The Detroit Tigers have burned me on a couple of different occasions to begin the month and a three-game losing streak to get August rolling makes the next few plays pivotal to salvage some bankroll. You will not win every month, but the moment that you start losing track of the season divided up into smaller segments and start blurring everything together is when you have lost as a handicapper. Whether it’s weeks or months, it’s typically smart to break a season, and years, up into smaller sections and focus on winning as many of those as possible. We’re sitting here 0-3 in August so the goal quickly shifts to getting out 5-5 with the standard 10 plays. The first step is winning Thursday when we got out to Kansas City for a play involving the A’s and the Royals.
The Royals have been the hottest team in baseball and their recent 9-1 stretch has earned them a new title: “the leaders of the AL Central.” Meanwhile, Oakland keeps cruising along. And they haven’t showed much to think they’ll trip up down the stretch, even though the Angels are very much within striking range. Each team throws an ace tomorrow in a game that opened as a pick before steam has made KC a small favorite. Jeff Samardzija and James Shields go at each other in a matchup of day baseball.
I’m keen on the under in this game because there are still a fair number of shops offering the hook with a total of 7.5. Jeff Samardzija has been throwing terrific baseball all season and that didn’t change a bit when he went over to Oakland. The only difference now is that he’s winning (he’s up to five W’s on the season!). On the other side, James Shields comes off his first shutout of 2014 and his finest outing of the season to date with a four-hit gem to beat San Francisco. I always have some concern backing a pitcher after a complete game because of possible fatigue, but with Shields I really expect him to continue zoning in on the playoffs that he so badly wants to get back to. He’s a big-game pitcher who figures to have a big impact for Kansas City in these last five, six weeks.
The icing is that each pitcher loves throwing during the day. Both Samardzija and Shields have thrown close to half their innings during the day this season. And each hurler has a noticeably better ERA. Samardzjia sees a drop of nearly a third of a run per nine innings, while Shields’ ERA plummets by just less than 1.40. All of these games are huge now and these two aces will go at it in a game where the total should be a flat 7.0.
Free Pick: Oakland/Kansas City Under 7.5 (-125)
YTD: 28-22-2 +1.56