Vargas Stifles Indians for Small Royals Upset: Saturday MLB Picks

Willie Bee

Saturday, August 19, 2017 12:34 PM UTC

Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017 12:34 PM UTC

Starting to drift out of the AL playoff picture, the Kansas City Royals turn to Jason Vargas as a slight underdog on the MLB odds in their home tilt against the Indians.

Thanks to games like last night, the Cleveland Indians have the 2nd-best run differential in the AL and sit on top of the Central Division by 6 games. They’ll try to increase both numbers Saturday and win their 3rd-straight series all the while dropping the Kansas City Royals to .500. Trevor Bauer (11-8, 4.72) gets the call for the Indians opposite Jason Vargas (14-6, 3.45), Cleveland favored around -135 on the MLB odds with 9 for the total.

Jay Bruce slapped a pair of homers to back Corey Kluber and the bullpen in Friday’s 10-1 skate for the Indians, Bookmaker closing the Tribe on a -200 money line. The teams split two earlier series in KC this season, but with the Game 1 decision, Cleveland has now taken nine of the last 12 at Kauffman with totals running 3-5 O/U the last eight.

Vargas With 18-Straight Scoreless Innings vs. Indians
Bauer’s most recent appearance came from the bullpen Thursday night in Minnesota, mopping up a 4-2 setback to the Twins. He only worked to three batters with nine pitches, so shouldn’t be limited tonight because of that. The former UCLA star has some pronounced home/road splits this season, an ERA under 4.00 in Cleveland and over 6.00 elsewhere. Bauer has pitched well at Kauffman, however, owning a 2.84 ERA in five assignments. A June start here was cut short because of rain, and Bauer has limited Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon to a .107 career average (3-29).

Vargas hasn’t been the same pitcher the last couple of months he was April through June. He has allowed six runs in three of his seven assignments to give him an ERA above 7.00, though the Royals sis manage to find a way to win one of those and are 4-3 during the span. A big problem has been the home run ball, Vargas serving up just eight round trippers his first 16 starts and 10 during the last seven. The old Long Beach State standout has tossed 15 scoreless innings against the Tribe this year, both in KC, one of those a complete game shutout and the other a no-decision the Royals’ bullpen wasted in a 3-1 loss.

Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Donning the mask to call balls and strikes this evening should be Marvin Hudson. The 20-year veteran from Georgia started the campaign with ‘over’ tendencies but has since shifted the other direction with seven of his last nine games never reaching the totals to leave him 9-11 O/U on the season. Home ‘dogs have only won once in three tries this year, and tonight is Hudson’s first plate assignment in Kansas City since early-2013.

Clear and warm with barely a breeze is the forecast. My free baseball pick is on Vargas and Kansas City.

My MLB pick: Royals (+125) at 5Dimes

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Season: 63-63-3 (+2.24)

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