Game time: 2:10 p.m. ET
Venue: Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX
Where to watch: YouTube
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Astros -240, Royals +195
Season record (entering Tuesday)
Royals: 56-68 (4th place, AL Central)
Astros: 73-52 (1st place, AL West)
Jack Banks is on a 7-0 run in his last three days with MLB picks, and a 15-3 run with his last six 3-play packages. His latest play is available right now at the Shop Picks page, where you can find all of the Best Bets from our champion sports handicappers.
Royals - Astros preview and analysis
Recent form (entering Tuesday)
Royals: 7-3, won 4 straight
Astros: 4-6 in last 10
It turns out that having seen a team not that long ago can pay dividends.
The Kansas City Royals, who as recent as a week ago took three of four against the Houston Astros, took the series opener of the three-game set Monday in Minute Maid Park.
WIth Game 2 not yet been played at time of publishing, the series finale will commence Wednesday in what could result into a must-win game for the leaders atop the American League West.
The Royals took the first contest 7-1 on Monday night by way of Houston’s bullpen imploding in the late innings. Kansas City scored two in the seventh and three in the eighth to ruin what was a rather solid night from ace Zack Greinke (6 IP, 2 ER, 6 strikeouts).
Second baseman Whit Merrifield continued his sneaky-good season going 3-for-5 with three RBI. One of those came on an RBI double in the seventh that increased the lead to 3-1. Merrifield capped off his day with an two-RBI triple in the ninth.
Left-handed starter Daniel Lynch had a solid start with five strikeouts over five innings, and only one earned run despite three walks. The 24-year-old improved his record to 4-3 on the year with a 4.74 ERA. Mike Minor will take the mound in the Wednesday finale, hoping to follow what the Royals hope is a strong outing from Brady Singer.
While Lynch got the victory, the Royals’ bullpen should also be given praise for allowing only one hit in the final four innings. Kansas City’s pitching staff stifled the Astros offense. Houston got seven hits, but the only run was by a Yuli Gurriel RBI double; the first baseman had a 3-for-3 day, while Jose Altuve went 1-for-4, Michael Brantley 0-for-5, and Yordan Alvarez 0-for-4.
While the Astros lost, the Seattle Mariners were able to gain some ground in the AL West after a 5-3 win on Monday over the Oakland Athletics. The Mariners trail the Astros by 5.5 games for first place, and now are only three games out of the Wild Card race. Fortunately for the Astros, the A’s loss keeps them 3.5 games up on Oakland.
Lance McCullers Jr. is expected to take the mound Wednesday following Luis Garcia’s outing Tuesday night. McCullers has had a strong season, going 10-4 with a 3.21 ERA; his last start saw him go six innings and striking out eight on Aug. 20 against the Mariners, which resulted in a win.
The Royals wasted no time finding bat to ball on Monday, getting 13 hits off the Astros, seven of them off the Houston bullpen. Salvador Perez continued his outstanding offensive season by going 2-for-3 with a homer and two walks. Emmanuel Rivera, the sparingly-used utility man, had a career day by going 3-for-4 with two RBI from the nine spot.
The top batting team in the majors struggled to get anything going from the middle of the order, as mentioned above. The Astros left 10 runners on base and were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, compared to Kansas City going 5-for-18.
The Royals would love to gather some momentum off Lynch’s start, but another strong gathering from the bullpen will suffice. Between four pitchers, Kansas City’s bullpen combined for four strikeouts in four innings, two from former starter Ervin Santana.
This may turn into a series where the Astros can’t dip into their bullpen. The Royals, having all the momentum, may need to trust McCullers to go far in this one. Greinke had only one walk in six innings; he was mowing Kansas City down. There is a formula from the starters to take out the Royals.
The Royals have the Astros’ number, but much like the finale at Kansas City last week, Houston should get this one done. Astros win 6-5.
The Royals are 6-11 in Minor’s starts when Kansas City is an underdog of +100 or higher (-3.2). The under is 25-10 over the last three years for teams Minor has played for.
The Astros are 13-8 in McCullers’ starts (+0.1). The over is 5-1 when the Astros are a home favorite of -175 to -250.
Players to watch
Royals: The chase for 40 is on for Salvador Perez. The All-Star catcher has seven home runs in the month of August and continues to creep toward a .280 average. It’s truly been one of the best seasons of his career.
Astros: Yuli Gurriel has seen a dip in power, but his contact has been stellar. He’ batting a career-best .317 with only 13 homers, but he has a four-game hitting streak with three multi-hit games in that span.
Whit Merrifield (R) 2B
Nicky Lopez (L) SS
Salvador Perez (R) C
Andrew Benintendi (L) LF
Hunter Dozier (R) DH
Ryan O'Hearn (L) 1B
Michael A. Taylor (R) CF
Jarrod Dyson (L) RF
Emmanuel Rivera (R) 3B
Jose Altuve (R) 2B
Michael Brantley (L) RF
Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
Yordan Alvarez (L) DH
Carlos Correa (R) SS
Aledmys Diaz (R) 3B
Jake Meyers (R) CF
Taylor Jones (R) LF
Martin Maldonado (R) C
Batting average: Nicky Lopez (.281)
Hits: Whit Merrifield (140)
Home runs: Salvador Perez (33)
RBI: Salvador Perez (81)
Stolen bases: Whit Merrifield (37)
Wins: Mike Minor (8)
Saves: Scott Barlow (8)
ERA: Mike Minor (5.34)
Batting average: Yuli Gurriel (.317)
Hits: Jose Altuve (130)
Home runs: Jose Altuve (25)
RBI: Yordan Alvarez (85)
Stolen bases: Myles Straw (17)
Wins: Zack Greinke (11)
Saves: Ryan Pressly (19)
ERA: Zack Greinke (3.41)
Don't miss our champion handicappers' free picks and expert baseball picks today. And if you enjoyed these Kansas City Royals - Houston Astros predictions, be sure to drop by every day for our daily MLB projections and previews.