The Kansas City Royals are the MLB betting favorites to beat the Seattle Mariners tonight, even though the defending World Series champions look more like they’re coming back from the front rather than from a road trip. It’s not just their pride and ego that’s hurting after the Toronto Blue Jays swept them in a three-game series. The Royals have lost third baseman Mike Moustakas for the season, left fielder Alex Gordon for a month, and catcher Salvador Perez and center fielder Lorenzo Cain for about a week each. Additionally, they may not have their best slugger – designated hitter Kendrys Morales – for a couple more days.
For the benefit of those in the audience who bet on baseball, here are the odds for tonight’s four-game series opener at Kauffman Stadium:
Mariners +1½ (-175) 8 (-120) +120
Royals -1½ (+155) 8 (EV) -130
Left-handed pitcher Danny Duffy ((4-1, 3.11 ERA) will start for Kansas City. Duffy has gone eight or more innings in his last two consecutive starts, a career first for him. Moreover, Duffy has had eight or more strikeouts in 5 of his last 6 starts, and has had five quality starts in his last seven turns on the mound, making him the Royals’ most dependable pitcher – which bodes well for the MLB betting chances. As for Seattle, leftie James Paxton will start tonight. Paxton has shown promise in his two years as a member of the Mariners’ bullpen, but has struggled with injuries. Paxton is 2-3 with a 4.24 ERA in seven outings, has been throwing a 96-99 fastball since he was recalled from AAA, and is fresh off a win over the Baltimore Orioles. Paxton is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA in two starts against the Royals, including 7 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in 2013. However, he might want to be wary of Eric Hosmer, who is 2-for-4 off Paxton with a double. Likewise, Duffy will have to keep an eye out for Robinson Cano, who is 4-for-11 in his career with a home run against the left-hander.
In the face of injuries, Kansas City has “got got guys who have stepped up,” manager Ned Yost said. For example, Cheslor Cuthbert has done a bang up job replacing Moustakas, with .280, eight home runs, and 24 RBIs entering Wednesday. Paulo Orlando and Whit Merrifield have shone here and there too. The Mariners have encountered injuries as well, though not to the same extent as the Royals. Starter Felix Hernandez strained a calf after jumping up to celebrate a homerun. S*** happens. But the aforementioned Paxton has stepped up to the plate – or rather to the mound. Furthermore, rookie Edwin Diaz has given Seattle’s bullpen a boost, even though he did surrender a homerun to Luis Valbuena that gave the Astros the win and the sweep last night versus the Mariners. Still, Diaz has struck out 29 batters in 15 1/3 innings since being called up from AA last month, so that gives Mariners’ fans who enjoy MLB betting hope.