Guardians vs. Royals, 8:10 ET
Okay, show of virtual hands, how many of you actually thought the Guardians would be in first place within the division (albeit tied) on Labor Day? If you called that the Royals would be one of the worst teams, you get no award, that isn’t surprising. However, the Guardians… well, that one is impressive and it starts mostly with their pitching staff.
I mention it starting with their pitching staff, well, here are some numbers: 294, 186, 169, 138, 121, 18. Those are the run differentials of all the teams that are currently atop each division. The Guardians are the 18. They are in this spot because of pitchers like Triston McKenzie. Before last week’s shorter start, he reeled off four straight quality starts. He had a great July, posting a 1.34 ERA, and then navigated August well with a 3.03 ERA. He didn’t pitch badly outside of maybe one of the games, but the Guardians still lost four of his six games. He hasn’t pitched terribly on the road, but does seem to perform better at home. One area of struggle for him has been night starts. In those 12 starts (half of his on the season) he has allowed 35 earned runs in 72.1 innings. He’s allowed just 19 in day games on the year.
Brady Singer was cruising through August, and even most of July, before the White Sox smacked him around a bit in his last start. In fact, he has posted eight quality starts in his last ten games. The two non-quality starts were both against the White Sox. He only has one start against the Guardians this year, it was the first in that string of quality starts I talked about. His other appearance against them was in relief and he allowed four earned runs in a mop up role where the Royals lost 17-3. The way he has pitched the last two months, though gives me a lot of hope for him in today’s game.
Anything can happen with the bullpens, and both teams probably will give up a few runs. I could see this being a tightly contested pitching duel, or I could see the wheels falling off for McKenzie and the Royals winning 5-2. The under 7.5 is probably the correct play, but I can’t take it. I think it could even be a situation where we are tied 3-3 going into the 9th. Instead, I’m taking the Royals, through five – I want nothing to do with their bullpen – at -105. This is mostly a play on Singer.
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