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Astros vs. Royals Pick MLB – July 26th

We got back on track with an easy winner last night as the Reds and Rockies tucked well under the huge 10.5 run total. Johnny Cueto pitched, and pitched fantastically well, holding the Rockies scoreless in eight innings. It was most certainly his final game as a Red and it was an impressive way to go out, holding a powerful lineup in the most run-yielding park in MLB to just three hits.   The funny thing is the start ALMOST didn’t happen (as I warned in my column – be cautious) as a trade with the Royals fell apart JUST before the game was scheduled to start (according to multiple reports). Alas, I’m not sure how many teams had scouts in attendance but you can bet the price for Johnny Beisbol just went up…

But not as much as the price for Cole Hamels. Remember the talk that the trade speculation was having an ill-effect of Cole? Not yesterday. There is a good chance his final chapter authored as a Phillie was one for the ages; a thirteen-strikeout, no-hitter. There haven’t been many bright spots for Philadelphia this season, but yesterday was a nice denouement for the ten-year Philadelphia veteran.

Let’s cap off the weekend with another winner.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Houston Astros -112 vs. Kansas City Royals +102 (Total: 7)

Dallas Kuechel vs. Yodano Ventura

For the record, the other game on my radar today was the Dodgers over the Mets in a pitching gem.  Kyle already has that game covered, so I headed a different direction for the column, but I am also on Greinke and the Dodgers against the light-hitting Mets who probably spend their monthly run allotment in yesterday’s 15-run outburst…

Today in KC is another fun matchup between tantalizing young pitching talents and their respective long-suffering teams looking like they are on their way to the postseason.   Kuechel’s season has been a dream one so far, starting the All Star Game, and entering tonight with a 12-4 record and an ERA of just 2.12. On the opposing mound, is Ventura. A kid with a TON of talent, but a pretty poor season stat line to corroborate his stuff. He enters with a 4-7 record (on the best team in the AL, nonetheless) and a 5.37 ERA. When he puts it together, this guy can be electric. But to this point in 2015, it hasn’t quite clicked.

There doesn’t appear to be a tremendous All-Star hangover for Kuechel. He threw seven shutout innings against the Rangers, allowing just 2 hits and striking out 13 batters.   I expect him to be lazer-sharp again this afternoon in Kansas City.

Meanwhile, Ventura is 1-2 with a 8.15 ERA in his last three starts. The Royals are the superior hitting team, and it isn’t even close. But assuming Kuechel neutralizes that factor, the edge swings back Houston’s direction. They’ve won seven of their last eight against Kansas City and are 6-2 since the All Star Break. I like them to win behind a great performance from Kuechel and to take the rubber match of this possible playoff-preview series.

Free Pick: Houston Astros to WIN -112