Royals at Rangers Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 6/1/2013
It's pretty rare I will lead off an MLB game preview with a hitting coach, but it's not too often a team hires the greatest player in franchise history to turn its fortunes around.
I am talking about the Kansas City Royals and Hall of Famer George Brett. This seems like a last-resort move by General Manager Dayton Moore to save both his job and that of Manager Ned Yost. The latter had this great quote after Tuesday's loss about his struggling team: "What are you asking me to do? Take my belt off and spank them? Yell at them, scream at them?"
Many thought the Royals would finish over .500 for the first time since 2003 this year and even contend for their first playoff spot since they beat the Cardinals in the 1985 World Series. Kansas City started 17-10 but has fallen off a cliff, losing 19 of 24 entering Friday. Brett had one of his best years in '85, batting .335 with a career-high 30 homers to go with 112 RBI. He won three batting titles in his career and finished with 3,154 hits, most for a third baseman. He has served as the Royals’ vice president of baseball operations since retiring in 1993. He has been a volunteer coach at Spring Training.
Brett takes over for Jack Maloof and Andre David, who have been reassigned to the minors. They replaced Kevin Seitzer, whom Yost fired after last season because Kansas City ranked 26th in the majors with 131 homers. Yost wanted more power from his lineup. Uh, not so much. The Royals are ahead of only the Marlins with 29 homers. Eric Hosmer, once considered one of the elite hitting prospects in the game, is regressing power-wise. He had 19 dingers in 2011 as a rookie, 14 last year and one in 2013. Billy Butler hit a career-high 29 last year and has five. Kansas City is hitting a solid .259, eighth in the AL, but is 12th in runs because the Royals don't hit the long ball and don't walk (i.e. only way the Royals get on base is by hit). Mike Moustakas, another former elite prospect, is hitting .184. The only guy doing much is Alex Gordon. The No. 2 overall pick in 2005 is living up to it nowadays, hitting .335 with six homers and 31 RBI entering Friday.
Royals at Rangers Betting Story Lines
Perhaps hiring Brett has worked. Kansas City ended an eight-game losing streak on Thursday night, beating St. Louis 4-2 in a game that ended at 3:14 a.m. local time because of a lengthy weather delay (it was final meeting of season, so umpires chose to wait it out). The Royals actually homered, Jeff Francouer's second of the season.
Maybe seeing a pitcher they never have previously will really wake up the Royals as they face Rangers rookie right-hander Nick Tepesch (3-4, 3.88) on Saturday. He will probably be overly excited as he grew up in Kansas City and went to Missouri. Tepesch had a rough two starts in May but has settled down in the past three, all quality starts. He has allowed five runs and 15 hits over 16.2 innings in that stretch. Texas has lost two of them, however. Not a single Royal has faced Tepesch in the majors. Tepesch is 1-2 with a 3.48 ERA at home.
Kansas City starts James Shields (2-6, 2.96), the team's big offseason acquisition from Tampa Bay for top hitting prospect Wil Myers (who has been a disappointment in Triple-A for the Rays). All you need to know about the Royals' hitting woes is that Shields has just those two wins with an excellent ERA. Shields enters off his worst start of the season, allowing six runs and nine hits in six innings of a loss to St. Louis. He also walked a season-high five. Prior to that, Shields hadn't allowed more than two earned runs in his past five starts. Yet K.C. won just one of those.
Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus is hitting .478 with four extra-base hits in 11 at-bats in his career against Shields. Lance Berkman is 3-for-8 with a two RBI. Adrian Beltre has faced Shields 39 times and has just one homer and 17 strikeouts. Beltre is hitting .394 in his last 17 games entering Friday. Texas was hoping to get back second baseman Ian Kinsler off the DL in this series, but he's going to miss at least another two weeks. That means the Rangers don't have to worry about moving super-prospect Jurickson Profar from Kinsler's spot, although the team swears he will head back to the minors whenever Kinsler returns. I doubt that considering Profar is hitting .370 entering Friday and has hit in six straight. When Profar was first called up, he split his first four games with Leury Garcia. Yeah, that platoon is over.
Texas won the season series in 2012, 5-4. Weirdly, only two of those games were in Arlington, and the Rangers lost both.
Royals at Rangers MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, Texas opened at -118 and Kansas City at +108 with the total at 10. All trends entering Friday: The Royals are 20-29-2 “over/under” (10-16-1 on road) and 25-26 on runline. The Rangers are 21-29-3 O/U (8-14-1 at home) and 27-26 on runline.
Kansas City is 2-6 in its past eight Saturday games. They are 1-6 in their past seven Game 2s of a series. Kansas City is 1-6 in its past seven against right-handed starters. Texas is 4-0 in its past four Saturday games. The Rangers are 1-4 in Tepesch's past five starts. They are 1-5 in their past six home games against teams with a losing record. The under is 10-1 in the Royals' past 11 Saturday games. The under is 4-1 in Shields' past five. The under is 4-0 in Tepesch's past four home starts. The over is 5-1 in the past six in Texas. Kansas City is 3-10 in the past 13 in Arlington.
Royals at Rangers Picks and Betting Predictions
The Royals have scored at least four runs just twice in the past 10 games. I'm sure Brett can only help, but the Royals still only scored three runs in the first eight innings Thursday before a fluky three-run ninth. Still, I think Shields can keep the Rangers somewhat in check. Thus, I'd take Kansas City on the runline, but Texas on the moneyline and the under.
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