, July 26, 2014 1:58 PM GMT

Saturday, Jul. 26, 2014 1:58 PM GMT

Both these AL Central teams are in the wild card hunt, with winning the division more a long shot. Neither has distinguished itself which makes it challenging for erecting MLB picks. 

With these two so-so pitchers starting for what are ordinary clubs by their season records, let’s delve into what either can do to pull off a victory in Game 3 of the series.

 

Cleveland’s Offense keeping the Tribe in the Hunt
A quick perusal of the baseball stats finds the Indians in the Top 10 of the major leagues in runs scored, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. This is not to suggest Cleveland has a perfect offense led by Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall, but at least they are staying in games with enough run support.

If the Indians are to return to the postseason, the rest of the other players in the everyday lineup have start delivering. This means a Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana have to do better than bat .250 or less and have low OBP’s.

Last year, Cleveland’s starting pitchers were sixth in the AL in ERA, this season they are 13th. If Danny Salazar, Justin Masterson and even tonight’s starter Zach McAllister can find their 2013 form, the offense and bullpen has shown they can do the rest.

 

Kansas City Offense too often a Royal Mess
For those putting out sports picks daily, it would not be incorrect to call the Royals offense “soft”. K.C. is a perfect example as to why batting average is sometimes an inefficient statistic. Kansas City is fourth in the bigs in batting average at .263. However they are 18th in runs scored and OBP and 23rd in slugging.

While the Royals do not have the same malady as most big league teams in striking out incessantly (fewest in the AL), they are not patient either, listed 13th in walks in the league.

There are many ways to interpret numbers, but when you see K.C. leads the league in ground balls in play and Oakland is last, and the A’s have the top offense, it is easy to surmise Kansas City is hitting too many soft ground balls for easy outs. Not lost in this discovery is Oakland is third in walks and has hit 45 more balls over the fence.

While the Royals do not have as many sluggers as the Oakland Athletics, if they were more patient and took more walks, those hits which give them a higher batting average, might prove to be more productive in run scoring with more runners on base.

 

Pitching Matchup for Saturday
After being placed on the DL and later demoted to Triple-A in May, Zach McAllister (3-5, 5.28 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) will make his third start since coming back this month, taking over for an injured Justin Masterson. The right-hander has looked stronger and more confident after his stint in the minors, allowing a combined four runs over his last two starts of 12.1 innings. However, the same concerns of control are apparent with five walks in those outings.

Jeremy Guthrie (5-9, 4.56, 1.35) was better after two really subpar starts with six average innings against the White Sox. Nevertheless, he suffered his third consecutive defeat. Similar to his mound opponent, free passes have hurt, with eight in the past 14 innings. In looking over the MLB odds and game numbers, we find Guthrie has lost both starts against Cleveland this season, giving up a total of 10 runs in 10 1/3 innings.

 

Bullpen View
Don’t blame the bullpens, at least not entirely, for these AL Central rivals being basically .500 teams. Cleveland is third in ERA in the AL at (3.03) and they are in the Top 6 in OBP and OPS. Some MLB handicappers might point to their save percentage at just 68 percent, just keep in mind, nobody in baseball has logged more innings than the Indians pen.

Kansas City has a modestly higher ERA of 3.37, but their save percentage of 74% is top shelf and they are second in the American League in fewest total bases conceded, which includes just 19 homers conceded.

 

Head to Head Combat and Betting Odds
This season, Kansas City leads the series 6-5. The Royals are 4-0 at home against Cleveland after the past two nights and has taken 15 off 23 the past three years at Kauffman Stadium. The games have tended to be higher scoring against the betting odds with a 16-5 mark to the 'over.'

Sportsbooks sent Kansas City out as -120 favorites and that number has dipped to under -110. Given the nature of this rivalry and the starting pitchers, the total is up to 9 from 8.5.

 

The Winner Is….
There are not many indicators to point to for a winner, other than current form. Cleveland has lost five of six with its offense tallying a grand total of 18 runs while Kansas City has won four in a row.

With the Indians 10-31 in road games after three or more consecutive losses, we will throw our support to the home team with our MLB pick.

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MLB Free Picks: Kansas City wins

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