Royals Seeking First Win & Worth Betting It in Opener at Astros

Willie Bee

Friday, April 7, 2017 1:27 PM UTC

Friday, Apr. 7, 2017 1:27 PM UTC

Cold hitting plagued both the Astros and Royals in their 2017 opening series. Each hopes to get the bats on track Friday night in the first of a three-game series in Houston.

Kansas City Royals (0-3)

The Royals wish they had some sort of do-over button to reset 2017. Minnesota swept them in the opening series; despite accruing a 4-15 record head-to-head record last year. It’s KC’s first 0-3 start in 16 years. Pitching, and the bullpen primarily, is a disaster. The staff gifted 23 walks in three games, allowing 21 runs overall. Offense is lacking, too. The Royals crossed the plate five times total.

Veteran starter Jason Vargas hopes to lead the Royals to their first victory in the current campaign. The southpaw owns one of the best change-ups in the majors, and it will need to be sharp against the hard-hitting Astros. Vargas is 0-2 with an 8.41 ERA in four career starts vs. Houston. Three of the outings occurred in 2013 in his stint with the Angels; the first was in his rookie season (2005) with the Marlins.

Vargas has only faced five batters on Houston’s current roster. Carlos Beltran and Jose Altuve have combined to go 9-for-18 with two home runs and six RBIs. Longtime A’s outfielder Josh Reddick has squared off the most vs. Vargas, getting six hits and striking out thrice in 29 total plate appearances.

K.C. is just 1-6 as a road dog with MLB odds greater than +130 behind Vargas in his career. Ample run support is lacking. Averaging 2.33 runs per game, the Royals lineup has failed to score more than three runs in this situation.


Houston Astros (3-1)

Houston is 3-1 despite some cold bats to open the year. The team is hitting just .221 with a .277 on-base percentage, but has knocked seven home runs. Pitching is leading the Astros, limiting the Mariners to just 23 hits in 40 innings in the opening four-game series.

Fill-in starter Mike Fiers gets the nod for Manager A.J. Hinch Friday night. Fiers is making the start in place of Collin McHugh, the latter lasting one inning in is Triple-A rehab start at Fresno on Thursday. The Astros are 14-7 at Minute Maid Park when Fiers commands the hill, returning nearly 11 percent profit to backers at average -152 odds.

Fiers is 0-2 with a 6.46 ERA in three starts vs. the Royals. K.C.’s current roster is hitting .333 (16-for-48) as a group with a .848 OPS. The right-hander has done a good job preventing the long ball, allowing just one home run to Lorenzo Cain in 57 total Royals plate appearances.


Final Analysis

The Royals rotation is a mess. Vargas has to work deep into the game to take some heat off the struggling pen. Expect the crafty veteran to do just that. We are not sure the Royals take it in nine innings, but see value at plus money through the first five against Houston’s weakest starter.  

Free MLB Pick: Royals +160Best Line Offered: BookMaker

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