In the decisive game seven of the World Series, take the Kansas City Royals - on at 1.70 - to win at home against the San Francisco Giants
For just the sixth time in the past twenty-six World Series, we’ll have a winner-take-all game seven to determine baseball’s champion. And, if you look at the weight of history, you’ve got to believe the Royals will win that decisive Wednesday matchup.
Before getting to the specifics of the starting pitchers or things like momentum, you must first consider just how much home teams have dominated the back end of the World Series. Since 1982, the home team has won 23 games against a mere three losses in games six and seven combined (that includes the Royals win last night). In fact, no home team has lost a game seven in thirty-five years. Obviously, those games involved different players with different story lines, but when you have a sample size that big, it certainly suggests something.
Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty of these two teams. Beyond the advantage of simply playing at home in front of a partisan crowd, the return to Kansas City also means the Designated Hitter rule is in effect (something that isn’t used when they played in the Giants’ National League park). This means the Royals have Billy Butler in their lineup again, which is a big advantage both in terms of performance (he’s hit .364 in the World Series) and simple comfort level (the team will be playing with the makeup its most used to during their 162-game regular season. In contrast, the Giants have shoehorned Mike Morse into that role and he has a .231 batting average in this series and are playing under the rules they are not accustomed to competing under.
The Royals also have Jeremy Guthrie on the pitchers’ mound. The right-hander has been very solid this post-season, owning a 2.70 ERA in two starts. And, keep in mind, Guthrie playoff work is just continuing the strong effort he posted to finish off the season. In his final five starts of the regular season, the pitcher was 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA.
Beyond Guthrie, you also have to give the edge to the Royals bullpen. Kansas City’s big three relievers – Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland are all rested – and would be expected to be able to close out even the smallest of leads if handed one by Guthrie.
As for Giants’ starter Tim Hudson, the man certainly bring a wealth of experience to this game. He’s been to the post-season in seven different campaigns. That said, 2014 is his first shot at pitching in a World Series. In his opening effort at this opportunity, he was hit for three runs in 5 2/3 innings. It wasn’t a bad performance, but considering he gave up four runs in 6 1/3 in his one start in the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, he is not coming into this in top form. Moreover, at the old age – in baseball terms – of 38, he’s pitching later in the season than he ever has in his career. As a result, overall fatigue must be a concern.
Look for the Royals to score first in this game; take it at 2.08
Kansas City scored off Hudson in the first inning of game three of this series and, this year, Hudson, had a so-so 4.06 ERA in the first frame of his 31 starts. Considering that the Royals are coming off a ten run outburst in game six, there’s good reason to believe they’ll continue their hot streak right at the start of this contest.
Still, be warned: Guthrie did have a 5.06 ERA in the first inning of games during the regular season. This bet is predicated on him navigating that frame like he did in his other outing in this series, when he held the Giants to no runs until the sixth inning.