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June 16th 2014 - Posted at 11:00 AM ET

There are two picks today.


#1: Take the UNDER 2.5 Goals Total (+120) in Germany vs. Portugal risking 2% 
 

#2: Take Kansas City Royals as underdogs on the Money Line (+132) against Detroit Tigers risking 2%
(Vargas and Verlander must start)

The Kansas City Royals are currently one of the hottest teams in the entire league, riding a 7-game winning streak! Prior to the start of the season, Kansas City was expected to contend for the division title but although their early season struggles dampened some enthusiasm, they are finally starting to play like the team many expected this season.

The reason for the Royals turnaround hasn't been because of a single factor, they are receiving contributions from everyone, from the pitching staff to the bats in the lineup. It has been an all-around team effort. The pitching staff has allowed just three or less runs in six of their last nine games. The Royals' collective ERA is 3.68 thus far this season which is good for 13th best in the league. Offensively, the Royals have improved as well, including Eric Hosmer, who has 10 RBI in his last nine games! Kansas City has also been getting off to fast starts recently, gaining early leads in ball games which has helped allowed them to settle in rather than having to rally late in the game. 

The Royals will turn the ball over to Jason Vargas (6-2, 3.30 ERA) tonight. Vargas is coming off a solid start against the Cleveland Indians his last time out where he went 7.2 innings giving up only three runs and striking out five without walking a single batter. Vargas is no stranger to facing the Tigers this season as this will be his third start against them! Vargas struggled against this Tigers lineup in his last start against back in early May so this is the perfect opportunity to redeem himself. We've often seem pitchers struggle against a lineup only to come back and pitch a gem of a game; that's what we're expecting from Vargas tonight. He has been extremely solid on the road going 2-0 with a 1.60 ERA in 6 starts away from home this season which is good for 5th in the league!

The Tigers will counter with Justin Verlander (6-6, 4.61 ERA) tonight. Verlander is having an unusual and disappointing year with his highest ERA in six seasons and it gets worse as he is just 1-4 in his last five outings with a 7.39 ERA! He was rocked in his last start at Chicago losing 8-2 to the White Sox when he gave up a season-high 7 runs in just about 5 innings of work! There is no question that Verlander has been struggling and is no where near his former CY Young winning self. His mechanics are off and his velocity has not been there this season. His strikeouts are also down and his confidence has been shaken as a result. In a sense, Verlander has become "hittable". While he's a big name pitcher and his reputation precedes him, given how he has struggled recently, we don't believe he's worth this high of a price tag at this point in time. 

Kansas City hitters Billy Butler and Salvador Perez have also had quite a bit of success against Verlander in their careers. Butler is hitting .432 lifetime and Perez is 12 for 27 with seven doubles and a home run against Verlander. Perez is the hottest of the KC hitters at the moment, riding a nine-game hitting streak going 13 for 34. On Sunday, he went two for three with a three-run homer against the White Sox. 

The Royals are playing some of their best baseball of the season and have been piling up the hits (and runs) against pitchers who have been having a statistically "better" season than Verlander. Detroit has had a lot of success against the Royals in the past so you can expect Ned Yost to do everything he can to change that. The Tigers currently own just a 1.5 game lead over the Royals, which makes this series extremely important! KC would like to gain revenge and we believe it starts with a win in Game 1. There is value on Royals as +132 underdogs in this contest.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Kansas City is 4-1 in Vargas' last 5 starts when it is the first game of a series. 
  • Kansas City is 13-4 in road games with an on base percentage of .310 or less over their last 20 games. 
  • Justin Verlander is 9-21 versus American League teams scoring 4.7 or less runs/game on the season over the last 2 seasons!
  • Justin Verlander 5-9 at home when the total is 8 to 8.5 over the last 2 seasons.



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