We did it. If you’ve been following along, we’re through another full grind of the 162-game baseball season. And we did it all while even picking up some cash. 7.81 units to be exact, which isn’t a bad haul for a MLB season all things considered. If you’re playing one unit to be one percent, which is conservative if anything, that’s about what you can expect out of an annual return in a long-term play on the stock market. So cheers to that!
But now things get even tougher in the playoffs, where the best teams face off with their best lineups and bettors face the toughest of numbers. I’m going to begin by saying that every play I make in October will be half a unit unless I note otherwise. I’ll continue to make my plays here throughout October because I love playoff baseball and still think we can beat the market. But I’m not nearly as confident in beating it as I am during an entire regular season. Nonetheless, the show goes on! And we’re going out to Kansas City for the final play of September, where Royals fans are partying like it’s 1985.
The playoffs start on the final day of September where the Oakland A’s meet the Kansas City Royals, who are hosting their first playoff game since the 1985 World Series. This isn’t the World Series, but it might be the next best thing: a single game to determine who moves on to play in October. But as if we needed anymore, Jon Lester will take on James Shields in what will be the first of many great pitching matchups we’ll get the chance to see in the next month.
The Royals’ ace has been as solid as any team can ask their horse to be down the stretch of what’s been a draining – yet exhilarating – playoff chase. Shields has given up more than three runs in just one start after July 1. He’s won six times since then and taken his ERA down more than seven tenths of a run. He also has playoff experience with his time leading the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays to their only World Series appearance. But Shields has given up three runs in each of his last three starts and I worry if that will be enough to beat Jon Lester, who has been spectacular.
Plain and simple, if James Shields gives up three runs in six inning on Tuesday, it almost definitely won’t be enough to top the Athletics’ ace. Lester has dominated competition all year – whether in Boston or Oakland – and he should have little trouble with a Kansas City offense that possesses little firepower. The Royals finished last in the league in both walks and home runs – two ways to get to Lester. KC did finish at the top in stolen bases, but Lester’s handedness should go a long way to slow down the home team. I just don’t see how Kansas City will manage to score more than a run or two, if that, against the lefty. And even if they do, will that be enough? Oakland has put a lot into this season and sacrificed a lot of the future to try and create a World Series winner in 2014. It starts on Tuesday and I think the Lester investment will be enough to get them through to the ALDS.
Free Pick: Oakland (-115)
YTD: 39-26-3 +7.81