After a seemingly long two-day hiatus with no baseball, the playoffs resume tonight with the commencing of the American League Championship Series. It bums me out that MLB is so beholden to TV schedules that they go dark for several days just to adhere to a predetermined scheduled as you can FEEL the interest waning nationally after some great momentum from a pair of simply compelling NLDS series.
Hopefully the excitement and interest will pick back up, because there are a pair of fantastic series to enjoy. Let’s break down the ALCS, as well as start the series off with a winning pick tonight.
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American League Championship Series – Kansas City Royals vs. Baltimore Orioles
Statistically speaking, the Orioles starting rotation is the worst of the eight playoff teams this year with the 8th highest strikeout rate, 6th highest walk rate, and the 6th highest home run rate. If you are into advanced stats, that translates into a 4.18 FIP which is the worst of any starting pitching staff since the 2006 Cardinals. Of course, those Cardinals won the World Series in five games.
Offensively, these teams are literally polar opposites. The Orioles were first in homeruns and last in steals. The Royals were last in homeruns and we all know they steal bases and run like no other team in the league.
This is a pretty even series defensively, as many metrics have them ranked as the top two teams in the AL (though I give the Royals the edge now that Machado is out at third) and both bullpens are serviceable. I’ll give the slight series edge to the Orioles because of two factors; first, they are very good stopping the running game and secondly, who would you rather have at the controls? Buck Shoewalter or Ned Yost?
Exactly. I’ll take the Orioles in this series but I wouldn’t pay a huge price for the series. I’ve seen it around -130 to -140, that seems about right.
Today’s Free Pick – ALCS Game One
Kansas City Royals +120 at Baltimore Orioles -130 (Total: 7)
James Shields vs. Chris Tillman
I’ve written before about the slightly inaccurate moniker of “Big Game” James. He pitched well enough to get the win in Game Three of the ALDS clincher, but the three postseason starts before that were brutal. Meanwhile Chris Tillman looked sharp earning the Game One win against Scherzer and the Tigers.
The series of contrasting styles kicks off tonight with a pretty even pitching matchup. And I like the offenses to have a slight edge. Shields has been susceptible to the postseason long ball, and the Orioles hit them like no other team in the league. I like the Orioles to tack at least one on the board tonight if not more. Meanwhile, Tillman has been good but not dominant. Look for the Royals to take advantage of the Orioles tendency to allow a few walks to lead to KC generating a few runs.
A lot of the money has come in on the UNDER, but I’m going against the herd tonight and taking the OVER 7.