By Ken Boehlke

Kansas City Royals vs. Baltimore Orioles

Series Price – KC (+125) BAL (-145)
World Series – KC (+400) BAL (+260)

Series Pick: After each sweeping the so-called superior team, the Royals and Orioles will meet in the American League Championship Series. Both teams clinched their ALDS matchup on Sunday, so the layoff will be massive for both as the ALCS starts a full five days later. It’s expected that both teams will go back to their “ace” and Game 1 will be James Shields vs. Chris Tillman. Tillman will be pitching on eight days rest something that he’s never done in his career, while Shields will be on his normal five days after pitching in Game 3 against the Angels.

Long rest will be the key to game one, which makes it incredibly difficult to predict. Both teams bats were solid in their opening series, but extended time off has a way of cooling teams off. The good news for the Orioles is that James Shields has not been his normal dominant self this postseason. He looked a bit off in the Wild Card game, and then it took a little while to get into rhythm against the Angels. With the Orioles hitters feeling a lot better than both the A’s and Angels did, they have a chance to take advantage of Shields. Still though, the edge has to go to Kansas City.

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The rest of the series will come down to each team’s ability to score off the opposing starters. Both bullpens have been solid and can be expected to continue their stellar performances late in games here. The Orioles scored 21 runs in their series with the Tigers while the Royals only managed 15. However, the Orioles took advantage of the terrible Tigers bullpen and put up 15 of the 21 runs in the sixth inning or later. They’ll have to find a way to score earlier in these game,s otherwise the Kansas City bullpen will shut the door on them.

Eric Hosmer’s ability to continue his tear will eventually be the difference in the series. Hosmer has put together a ridiculous .500 batting average with two home runs and five RBI. The Royals do not have a ton of pop in their lineup and will continue relying on stealing bases and manufacturing runs. But they needed every bit of Hosmer’s heroics to get this far, and it will have to continue if they want to reach the World Series for the first time since 1985.

The starting pitching is similar for both, as are the bullpens. There has to be a slight edge given to the Orioles lineup but it’s not very big. On the surface Buck Showalter would appear to be the better manager, but Ned Yost appears to have the pulse of his team and might actually deserve a slight edge. All things considered, it’s unbelievably close. Therefore, we’ll go with the Royals. Baseball has a certain magic to it, and there’s simply no denying the Royals are feeling it right now.

Pick: Kansas City Royals (+125)

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