Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 3:45 PM EST.
Kansas City +138 over L.A. ANGELS
9:38 PM EST. With the Royals attempting to figure things out, manager Mike Matheny announced Sunday that Jackson Kowar (RHP - KC) would start Monday against the Angels. Kowar becomes the third top pitching prospect for Kansas City to reach the majors, following Brady Singer and Daniel Lynch. The 33rd-overall pick in 2018 out of Florida, Kowar was a fast riser, making it to Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2019. At both High-A and Double-A, Kowar overachieved with a xERA roughly a run higher than his ERA. He did strike out a fair amount, while limiting the home runs especially at High-A.
In 2020, like many top prospects, Kowar disappeared into the alt sight black hole. From reports, things went well enough for Kowar to maintain his top prospect status. 2021 seems to back that up, with a 0.85 ERA and a 3:1 K/BB ratio across six starts with Triple-A Omaha.
Kowar is a three-pitch pitcher, with two plus offerings. His fastball sits in the mid 90s, but has been known to touch the upper ranges at times. He pairs it with a changeup regarded as his best offering. It generally arrives around 82-85, with good fade and useful velocity separation from the fastball that makes it difficult for hitters to assess until it’s too late. Lastly there is the curveball, but it’s nothing to write home about. It’s the third wheel in his arsenal, though if he could even get it to be serviceable, Kowar would have another viable weapon.
Kowar’s command is fine for a starter. He is going to rely primarily on spotting his fastball, charging it up when necessary, then bamboozling hitters with the changeup for his out pitch. Because of its downward movement, hitters who do make contact with the change will drive it into the ground. Where Kowar will get into trouble is if his fastball command wavers, leaving fat pitches in prime hitting zones, or if he unleashes a bad curveball to the wrong hitter.
Kowar is a large dude, which typically coincides with some command struggles, and before this season has contributed to less-than-stellar WHIPs. Heading into 2021, Kowar has been primarily a two-pitch guy and has been compared to Chris Paddack but he has been a little better at locating the curveball in Triple-A, and the results have definitely reflected that (0.85 ERA with a 0.88 WHIP) with a strikeout rate tickling 34 percent. Still, Triple-A bats are mighty different than MLB sticks, and as noted above, the bender is more of a “show me” pitch than a weapon.
The above is merely the scouting report on Jackson Kowar. Dude might get whacked just like high-touted Daniel Lynch did earlier this year. Lynch came in and in three starts with the big club, posted an ERA close to 16.00. Lynch was rated higher than Kowar but in the grand scheme of things, that means very little. Many great pitchers of the past got whacked in their first taste of the bigs while others thrived. There is no science to knowing how a guy will do in his MLB debut. Some can handle it and nerves get the better of others. At the end of the day, Kowar can pitch and looks MLB ready. Furthermore, the Angels are beatable, and so, too, is their starter.
Dylan Bundy (RHP - LAA) looks lost or hurt right now, as he imploded in May: 9.70 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 19% K%, 12% K-BB%, 5.08 xERA over five games started. Bundy posted his only strong game of 2021 against the Royals back in April, but he doesn't look like the same pitcher now, and the Royals are hitting better as of late (.756 OPS over the last two weeks), which comes as no surprise since they have struck out the 4th least in the majors just behind Houston, San Diego and Toronto.
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Kansas City +138 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.76)