Kansas City Royals vs. Chicago White Sox Preview and Pick – (Gil Meche vs. Jose Contreras)

Kansas City Royals (23-36) +150, 8 at Chicago White Sox (32-26), 8:10 pm Eastern Thursday
by Zman of Predictem.com

The first-place team in the AL Central looks to complete a three-game sweep of the last-place team in the Central when the Chicago White Sox host the Kansas City Royals Thursday night at US Cellular Field.

Baseball bookmakers are listing Chicago and starting pitcher Jose Contreras (5-3, 2.89) as 170 home favorites for Thursday’s game, with a total of 8, while KC and Gil Meche (3-7, 5.35) are getting +150 as road underdogs.

The White Sox have taken the first two games of this series, 9-5 Tuesday and 6-4 in 15 innings Wednesday night. So Chicago now leads the AL Central by a game and a half over the second-place Minnesota Twins, while the Royals sit in 5th place, 9 1/2 games back of the Sox.

After starting 6-2 this season, the Royals have gone 17-34 since, and have lost eight of their last 10 games.

This series is the first meeting between these two teams this season. Last year, Chicago took 12 of 18 games from the Royals, while the totals went 6-9-3, as the games averaged 8.4 total runs per.

KC 11-20 on the road this season, having now lost 10 in a row away from home, 15-22 as underdogs, and 26-33 vs. the run line.

Meanwhile, Chicago 15-9 at home, 15-10 as favorites, and a profitable 36-22 vs. the run line.

Over his last three starts, including a mediocre effort vs. Cleveland last Friday, Meche has given up seven ER and 22 baserunners (hits + walks) in 18 IP. Kansas City is 4-8 in Meche’s starts this year, the totals 6-6.

Meche started three games vs. the White Sox last season, allowing six ER and 22 BR in 19 2/3 innings of work. KC went 1-2 in those three games, and two of those games stayed under their totals.

Over his last three starts, including a solid outing vs. Tampa Bay last Friday, Contreras has been very good, allowing just four ER and 15 BR in 21 IP. The Sox are 7-4 in Contreras’ starts this year, the totals 2-9.

Contreras started four games vs. KC last year, allowing 14 ER and 32 BR in 27 2/3 IP. Chicago went 1-3 in those four games, the totals 2-2.

Offensively speaking, KC ranks 16th in the majors in team batting this season at .258, 28th in team OBP at .312, 29th in team slugging at .364, and is averaging just 3.7 runs per game.

Chicago ranks 27th in the majors in batting at .248 , 17th in OBP at .326, 14th in slugging at .408, and is averaging 4.5 RPG.

On the injury front, Sox 3B Joe Crede is listed as doubtful/questionable for Thursday’s game with a sore wrist.

Over the last five games, the KC bullpen has given up six ER and 24 BR over 20 IP.

Over its last five games, the Chicago pen has allowed five ER and 13 BR in 16 1/3 IP.

The totals are 24-35 in Royals games this season, 24-35 in Sox games, and 11-14 in games played at US Cellular Field, which are averaging 8.4 total runs per this year.

Zman’s Pick: I’m laying the wood and taking the Sox.