The Kansas City Royals will pick up a much needed victory in Minnesota against the Twins. Royals starter James Shields has been a road warrior all season. He is 4-3 with a 2.50 ERA in away games (as opposed to 1-4 with a 3.76 ERA at home). Throughout his career, he’s thrown reasonably well at Target Field (2-1 with a 3.91 ERA) and he’s in good form: over his past two games, Shields owns a 1.93 ERA.
The Royals’ cause is aided by the fact they’ll be facing Scott Diamond. Overall, Diamond has a limp 5.26 ERA, but even more troubling is the fact that Royals hitters have a great history against him. In 63 career plate appearances, Kansas City batters have registered a .368 batting average against the Minnesota starter. Also, Diamond has been a horror at home. This year he’s 2-6 with a 6.06 ERA there. All signs point to a Kansas City triumph. Take the Royals at 1.68.
Two pitchers who have illustrious careers but are suffering through terrible seasons will square off in Philadelphia, where the Phillies host the San Francisco Giants. Phillies starter Cole Hamels is a three-time All Star who is a former World Series MVP. This season he’s 4-13 with a 4.09 ERA. Giants pitcher Matt Cain is also a three-time All Star who has finished in the top-10 in Cy Young Award voting three times. But this year he’s 6-6 with a 4.79 ERA.
So who bounces back in this contest? I’m going with Hamels based on recent performances. In the month of July, the left-hander was 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA. In contrast, Cain didn’t show similar bounce-back over the last month, registering a 1-2 record with an 8.40 ERA. Both line-ups have been sub-par offensively (the Giants are 12th out of 15 National League teams; the Phillies are 13th). But Philadelphia has swung the bat solidly at home, posting a team .731 OPS (which is on base percentage plus slugging percentage) compared to .685 on the road. As for the Giants’ hitters, they just keep getting worse. July was the club’s worst hitting month of the season based on pretty much every major statistical category. Go with the Phillies, on at 1.78, to win.