Royals @ Rangers April 21 Free Pick


I was stuck between the Diamondbacks and the over in Wednesday’s write-up. Turns out Jhoulys Chacin throws a gem and beats Greinke, 1-0. Padres and the under. These things happen.

Back to the American League for me, where the Royals visit the Rangers for a four-game set Thursday-Sunday. I write this before Thursday’s game because I’ve got an early eye on Friday already.

Free Pick

Texas is back from an ugly 1-5 road trip. The offense really struggled with the exception of the two games in the middle, the finale in Seattle and the opener in Oakland, when the the Rangers put up seven runs in back-to-back games and made out 1-1. 

Otherwise, all Texas got were four runs in the other four games. Nomar Mazara was a big lift in the first week of the season but now it looks like the offense is starting to feel Adrian Beltre‘s absence in the meat of the lineup, especially when it’s getting zilch from Mike Napoli in the cleanup spot. Beltre will be back in the foreseeable future, but not as soon as this weekend.

Texas will see Nathan Karns, who was acquired for Jarrod Dyson in a trade that the Royals clearly won. He only managed to face six batters in his season/Royals debut against the Twins and gave up four runs but he’s settled in really quickly since.

Karns went 5.2 in Houston the next time out, giving up only a solo home run. Then he got through six complete against the Angels, holding LA to four hits and a single run, again.

He doesn’t punch many guys out (8 in 12 innings this season) but Karns is the rare guy in today’s game that makes a living by keeping hitters off-balance. He’s got good movement on his fastball, an even better changeup and a simple approach. I’d put Karns on my staff any day.

He’ll face Cole Hamels, who is still without a decision despite leaving in line for a win in all three of his starts to this point. Sam Dyson has almost bit Hamels as much as my fantasy team and Texas has ended up losing all three of Hamels’ starts: 9-6, 6-5 and 8-7.

The only two concerns with how Hamels has performed so far are the home runs (he’s allowed one in every game) and the strikeout to walk ratio, which is 11 to 7. But he’s never been a big strikeout guy and knows he must have to rely on inducing more weak contact as he gets older.

It’s a nice little matchup between two tricky, yet simple pitchers who really understand how to approach hitters. Given the Rangers’ offensive struggles, Kansas City’s modest lineup and the two starters we have on the mound, I’m happy to play the under in Texas, which feels cozy.

Free Pick: Under 9.0 (-110)

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