MLB Expert Picks for Monday: Can the Royals Pull a Shocker in Oakland?

MLB Expert Picks for Monday: Can the Royals Pull a Shocker in Oakland? article feature image

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Glenn Sparkman (57) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field.

  • Our experts give out their favorite plays for Monday's MLB slate, including White Sox vs. Twins.

John Ewing: Royals at A’s

Glenn Sparkman (4-11, 5.94 ERA) vs. Tanner Roark (4-1, 3.40 ERA)

  • Royals Moneyline: +250
  • A’s Moneyline: -285
  • Over/Under: 9.5
  • First pitch: 10:07 p.m. ET

We are in the home stretch of the 2019 MLB season. The regular season will end in two weeks and it is clear which clubs are competing for the playoffs and the teams that are making vacation plans.

The Athletics (90-60) currently occupy a Wild Card spot, while the Royals (55-95) are 40 games below .500. Oakland and Kansas City take the field tonight and many casual bettors would expect the extra motivation the A’s have to reach the postseason would give them an advantage.

History suggests otherwise.

Since 2005, bad teams that have won fewer than 40% of their games, like the Royals, have gone 89-113 (44%) against opponents with a winning record in Games 150 or later in the season — approximately the last two weeks. Despite the losing record, it has been profitable to bet these clubs because they are plus-money underdogs.

Kansas City has nothing to play for, which likely inflates this line, but given the randomness in baseball they have value as a big underdog tonight.

The PICK: Royals +250

Sean Zerillo: Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins

Reynaldo Lopez (9-13, 5.35 ERA) vs. Jose Berrios (12-8, 3.63 ERA)

  • White Sox Moneyline: +210
  • Twins Moneyline: -240
  • Over/Under: 9.5
  • First pitch: 7:40 p.m. ET

I’m a big fan of Jose Berrios. He’s fun to watch, has great energy and an ace-like demeanor on the mound, and throws some beautiful looking curveballs.

He’s also presently overrated while sporting a career-best 3.62 ERA. There is little evidence to suggest that he has improved as a pitcher this season:

His FIP has remained stagnant for three seasons, with his xFIP coming in line with those marks in 2018; but sitting more than a half-run higher both two years ago and again this season.

Meanwhile, Reynaldo Lopez has experienced a velocity uptick and an overlapping increase in all strikeout and walk related metrics throughout the course of this season.

Here’s how Lopez (12 starts) and Berrios (11 starts) compare since the 2019 All-Star Break:

Not much between them, overall. Lopez is very much a pitcher on the rise, and I have continued to buy his stock of late; especially as a big underdog.

I played him on the spread in the first five innings, but anything over +200 (implied 33.3%) in either half is incredibly actionable – as I set the odds around +160 (38.5%).

The fact that this play lines up with numerous profitable BetLabs systems makes me like it all the way down to +175:

The PICK: Chicago White Sox +210

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