A full Saturday of televised MLB action with plenty of playoff races left to be decided. For the September 20 free picks, we’ll look at one game from each part of the day as FOX and MLB Network have baseball fans covered and then some on Saturday.

Matchup: Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals

Date/Time: September 20, 1:05 p.m. ET


MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook

Probable Starters: DET: Max Scherzer (16-5, 3.26) v. KC: James Shields (14-7, 3.15)

Moneyline: Kansas City -118

Total: 7

You may not find a better pitching matchup in a heated playoff race than Saturday’s matinee between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals. Reigning Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer takes on “Big Game” James Shields as wins are extremely important for both teams. The Tigers and Royals are going to go down to the wire in the AL Central Division and each team controls their own destiny in the AL Wild Card chase as well.

Max Scherzer has had to step up with Justin Verlander’s ineffectiveness and Anibal Sanchez’s injury. The power righty has done exactly that. Scherzer is 16-5 with a 3.26 ERA on the season. Over his last 16 starts, the Tigers are 12-4 and Scherzer is 8-2 with a 2.72 ERA. Scherzer gave up 10 runs on 10 hits in 4.1 innings to the Royals on June 17 and has been terrific since then. Scherzer has pounded the strike zone with a 67 percent strike-throwing rate in that span and he has allowed just seven home runs in 109 innings.

Since July 7, James Shields has allowed more than three earned runs in exactly one of his 14 starts. He’s 6-3 with a 2.21 ERA in that span and opposing batters are hitting just .232. Shields has won each of his last three starts despite just eight runs of support. Over his last five starts, Shields is 3-2 with just 11 runs worth of support. That’s the mark of an ace and Shields has been exactly that.

Scherzer is 10-5 in 20 career starts against the Royals with a 3.74 ERA. Ten of the 49 earned runs he has allowed came in one start earlier this season to skew this season’s statistics. He’s 1-1 with a 5.30 ERA in three starts. The Tigers are 22-9 in Scherzer’s 31 starts for a profit of 9.93 units.

Shields is 7-5 in 18 career starts against the Tigers with a 4.11 ERA. Over his last nine starts in the last two years, Shields is 2-4 with a 4.55 ERA. Shields does have a 1.09 WHIP in three starts against the Tigers this season despite a 1-2 record and a 4.05 ERA. The Royals are 20-12 in 32 starts for a profit of 4.79 units.

Free MLB Pick: Kansas City Royals

Both teams are sending their ace to the mound, but the Royals have a big bullpen advantage and this game has a very good chance of coming down to the bullpens. The Royals need this game badly and Shields has been spectacular despite low run support of late.

Matchup: Philadelphia Phillies at Oakland Athletics

Date/Time: September 20, 4:05 p.m. ET

TV: MLB Network

MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook

Probable Starters: PHI: Jerome Williams (3-2, 2.84) v. OAK: Drew Pomeranz (5-4, 2.53)

Moneyline: Oakland -190

Total: 7.5

The Oakland Athletics are desperately trying to patch the holes in their leaking boat so that they can maintain a playoff spot. After having the best record in baseball and far and away the best run differential, the A’s are in complete disarray and are actually in danger of missing the playoffs altogether. The Phillies are just playing out the string, but they have hovered around .500 since the All-Star Break, which is a testament to the team’s resilience.

The Philadelphia Phillies were just hoping to get innings from Jerome Williams, but he has actually pitched pretty well so far. The veteran right-hander is 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA in seven starts for the Phillies. He also spent time with Texas and Houston this season. Williams has held opposing batters to a .222 batting average and, most importantly against a team like the A’s, has walked 15 in 44.1 innings.

The A’s will turn to Drew Pomeranz on Saturday afternoon for his first start since August 27. Pomeranz is drawing a spot start while Jason Hammel is away for the birth of a child. Pomeranz has only pitched once in the month of September, a three-inning relief appearance. Pomeranz has made nine starts this season with a 2.85 ERA. But, he hasn’t pitched since September 2 and that’s a very long layoff for any pitcher, let alone one with questionable control like Pomeranz.

Williams has 17 previous appearances, 10 starts, against the Athletics in his career. He is 5-5 with a 3.96 ERA. This season, in one start and three relief appearances, Williams is 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA. The Phillies are 4-3 for a profit of 3.12 units in Williams’s seven starts.

Pomeranz faced the Phillies twice as a member of the Colorado Rockies in 2012. He was 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in two starts. The A’s are 5-4 in Pomeranz’s nine starts for a profit of 0.07 units.

Free MLB Pick: Oakland Athletics

Unfamiliar lefties tend to be a profitable angle and the A’s are going to play this game as a must-win. If Pomeranz struggles, he’ll be pulled and if he’s pitching well, he’ll go until his arm falls off. The A’s are a superior team despite how they’ve played lately.

Matchup: San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres

Date/Time: September 20, 8:40 p.m. ET

TV: MLB Network

MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook

Probable Starters: SF: Yusmeiro Petit (5-4, 3.64) v. SD: Andrew Cashner (4-7, 2.20)

Moneyline: San Diego -115

Total: 6

The San Francisco Giants are going to make the playoffs, but whether they will host the NL Wild Card game or head out on the road remains to be seen. The Giants have a comfortable lead over Milwaukee and still maintain a lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates, who look like they’re going to be the fifth team to punch a ticket to the NL posteason. The San Diego Padres looked like they had a shot at .500, but they fell apart again as injuries and off-the-field problems became too much to handle once again.

Yusmeiro Petit has been a very valuable part of the Giants pitching staff in a swingman role and now as a full-time starter. Petit has made four straight starts with a 3.81 ERA. One of those starts was a complete game at home against Arizona. In 106.1 innings, Petit has 118 strikeouts between starting and relieving. In 20 appearances since the middle of June, Petit has posted a 2.76 ERA over 58.2 innings with just four home runs allowed and 73 strikeouts.

Andrew Cashner has only made 17 starts this season as the Padres have been very careful with the right elbow of their ace. Cashner missed nearly a month from mid-May to early June and then missed another two months from June 18 to August 23. Since returning from his second DL stint, Cashner is 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA. Cashner has only gotten 2.3 runs of support per game in his 17 starts. He is coming off a complete game shutout against the Phillies in which he threw just 92 pitches. Cashner has exceeded 100 pitches only twice this season.

Petit is 1-4 with a 4.76 ERA in 11 career appearances, four starts, against the Padres. He has thrown eight scoreless innings this season with only five baserunners allowed. The Giants are 6-4 for a profit of 1.41 units in Petit’s 10 starts.

Cashner is 1-3 in nine appearances with a 3.97 ERA. Three of those appearances were starts and they all came last season. Cashner was 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA last season. This is his first start against the Giants in 2014. The Padres are 9-8 in Cashner’s 17 starts for a profit of 0.35 units.

Free MLB Pick: San Francisco Giants

Cashner is a special pitcher, but Petit has thrown the ball very well of late and the Giants have a lot more to play for than the Padres do. There’s a lot of concern paid to Cashner In every start and coming off a complete game, he may have a shorter leash than usual.