It’s do or die time for the Baltimore Orioles, who travel to Kansas City to take on a Royals team that just swept the mini two-game portion of the ALCS at Camden Yards. Now, facing an 0-2 hole, the Orioles turn to their young left-hander Wei-Yin Chen to win a road game and get back into the series. The Royals oppose Chen with veteran Jeremy Guthrie, who will make his first appearance in these 2014 playoffs. With a pitching matchup that slightly favors Baltimore, the line is a pick’em with a total of 7.5 runs juiced on the over.
While Kansas City’s magical run as a team has certainly been enough of a surprise, something that’s stood out to me in this ALCS has been all of the runs scored. We have a banged up Baltimore lineup and a Royals team that didn’t hit for any sort of power in the regular season combining to score 24 runs in the first two games of this series. It’s been good hitting, and especially lots of aggressive baserunning, but neither bullpen has been nearly as effective as it was during the Divisional Series round. For KC that’s explainable. Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis (though he’s been unhittable) and Greg Holland have been extremely overused as the team continues to win the way it does. Baltimore’s ‘pen doesn’t have quite the same excuse. But it’s not necessarily something I see turning around for either side as this series lengthens.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Guthrie and his mediocre numbers get the first shot at the playoffs this year. In fact, it will be the first time in Guthrie’s career he gets a shot at the postseason. Usually, that type of anecdote would encourage me to back Guthrie. But I’m not sure how deep into the game the 35-year-old from BYU will be able to take his team. He did throw very well in the season’s last month – winning three starts in a row, including a huge seven-inning performance in the last series of the season. But he was more of a five, six-inning guy for Kansas City all season, which means Yost might only trust him for four or five tonight.
Wei-Yin Chen began throwing great in game two of the ALDS against Detroit, but it eventually came undone in a 3.2-inning, five run performance. Chen throws lots of strikes with a good mix of pitches, but none of his stuff is dominant. And, like Guthrie, I’m not sure how many innings he’ll realistically be able to log for his team tonight.
As the total runs line takes a very long time to move even much at all, I think this is an excellent spot to pound the over again. Neither pitcher is dominant and both should give up runs in outings that last five or six innings, maximum. And I just don’t trust the ‘pens to put up all zero’s from there.
Free Pick: Over 7.5 (-115)
YTD: 40-28-3 +7.14