Aug. 18 MLB Preview — New York Mets (63-60) at Kansas City Royals (44-79)

(Zack Wheeler photo courtesy Brett Davis/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: Sunday, Aug. 18, Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo., 2:15 p.m. EDT.

Zack Wheeler looks to make it three wins in as many starts against AL Central teams on Sunday when he leads the New York Mets into the finale of their three-game set against the Kansas City Royals.

Wheeler seeking bounce-back effort to win for fourth time in five starts

Wheeler’s (9-7, 4.36 ERA) surge that came after the All-Star break came to a screeching halt last time out as the Atlanta Braves knocked him around for five runs and a career-worst 12 hits allowed over five innings in a 5-3 defeat Tuesday.

“You’re going out there throwing 20 pitches an inning and it’s 100 degrees,” the right-hander told the New York Daily News. “Yeah, you’re going to be a little tired. But no excuses. I missed spots and they made me pay for it. It stinks. We were on this run and I just didn’t give us a chance to win. This one’s on me.”

Wheeler may be happy to be moving on from facing the Braves after his second loss in three starts to them this year. He has pitched well in his two starts versus AL Central teams, conceding three runs in 14 1-3 innings and tossing seven four-hit innings in a 4-0 win over the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 1 in his last such matchup.

The righty is 3-1 with a 3.19 ERA in his last six interleague starts, with nine of the 17 runs allowed in those games coming in a 12-5 loss to the New York Yankees on June 11. Wheeler’s lone start versus Kansas City ended in a loss in his 2013 rookie season.

Sparkman looks to avoid fourth straight defeat

Glenn Sparkman (3-8, 5.45) has been trying to grind his way through his first full season as a starter, and the right-hander is 0-3 with a 8.06 ERA in his last five starts. Opponents are hitting at a .330 clip in that stretch with seven homers and 14 extra-base hits over 25 2-3 innings.

Sparkman was the victim of a lack of run support Tuesday versus St. Louis, getting no backing while holding the Cardinals to one earned run and two overall in six innings of a 2-0 defeat.

The effort continued his strong pitching at Kauffman Stadium, where he is 3-3 with a 2.54 ERA in seven starts. Sparkman has won neither of his two starts versus National League opponents, but the Royals have also been shut out in both contests.

This will be his first appearance against the Mets.

Notable Trends

The Royals are:

  • 0-5 in Sparkman’s last five starts vs. above-.500 teams.
  • 2-10 in their last 12 interleague games vs. right-handed starters.
  • 8-20 in their last 28 interleague home games.

The Mets are:

  • 7-0 in Wheeler’s last seven starts vs. sub-.500 teams.
  • 13-3 in their last 16 games vs. AL Central teams.
  • 7-1 in their last eight interleague road games.

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

Mets -1.5 runs (-125)

Wheeler’s success against AL Central teams plus his strength in being a “flat-track bully” against lesser teams makes the Mets the pick here. The Mets are going for their seventh series win in their last eight overall and need to cap this series on a positive note since they have an incredibly challenging homestand coming up against Cleveland, Atlanta, and the Chicago Cubs that will go a long way in determining their staying power in the NL wild-card race.

Additionally, Sparkman’s inability to get results against the better teams in the league plays into taking the Mets on the run line despite his effectiveness at home.

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

UNDER 10 runs (-115)

The under is on a four-game run with Wheeler and 4-1-1 in his last six against sub-.500 teams. The under has also delivered in New York’s last five interleague road games, its last five versus AL Central teams, and six straight versus AL right-handers.

Those runs mesh nicely with some Royals trends, including a seven-game run for the under against right-handers and five-game runs both at home and following a loss. The under is also a healthy 20-6 in Kansas City’s last 26 games versus NL East teams and 4-1-1 in Sparkman’s last six starts on normal rest.

UNDER 5.5 runs first 5 innings (-115)

***3-Star Picks***

Royals UNDER 4 runs (-121)

The Royals have not scored more than four runs in their last seven home games and in nine of their last 12 interleague games. New York has also held teams to four or fewer runs in 11 of its last 13 games against AL teams and in five of Wheeler’s last seven starts.

Kansas City has struggled all season long to score runs and gone 2 for 23 with runners in scoring position during its current homestand.

Mets -0.5 runs first 5 innings (-140)

The Royals have not scored more than four runs in their last seven home games and in nine of their last 12 interleague games. New York has also held teams to four or fewer runs in 11 of its last 13 games against AL teams and in five of Wheeler’s last seven starts.

Kansas City has struggled all season long to score runs and gone 2 for 23 with runners in scoring position during its current homestand.

Royals UNDER 2 runs first 5 innings (-115)

Kansas City’s offensive struggles bring the under into play here. The Royals have been held to two or fewer runs in six straight home games and six of their last seven overall. The hedge is Wheeler goes back to being effective since he is not facing the Braves and had allowed one total run in the first five innings of his three starts before struggling last time out.

 

 

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