The record stays still after the Wade Miley scratch a couple of days ago. And we’re onto Kansas City, where the new AL Central Division-leading Royals return home after a successful series in Detroit. Kansas City’s 10-game winning streak was snapped with a tough 2-1 loss on Thursday, but they’ll have their ace James Shields on the hill for their return home against one of the more overlooked pitchers in the American League. Hisashi Iwakuma opposes shields for the Mariners, who are in the thick of their own divisional race too. The Royals are slight home favorites with a total of 7.5 with the juice on the under, or 7.0 with the shorter odds going over.
People aren’t quick to recall the third place finisher in the AL Cy Young award last season. But that would be Seattle right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma. The tall, lanky, 33-year-old from Japan put together a tremendous season last year and is having every bit as good of one this year after starting the year on the shelf with an injury. Iwakuma has a WHIP of just 0.94 and continues to pour in quality start after quality start. He’s coming off of an eight inning and one-run masterpiece against the Texas Rangers in his last outing and I expect another seven innings from ‘Kuma Friday. Iwakuma has faced Kansas City once this year already back in May and fired eight scoreless where he allowed just four hits and not a single walk. He’s about as sure a bet as there is in the game right now.
Then there’s James Shields, who is just having another one of his ho-hum spectacular seasons once again. He’s 8-3 with a WHIP of just 1.29 and has thrown back-to-back quality starts after three straight out of the ordinary starts where he gave up at least four runs. You’ve got to believe Shields will be fired up to continue pitching for a front-running team and he should navigate Seattle’s very average lineup fairly easily on Friday. That said, look out for Robinson Cano who is hitting 32-81 against Shields in his career. That’s good enough for a .395 batting average.
With two fantastic starters and two of the best bullpens in baseball, I’m keen on this under. The hook will be worth the extra juice so shop around for a 7.5. And buy the half run if you can’t purchase it straight away.
Free Pick: Under 7.5 (-120)
YTD: 22-16-1 +3.28