Each day during the MLB Playoffs, LT Profits seeks a side that has a better chance of cashing than its odds would indicate. Here is their MLB Playoff Value Play for Tuesday.
It is an all Wild Card World Series this season, and we are giving the small home underdogs the call on Tuesday in a battle of aces when southpaw Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants (96-76, 47-39 away) pay a visit to right-hander James Shields and the Kansas City Royals (97-73, 46-39 home) in World Series Game 1 from Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, MO at 8:07 ET in a game televised nationally on FOX.
The early posted money line at BetOnLine has Kansas City as a tiny underdog for this contest at current odds of +104.
”Wild” Playoffs So Far
We are already on record picking the Royals to win this World Series and beating Bumgarner in Game 1 will make that series bet look real sharp. The Royals come in having already set a Major League record for the most consecutive wins to begin one post-season with eight, as they first beat Oakland at home in the American League Wild Card Playoff before sweeping through the Angels in three games in the ALDS and the Orioles in four in the ALCS.
One could argue that their fellow wild cards from the National League the Giants had an even more difficult path because they first had to win their single elimination Wild Card Playoff on the road in Pittsburgh. They did so with Bumgarner on the bump before beating the top seeded Nationals in four games in the NLDS and the Cardinals in five in the NLCS. So while these were the two least likely MLB picks to match up here before the playoffs, both teams have earned it.
Bumgarner the Best but Wearing Down?
Now we would certainly not dispute the notion that Bumgarner is the best pitcher in this series because we agree that he is. He was one of the top southpaws in the National League during the regular season when he finished 18-10 with his 2.98 ERA being the third best among National League left-handers behind only Cy Young Award favorite Clayton Kershaw and Cole Hamels. He also had a strong 1.09 WHIP and 219 strikeouts vs. 43 walks in 217.1 innings.
Furthermore, Bumgarner has been terrific in his four post-season starts allowing a grand total of five earned runs and 19 hits in 31.2 innings with 28 strikeouts vs. five walks. However, that is a lot of highly pressurized work over a relatively short span and he will now make his fifth post-season start already on the normal four days rest where a couple of extra days off would have probably served him well.
We mention that because he was not nearly as sharp his last start in Game 5 vs. the Cardinals while allowing three earned runs in eight innings with five strikeouts and two walks, as he was over his first three playoff starts, and keep in mind this is after his 217.1 innings during the regular season were already a professional career high for Bumgarner at any level.
The lefty lost his start vs. Kansas City this year in interleague play allowing four runs on seven hits in eight innings.
Shields Well Rested
On the other hand, the well-rested Shields is taking this start on 10 days start since seeming off of his game while allowing four runs on 10 hits in just five innings in Game 1 of the ALCS vs. the Orioles. Like Bumgarner, Shields put in a lot of work in pressure situations as that was his third post-season start in a 12-day span after a heavy 227-inning workload during the regular year. But unlike Bumgarner, Shields has had time to recuperate.
Thus, expect to see the Shield here that deserved better than his 14-9 record during the regular season as he finished with a 3.21 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 180 strikeouts vs. 44 walks. Shields has a good groundball rate of 45.2 percent, and that has been a key reason why he simply does not allow home runs here at a rather neutral Kauffman Stadium, allowing just seven home runs in 15 home starts covering 102.2 innings this season.
And do not forget that Shields faced the Giants this year during interleague play and hurled a masterpiece against them, pitching a Complete Game four-hit shutout!
Bullpen and Speed Favor KC
Finally, the Royals were touted as having the best bullpen in the American League before this season started, and that has come to fruition at the most critical time as that bullpen leads all Major League playoff teams this year with a 1.80 ERA during the post-season, with their gas-throwing young arms having 36 strikeouts in 35 playoff innings.
And do not forget that no team puts pressure on while running the bases like the Royals do, as their 13 stolen bases during these playoffs is just one less that the 14 total stolen bases that the other nine playoff participants have accumulated combined.
So with all of this in mind, look for the Royals to draw first blood at home in Game 1 of the World Series from Kansas City on Tuesday.
MLB Pick: Royals +104 (Game 1)