The Kansas City Royals concluded their short series against the San Francisco Giants with a 2-0 win on Wednesday. The win brings them to 7-7 on the season and ties them up with three other teams in the AL Central. Chicago, KC, and Cleveland are all 7-7, trailing the 8-6 Tigers.
In other words, the division is bunched up at the start of the year, with no clear contender to be had here. Most divisions in baseball are wide open this season, but most of all, I think the AL Central is going to be one to watch.
The Royals will travel to Texas for a weekend series with the Rangers. This will be the first time they link up in 2017. The Rangers mopped the floor with the Royals in 2016, as they beat them six straight times.
To find the last Royals’ win over the Rangers, we have to go all the way back to September 22nd. The Royals will send out a guy to the mound they’re hoping can stay healthy this season.
Danny Duffy is a force when he’s healthy and rolling. The problem with Duffy is that it hasn’t been easy staying healthy. He’s been on the shelf more than he’s been at his office in his five-year career.
Duffy did manage to get 26 starts last season, though, and he did a pretty fine job for the most part. He’ll look to improve on his 3.51 ERA from 2016. Thus far, he’s been on the right track. Let’s get to the Royals vs. Rangers pick for this series opener.
K.C. Royals vs. Texas Rangers Pick
Danny Duffy (2-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Andrew Cashner (0-1, 5.06 ERA)
Duffy has gotten a clean bill of health so far in 20 innings pitched. He’s been performing at a high-level as well. Note that Duffy holds a 1.80 ERA, including a 1.05 WHIP in those three starts. He gave up a run to the Twins, 2 to the Astros, and allowed 1 against the Angels. In two of those starts, Duffy surrendered just 3 hits in each. When he’s in a zone, he can be hard to hit. His first starts of the year could be characterized as being in a zone.
The Rangers will look to Andrew Cashner on Thursday. The long-time San Diego Padre and first-year Ranger, will seek a bounce-back performance after a less than stellar debut here in Texas. The Mariners got to Cashner for 3 runs in 5.1 innings. He spent time between the Padres and Marlins last season, with nothing materializing, splitting a 4.76 ERA and 5.98 ERA.
It’s been downhill for Cashner since earning a 2.55 ERA in 2014. I don’t see it getting any better for him pitching in the American League now. Riding Duffy when he’s playing well is a formula for a cash maker. I see him as a bigger favorite than what he’s getting credited for against Cashner and the Rangers. The Royals are a solid MLB pick for Thursday on the bases.
PICK: ROYALS (-115)