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June 27th 2014 - Posted at 11:00 AM ET

There are 2 MLB picks today. 

The knockout round of the FIFA World Cup starts tomorrow!

#1: Take LA Angels (+100) on the Money Line against Kansas City Royals risking 2% 
(Shoemaker and Vargas must start)

The Kansas City Royals and the Los Angeles Angels battle in Game 1 of their weekend series on Friday night. Both teams are a legitimate threat to make the post-season this year, so this should be an interesting series. The KC Royals are having a good year although they have been wildly inconsistent at times. Despite their hot and cold streaks, they still find themselves just outside the Wildcard spot in the American League, which is a good place to be heading into the All State Break. The Royals, for much of this season have not been a good home team, in fact at 19-21 at Kauffman Stadium; they actually have a losing home record!

For game 1, the Angels will send Matt Shoemaker to the hill. Shoemaker is quickly making an impact for the Angels as he has been both dominant and consistent on the mound thus far and has won his last 5 starts. On the season, Shoemaker has allowed 47 hits and just 19 earned runs while striking out 51 over 50 innings! He has only started 1 game against the Royals which was a couple of weeks ago when he pitched opposite James Shields. In that game, Shoemaker gave up just 2 earned runs in 5 innings while striking out 6 batters. 

Kansas City will send Jason Vargas to the mound. Vargas has pitched will this season with a 7-3 record and 3.16 ERA. He pitched for the Angels last season, so he does know this team rather well and his former teammates also know him and his tendencies well. Having played for the Angels and also Seattle in his career, he has not spent much time in the summer months in a place that gets as hot as Kansas City. Kauffman Stadium can be uncomfortable to pitch in the summer months and for a pitcher who is not used to it, it has the potential to affect their game. The heat could be something that causes Vargas to struggle a bit in the latter innings. 

The LA Angels currently have the fifth best record in all of baseball and have won their last 6 games. A lot has been said about the Angels over the last couple of seasons in regards to them not playing up to their potential. They are playing with a chip on their shoulders and are looking to silence all those critics and have done just that in recent weeks. The Angels appear to have finally pull it all together and are playing up to expectations and the level of talent that is on their roster. With contribution from both the pitching and hitting staff, they are an incredibly dangerous team when things are "clicking", which they currently are. 

This time of the year has also been when the Angels have historically hit their stride. Over the last 10 seasons, the Angels have enjoyed winning streaks of eight (2005), four (2007), five (2008), six (2009), four (2012), six (2013) and six (2014) games from June 20th and on. This is a team that seemingly plays great baseball in the warmer weather so this is the perfect time and place for them to ride one of their famous win streaks. 

From a pitching perspective, these two teams are fairly evenly matched. Both Shoemaker and Vargas bring something different to their team and give them a solid chance to win. On the offensive side however and in terms of momentum and confidence, the edge has to go to the Anaheim club who are playing their best baseball of the season! The Angels did have to travel last night which is probably why the odds are set where they are, but that does not discount the fact that they are a capable team and there is definite value in backing them as small underdogs.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Royals are 1-5 in their last 6 home games. 
  • Angels are 26-8 when the total is set at 8 to 8.5 this season!
  • Royals are 9-20 in home games when playing on Friday over the last 3 seasons!
  • Angels have won 6 of the last 7 meetings with the Royals. 

#2: Take Washington Nationals (-112) on the Money Line against Chicago Cubs risking 2% 
(Roark and Hammel must start)

The Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs face off this afternoon for Game 2 of their series. The Cubs managed to get the win in game 1 last night. They jumped out to an early lead, ended up losing the lead midway through the game and then found a way to pull it out late for a 5-3 victory. The Cubs have put in quality outings from time to time, but they have been unable to capitalize on momentum and are just 11-21 following a win this season! They have proven to be an inconsistent team, time and time again. 

The Nationals are the NL East leaders and should bounce back from defeat today. They start Tanner Roark who has been sensational this season and currently leads the team in wins. He's won 4 straight behind a 1.48 ERA and has received a total of 17 runs in support! He has been consistent and even his losses have had little to do with how he actually pitched. In his previous 5 starts, he had gotten a total of 11 runs in support despite having a 2.20 ERA. There is no doubt that Roark gives the Nationals a great chance to win each time he takes the mound. 

The Cubs will counter with Jason Hammel this afternoon. Hammel has pitched very well this season with an ERA of 2.99 but has lost 3 of his last 4 starts. He has had some success against the Nationals in his career, but unfortunately for him, that hasn't been when playing for the Cubs. The Chicago Cubs have a long history of coming up short in games and their inconsistent offense is mostly to blame. As we have seen with Cubs pitchers this season, namely Jeff Samardzija, they may even pitch a great game but that effort could well be wasted by a lack of offense. They narrowly grabbed a win last night but we don't believe the Nationals will allow that to happen again today. 

The Chicago lineup has yet to see Roark which will give him an added advantage on the mound this afternoon. The odds makers have listed this total somewhat lower than expected and we see this being a potentially low-scoring and close game, with timely hits late in the game deciding the winner. Due to the success Roark has had this season, coupled with the fact that Washington were defeated last night, we expect them to come out motivated to even up this series. They are likely to back their pitcher, who is a big reason why they are in 1st place in the division. If Washington gets a lead in this game, we believe they will make the most of it. This is a great price to back a solid team and pitcher.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Nationals 6-3 on the road with a money line range of -100 to -125.
  • Nationals are 7-3 in Roark’s last 10 starts as a favorite.
  • Cubs are 25-39 vs right handed pitchers this season.

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