The St. Louis Cardinals are a win away from sweeping the Kansas City Royals, but a pitching change is once again holding up the MLB betting process for Sunday's game.
Royals vs. Cardinals Game 3
By: Willie Bee
They could have ended Saturday's matchup between the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals in the bottom of the fifth and achieved the same outcome thanks to shutdown bullpens on both sides.
That outcome was a 3-2 St. Louis victory, leaving the Redbirds up 3-2 in the season series with their Missouri rivals. The clubs close out the weekend set and their 2015 clashes Sunday afternoon (2:15 PM ET) at Busch Stadium, and for the second consecutive game, a late pitching change is keeping the contest off the MLB betting board. This time it's Kansas City altering its pitching plans, Chris Young moving up one spot in the rotation to face Cardinals veteran John Lackey.
Lackey Coming Off Clubbing In Colorado
Jason Vargas was originally scheduled to pitch the finale for KC, but landed back on the DL for a second time this year due to a left flexor strain. It's unclear how long Vargas will be out this time, and just who will take his spot in the rotation when another arm is needed as early as this Thursday.
Young has been something of an unsung hero for Ned Yost's pitching staff this season, beginning the year in the bullpen before joining the rotation in May. He's coming off a masterful performance in Minnesota this past Tuesday (6.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R), and beat the Cardinals in Kansas City a little more than three weeks ago with six shutout innings.
Lackey suffered the Mile High effect in his last outing, an 11-3 St. Louis defeat at Colorado on Monday. The big righthander only managed to record 12 outs before heading to the showers, the Rockies plating 10 (8 earned) and popping a couple of long flies. He has seen the Royals plenty dating to his AL days with the Angels and Red Sox, and dropped a 3-2 decision to them in KC on May 23, his first appearance in the rivalry since becoming a Cardinal last year.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Closing out the series for Gerry Davis' umpire crew will be Phil Cuzzi, now in his 16th full season at the big league and having worked games since 1991. The Newark native has been fairly level at 6-5 O/U so far this season, the closest thing to a strong baseball betting trend being his 5-3 record for home chalk. Cuzzi worked one of Vargas' starts earlier this season and it went 'over' the MLB odds mark, and the Cardinals have won three of his last four plate assignments at Busch with the totals splitting.
We've got a 50%-60% of a passing thunderstorm interrupting play this afternoon. Very muggy temps in the low-80s and a SW breeze (out to center) are also in the forecast. My forecast for the MLB odds is St. Louis around -125 on the moneyline, and I'll play the Cardinals up to -135 for a free baseball pick.
MLB Pick: Cardinals up to -135
Royals vs. Cardinals Game 2
By: Willie Bee
St. Louis had been shut out in three of Jaime Garcia's four starts this season. The lefty turned that around Friday night with eight scoreless innings to help the Cardinals to a 4-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals in the opener of their 3-game MLB odds set.
The cross-state rivals go right back to work Saturday afternoon (4:10 PM ET) when a late pitching change has taken the game off the baseball betting card. Kansas City sends Jeremy Guthrie to the bump against Tyler Lyons, recalled from Triple-A due to regularly-scheduled starter Lance Lynn hitting the DL on Friday. SBR's live MLB odds should have the adjusted numbers later Saturday morning.
Forearm Strain Forces Lynn To Disabled List
Guthrie's final start in May was about as ugly as it gets, the Yankees bombing him for 11 runs on four homers before he could get the fourth out of the game. The veteran righthander has since bounced back with a pair of good outings against the Indians and Rangers, combining to toss 12 innings while allowing just three runs. Both appearances came at home, and the Royals are 4-1 when Guthrie pitches away from KC, the only loss the debacle in the Bronx.
He missed the Cardinals when the teams met earlier, and is facing them for just the second time since joining the Royals in 2013. That outing was a little more than two years ago in St. Louis, Guthrie going six and allowing two runs in a no-decision eventually won by Kansas City.
