October 16, 2015 (3:00 PM ET)
There are 3 college football plays being released a day in advance for Saturday.
There is an MLB and an NCAA college football pick on Friday night.
1: Take the UNDER 8 total runs in KC Royals vs. Toronto Blue Jays for 3% of the bankroll.
(Volquez and Estrada must start for wager to have action)
The AL Championship series opener is here and let us start by saying that in our opinion, these two teams are not only the top two in the American League but are in fact the best two teams in the Majors! If they weren't forced to play each other at this stage, we could see them facing off in the World Series. This series should provide entertaining baseball and a little bit of everything for fans. However, while much of the media focus has been on the potent offense of either club, lost in the narrative is their ability to pitch well and play great defense. We'll explore various reasons on why this opening game is much more likely to stay 'under' than be a complete shootout.
It is no secret that the Blue Jays rely heavily on home runs to score. While they are a great offensive club period, a large number of their runs do come via the long ball and they'll find that tougher to replicate at Kauffman Stadium which is a pitcher friendly ballpark. The outfield is huge and it takes truly enormous hits to 'go yard'. While both clubs feature some of the best hitters in the game, these two veteran pitchers don't make too many mistakes and should keep the ball in the park. There will be contact made but that can often even lead to double-plays and frustrate an offense. It also helps that both teams feature great defensive outfield players. Speedy players like Kevin Pillar, Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon run every ball hit out there down and have made some truly eye-catching plays this season! The guys playing out there including Alex Rios and Jose Bautista who aren't as young or maybe mobile as the rest of their teammates feature strong arms leading to 'assist' outs if runners get greedy and go for extra bases.
Not many realize that the the Blue Jays and the Royals rank #1 and #2 respetively in DER (Defensive Efficiency Ratio)! They know how to field the ball and turn double plays and rarely make errors. Another factor that should keep the game lower scoring is the fact that both clubs don't allow many base-runners. The Blue Jays had the best percentage in the Majors in preventing stolen bases while Salvador Perez has a great arm and is a real leader for this Royals team defensively. These two teams have great catchers and that will go a long way toward limiting the opposing lineup.
Marco Estrada is having the best season of his career and continues to give Toronto one quality start after another! He was excellent in Game 3 against the Rangers in what was a must-win game for the Blue Jays after dropping the first two at home. It would be no surprise to see the 32-year old Mexican pitch well again tonight given that he's primarily a fly-ball pitcher and Kauffman Stadium's big field will help in that regard. He's also had prior success against this lineup in his two previous appearances as evidenced by his 2.92 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. The most important aspect however is that he'll be pitching on a normal 4-day rest for this outing. Pitchers can be rusty when given extra rest and that sometimes happens in playoffs but to have both starting pitchers go on a regular 5-day schedule tonight which is what they're used to, is an important fact that baseball experts make note of.
Edinson Volquez may not be considered the ace of the Royals but he leads the club in innings pitched, wins and strikeouts this season! He's been their most consistent hurler and kept this dangerous Toronto lineup at bay in his two appearances (2.38 ERA) against them this season! He is an easy going guy that has pitched in some very high pressure situations including a one-and-done Wild Card game in the past! The fact that he's another 32-year old veteran and will be on normal rest, should help his rhythm.
The two starting pitchers aren't house-hold names but they are better than the average fan gives them credit for and more than capable of delivering quality starts. Even if they don't however, these are two of the best bullpens in baseball and Ned Yost and John Gibbons won't hesitate to go to them. They have some shutdown relievers at their disposal and neither team give up too many runs in late innings. With all the talk about offense surrounding this matchup, the public is betting large money on the 'Over' but will likely be disappointed. The fact that this total opened at 8.5 runs but has dropped to 8 tells you where the sharp money is. If this contest can avoid extra innings which would be unlucky, it should stay 'Under' as the pitchers and the defenses limit the offensive damage for this opening game.
2: Take Cincinnati at +7 spread (buy half a point) against BYU for 3% of the bankroll. (Released yesterday)
We like the Bearcats' chances of pulling off an upset tonight. The BYU Cougars have no doubt played an incredibly tough schedule and have had some success but looking at their overall record; they could easily be 2-4 instead of 4-2! The Cougars needed a miracle hail mary to escape Lincoln with a win over Nebraska and even blew a 17 point lead in their last contest against the East Carolina Pirates, before QB Tanner Mangum took the led his team to a game-winning drive. Something that many may not realize is the fact that in all 4 of BYU's wins, they have either been tied or have been losing at the start of the 4th quarter! They have played closely contested games this entire season and we don't expect this one to be any different.
The Cincinnati Bearcats are an offensively explosive team and head coach Tommy Tuberville has a big decision on his hands in this one in regards to the quarterback position. Gunner Kiel appears to have fully recovered from his neck injury a few weeks ago; however Hayden Moore has stepped up in his place and completely lit the field on fire. It's a good problem for coach Tuberville to have, however it really doesn't matter who will be under center as both players are more than capable of leading this team. The same can't be said for BYU however.
By now everyone has heard of the injury suffered by Taysom Hill in the Cougars opening game against Nebraska. Hill was replaced by 22 year old Tanner Mangum, who has done an admirable job in his place this season. Mangum however injured his hamstring in the Cougars contest against East Carolina and is questionable for this contest. Even though it is likely that Mangum will play, a hamstring injury is a very tricky thing as it takes only a single play or run to re-aggravate it. With Mangum not being a full 100% for this game, it will likely be the job of the BYU defense to try to contain the extremely explosive Bearcats offense. BYU is currently in the midst of a 4 game home stand and it’s important to know that their opponents are an impressive 14-2 ATS in the 3rd game of a 4 game home stand against them. They are also just 1-6 ATS when favored against a team that comes in off their bye week. Add all of these issues up and BYU should be on upset alert tonight.
Cincinnati is a team that has very little trouble moving the ball downfield. They rank number 5 in the country in total offense and number 15 in scoring. They have outgained their opponents by an average of nearly 190 yards per game this season. They have a 10-2 straight up record in their last 12 contests with those 2 losses coming against undefeated opponents. Playing in the altitude of Provo is no easy feat for visiting teams; however the Bearcats have been training in altitude in preparation of this contest so it will be interesting to see how the thin air affects the players if at all.
As we have stated, the BYU Cougars are no strangers to playing closely contested games and the Bearcats will no doubt be motivated after their win over the Miami Hurricanes to showcase their skills against another team in the national spotlight. With a win tonight the Bearcats will complete a perfect non-conference schedule but even if they fall short of the outright victory we believe they will be able to keep this game within a touchdown.
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