Baseball Picks: Indians at Royals Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 9/18/2013
I must admit that when Cleveland Indians ace and all-star Justin Masterson left his Sept. 2 game against Baltimore with what the team called at first sore ribs but then acknowledged was an oblique injury, I didn't believe the Tribe had enough pitching to grab one of the AL's two wild-card spots. What I didn't expect was how lousy Texas and Tampa Bay were going to play since then, and now it appears the Indians have a great shot to reach the playoffs for the first time since losing a seven-game ALCS to Boston in 2007.
Masterson did some tossing Monday at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium and apparently will again Wednesday. He's improving but is unlikely to pitch in a game again the rest of the regular season. With all that time off, the Tribe might have to use him out of the bullpen if they advance to the ALDS, but that's a problem Cleveland would love to worry about. Manager Terry Francona said the team would consider bringing Masterson back as a reliever because he will not be stretched out enough to handle a full workload. Masterson was good for Francona's Red Sox out of the bullpen in 2008.
The Indians entered Tuesday game with the Royals just a half-game behind skidding Texas for that second playoff spot. After facing Kansas City in the series finale on Wednesday, you have to love Cleveland's closing schedule: four vs. Houston, two vs. the White Sox and four at Minnesota. Those are the three worst teams in the AL. Kansas City really needs to sweep this series after winning Monday night as it is 2.5 games out. The Royals' schedule finishes with three vs. Texas -- I likely will preview one of those this weekend -- and then three in Seattle and four at the White Sox. The Royals, however, won't have starter Danny Duffy the rest of the year after he was scratched from Tuesday's start, and that's a big blow. Duffy was 2-0 with a 1.85 ERA in five starts with the Royals this season coming off Tommy John surgery.
There's no division drama this year outside the NL Central, so Bud Selig's second wild-card addition really seems to be working out.
Indians at Royals Betting Story Lines
Cleveland starts rookie Danny Salazar (1-2, 2.66) on Wednesday night. He had a very unique outing last time out by striking out nine White Sox in 3.2 innings to become the first Indians starting pitcher since 1916 to strike out at least nine batters in less than four innings. Salazar is only the fifth starter in the majors in the live ball era to strike out at least nine in fewer than four innings but the second this year, joining the Phillies' Roy Halladay. Salazar has yet to face the Royals but is 0-2 with a 2.35 ERA away from Cleveland in 2013. The hottest Royal by far right now is catcher Salvador Perez, who is hitting .403 with six home runs, 23 RBI and four doubles this month.
Kansas City counters with veteran lefty Bruce Chen (7-3, 3.11). He lasted only 4.1 innings in his last start, allowing six runs and seven hits in 4.1 innings in Detroit. The Tribe had won his previous three outings. Jason Kubel has fared well in his career off Chen, batting .429 with a homer in 14 at-bats. Carlos Santana is at .357 with four RBI in 14 at-bats. Look for Jason Giambi to perhaps get a rare start. He's 6-for-16 with four homers and eight RBI off Chen. Good news for Tribe backers is that streaky Nick Swisher is heating up as he is batting .333 with three homers in the past seven days (entering Tuesday). Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall is also raking over that stretch with a .400 average and two homers.
Indians at Royals MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the Royals opened at -133 and the Indians at +123 with a total of 8. All trends entering Tuesday: Cleveland is 68-76-6 “over/under” (31-40-4 on road) and 76-74 on the runline. Kansas City is 58-85-8 O/U (30-41-5 at home) and 78-72 on the runline.
The Indians are 11-4 in their past 15 road games against a lefty starter. They are 5-15 in their past 20 against teams with a winning record. The Royals are 4-0 in Chen's past four starts in a Game 3. They are 6-0 in their past six Wednesday starts. The under is 6-0 in Salazar's past six starts. The over is 8-2 in Cleveland's past 10 Wednesday games. The under is 5-1-1 in the Royals' past seven against a righty starter. The under is 6-1-1 in Chen's past eight at home.
Baseball Predictions: Indians at Royals Betting Picks
Kansas City is an excellent 36-22 since the break, and I'm happy the fans there get to watch important baseball for the first time in years. Yet K.C. is 26th in attendance, which is a shame. That's still better than Cleveland, which is 28th. It's hard to say how the rookie Salazar will fare in the biggest game of his pro career to date, while Chen has been around the block. Take the Royals, who have dominated the Tribe in KC of late, and the over.
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