In Kansas City, expect the Royals and the Baltimore Orioles to combine for more than 7.5 runs in game three of their American League Championships Series; take it at 1.87.
There have been many good pitching match-ups this post-season that have nonetheless ended in a barrage of runs (just think back to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright facing off in a National League Division Series game that ended in a bloated 10-9 score). So when one of the weaker starting pitching combinations get the assignment here in this series on Monday, expect the offences to have a huge advantage.
Royals’ starter Jeremy Guthrie will be making his first post-season start. If that wasn’t enough pressure on the man, consider his pretty mediocre regular season. Guthrie posted a 4.13 season-long ERA. During the 2014 campaign he was actually a tick worse at home (4.25 ERA) than on the road (4.01), which augurs bad here, and his work against good teams (those with winning percentages above .500) was dismal. In seventeen games against winners, he possessed a 5.71 ERA (all his good work came against losers, against whom he owned a 2.61 ERA in fifteen starts).
Wei-Yin Chen, who gets the ball for the Orioles, was better overall this year than Guthrie (3.54 ERA). And, while he put up good numbers in two starts versus the Kansas City Royals during the regular campaign (2.19 ERA over 12 1/3 innings), the post-season is driven far more by recent performance – and in Chen’s case that’s not good news. In his one start in the playoffs thus far, he was monumentally shaky. Against the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS, he was slammed for seven hits and five runs in 3 2/3 innings.
Take the Royals, on at 1.90, to win at home in this ALDS contest against the Orioles.
As discussed in my last column on this series, the Royals are just playing like a team destined for a spot in the World Series. They’ve won four extra-inning games this post-season, which is a record. And they’ve just swept two games from the Orioles on the road in Baltimore. The second of those contests didn’t go extra innings, but Kansas City calmly broke a 4-4 tie in the ninth inning to win 6-4. Quite simply, they’re playing with swagger.
My feeling about this club is that until their unwavering confidence in themselves is broken, the Royals are the team to pick.