The Cards rebounded on Sunday afternoon so that we escape our weekend split with only some spilled juice. Now our sights are set on the last full week of August where we’ll have the last four plays of what’s been, so far, a great month. It’s been even better to the Kansas City Royals, who have plenty of motivation to finish strong, now in the thick of the American League wild card race.
The Royals waited a long time to make their move, but they’re have done work to get back into the playoff chase just in time. KC has won eight straight and 11 of its last 12, which qualifies as “hot” with 38 games remaining on the schedule. They would need a total collapse in Cleveland to have a shot at the division, but they’re just four back in a crowded American League Wild Card with Houston, Detroit, Seattle and Baltimore all in front of them.
Now after a four-game sweep of the Twinkies at home, KC gets back on the road – this time to face an NL foe that has won three in a row of its own. The Marlins are swimming just outside wild card qualification, in third place, despite just sweeping the Pirates at PNC without Giancarlo Stanton. The offense is still dangerous without Stanton, but his presence is obviously absent. Miami managed just three runs in both of the last two wins in Pittsburgh and will almost certainly need more tonight to support Andrew Cashner. I like how Miami has handled Cashner, satisfied to take five solid innings before going to the ‘pen. But it just feels like KC will produce scoring opportunities more often than not these days; and unless it’s Jose Fernandez out there, they’ll probably put up four, five, six, seven runs tonight.
That would give Yordano Ventura a great chance to win. He’ll have to avoid walks, especially to the speed at the top of Miami’s lineup, but Ventura has an opportunity to pitch very well without Stanton’s bat in the middle. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his last eight starts and I fully expect him to be aggressive tonight, going after hitters, which is when he’s at his best. With a small price tag on the road, the Royals look to be a strong buy for number nine in a row. This will be another half unit play.
Gut Says: Royals -103
YTD: 25-22-1 +1.40
2015: 31-25-5 +1.09
2014: 45-28-3 +9.02