Matchup: Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics

Date/Time: May 17th, 10:05 PM ET

Television: Local Television Networks

MLB Betting Odds from WagerWeb

Probable Starters: Shields (Kansas City) vs. Parker (Oakland)

Moneyline: Royals -120

Total: 7.5

For the first time this season, the Kansas City Royals and the Oakland Athletics are going to square off with one another. This first meeting will be played at the Coliseum, and it should be a remarkable battle between two strong pitchers.

The Royals will be sending RHP James Shields to the bump in this one. Shields hasn't quite brought enough wins to Kansas City in his first year with his new team quite yet, as the club is only 3-5 in his starts, but he has helped changed the culture of the team and clearly has the respect of his teammates and the rest of the American League. Shields' splits are outstanding this season, knowing that he has a 0.97 WHIP to go with 53 strikeouts against just 14 walks. Shields really hasn't had a bad start this season, and he hasn't had any stretch of two starts in which he has allowed more than seven runs. The righty is eating innings up like mad as well, knowing that he has pitched eight frames in each of his last two outings. Both have resulted in losses, but he has only allowed a total of two runs and eight hits in 16 innings of work.

Oakland's starting pitching situation on Friday night isn't quite as strong. RHP Jarrod Parker does have a good history, so we know that perhaps his numbers thus far this season aren't indicative of what we are going to see for the rest of the year. Still, we remain a bit concerned that this isn't anywhere near the man that went 13-8 with a 3.47 ERA last season. Parker has 22 walks in 40.2 innings of work, and he only has 30 strikeouts to offset that. He has allowed nearly as many home runs already this season (9) as he did over the course of 29 starts last season (11). As a result, he is just 2-5 with a 6.86 ERA, and batters are absolutely just teeing off on him. Parker also hasn't thrown more than 98 pitches in a game this year, which could put a bit of strain on this bullpen in this one.

The Royals have won four of the last six in this series, and seemingly all of the games are relatively close. We have to back Shields in this situation until we know that Parker's head is screwed on straight once again. Until that happens though, Kansas City is the play to make, especially at such a cheap price.

Kansas City Royals @ Oakland Athletics Pick: Kansas City Royals -120