In game four of the World Series, look for the Kansas City Royals, on at 1.40, to win at the San Francisco Giants.
There are a number of reasons to favour the Royals in this Saturday contest. The first is the current form of the starting pitchers. Kansas City’s Jason Vargas has been excellent in two post season starts, posting a 2.38 ERA in 11 1/3 innings. Vargas has never pitched at AT&T Park, but the change-up specialist is known as a fly ball pitcher, and the spacious Giants’ outfield should keep anything short of a massive hit in the ballpark. Throw in the fact that the Royals’ boast a speedy and athletic outfield alignment of Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson. The trios should be able to cover a lot of ground if balls are hit toward the outfield gaps, which further protects Vargas and his pitching style.
Ryan Vogelsong, who gets the ball for San Francisco, leaves reason for concern. Historically, he’s been good at home, but in his last playoff start, which was in San Francisco, he was blasted by the St. Louis Cardinals (game four of the National League Championship Series). In that contest, he surrendered seven hits and four runs in just three innings of work. We’ve seen in this post-season that recent form is tending to dictate performance (just ask James Shields). As a result, despite being a historically good October starter, Vogelsong shouldn’t be counted on for a sharp performance.
That said, even if the Giants’ starter does do well, odds are that will mean a close game. If that happens, the Royals very much have the advantage. They are 4-0 in this post-season in one-run contests. In contrast, the Giants, who started well in these playoffs in tight affairs has lost two of their last three under such circumstances. This speaks to the Royals bullpen advantage, which should continue.
Look for the Royals to score first against the Giants.
In large part, this is a bet against Vogelsong. As mentioned, he struggled in his last outing and he struggled early. He surrendered runs in each of the first three innings of that start.
But even looking beyond Vogelsong’s recent woes, a hallmark of the Royals in these playoffs has been their ability to score runs early. While the Giants have done that admirably – they’ve scored at least one run at some point in the first three innings in six of fourteen games – it’s the Royals who have been exceptional in this category. Kansas City has put up runs in the first three frames of a contest nine of eleven times this post-season. Considering they’ll lead off each inning as they’re the visiting, the Royals will get first bite at a run, making them all the more a good pick here.