Lynn left last Sunday's assignment in Anaheim with a sore arm, but the Cardinals were hopeful he could avoid the DL. Lyons was up with the big league club in early-May just after Adam Wainwright was injured, and made three starts before being sent back down to Memphis where he has excelled (5-2, 2.61 ERA). He saw the Royals once early in his 2013 rookie season, tossing seven innings of 2-hit, 1-run baseball.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Will Little should have the plate Saturday's fracas, the 10th time this season the Tennessee native will call balls and strikes with the previous nine going 5-3-1 O/U/P on the scoreboard. It will be the second time this year Little has worked a game involving the Royals, the earlier one going 'over' the line. Two of his three plate assignments in St. Louis last season finished 'under' the totals.
There was no trouble with the weather on Friday, but the chance for rain continues on Saturday when it's going to be a very sticky 87º at first pitch with a 10-12 mph south wind (out to left). I won't venture to guess what the moneyline will be for this game, but lean a bit to the Cardinals with their rested bullpen to pick things up for Lyons if he falters early.
MLB Pick: Lean Cardinals
Royals vs. Cardinals Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
It's a Show Me State showdown in St. Louis this weekend where the Cardinals host the Kansas City Royals in the only interleague series on the weekend MLB betting schedule.
Friday's series opener (8:15 PM ET) pits Yordano Ventura against Jaime Garcia, the latter carrying slight -110 chalk on the morning moneyline at The Greek. The same shop opened its total at 7 runs and evenly priced high and low.
This series concludes the annual interleague rivalry between the clubs, the Royals having already taken two of three from the Cards in KC three weeks ago. St. Louis leads the all-time series, 50-40, a record that includes the Royals' dramatic 7-game World Series victory in the only postseason clash 30 years ago. Considering how close we were to an all-Missouri Fall Classic last October, and the fact both clubs presently lead their respective divisions, the thought of a rematch this autumn isn't that far-fetched.
The Royals have made themselves right at home in the latest rendition of Busch Stadium, winning 13 of the 22 games played here since the park opened its gates in 2006. Kansas City has won the last three on this diamond, two of those falling short of the totals to give 'under' bettors five winning tickets in the last seven contests in Arch City.
Royals Have Dropped Ventura's Last Three Outings
In the middle of a 3-city tour that will end next week in Milwaukee, Kansas City (34-23, +9.1 units) reaches St. Louis on a 4-game win streak after a 2-9 stumble at the end of May and beginning of June. The Royals just swept their way back to the top of the AL Central by taking three games in Minnesota, Ned Yost's mound corps limiting the Twins to just three runs and 16 hits in the broom job.
After winning 19 of his 30 starts last season, plus all four postseason starts, the Royals were expecting Ventura to move into the role of staff ace this year. That has happened, however, with the team losing seven of his first 11 assignments, including the last three.
The first of the three most recent setbacks came at home to these Cardinals on May 24, the only match the Royals lost in that series. Ventura burned through a season-high 114 pitches in seven innings, allowing four runs in the 6-1 decision. It was just the second time he'd faced St. Louis, the other a winning performance at home last year, and Friday will be the first time Ventura has pitched at Busch.
Redbird Pitchers Top All Of Baseball In ERA Column
Returning home from a 4-3 road trip through Los Angeles and Colorado, St. Louis (39-21, +15.8 units) begins the weekend as the only team in the majors sporting a .600 or better winning percentage. Offense has been a bit of a problem for manager Mike Matheny, his Cardinals just below the NL scoring average plating 4.0 runs per game. But that's been plenty when the other guys are scoring less than 3.0 RPG and your pitching staff leads all of baseball with a 2.71 ERA.
Garcia has pitched well enough since coming off the DL to stand 3-1 on the campaign, yet Cardinals hitters haven't backed him with any offense and the team is 1-3 in those tilts. Case in point was last Saturday in Los Angeles, where the Cardinals dropped a 2-0 decision to Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. It was the third time for Garcia in as many losses that St. Louis was shut out. The southpaw has struggled against the Royals over the years, though St. Louis has managed to split his four career starts vs. KC despite Garcia owning an 8.30 ERA.
The weatherman isn't calling for a very nice weekend in St. Louis, at least a 50% chance of thunderstorms in the forecast each day. Trends suggest more than a 50% chance at an 'under' for Game 1, but I'll play the contrarian on Friday with a free MLB pick on Kansas City and St. Louis going 'over' the total.
MLB Pick: Royals-Cardinals Over 7 (-110) at The Greek
Season: 49-36-2 (+14.05)