Kansas City's late decision on a starting pitcher has delayed the MLB odds for Sunday night's prime-time matchup in Detroit against the Tigers with the series tied a game apiece.
Saturday's Game 3
By: Willie Bee
Kansas City jumped on Detroit starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez early Saturday while Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie kept Tigers hitters off-balance with his assortment of tosses. The end result was a 6-2 KC victory that catapulted the Royals back ahead of the Tigers in the AL Central race by a half-game.
Kansas City's triumph evened the series in Detroit one win apiece, leaving the rivals with deciding the weekend set Sunday evening in prime-time on ESPN (8 PM ET). Ned Yost and the Royals did not officially announce their starting pitcher until it was too late for MLB odds to go out overnight, eventually deciding on veteran Chris Young to battle against Detroit's Shane Greene.
Greene Struggles After Strong Beginning To 2015
Sunday night should've been Jason Vargas' turn in the KC rotation, but the lefty hit the DL on Friday with a strained elbow. The Royals are hopeful Vargas will miss just 2-3 starts and avoid surgery, and moved Young into the mix in the meantime.
When preparing your MLB pick today, note that Young has been used primarily in long relief and will be making just his second start of 2015, the previous assignment also coming vs. the Tigers. The 6'-10" righty no-hit and blanked Detroit for five innings on May 1 in Kansas City, striking out nine among his 81 pitches to get the dubya in the 4-1 decision. He has allowed just four hits in 17 innings this year, and is 3-0 in five career outings vs. the Tigers while compiling a 1.40 ERA (32 IP).
Greene began 2015 with three consecutive victories and 0.39 ERA in his first 23 frames, but hitters have since caught up to the righthander. The former 15th-round pick (NYY, 2009) has been charged with 20 earned runs in his subsequent three assignments, never getting through the fifth inning in any of them. He faced the Royals once last year while pitching for the Yankees, a couple of unearned runs his undoing in a 2-0 loss.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Crew chief Jeff Kellogg will be under the mask for the Sunday Night Baseball tilt, three of his previous four plate assignments in 2015 finishing short of the totals. The lone 'over' winner came in Detroit on April 18 when the Tigers and White Sox doubled-up a 7½ run mark.
Potential rain was skirted the first two games, but that may not be possible Sunday when scattered afternoon thunderstorms develop into an 80% chance of precipitation at game time. It is supposed to thin out by mid-evening, meaning Kellogg and his crew should be able to get this game in unless heavy deluges soak Comerica Park early postpone it until the Royals return to Motown in the second half of the season.
Baseball bettors will need to keep an eye on SBR's live MLB odds to catch the opening lines; my initial lean for this one is to take Young and the Royals at a small underdog price for my free pick.
Free MLB Picks: Royals
Saturday's Game 2
By: Willie Bee
It took a little help from the Kansas City infield, but the Detroit Tigers got the win Friday night to move past the Royals at the top of the American League Central Division standings. Now they'll try and secure the series victory as favorites on Saturday's baseball betting card.
The 1:08 PM (ET) first pitch at Comerica Park features a starting pitching rematch from last weekend in Kansas City where the clubs split a 4-game series. Jeremy Guthrie climbs the hill for the Royals in search of his first quality start of the season, Detroit countering with Anibal Sanchez who will try for his fourth consecutive quality effort.
Wagerweb had the Tigers priced at -150 on the morning moneyline, the MLB odds total having climbed from an initial 8½ to an even 9 following overnight action.
Sanchez Has Baffled Royals In Past
It was a one-sided affair last Sunday when Guthrie and Sanchez clashed at Kauffman Stadium, though the 6-4 final makes the game look closer than it really was. Detroit jumped on Guthrie for six runs in the first five innings while Sanchez held the Royals scoreless until the seventh. Half of KC's eventual four runs came on a ground out and a sac fly as the Tigers grabbed the cash for their backers as -120 chalk.
Kansas City has managed to win three of Guthrie's five outings despite the righthander pitching to an ERA in excess of 6½. Two of those three dubyas came in his only road assignments of the campaign, Royals hitters gifting Guthrie with 17 runs in the two contests. Since joining Kansas City before the 2013 season, Guthrie is 4-5 in nine goes vs. Detroit with a 6.23 ERA.
