The Kansas City Royals have a big lead in the AL Central. The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the hunt for the NL Central. Which team should we put in Tuesday's MLB picks?
Jason's 2015 record as of July 20: 34-25, plus-9.41 units ML; 0-3, minus-3.30 units Total
Life continues apace for the Kansas City Royals. They won the American League pennant last year, and so far this year, the Royals have the best record on the junior circuit at 55-36, good for 18.06 betting units of sweet, sweet profit. Not bad for a franchise that went nearly 30 years without making the playoffs.
That reminds me of someone... oh, yes, the Pittsburgh Pirates. They only had to wait 20 years before ending their postseason drought in 2013; two Wild Cards later, the Pirates once again find themselves in second place in the NL Central at 54-38 (+8.86 units). We could have a World Series preview on our hands when these two teams meet Tuesday night (8:10 p.m.) at Kaufmann Stadium. The MLB odds at press time have Pittsburgh favored slightly at –115.
The Left Bank
This is an important game for Kansas City. Veteran southpaw Jason Vargas (4.28 FIP) is making his return to the mound after spending the past six weeks on the DL with a strained flexor in his left arm – not his hip, as some are reporting. Vargas held up well enough before the injury, collecting 4.46 units on a team record of 6-2. But he didn't go beyond six innings in any of those eight starts, and given his injury status, Vargas might not even make it through five on Tuesday.
Gerrit Cole (2.73 FIP) is one of the key reasons the Pirates are on track to win their third straight Wild Card. The 24-year-old righty is absolutely killing it this year; at press time, Cole is fifth on the MLB money charts at +8.27 units on a team record of 14-4. He's gone at least seven innings in seven of his last 10 starts, and that stamina could come in handy after the Pirates burned through four relievers in Monday's 10-7 victory over the Royals (–133).
Cole is a virtual unknown to the Royals in this interleague matchup, but you can say the same for Vargas and the Pirates. This still looks like a good time to kick Vargas while he's working his way back to 100 percent. Have you picked up rookie 3B/SS Jung Ho Kang (.766 OPS) yet? He's mashing a .861 OPS versus lefties this year, and good gravy, Kang is only owned in 15% of Yahoo leagues at press time. What what?!
We should also note that Royals OF Alex Gordon (.852 OPS) might be out until September with a strained left groin. With Gordon out of commission and Vargas coming back from a bad elbow, we're putting Pittsburgh in our MLB picks, thank you kindly. And may the sphere be with you.
Free MLB Pick: Take the Pirates –115 at BetOnline