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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, June 29, 2015 at 7:00 AM

As we get deeper into the 2015 Major League Baseball season, it’s becoming pretty clear that the Kansas City Royals and Houston Astros aren’t going anywhere. Defending AL champion Kansas City is the betting favorite to win the league again because they have balance from top to bottom and an amazing bullpen. The time for Houston to “fall back to earth” has long passed. The team is actually improving in some key areas as the season progresses.

That means this week’s Royals/Astros series could be a playoff preview. It’s at least a current look at two of the best “first half” teams in all of baseball. Let’s crunch some numbers and see how the three-game set is likely to play out…



Kansas City: 4.38 runs per game, .323 on-base, .409 slugging

Houston: 4.45 runs per game, .308 on-base, .425 slugging

Houston’s slugging is inflated a bit because the team is taking advantage of the short dimensions of their home field. That’s worth remembering in important road games later this year, and in the playoffs vs. pitchers who don’t allow much contact. Kansas City has an attack that’s more likely to “travel well” so to speak…and perform under pressure (as we saw last October). It helps that Kansas City only has to outscore what its strong bullpen allows.



Joe Blanton: 1.73 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 8.3 K-Rate, 5.5 IP-per-Start

Lance McCullers: 2.33 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 10.1 K-Rate, 5.8 IP-per-Start

Those stats lie! This is actually a pretty ugly matchup involving guys who have strong-looking short term numbers. Blanton has only made two starts, so those stats greatly overstate his likely effectiveness going forward. He’s a known mediocrity (at best), but players like that have been finding themselves with the right kind of team lately. McCullers is about 50/50 to throw a quality start despite those gaudy numbers. You can see that neither is likely to go deep into the game. KC’s bullpen strength could loom very large here. Though, if Blanton allows a few dingers, the Astros maybe sitting on a late lead. Best to look at career numbers for both.



Danny Duffy: 5.44 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 7.1 K-Rate, 4.8 IP-per-Start

Dallas Keuchel: 2.17 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 7.3 K-Rate, 7.3 IP-per-Start

Duffy only has two quality starts this season in nine outings! Very few rotation starters have numbers that ugly in another “Year of the Pitcher.” The KC bullpen could be asked to do a lot in this series considering the poor IP/start numbers of these first two starters. Keuchel just shut out the Yankees on 116 pitches (12 strikeouts) to get back on form. Those stats have him very seriously in the AL Cy Young race, and…frankly…are amazing for AL pitcher this deep into the season. Huge edge to Houston in this middle meeting.



Edinson Volquez: 3.18 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 6.5 K-Rate, 6.0 IP-per-Start

Vincent Velasquez: 3.72 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 8.8 K-Rate, 4.8 IP-per-Start

Volquez is the prototype example of a mediocre pitcher who can get results in the right circumstances. Kansas City’s just asking him to do what he does best…then they back him up with run support and that great bullpen. The last few weeks they’ve been winning almost every time he takes the mound! Velasquez has only made four starts this season. His first quality start was last time out against the Yanks…which means he’s likely going to be in trouble vs. the Royals. He has a poor WHIP and isn’t likely to go much past five innings even if things are going well. Look at KC…or the Over if their bullpen threw two many innings in the first two games.

JIM HURLEY will be watching how this series develops very closely…both for game day betting and future considerations. These teams will continue to be very important for weeks to come! You can purchase each night’s baseball BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Be sure to check on early-bird football when you call!

Don’t forget that football has already begun in terms of our summer series of college football conference previews. Please check the archives if you missed this past weekend’s look at the two Mountain West divisions. Here’s what’s coming up this week in the NOTEBOOK in baseball and football.

Tuesday: MLB Series Preview…Pittsburgh Pirates at Detroit Tigers

Wednesday: MLB Big Game Preview…choosing from Washington/Atlanta, NY Yankees/LA Angels, and Texas/Baltimore

Thursday: MLB Series Preview…Minnesota at Kansas City

Friday: MLB Series Preview…San Francisco at Washington

Saturday: College Football Preview…Conference USA “East”

Sunday: College Football Preview…Conference USA “West”

We’ll get to see the better pitchers from the Royals rotation in that series preview with the “still hanging around” Minnesota Twins. So many great matchups in the pennant races this week. A great time to be a baseball fan and bettor as you keep building that bankroll for football with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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