Thursday MLB Odds & Betting Picks for Royals vs. Tigers: Bet the Over in AL Central Clash (May 13)

Thursday MLB Odds & Betting Picks for Royals vs. Tigers: Bet the Over in AL Central Clash (May 13) article feature image
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Nic Antaya/Getty Images. Pictured: Detroit Tigers shortstop Willi Castro #9.

  • The Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers are two teams heading in polar opposite directions. The Royals are caught in a downward spiral, while the Tigers have finally begun to heat up.
  • On Thursday, the two AL Central rivals meet for the final stanza of their three-game series, and MLB betting analyst Tanner McGrath has identified value on the game total.
  • Check out his full breakdown below, including updated odds and his pick for Thursday's Royals vs. Tigers matchup.

Royals vs. Tigers Odds

Royals Odds +100
Tigers Odds -118
Over/Under 9 (-113 / -108)
Time 1:10 p.m. ET
TV MLBTV
Odds updated Thursday at 11 a.m. ET and via DraftKings.

Given the level of organizational dysfunction in Detroit, the Tigers don’t often sweep other teams. In fact, they’ve only completed three 3-game series sweeps since 2019.

However, thanks to the recent — almost inexplicable — collapse by the Royals, the Tigers have a chance to sweep on Thursday.

Detroit’s bats continue to run hot while Kansas City’s luck refuses to turn. Given the absurdity of what these two teams have accomplished recently, I’m staying away from either side and instead targeting a play on the total.

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Kansas City Royals

Just a reminder that it’s almost May and the Kansas City Royals have the best record in baseball.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 27, 2021

Since this Tweet on April 27, the Royals have gone 2-12 and have lost 10 straight games. The last two losses have been particularly gut-wrenching — and not just because they came at the hands of the worst team in baseball.

In Game 1 of this series, the Royals battled back from a 7-0 hole to tie the game at 7-7 in the top of the ninth inning … only to have the Tigers win the game in the bottom of the frame. Then in Game 2, the Royals took a 2-0 lead in the first inning … only to get shut out the rest of the way, losing 4-2.

Since the last time the Royals won a game (May 1), the Royals lineup ranks 23rd in OPS, the pitching staff ranks 25th in FIP, and the Royals have a run differential of -38. Half of the lineup has been having issues, too:

Of the 86 qualified hitters in the A.L.

OPS rankings:
67th – Jorge Soler
69th – Michael A. Taylor
70th – Nicky Lopez
79th – Hunter Dozier#Royals

— Josh Vernier (@JoshVernier610) May 13, 2021

Royals Starting Pitcher: Daniel Lynch (LHP)

Lynch, the No. 34 overall pick in the 2018 draft and one of the Royals’ top pitching prospects, has had two strange starts in the show.

Lynch was fairly effective in his May 3 MLB debut, allowing just one run in 4 2/3 innings against Cleveland. However, he also left two runners on base when he was pulled, and Scott Barlow immediately allowed a two-run double to Franmil Reyes, thus charging Lynch with three earned runs.

Five days later, Lynch learned about the White Sox vs. lefties the hard way. He allowed eight runs while managing just two outs and threw only 34 pitches. Now, here’s the silver lining: The short start enabled the Royals to move Lynch up a day so he can face the lowly Tigers rather than the mighty White Sox again.

This matchup may be a barnburner, but I’m very intrigued to observe how Lynch pitches against Detroit. In theory, Lynch’s fastball-slider combination should shut down the Tigers. After all, Detroit ranks among the bottom five teams in both weighted fastball and slider runs created (-12.6 combined).

However, the Detroit bats have also been absurdly hot lately.

Detroit Tigers

Over the past seven days, Detroit boasts the second-best offense in the league. The Tigers rank second in OPS (.816), wOBA (.363) and wRC+ (135). They’ve put up some impressive run totals in series against the Red Sox and Twins.

However, even though the Royals have lost 10 straight games and the Tigers have been hot, Detroit still remains 4.5 games behind Kansas City in the American League Central standings. That emphasizes just how poor this season has been for Detroit.

Past this recent stretch of offensive excellence, I wouldn’t expect the Tigers to have much more success. There are too many holes in the roster to fix.

However, the Tigers’ starting pitching hasn’t been horrific. Players like Matthew Boyd and Casey Mize have had their moments, and today’s starter has had similar successes:


Tigers Starting Pitcher: Spencer Turnbull (RHP)

The Tigers’ rotation features many soft-throwing, weak-contact pitchers. Turnbull is just another one of them.

His go-to pitch is a 93-mph fastball that has little-to-no movement on it. As a result, Turnbull doesn’t miss bats often (14th percentile strikeout rate; 10th percentile whiff rate). Nonetheless, he also doesn’t walk many batters (2.37 BB/9), and he forces a respectable volume of ground balls (48.3% GB rate). All-in-all, batters are hitting just .222 off Turnbull’s fastball with an average exit velocity of only 87 mph.

Turnbull also keeps the ball inside the park. In four years with Detroit, Turnbull has never allowed more than .85 homers per nine innings — including just .32 per nine innings last season.

I actually think Turnbull might be due for a bit of positive regression. His 58.6% strand rate should rise closer to his career average (67%) and his xERA is nearly a full point lower than his actual ERA.

For example: In Turnbull’s start against these Royals earlier this season, he allowed three runs on five hits over six innings and thus owned a 4.5 ERA for the start. But, his xFIP was just 3.75, and he struck out five batters while allowing zero walks.

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Royals-Tigers Pick

This game is difficult to handicap. Each team’s recent play has been so unexpected that I’m unsure what to make of either side.

However, there’s one thing I keep coming back to in this matchup: The bullpens. These two ‘pens have been worked recently.

Over the past four games, Kansas City’s relievers have pitched 19 2/3 innings and Detroit’s relief-pitchers have pitched 13 2/3. Both bullpens have been spread thin, and neither has performed particularly well. The Royals and Tigers share company among the bottom-10 teams in bullpen FIP over the past seven days.

This bullpen dynamic inspires me to wager on the over. Given both team’s relief-pitching situations, I’m banking on late-game fireworks. Furthermore, while each team’s starting pitcher possesses positive qualities, they also come with big question marks.

Today’s umpire, Edwin Moscoso, reports a lifetime record of 4-15 to the under, including an 0-6 start to the 2021 MLB season. I’m betting on more of the same tonight.

Pick: Over 9

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