Close calls have been burning us (and you) when it comes to our MLB picks lately. The two most obvious whiffs was an upset last week where the Cardinals blew a 2-run lead at Wrigley Field, while last night the Yanks and Red Sox gave us a push at 9 total runs.
The bad beats will end eventually and hopefully a few games on Wednesday’s big MLB slate can help us get back on track. A third installment of Kansas City’s series with the visiting Houston Astros as Kauffman Stadium could do the trick, as we get a potential pitcher’s duel in a park that doesn’t promote a ton of power.
That isn’t really what we’ve gotten out of this series to this point, of course. Kansas City shocked with a 9-7 win in an explosive outing on Tuesday night, while Houston held firm in a 7-3 win to get this series going on Monday. Tuesday’s game is obviously the more interesting one to dissect, as young pitcher David Paulino gave up three runs to get KC’s scoring going early, while Jake Junis got absolutely blasted (7 runs) and was responsible for all of Houston’s damage.
While last night’s game was a ton of fun and we need to consider the possibility of that happening again, odds are we’re attacking this game in one of two ways; an Astros win or the pitching playing into the Under. Let’s take a closer look at this game and see how we should target it:
Houston Astros (-163) @ Kansas City Royals (+153) Total: 8.5
Dallas Keuchel (9-0, 1.67 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (7-3, 2.08 ERA)
I don’t see a ton of evidence to support chasing after the Royals here. They’re at home and they did pull off a crazy win last night, but Keuchel has yet to lose and the Astros are the hottest team in baseball. Betting on Houston being held in check is a mild reach, but betting on this Astros team blowing this matchup and dropping a second straight game in KC feels even dicier.
This is a great matchup for Keuchel, who sports an unblemished record and is in top form, having allowed three total runs over his last four starts. Keuchel tends to be a lot more reliable at home, but he’s also posted a 2.20 ERA on the road this year. A staggering .199 batting average allowed away from home is about all you can ask for, too. The history is good for Keuchel here, too, as the 29-year old lefty destroyed the Royals earlier this year (4 Ks, 2 hits, 1 run) and owns a respectable 3.33 ERA against them in four starts over the last three years.
The numbers back up the support of Keuchel, too, as KC lacks power as a unit, specifically ranking just 20th in home runs against southpaws. The hitting is even worse, as the Royals are the 27th best team in the majors at connecting on left-handed pitching.
On the other side we have the surprisingly stable Jason Vargas, who continues to career in his age-34 season. Vargas gives up a lot of contact and is touch and go with his strikeouts numbers, but he knows how to manage games. Vargas has a whopping five shutouts on the season and has given up more than three runs just once all year. None of that means he’s going to come out and ice the Astros, but Vargas spins his best ball at Kauffman Stadium (1.59 ERA at home) and tends to do a solid job at limiting the long ball. His ballpark helps that plight, too, which could help minimize a stacked Astros team that mashes lefties (or anyone) on the year.
The matchup isn’t amazing for Vargas and he’s not going to completely wreck the Astros. Still, the combination of these two arms, the park and how they deal is what is enticing. On top of that, Vegas is giving us an inflated Total (8.5). I like the Astros to get Keuchel his 10th straight win, but the real play has to be the Under. The pitching is too good, the Royals offense isn’t good enough and the park provides too much help. Confidence – 4/5.