Aug. 14 MLB Preview — St. Louis Cardinals (62-55) at Kansas City Royals (43-77)

(Carlos Martinez photo courtesy Billy Hurst/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.

When and Where: Wednesday, Aug. 14, Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo., 8:15 p.m. EDT.

It should be all systems go for Dakota Hudson on Wednesday night when the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals wrap up this year’s installment of the I-70 series.

No worries for Hudson after quick hook vs. Bucs

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt lifted Hudson (10-6, 4.01 ERA) after just four innings and 49 pitches Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates. While the right-hander has been dealing with callouses on his index finger at points over the season, Shildt was concerned about Hudson facing the top of the Pirates order for a third time without his sinker working to full effect.

“They were getting some swings going,” Shildt told the Cardinals’ official website. “I usually can be patient and will be patient, but that lineup was about to turn over, Bell and Marte both have numbers on him. Bell taking two good swings prior to that and he was coming up. Didn’t want anybody on in front of him.”

The good news for Hudson is he will likely be throwing to catcher Yadier Molina, who was activated from the injured list prior to Tuesday’s series opener after missing a month with a strained tendon in his right thumb. The Cardinals successfully treaded water without him in the NL Central race, going 17-12 to stay within striking distance of the Cubs for the division lead.

Hudson, who gave up two runs in his abbreviated outing, has split four interleague starts this year while posting a 4.79 ERA and striking out 23 in 20 2-3 innings. He made a relief appearance against the Royals as a rookie last year, retiring two batters while giving up one run and one hit.

Streaky Keller looks to get back on track for Royals

Brad Keller (7-12, 4.09 ERA) has followed up three straight winning starts with three consecutive losing ones as he tries to avoid becoming the second 13-game loser in the American League.

The right-hander gutted out six innings and was reached for five runs and 10 hits, but the Royals bats could not overcome the 2-1 deficit he created in the first inning of their 5-2 defeat at Detroit on Friday night. Keller has given up 11 runs and 23 hits — including five home runs — over 20 innings during his recent swoon.

“He was battling all night,” manager Ned Yost said of Keller to the Royals’ official website. “He was grinding. Just wasn’t exceptionally sharp.”

Keller is looking for a season sweep of the Cardinals after beating them in St. Louis on May 22, yielding two runs in seven innings of an 8-2 Royals romp. He has been effective in interleague play, going 2-1 with a 2.92 ERA in four starts and limiting opponents three runs in 19 2-3 innings over the last three.

Notable Trends

The Royals are:

  • 4-10 in Keller’s last 14 starts vs. above-.500 teams.
  • 2-8 in their last 10 Wednesday games.
  • 2-13 in their last 15 interleague home games.

The Cardinals are:

  • 10-1 in Hudson’s last 11 starts vs. sub-.500 teams.
  • 7-2 in Hudson’s last nine road starts.
  • 22-7 in their last 29 road games vs. the Royals.

*****5-Star Pick*****

Royals UNDER 4.5 runs (-131)

The hook makes the appeal for an aggressive play on the under — the Royals have scored four or fewer runs in seven of their last eight home games and have scored four or fewer runs in five of their eight games coming off a shutout loss.

The Cardinals have also yielded four or fewer runs in eight of their last 12 road games after Tuesday night’s win and in 13 of Hudson’s last 15 starts.

****4-Star Picks****

Cardinals -1.5 runs (+121)

The hedge is that Hudson comes out with a point to prove in this game after his quick hook versus Pittsburgh, and a matchup against a slumping Keller adds to the confidence in the Cardinals getting the job done.

The Royals are 2-9 at home in their last 11 against teams with winning records and scored two or fewer runs in seven of their 11 interleague games overall.

UNDER 5.5 runs first 5 innings (-115)

The five-inning under improved to 9-4-1 in Kansas City’s last 14 games after hitting Tuesday night and is also 6-1 in Keller’s last seven starts. The latter dovetails nicely with the strong under trend for the Cardinals — it is 12-3 in their last 15 contests as St. Louis has scored more than two runs just once in that stretch.

***3-Star Picks***

UNDER 9.5 runs (-110)

Despite his recent slide, the under has been trending with Keller, going 4-1-1 in his last six starts and 5-1 in his last six against teams above .500. The under is also 8-0-1 in his last nine outings in the second game of a series.

The under has been a solid play for the Cardinals in interleague action, entering this contest 10-1-1 in their last 12 at AL ballparks and 9-0-1 in the last 10 on the road versus sub-.500 teams. The under is also 7-3-1 in Hudson’s last 11 outings when facing sub-.500 teams.

Royals +0.5 runs first 5 innings (-136)

This is a toss-up pick because St. Louis’ lack of offense has contributed to the Cards going 1-3-1 at the midway point of Hudson’s last five starts. Keller has also helped the Royals to a 3-1-2 mark in his last six starts and also did not concede a run in the first five innings of his previous matchup.

Cardinals UNDER 2.5 runs first 5 innings (-121)

Keller and the Royals have held opponents under three runs in the first five innings in six of his last nine starts, and this play against the Cardinals is better than trying under 1.5 runs in the first three innings considering St. Louis has scored first-inning runs in each of its last four games.

To repeat, the Cardinals have scored more than two runs in the first five innings only once in their last 15 contests.

 

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