Vegas Sports Masters American League Divisional Round Preview

Vegas Sports Masters American League Divisional Round Preview

The 2015 American League Divisional round begins Thursday when the AL West champion Texas Rangers visit the AL East champion Toronto Blue Jays at 3:35 p.m. ET, followed in the evening by Wildcard survivor Houston visiting the AL Central champion Kansas City Royals at 7:35 p.m. ET. 

We've put together some quick quick notes for you. Let's start with the Las Vegas betting market...

Toronto -250 over Texas (+210)
Kansas City -140 over Houston (+120)

Toronto is +300 to win the World Series at last report, the favorite over the remaining eight team field. The Jays are prohibitive favorites to dispatch with the Rangers in the first round. Texas had to use ace Cole Hamels to clinch the division this past Sunday...meaning he was unable to go in Game One here. And, it's not like Toronto needed any extra help! Defending AL champ Kansas City is affordable vs. the Astros if you believe they still have that postseason magic.

Toronto (Price) -230 over Texas (Gallardo), total of 8
Kansas City (Ventura) -140 over Houston (McHugh), total of 7.5

Price was acquired to be a playoff ace...and is projected by the market to control Game One. Kansas City's starting rotation isn't particularly impressive. It's their bullpen that covers so much of the high leverage load. That keeps the Royals affordable for backers...but scary if you're concerned about what happens in the first five innings.

Toronto: 5.4 runs per game, .329 on base, .431 slugging
Houston: 4.5 runs per game, .310 on base, .413 slugging
Kansas City 4.3 runs per game, .310 on base, .399 slugging
Texas: 4.3 runs per game, .307 on base, .385 slugging

We use "road only" numbers to take ballpark illusions out of the mix. You can see that Toronto is head and shoulders above the field with their bats. That's why they're getting so much respect in the market. Sharps know how important bats are! Houston gets a slight nod over the other two teams. But, really, the other three are disappointing by postseason standards. Houston's bandbox home ballpark has helped create some illusions about team power. Same with Texas, where it's heat and prevailing winds that make their offense look better than it is.  Toronto actually has team power! They can score anywhere. 

Yovani Gallardo: 3.42 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 5.9 K-Rate, 5.6 IP per start
Cole Hamels: 3.66 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 8.4 K-Rate, 7.0 IP per start
Colby Lewis: 4.66 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6.2 K-Rate, 6.2 IP per start
Derek Holland: 4.91 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 6.3 K-Rate, 5.8 IP per start

Note that Hamels stats are only those accomplished as a Ranger. It's not certain yet who will pitch after Gallardo and Hamels start things off. And, Texas may pull a different starter out of their bag of not-very-good options. They need Gallardo and Hamels to carry a heavy load. And, Gallardo's 3.42 ERA is a bit of a miracle with that lousy 1.42 WHIP!

Marcus Stroman: 1.67 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 6.9 K-Rate, 6.8 IP per start
David Price 2.30 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 10.5 K-Rate, 6.8 IP per start
Marco Estrada: 3.13 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 6.5 K-Rate, 6.1 IP per start
R. A. Dickey: 3.91 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 5.3 K-Rate, 6.5 IP per start

Price's stats are only those accomplished with Toronto. Note that Stroman only made four starts this season...but has impressed enough to get a postseason call. Really good 1-2-3 punch there for the team that we already know is likely to be scoring more runs than everyone else.

Edinson Volquez: 3.55 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 7.1 K-Rate, 5.9 IP per start
Yordano Ventura: 4.08 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 8.6 K-Rate, 5.8 IP per start
Kris Medlen: 4.50 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 5.3 K-Rate, 5.5 IP per start
Johnny Cueto: 4.76 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 6.2 K-Rate, 6.3 IP per start

Cueto's stats are only those accumulated with the Royals. Note how hard it is for NL pitchers to change leagues and get outs in the superior AL! He's been a disappointment, but has a chance to redeem himself here in October. Medlen's stats come from just eight starts as a Royal. He's reportedly going to get the call as the fourth man if needed. On the whole...those aren't impressive stats for a playoff team. But, again, KC is about the bullpen.

Dallas Keuchel: 2.48 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 8.4 K-Rate, 7.0 IP per start
Lance McCullers: 3.22 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 9.2 K-Rate, 5.7 IP per start
Mike Fiers: 3.32 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 8.5 K-Rate, 6.2 IP per start
Collin McHugh: 3.89 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 7.6 K-Rate, 6.4 IP per start
Scott Kazmir: 4.17 ERA, 1.39 WHIP 6.6 K-Rate, 5.6 IP per start

As we write this, it's not clear who Houston will be using after besides McHugh (opener) and Keuchel (when he's ready). Those were the five arms in their late-season rotation as they were trying to win the final Wildcard spot. Note that Fiers stats are only as an Astro...where a surprise no-hitter helped his numbers within a small sampling.

We'll run the NL numbers for you tomorrow at this time.

Our living legends here at Vegas-Sports-Masters are ready for the divisional round to begin! Kelso Sturgeon, Wayne Root, Jim Hurley, Richie Bacciellieri, Tony Salinas, and Jim Feist have well over 100 years of combined proven winning experience. You can get their BEST BETS every day in baseball and football right here at the website. If you have any questions, call the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours.

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