By Ken Boehlke

Kansas City Royals vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Series Price – KC (+175) LAA (-200)
AL Pennant – KC (+400) LAA (+180)
World Series – KC (+800) LAA (+500)

The magical run of the Kansas City Royals will continue at least three more games, but boy are they up against it with an Angels team that’s been hot since the All-Star Break. However, the Angels have stumbled a bit heading into this October winning just 15 of their 26 games in the month of September. The Royals will obviously start in a bit of a hole as they will be forced to travel to Anaheim just two days after one of the most epic wins in franchise history. The other problem is that they had to burn their best starter James Shields just to make it this far.

However, there’s something about this Royals team that makes it almost seem foolish to pick against them. Throughout the whole season, just about everybody, including many Royals fans, were just waiting for something to happen, for them to fall apart like they always do. They didn’t. Then the wildcard game comes around, and they were dead to rights multiple times. Down two in the first inning and facing a pitcher they’ve never had success against. They rallied. Down four in the eighth inning against one of the best bullpens in baseball. They rallied. Finally, down a run in extra innings. Once again, they rallied. Sure it looks tough for this team to beat the 96-win Angels, but is it really any tougher than what they’ve faced all year, and especially Tuesday?

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As for the Angels, they have seen their pitching staff step up over and over as they experienced a massive injury to Garrett Richards and his sub-three ERA. The Angels will start with Jared Weaver and then hand the ball to C.J. Wilson in Game 2, but the key to the Angels success in this series will be their continued dominance out of the bullpen. Early on this season the biggest problem for Los Angeles was their bullpen. But right around the middle of June they suddenly figured it out, and they’ve actually become a strength of the team. They should be able to hold up, but if there has to be a concern that they could revert to early season form and cost the Angels a game or two.

Ned Yost has caught a ton of heat over the past few months due to his small-ball style of managing. Aside from the disaster that was bringing in Yordano Ventura, Yost’s strategy was the reason why the Royals won the Wildcard game and why they are so dangerous in this series. Slowing down that running game has been nearly impossible and their ability to move runners around using sacrifice bunts has any base runner as a major threat to score. Angels catchers have thrown out about 30% of base stealers so the Royals should be able to keep it up.

Talent and situation point squarely towards the Angels, which is why the price is 2:1, but the Royals are the better side in this series. Plus, there will likely be a chance to hedge it down the line as well.

Pick: Kansas City Royals (+175)

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Read more about the 2014 MLB Playoffs.

Listen to Over and Under with Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier on CBS Sports Radio 1140 every Sunday morning from 8 to 10. Follow the show on Twitter @OAU1140 and on Facebook.

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