St. Louis Cardinals (-105) at Kansas City Royals (-125, 8.5 o/u)
Having served his suspension for plunking Many Machado on June 7, Yordano Ventura heads back to the mount for the Kansas City Royals (40-35, 27-10 Home) tonight, adding another level of intrigue to an interleague affair with their in-state rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals (39-36, 24-15 Away), tonight at Kauffman Stadium (8:15 pm Eastern).
The controversial Ventura was originally suspended ten days for the incident with Machado, but that was later reduced to eight. On the season, he’s 6-4 with a 4.54 ERA, but his last outing was one of his best: he pitched 6.1 scoreless innings against the Tigers, scattering six hits while striking out five.
Some may be concerned about Ventura’s hiatus, but Royals manager Ned Yost doesn’t think it will impact his young hurler.
“Eight games are not that huge of a layoff,” Yost said this week to the Associated Press. “We’re going to face that when we come back from the All-Star game. Guys are going to be six, seven, eight days in between [starts].”
Kansas City has won two straight, including the first of the current three-game set against the Cardinals last night (6-2). After a slow start to the year, the Royals are trending up. They’ve now won ten of their last 15 and are five games back of Cleveland in the AL Central.
St. Louis, on the other hand, is headed in the opposite direction, losing eight of the last 11. They were able to sweep the other-worldly Cubs, but they remain ten games back of Chicago for first in the NL Central.
The Cardinals will counter Ventura with big righty Michael Wacha. The 24-year-old hasn’t been able to deliver this season like he did last (when he went 17-7 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.2 WHIP). His numbers are worse across the board: 3-7 record, 4.41 ERA, 1.36 Whip.
The Cardinals have owned their Missouri rivals lately, going 9-4 SU in the last 13 at Kauffman Stadium. But the Royals are finally getting back to their World Series form and Ventura will be out there with a chip on his shoulder, looking to prove to the league that he’s more than just a lightning rod.
Pick: Royals (-125).
(Photo Credit: Douglas LeMoine (Flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/])