Take Royals at Nice Underdog on MLB Odds vs. Orioles

Joe Gavazzi

Friday, October 10, 2014 4:27 PM GMT

Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 4:27 PM GMT

This MLB handicapper is eager to explain why he is so confident in his pick for today's match between the Kansas City Royals & Baltimore Orioles in their battle for the ALCS crown.

Kansas City Royals (Shields) vs. Baltimore Orioles (Tillman) (-130) 8:05 ET TBS
It has been since 1985 that KC has appeared in the World Series.  It has been since that 1983 that Baltimore appeared in the World Series. Yet, each of these teams has arrived at this juncture on solid winning streaks, while using a dichotomous modus operandi.  

The Royals played great ball in the 2nd half of the season, doing everything BUT tracking down Detroit for the Divisional Title.  Since the playoffs began, they have now defeated a far more veteran Oakland team in a 12-inning, come from behind, 9-8 Wild Card victory for the right to face LAA, the team with the best record in MLB.  The shocking 3-0 sweep came by combined scores of 15-6.   The Royals feature solid starting pitching, bullpen, and defense.  The way in which they differ from today’s opponent is their small ball approach.  Ideally suited to their larger home park, the Royals used this philosophy to lead MLB in 153 stolen bases.  Yet, they were able to win on the road as well, as they enter tonight with an away record of 49-34.  That includes a pair of post-season victories in LA.  Today, they enter this series with great momentum with 5 consecutive victories. 

James Shields is known for his big game performances and as being one of the best road pitchers in MLB.  Shields started 2 of those 4 playoff victories for the Royals, including their previous game (an 8-3 win vs. LAA) to close out the series.  Now, Shields is asked to take the ball for yet another big game performance.  True to form in Shields’ 19 road starts, over 124 1/3 IP, he has a 2.97 ERA.  The Royals have won his last 3 starts, where Shields has allowed 9 runs on 16 hits in 17 IP.  Shields has already beaten Baltimore twice this year. 

Baltimore will look to ascend to the World Series, using the long ball philosophy.  The Birds’ 211 homers led MLB.  Baltimore was arguably the hottest team in MLB at the close of the season.  A 2nd half surge allowed them to finish 96-66.  They used that momentum to sweep a playoff savvy Detroit team by combined scores of 21-10.  The Birds now enter on a 4 game win streak with a 99-66 record, the best of any remaining team in MLB. 

Tonight, they send Tillman to the hill.  Before a downer in his last start of the regular season, Baltimore had won 9 straight Tillman starts.  Tillman rebounded in his Game 1 start vs. Detroit, in which Baltimore cruised to a 12-3 victory. It was the 1st post-season start ever for Tillman.  In that contest, Tillman worked 5 IP, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits.  Tillman’s work in the regular season from this mound was outstanding.  In 18 starts, over 113 1/3 IP, Tillman posted a 2.54 ERA.  Concerns come with a history against KC.  In 5 previous starts, spanning 29 IP, Tillman has a 6.21 ERA. 

In conclusion, there is value in the Royals at this underdog price on MLB odds, based on the very similar records of these teams to date.  Major edge comes with the greater experience of Shields, who has proven his mettle repeatedly on the road and as a big game pitcher.  No surprise if Tillman, following his first ever post-season victory, comes a bit flat for this one vs. a team against whom he has struggled. 

Free MLB Pick: Kansas City (+120) at Pinnacle Sports

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