The Kansas City Royals continue their best season in a very long time on Tuesday for the second game of a seven game road trip to end the season against the Mariners. KC sits on the outside looking in on a crowded American League Wildcard race. No matter how Kansas City’s season ends, it will be considered a step forward and the Royals fans will certainly applaud the valiant effort. The Royals find themselves in a bit of a tough one Tuesday with an emerging stud James Paxton taking the mound at Safeco Field against Bruce Chen. The M’s open as +115 ‘dogs with a total of 7.5.
Many will skim over this matchup and assume a motivated (and pretty darn good) Royals team rolls over the sub-par Mariners even in Seattle but I really don’t see that being the case here and the biggest reason why is 24-year-old James Paxton. The 6’4″ 22o lb. left-hander from Canada was drafted in the fourth round in 2010 and he has impressed in a tiny sample size to begin his MLB career. Paxton has made just three starts since he was called up the the big club in September but he has pitched well in all three – accruing a 1.06 WHIP and 2.12 ERA in those three starts. The lineups he has accomplished this against is the most impressive part, however. Paxton began his Major League career at home against Tampa Bay before going on the road to face the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers. The Rays were scuffling when Paxton got them to begin his career but going on the road against St. Louis and Detroit is mighty impressive from a rookie. The bottom line is that all three teams are three favorites to win in all in October and Paxton has stymied all three to some extent. He’ll get his fourth shot against the weakest lineup he will face in his young career on Tuesday and I look for Kansas City to struggle early against the relatively unknown Paxton.
The Royals don’t need to score many to win a ballgame with this year’s pitching staff and it’s been the case lately. Kansas City has surrendered just six runs in its last four games and will send Bruce Chen to oppose Paxton. Chen has had a sparkling year but has slowed down his torrid pace lately. That really isn’t saying much, however. Chen has still held opponents to either one or two runs in four of his last five starts but he hasn’t been going as deep into ballgames lately. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for Kansas City, which still has the best bullpen in the American League by both WHIP and ERA. Only the Atlanta Braves rival them in those two categories over in the National League. Chen may not take the ball into the seventh or eighth but don’t expect Seattle, of all teams, to jump all over Chen Tuesday night. Ned Yost should expect Chen to give him yet another quality start on the road.
Runs should be hard to come by in this one. Both bullpens could see action in the sixth inning but it probably won’t be a result of lackluster starting pitching. Look for two quality starts from the opposing lefties to keep this one under in the first five innings. Be cautious and play this one for half a normal play, however.
2013 MLB: 26-17-3 +9.63