The Los Angeles Angels hope to stay hot when they continue their road trip against the Kansas City Royals. Thursday night marks the first game of a four-game set between the two sides.
The Angels head to Kansas City fresh off a sweep of the Texas Rangers. The club has won seven of its last eight games, catapulting them to first place in the AL West and making them the first team in the American League to reach 10 wins this season.
Meanwhile, the Royals are mired in a slump. They’ve lost five of their last six games and are just 1-4 at home this season. Few expected Kansas City to be a playoff contender this season, but a 3-7 start to the season is worse than expected. The Los Angeles Angeles are -110 over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.
How Deep Is Your Rotation
Nick Tropeano is being called up from triple-A to make the start for Los Angeles on Thursday. He will become the team’s eight different starting pitcher in just 14 games, as injuries to Matt Shoemaker and J.C. Ramirez has tested rotation depth early in the year. The good news is that Tropeano has 24 big league starts under his belt. He posted a 3.56 ERA in 13 starts for the Angels in 2016 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, making this his long-awaited return to the majors.
Tropeano should benefit from facing the worst offensive team in baseball. The Royals have scored a league-low 31 runs in their 10 games. Mike Moustakas is mashing the ball early in the year, but he’s the only Kansas City hitter with an OPS over .700. Meanwhile, Moustakas and Whit Merrifield are the only Royals hitting over .250 thus far, giving Tropeano a good chance to give the Angels a quality start.
All in Kennedy’s Hands
Fortunately for the Royals, they will send Ian Kennedy to the hill. Kennedy has been brilliant early in the year, allowing just one run on eight hits over 12 innings of work in his two starts. Last time out, Kennedy struck out eight in six shutout innings in a win against the Indians, so the Royals should feel good about their chances with him on the mound.
Of course, the Angels have scored the most runs in baseball this season, and it’s not even close. The Halos have a deep lineup, making Mike Trout the least of the problems for opposing pitchers. Historically, Kennedy has handled most of the hitters in the Los Angeles lineup. However, Zack Cozart is 5 for 11 while Albert Pujols is 5 for 18 with three home runs against him. The wild card, of course, is Shoehei Ohtani, who has three home runs and eight RBIs in just 22 at-bats.
Faith in Halos
The way Kennedy has pitched this season definitely gives the Royals a chance. There’s also a little uncertainty about how Tropeano will fair in his return from Tommy John. But the Royals have been one of the worst teams in the league this season, while the Angels are one of the hottest teams in baseball, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them do some damage against Kennedy. Bet on the Los Angeles Angels -110 on Thursday.