St. Louis Cardinals vs Kansas City Royals: Preview, Prediction & Odds -- Aug. 15, 2021

by Big Al Staff

Game time: 2:10 p.m. ET
Venue: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Where to watch: Bally Sports Midwest, Bally Sports Kansas City

Cardinals: 59-56 (3rd place, NL Central)
Royals: 49-65 (Last place, AL Central)

Projected lineup

Tommy Edman (S) 2B
Paul Goldschmidt (R) 1B
Nolan Arenado (R) DH
Tyler O'Neill (R) LF
Yadier Molina (R) C
Paul DeJong (R) SS
Harrison Bader (R) CF
Edmundo Sosa (R) 3B
Jose Rondon (R) RF

Whit Merrifield (R) 2B
Nicky Lopez (L) SS
Salvador Perez (R) C
Carlos Santana (S) 1B
Andrew Benintendi (L) LF
Hunter Dozier (R) RF
Ryan O'Hearn (L) DH
Emmanuel Rivera (R) 3B
Jarrod Dyson (L) CF

Probable starting pitchers: J.A. Happ (STL) vs Kris Bubic (KC)

Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Cardinals -120, Royals +100

Recent form (entering Saturday)
Cardinals: Won four straight
Royals: Lost three of four

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Cardinals - Royals preview

It’s go time for the St. Louis Cardinals.

They’re not going to catch the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central, but they’re not quite out of the wild card hunt. This recent run of winning, entering their series finale against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, is hope for a sign of things to come.

St. Louis secured the series opener Friday night with a 6-0 win against the Royals behind six strong innings from current ace Jack Flaherty. The Cardinals' offense was carried by star third baseman Nolan Arenado, who drove in two runs, including a solo home run.

Flaherty made his first start on the mound since May 31 due to a left oblique injury and it looked like he never left. The pitch count was fine; it took 81 pitches for him to get through the Royals’ lineup with no problem, showing flashes on why he was a National League Cy Young Award candidate at one point this year. As the Cardinals’ former ace Adam Wainwright gets older, the rotation is in good hands with the California native.

“I think competing with these guys, specifically,” he said. “Competing is one thing, but being able to look out and having [Yadier Molina] put signs down. Before every hitter, I just reach over and kind of acknowledge [Paul Goldschmidt], and seeing him over there and seeing those guys out there in the field, just a different feeling coming in the dugout, being a part of that, seeing my name in the lineup card and being able to compete with these guys. That was something I missed.”

The 25-year-old Flaherty showed no rust in improving to 9-1 with a 2.65 ERA. There’s no better trade deadline acquisition for these pressure situations. There’s no doubt Flaherty is a quality pitcher and a tremendous talent. The question remains what the Cardinals do beyond Flaherty’s ability, and if the rotation can turn this momentum into tremendous success, between Jon Lester and Wainwright.

J.A. Happ is expected to pitch for the Cardinals, who is 6-6 with a high ERA of 6.34.

Given the status of Kansas City’s current lineup, this is a great opportunity for the Cardinals to take advantage of the win column with some road games. The Royals were held to five combined hits Friday, two of them from All-Star catcher Salvador Perez.

Perez leads the Royals with a .278 batting average, 29 homers and 73 RBI. Why does it seem like it’s only a matter of time before he’s gone, too? Tick, tock.

Kansas City’s losing record is never fun for baseball, nor is the regression over the years since their World Series run. Opponents now salivate at the thought of facing the Royals, with the assertion that it’s a one-man show.

Betting trends

The Battle of Missouri shifts in the favor of the Cardinals on the books, even though both of these are a nightmare to bet on. The Cardinals have been an underdog at times, and are looking to be in this series. The Cardinals are 14-25 (-6.6) as a road underdog starting at +100.

Final Score Prediction

This series is like revisiting that party you went to last weekend. There’s that inkling that Saturday night was going to be the time to get dressed up and it’ll be fun, then you show up and regret it the next day. All the pain relievers can’t help you because it was that awful. You go on Twitter and see the photos, and the ratio is unreal. Then you get approached on Thursday to go again, and just say no. That’s like watching this game. Cardinals win, under cashes.

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