Sanchez has made three solid efforts in a row, though the Tigers have only the win in KC last Sunday to show for it. He's 6-2 vs. KC since being dealt to Detroit in 2012, pitching to a superb 1.40 ERA in the eight assignments.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Still just 34-years-old and in only his second full season umpiring major league games, Mark Ripperger should have the plate for the second game of the set. All three of his games under the mask this season finished 'under' the totals, including a mid-April matchup in Detroit. Home favorites in the -140 to -160 range have win nine of the last 10 with Ripperger behind the dish.
Cloudy skies and a balmy 78º is the forecast for the start of Saturday's tilt. A chance for a thunderstorm to interrupt the contest increases from that point on, and hitters will be dealing with a 10-15 mph SW wind (in from right).
The Tigers did us well last night and I'm liking Detroit (-150) again for my free MLB pick today.
Free MLB Pick: Detroit (-150 at Pinnacle)
Friday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
A half-game apart in the AL Central, the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers collide for this games this weekend at Comerica Park, the series opening with a dandy duel on the bump.
Game 1 on Friday begins a little past 7 PM (ET), Detroit's Davis Price delivering the first pitch and the Tigers currently listed around -145 chalk at GT Bets. Yordano Ventura opposes Price, the MLB odds card unanimous with a 7½ run total.
Both teams are coming off Thursday afternoon victories, leaving Kansas City a half-game ahead of Detroit in the tightest division race going right now. The clubs split a 4-game set at Kauffman Stadium last weekend, the Royals winning the first two games before the Tigers took the last two.
Detroit owns a 74-62 vs. KC in Comerica Park since it opened in 2000, winning five of the nine in Motown last year. Four of the last five between the teams on this diamond failed to reach the totals.
Royals Start Road Trip Down A Man In 'Pen
Kansas City (18-10, +6,8 units) is beginning a 7-game trip that will take the Royals to Texas for four on the next stop. The Royals finished off their second series victory this season against the Indians on Thursday, Eric Hosmer driving in eight runs during the set to give him 23 RBI on the year. Greg Holland picked up a save in his first appearance off the DL, but the team has lost setup arm Kelvin Herrera for six games while he sits in time out on a suspension.
Absent from the team for seven games while serving a suspension, Ventura is getting his first look at the Tigers this season. Friday is his first start in eight days, and third consecutive road assignment with the Royals winning two of Ventura's three previous outings away from Kansas City.
Ventura has made just one start, along with one relief appearance, vs. the Tigers in his career. winning both games while fashioning a 3.12 ERA in nearly nine innings. The start came at Comerica last June, the hard-throwing Dominican working seven and allowing three runs.
Price Has Been Right Vs. Kansas City
Detroit (18-11, +5.8 units) is coming home from a 10-game road trip, splitting the journey that began in Minnesota, passed through Kansas City and ended Thursday on Chicago's South Side vs. the White Sox. The lineup has run hot-&-cold since the Tigers bolted from the gate with a 6-0 start to the season, averaging almost eight runs in those games as opposed to under 4.0 RPG since.
Price hurled a complete game gem in Kansas City last Saturday, losing the shutout two outs into the ninth on a Lorenzo Cain homer. Cain's blast stopped a 21+ scoreless innings streak Price had going vs. the Royals, a run that stretched back to 2010 when he was with Tampa Bay. Four career starts and a relief appearance against KC have yielded a 1.16 ERA (31 IP).
The umpires may have to dance this entire series through rain with the forecast calling for a 40%-80% chance throughout the weekend. They also have the luxury of calling any of the games since Kansas City makes two more trips to the Motor City on the second half of the schedule. The start of Friday's contest could be delayed, but should be safe from a rainout with the thunderstorms expected to clear by sunset (8:40 p.m.).
Good news for Price tonight is he won't have to face Kansas City's Alex Rios, missing since April 13 with a left hand fracture. Rios (12-30, 2 HR) is the one hitter on the Royals roster who has given Price trouble throughout his career, while the trio of Hosmer, Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas are a combined 2-for-24. If the Detroit lineup was a little hotter right now, I'd go run line for my free MLB pick, but will just play the Tigers (-140) straight up instead.
Free MLB Picks: Tigers (-137 at Pinnacle)
Season Record: 22-19-2 (+2.70)