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July 30th 2014 - Posted at 4:00 PM ET

Take Kansas City Royals (-145) on the Money Line against Minnesota Twins risking 2%
(Duffy and Hughes must start)

The opener of this series didn't work out as planned for the Royals since they failed to get going with the bat and wasted what was another good outing by James Shields. They hope that Game 2 plays out differently and there are several reasons why we believe it will. 

The Royals will send Danny Duffy to the mound tonight. On the season he is 5-10 but his ERA is right under 2.50! The lefty has been incredibly impressive and it would be a mistake to judge him by his win/loss record alone since that is not an accurate representation. He is performing with supreme confidence and in his last start, he pitched an absolute gem going 7 strong innings and giving up just 2 hits and no earned runs! That performance was however masked due to the fact that the opposing pitcher had thrown a no-hitter through 6 innings. The fact is that Duffy has given up just 2 earned runs in his last 19 innings pitched and has struck out 15 batters during that span but somehow has only 2 losses to show for it due to the lack of run support provided by his teammates. This is a prime example of how a pitcher is much better than his overall record currently suggests and why there is value in backing him. Twins outfielder Josh Willingham is hitless against Duffy in 11 career at-bats with a walk and three strikeouts. 

On the other hand the Twins will send out Phil Hughes who has an impressive 7-2 record on the road through 10 starts this season. The problem with this however is that Hughes' road record and ERA is nowhere near his overall ERA or close to his career averages. This season, Hughes is playing somewhat over his head and is due to regress. We have already seen the beginning part of his regression in his last road start when he gave up 10 hits and 5 earned runs against the struggling Colorado Rockies. Hughes has now given up 25 hits and 12 earned runs in his last 15 innings of work. At this point in the season and after 131 innings of work, workload and injuries may be taking a toll on his arm and we could see some regression on the road tonight. Hughes also left his last start after 3 short innings after being hit in the shin by a line drive. 

The Minnesota Twins are just about out of contention for post-season play but much like our previous bets on the Mets and Marlins; the Royals are a team that need to make something happen now as opposed to later if they want to make the playoffs. The Royals need to start a winning streak to either catch Detroit who they currently chase by 5 games or to grab a Wild Card spot for which there is massive competition. This is a winnable game for Ned Yost's team and they need to start that streak tonight. Duffy has been stellar on the mound and should be able to navigate through an inconsistent Twins lineup. The Royal bats were silent last night but we expect them to wake up tonight and back their consistent starting pitcher who is likely to once again give them quality innings. 

The Royals also boast one of the top closers in the league in Greg Holland. This team is built for games that are played at a more methodical pace and that are fairly low scoring. The oddsmakers have moved this total from 8 to 7 runs so you can believe that they are expecting a fairly tight low scoring affair which plays right into the home team's wheelhouse. We expect the Royals to bounce back with a much more inspired effort and even the series against their divisional opponents. The movement in the odds has opened up value on the home team and we believe they get the win tonight. 

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Royals lead the American League with 85 stolen bases!
  • Twins allow the highest percentage of stolen bases in the American league! (Nearly 84%) 
  • Twins are just 11-22 in their last 33 games against the Royals.
  • The Twins are 0-10 since 2011 as a 140+ dog after scoring 3 runs or less but winning the previous game.

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