Ervin Santana makes his debut for the Minnesota Twins Sunday afternoon as they visit the Kansas City Royals. As usual, the Twins are on the wrong side of the baseball odds.
Jason's 2015 record as of July 3: 28-22, plus-5.84 units ML; 0-3, minus-3.30 units Total
Things don't always go right for us here at the home office, but this time, they did. We faded the Kansas City Royals in Saturday's matchup with the Minnesota Twins (+144 away), and praise Jorbus, the Twins won 5-3. We even did you a solid for your fantasy team, as Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe went 3-for-4 with a run and a ribbie. It was a good day.
Looks like we might be doubling up on the Twins with our MLB picks. They'll send Ervin Santana to the hill Sunday afternoon (2:10 p.m. ET) for his season debut; Santana signed a four-year deal with Minnesota during the offseason, but had to miss the first 80 games of the 2015 campaign after testing positive for stanozolol. Hey, it worked for Ben Johnson.
Kansas City responds with Danny Duffy (4.17 FIP), who didn't get the job done for us last time around. The Royals are –132 home faves on the MLB odds board as we go to press.
Santana has had his ups and downs since joining the big leagues in 2005. He made the AL All-Star team in 2008 as a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Los Angeles, pitched a no-hitter for the Halos three years later, then had a pair of strong seasons with the Royals (3.93 FIP) and the Atlanta Braves (3.39 FIP) before signing with the Twins last December. Santana was good for a career-high 8.22 strikeouts per nine innings last year with Atlanta; he threw his change-up about twice as often as usual, to good effect, and Santana's fastball still has some zip on it.
Our main concern for Sunday is whether Santana will be good to go right out of the box. He pitched three games at AAA-Rochester and looked solid, although his 4.09 FIP over 20.2 innings doesn't exactly leap off the page. Our other concern is how reliant Santana was on PEDs. He insisted at the time of his suspension that he didn't know how the steroids got into his body. Should we take him at his word? Hell no. We'll just have to take a leap of faith if we're going to put the Twins in our baseball picks.
Duffman Says a Lot of Things
Maybe Duffy could use some of whatever's in that bottle. He gave up four runs to the Houston Astros last Tuesday in 6.2 innings of work, but hey, at least Duffy managed to go more than six innings. That was still Kansas City's fourth loss in his last five starts. The Royals are now 5-5 behind Duffy for a deficit of 0.86 units.
There's probably some value in that arm somewhere, but with the Royals carrying chalk into Sunday's contest, this doesn't look like a good time to roll the dice on Duffy. Minnesota has already taken two of the first three games in this series; Joe Mauer hit a two-run homer in the first inning of Saturday's game, and now owns a .891 career OPS at Kaufmann Stadium. Having said that, Duffy has a lifetime .544 OPS allowed versus the Twins. Hmmm.
Santana's .760 career OPS allowed against Kansas City looks a little more promising from a fantasy standpoint. As usual, the trick is finding someone who's available on this popular Royals team. Your best shot might be with SS Alcides Escobar (.670 OPS), who's 60% owned in Yahoo leagues; Escobar is 5-for-14 lifetime against Santana with a .866 OPS. Not bad. As for our baseball picks, we're going to have to stick with the Twins as live underdogs in this matchup. May the sphere be with you.
Free MLB Pick: Take the Twins +131 at 5Dimes