October 14, 2015 (2:00 PM ET)
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Take Kansas City Royals on the Money Line (-127) against Houston Astros risking 3.81% of the bankroll to win 3%.
(Cueto and McHugh must start for wager to have action)
An entire season's work will be on the line in this extremely important Game 5 between the Kansas City Royals and Houston Astros at Kauffman Stadium tonight. The Astros were just a couple of innings away from closing the door on the Royals’ postseason, but a late surge which saw Kansas City score 7 unanswered runs over the final 2 innings allowed them to stave off elimination and force this pivotal Game 5! The Royals have been no strangers to this type of situation and had shown similar heroics in their unlikely World Series run last season where they delated teams with quality at bats and late inning surges. They built up a lot of momentum in their last contest and we expect it to carry over into this game tonight.
With their season on the line, the Royals will send their 'Ace', Johnny Cueto to the mound. Although he has struggled somewhat for Kansas City this season, this game is ultimately why the Royals organization traded for the right hander. Cueto can be downright dominating on the mound when he has command of his pitches as we have seen from him year after year. After struggling in the first few frames of Game 2, he settled in and managed to retire 12 of the final 14 batters he faced. That shows just how good he can be against this hard hitting Astros lineup. If he can get that kind of production for the entire start, he will be tough to beat on the mound.
The Royals will also have the edge in this contest when it comes to bullpens. The Royals bullpen has strikeout pitchers, while the Astros pitchers try to get their outs by inducing contact. Kansas City sent 11 batters to the plate in the 8th inning and made the Astros' relievers work incredibly hard for their outs. Houston's bullpen needed 53 pitches, including 24 by close Luke Gregerson to get just 2 outs. That exposed a flaw in Houston's bullpen that could be extremely costly in this game and that is their inability to put away hitters. The Houston relievers are the types that pitch to contact and against an incredibly patient and well hitting team like Kansas City, which can be devastating. Will Harris and Tony Sipp combined to give up 5 straight singles to start the 8th inning. While Houston's top 3 relievers blew a 4-2 lead, Wade Davis single handed took down the Astros lineup. He needed just 7 pitches in the bottom of the 8th and struck out three in what was part of a 6 out save. There is no question that the Royals have arguably one of the top bullpens in the league, even without closer Gregg Holland in the lineup and that could be a critical edge in what should be a closely contested game.
Kansas City isn't a team that we had been surprised by this season. We have been high on this team for some time now, even before they were a "popular" pick with the average sports bettor. The reason why we give so much respect to this team is due to the fact that they are arguably the most fundamentally sound team in the entire league. They are not a team that relies solely on one thing to allow them to plate runs. Houston is a team that relies heavily on the long ball in order to put runs on the board; Kansas City is a team that does it with solid base running and quality at bats. The Royals are statistically the most patient team at the plate as well as they have the least amount of strikeouts over any other team in the league which means that they make opposing pitchers work for their outs; they don’t simply give away at bats. The Royals also know when the most opportune time to swipe bases and put runners into scoring position. Because the Royals are capable of producing hits in bunches, the ability to steal bases means that the Royals can continually pile up the runs on a fewer number of hits.
Let's also not forget that these two teams have a huge disparity in road and home records. The Astros were dominant at home this season but were a less than impressive 33-48 away from Minute Maid Park this season. On the other hand, the Royals were as dominant as it gets at Kauffman Stadium where they went an ultra-impressive 51-30 during the regular season. The Royals are also a team that knows how to win closely contested game. They were 23-17 in game decided by exactly one run this season and that has been an area where the Astros struggled. Houston was a disappointing 21-29 in games decided by one run!
The Houston Astros are no doubt a team on the rise. They had a great season this year after losing 90+ games a season ago. That being said, we feel that they are still a year or two away from cementing themselves as actual contender whereas Kansas City's time is now! If the Astros season ended today, their ball club should be content in satisfied at how far they have come in just this one season. To make the playoffs is a huge accomplishment for this team, much like Ned Yost stated that ending his team’s playoff drought was satisfying last season even though they didn't win the World Series. Houston should be content with a loss in this game; the same can't be said for the Royals. Ned Yost publicly spoke stating that the World Series was him and his teams’ goal this season. After making it there last season, they know they have the team to make it their again.
We believe the Royals simply have too many advantages in this contest tonight. It would not surprise us to see the odds on this game shift much higher later on this afternoon, closer to game time. No matter where you look, whether it be the 'talent' on both sides, the bullpens, the playoff experience and even the intangibles such as momentum and confidence, all signs show the Royals with the edge. This will likely be a closely contested game, but we expect the Royals to end the Astros season tonight with a win in front of their home crowd.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Royals are 16-6 in October games over the last 2 seasons!
- Kansas City is 65-41 against right handed starters this season.
- Kansas City is 27-11 at home when the total is set at 7.5 runs or less.
- Johnny Cueto is 20-8 when playing against teams with winning records over the second half of the last 2 seasons!
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