We notched our fourth winner of the playoffs, including some plus-money winners (Mets +190 in Game 1) to push the postseason mark to a profitable 4-2. The Astros got four runs in the final five innings to notch a comfortable 4-2 winner over Kansas City to get themselves to just one win away from advancing to the ALCS.
This one will be the first of a full slate of four games today for MLB action, and it is the early starts, 1:07 EST, so make sure to get any picks in accordingly.
Will the Royals stay alive and force a winner-take-all Game Five Wednesday (and force the agonizing hand of Ned Yost to decide if he really wants to give the ball to Cueto) or will youth be served today at Minute Maid Park with another rookie hurler on the hill?
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Let’s dive in to today’s Free Pick:
Kansas City Royals at Houston Astros (Total: 7)
Yordano Ventura vs. Lance McCullers
The Royals fireballing youngster with talent that outpaces his 2015 stats, pitched just two innings, allowing three runs in the series opener. He should be fresh tonight. He was pitching on three days rest in the opener, and we never really got to find out how much he had in the tank since he didn’t come back out to pitch the third inning after a 49-minute rain delay. He should be a full strength tonight, but it’s hard to tell if that means success or simply some high velocity pitches.
Opposing him is rookie Lance McCullers. He had a nice rookie season, posting a 3.22 ERA despite a losing record (6-7). He, like teammate Dallas Kuechel, appears to be a FAR better pitcher at home than he is on the road. He is 4-1 with a 1.86 ERA in ten starts at Minute Maid Park. If he can pitch to that form tonight, Houston could very well be advancing on to the next round (and a possible in-state matchup with division rival Texas).
But I’m still liking the counter-intuitive play of the Royals. Yes, they are 0-4 in Houston. Yes, McCullers has been excellent at home. But I still like the big-game moxie and resiliency of this ball club and think they’ll eek out just enough offense in a tense game to stay alive. McCullers will likely be good, but there is a reason why he has a losing record. In six of his last seven starts he has gotten fewer than three runs of support. I see a tense, low-scoring game again tonight.
I’ll take the value of the underdog Royals. They have been in this spot before and not blinked. I’ll bank on one more heroic stand tonight to force a thrilling Game Five.