American League Wild Card Game: Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals

Date/Time: September 30, 8:00 p.m. ET


MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook

Probable Starters: OAK: Jon Lester (0-0, 0.00 ERA) v. KC: James Shields (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Moneyline: Kansas City -104

Total: 6.5

The Major League Baseball playoffs begin on Tuesday night with the American League Wild Card “round” as the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals play for a spot in the American League Division Series. The winner will play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim beginning Thursday in Anaheim. Two impending free agents have the chance to add an important playoff victory to their resume as Jon Lester faces off against James Shields.

The Oakland A’s acquired Jon Lester hoping for a moment like this and they’ve got it. Lester has plenty of postseason experience with 13 games, 11 starts, and a 2.11 ERA. He’s 6-4 in his 13 appearances. Lester finished the regular season with a 16-11 record and a 2.46 ERA between Boston and Oakland. With the A’s, Lester was 6-4 with a 2.35 ERA. He was 3-2 with a 2.00 ERA in five starts in the month of September, so he comes into this start pitching well. The A’s have won just one series in their last eight playoff appearances, so the pressure is certainly on to perform well this season after nearly falling completely out of the postseason picture.

James Shields will be called upon to pitch the biggest game in the last 20 years for the Kansas City Royals. The Royals are in the postseason for the first time since 1985, when they won the World Series. Shields is no stranger to the playoffs, but he has not pitched in a postseason game since 2011. He is 2-4 with a 4.98 ERA in six starts covering 34.1 innings. Over his last 14 starts, Shields is 5-3 with a 2.62 ERA. Shields will get the benefit of a rowdy home crowd to get the adrenaline pumping.

Lester has faced the Royals 13 times in his career and he has been spectacular. He’s 9-4 with a 1.84 ERA. He faced the Royals three times this season and was a perfect 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA. The A’s are 7-4 in Lester’s 11 starts for a profit of 1.38 units.

Shields has faced the A’s 15 times in his career. He is 6-4 with a 3.82 ERA. This season, Shields faced the A’s twice and posted a 1-0 record with a 3.21 ERA. The Royals are 21-13 in his 34 starts for a profit 4.71 units.

Free MLB Pick: Kansas City Royals

In what projects to be a very low-scoring affair, the Royals have a bullpen advantage and will have the crowd supporting them. Jon Lester and James Shields should trade punches like prizefighters in this game before the bullpens take over and decide the game. Both teams have been fighting to get into the playoffs, but the A’s spent a lot of energy just to stay in the race. That could be evident in this one.