The Kansas City Royals will emerge victorious when they visit the Oakland A’s on Friday. Royals starter James Shields may have a 2-3 record, but it’s undeserved. He owns a 2.48 ERA, has struck out nearly a batter an inning, and has done an excellent job of avoiding home runs. There is every expectation that a start against Oakland will continue those trends: Oakland hitters have a lifetime .214 batting average against Shields.
Oakland’s Jarrod Parker is a walking warning sign at the moment. After a great 2012 campaign, he’s struggled mightily this year, posting a 6.86 ERA to date. Moreover, he’s been particularly ineffective at home: in four starts at O.co Coliseum he has a 9.61 ERA. Plus, Royals hitters have a robust .316 combined batting average against him. There has been talk that he’ll be demoted from the A’s pitching rotation, but he gets the nod here. As a result, you should give the nod to the Royals, on at 1.75, in this contest.
Cleveland Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez will continue on the road back to respectability when his club hosts the Seattle Mariners. Jimenez was once (briefly) an elite pitcher, going 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA for the Colorado Rockies in 2009. Those were not the sort of numbers you typically see put up by a pitcher who has to throw in Denver’s thin air. But since then he’s struggled mightly, cratering last year with a 9-17 record and a 5.40 ERA. And, yet, there are signs that the ace pitcher of old could be coming back. His velocity has improved as of late and he says he feels more confident about his pitching mechanics than he has in some time. Recent results are positive: in his past three starts he has giving up just three runs in 18 2/3 innings pitched. He’s also struck out 20 in that stretch, which suggests there’s a bit of dominance left in his arm. Mariners hitters have hit just .224 against him lifetime so Jimenez should pitch with confidence.
Seattle starter Brandon Maurer appears to be going in the opposite direction: in his past two starts he’s given up seven runs in nine innings. His overall ERA is 5.97. Opt for the Indians (1.58) to earn the win here.