Winners of three straight, the Kansas City Royals travel to Chicago for a three-game set with the lowly White Sox. The Royals look to make a postseason push riding the wave from a strong close to their last series against Baltimore. KC trots James Shields to the mound against tough lefty Jose Quintana. The Royals open as small -113 favorites with a total of 8.
It doesn’t appear like there should be much offense in this one at all.
James Shields lives for this time of year, as this has been the time to back Shields over his impressive career. The right-hander loves to take the ball in big games with his team making a run for October. Shields struggled a little bit in his last start against these White Sox – giving up four earned in five innings. It doesn’t mean there should be much cause for concern. The White Sox hit just .261 as a team career against Shields and he should be ready to dominate after a frustrating outing out against the Sox last time. Chicago’s entire roster finds itself in limbo amongst trade rumors and a determined end to what has been a failure of a 2013 season. Don’t expect guys like Rios or Adam Dunn to be particularly engaged or motivated to scrap against Shields, who will have a field day against an inferior lineup.
He will have to be good going up against Jose Quintana in his own ballpark. Quintana has been a rare bright spot for the White Sox this season, posting a 3.61 ERA with a 1.22 WHIP over nearly 120 innings. Quintana has been just about as good at home as he has been on the road this season but he will face many key lefties throughout the Royals’ lineup. Quintana actually struggles against left-handers but it doesn’t necessarily mean the southpaw has a bad matchup. Hosmer, Gordon, Moustakas and company all produce at a lower rate against left-handers, which means Kansas City could be in some trouble finding a way to score runs on Friday night. Quintana wasn’t incredibly sharp his last time out against KC (5.1 innings pitched, 2 earned runs) but the Royals hit just over .260 as a team against Quintana career. Look for the young White Sox pitcher to throw well early in the game and pitch into at least the fifth or sixth inning.
This game should be good in the early stages. I expect the difference to be the later innings. Where Shields will almost certainly go into the sixth or seventh inning and then hand the ball to a reliable bullpen, Quintana may not be so fortunate. Don’t be shocked to see Quintana’s innings limited and struggle to pitch late into the game like he can at times. Chicago hasn’t been strong in the ‘pen all year so I expect the Royals to take this game in the later innings. The under poses some nice value in what should be a pitcher’s duel. I back either play.
Free Pick: Kansas City/Chicago Under 8 -120