Cleveland Indians (66-53 SU, 53-66 RL, 43-67-9 O/U) vs. Kansas City Royals (61-59 SU, 60-60 RL, 56-58-6 O/U)
MLB: Saturday, August 19, 2017, Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri, 8:15 pm ET
Lines: Cleveland -130, Kansas City +120; Over/Under: 9
It’s the continuation of a series between a pair of AL Central rivals in the Midwest. The Cleveland Indians are on the road as they play the middle game of a three game series with the Kansas City Royals Saturday night. Cleveland took two of three from the Twins on the road: they split a doubleheader Thursday, winning the opener 9-3 and lost the nightcap 4-2. Kansas City won the rubber game of their three game set against the A’s, 7-6, on the road Wednesday. The pitching matchup for Friday’s series opener saw Cleveland’s Corey Kluber take the mound against Kansas City’s Ian Kennedy. First pitch in that contest was scheduled for 8:15 pm ET.
Cleveland Indians Holding AL Central Advantage
Cleveland split a doubleheader with the Twins Thursday to win that series. The Indians entered Friday’s contest 5.5 games ahead of the Royals in the AL Central. In the opening game of the doubleheader, Yan Gomes (two runs, four RBI) and Jason Kipnis (two runs, two RBI) each had three hits in the game. Carlos Carrasco (12-5) earned the win after allowing a run on five hits with one walk and nine strikeouts over five innings. In the nightcap, the Indians had only three hits: Jay Bruce hit his first homer with the team while Carlos Santana drove in the other run. Ryan Merritt recorded a no-decision on the mound: he allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits with a walk and a strikeout over 3.2 innings. Mike Clevinger (6-5) took the loss in relief after allowing two runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts over 2.2 innings.
Trevor Bauer gets the call for his 25th appearance and 24th start of the season for the Indians hoping to keep Cleveland comfortably ahead in the AL Central. He comes in with a 11-8 record but has a 4.72 ERA, a 1.418 WHIP, 46 walks and 145 strikeouts over 127.2 innings this season. Bauer didn’t factor in the decision in his last time out, which was a relief appearance in the second game of the doubleheader against the Twins on the road Thursday. He threw two-thirds of an inning, allowing a hit with a strikeout in a 4-2 Indians loss. Bauer is 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP, four walks and 27 strikeouts over 20.2 innings in his last three starts. This is his ninth career start against the Royals: he is 1-2 with a 3.43 ERA and a 1.388 WHIP over 44.2 innings of work. Bauer is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.421 WHIP over 25.1 innings in five career starts at Kauffman Stadium.
Kansas City Royals Look to Close Gap in AL Central
Kansas City won for the fourth time in five games as they took the finale against the A’s in a back and forth contest. The Royals stand 5.5 games behind the Indians in the AL Central and half a game behind the Angels for the second wild card spot. Alcides Escobar (two runs) led the Royals with three hits in the game. Lorenzo Cain (run, two RBI), Eric Hosmer (run, RBI), Melky Cabrera, Alex Gordon (two RBI) and Mike Moustakas (run, RBI) each had two hits. Danny Duffy recorded a no-decision after allowing four runs on six hits with two walks and eight strikeouts over five innings. Brandon Maurer (1-1) got the win in relief despite blowing the save: he allowed two runs on four hits with two strikeouts in his one inning of work. Kelvin Herrera worked the ninth inning for his 26th save of the season.
Jason Vargas takes the mound for his 24th start of the year for the Royals in this contest. He is 14-4 with a 3.45 ERA, a 1.275 WHIP, 39 walks and 102 strikeouts over 135.2 innings of work this season. Vargas picked up the win his last time out, which came Sunday on the road against the White Sox. He threw six innings, allowing three runs on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in a 14-6 Royals victory. Vargas is 1-2 with a 6.89 ERA, a 1.60 WHIP, seven walks and 16 strikeouts over 15.2 innings in his last three starts. This is his 17th career start against the Indians. Vargas is 7-3 with a 1.70 ERA and a 0.946 WHIP over 37 innings in those contests. He is 23-21 with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.154 WHIP over 383 innings in 62 appearances, 58 starts, at Safeco Field in his career.
- Indians are 1-4 in their last 5 road games vs. a left-handed starter
- Indians are 1-4 in their last 5 games vs. a left-handed starter
- Royals are 10-1 in their last 11 vs. American League Central
- Royals are 4-1 in their last 5 overall
- Royals are 4-1 in their last 5 games on grass
The Indians have a comfortable advantage in the AL Central but they can ill afford to slide with the Royals still within striking distance. Bauer had to throw a few pitches in the second game of a doubleheader Thursday so one has to wonder if he’ll be limited at all. Vargas got back in the win column and is tied with Boston’s Chris Sale for the league lead in wins. The Royals play well at home as Vargas pitches them to a tight win in this contest.
Pick: Kansas City Royals +120
Kansas City is within striking distance of the second wild card spot as they entered Friday within half a game of the Angels for that spot. The Royals send their ace to the mound as Vargas, even with some struggles of late that saw his ERA jump more than a full run over the last month, is still a terrific pitcher. Cleveland has pitched well as they have kept opposing teams in check for the most part of late. The Indians have seen Bauer round back into form after a slow start to the year: he’s added depth to the rotation fronted by Kluber, Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco.
The under is 4-0-1 in the Indians’ last 5 road games vs. a team with a winning home record, 12-3-2 in their last 17 overall, 4-1-1 in their last 6 on grass, 15-4-2 in their last 21 vs. a team with a winning record and 14-4-1 in their last 19 Saturday games. Kansas City has seen the under go 3-1-1 in their last 5 Saturday games, 5-2-1 in their last 8 vs. American League Central opponents and 15-4-2 in Vargas’ last 21 starts during game 2 of a series. The teams have stayed under the total in each of Vargas’s last five starts against the Indians. The under is 6-1-1 in the last eight meetings between the teams in Kansas City. Look for this one to follow the same trend.