Rangers vs. Royals MLB Odds & Picks: Kansas City Overvalued For First Five Innings (Sunday, April 4)
Ralph Freso/Getty Images. Pictured: Texas Rangers standout Joey Gallo.
- The Rangers and Royals meet on Sunday in the finale of their series in Kansas City.
- The Royals have won the first two games of the series and Texas will be looking to avoid the sweep.
- Brad Cunningham explains below why he likes the Rangers to get off to a fast start.
Rangers vs. Royals Odds
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The Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals meet Sunday to finish off their series at Kauffman Stadium.
The first game was an absolute slugfest, with the Royals walking away with a 14-10 victory. Kansas City kept things going Saturday, scoring 10 runs combined in the fifth and sixth innings, to roll in a 11-4 win.
The Royals and Rangers were both picked to finish near the bottom of the division, but perhaps a sweep for Kansas City could be just what it needs to outperform it’s preseason expectations.
Texas was one of the worst offenses in all of baseball last season. The club ranked in the bottom three of baseball in runs, home runs, batting average, wOBA, and wRC+.
However, the Rangers did make some upgrades in the offseason to combat those offensive issues. They added the likes of David Dahl, Nate Lowe, Khris Davis and Brock Holt, who are upgrades compared to the players the Rangers were rolling out last season.
The biggest problem for Texas last season is it couldn’t hit sliders or curveballs. Brady Singer is primarily a sinker/slider pitcher, so I expect the Rangers to see a heavy dose of sliders in this game.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals made some major upgrades this offseason, adding Andrew Benintendi and Carlos Santana. Those improvements are big, because they finished in the bottom 10 in baseball in pretty much every statistical category.
Through its first two games of the season, though, Kansas City has been the best offense in baseball, scoring a whopping 25 runs. So, we’ll see if the Royals will be able to keep it going here.
Kansas City was below average against righties, putting up a .307 wOBA and 91 wRC+. However, they’ll have a good opportunity against Jordan Lyles, who is predominately a fastball pitcher. That’s the pitch the Royals had the most success against last season.
Starting Pitching Matchup
Jordan Lyles vs. Brady Singer
2021 ZIPS Projected Stats (via Fangraphs)
Jordan Lyles, RHP
2020 Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)
Lyles had the worst season of his career in 2020. He put up a 7.02 ERA, 5.92 xFIP and gave 12 home runs in only 12 appearances. To be honest, his curveball and slider were actually pretty effective last year, as opposing hitters only hit .238 combined off those two pitches. His biggest problem by far is his fastball.
Lyles’ fastball is slow and doesn’t have a lot of movement, so if he is missing his location, opposing hitters tee off on it. If he can’t figure out the location in this affair, he’s going to be in a world of hurt because the Royals crush fastballs (ranked 10th in weighted Fastball runs in 2020, per Fangraphs) as a team.
Brady Singer, RHP
2020 Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)
Brady Singer, the Royals’ 2018 first-round pick, had a very solid first season in the big leagues last year. In 12 starts, he posted a 4.06 ERA and 4.05 xFIP. Singer mainly uses a fastball-slider combination, and both were actually very effective by keeping opposing hitters under a .300 wOBA on both pitches.
The Rangers were the worst team in baseball last season against sliders, so I’d expect Singer to use that pitch early and often.
Both bullpens are shot entering the final game of the series. After 24 combined runs on Opening Day and 15 more Saturday, relievers are going to be tired, even if it’s the first series of the season.
The Rangers and Royals are going to end up being two of the worst bullpens in the American League, and they’ve shown it during this series.
Even though Lyles has a terrible matchup against Kansas City’s red-hot lineup, I think the first five moneyline for the team is overvalued.
Yeah, the Royals have put up 25 runs already this year, but this was a bottom-10 lineup in 2020, so I don’t think they should by such heavy favorites for the first five innings.
Therefore, I am going to back the Rangers for the first five innings at +170 odds via DraftKings as my top pick.
Pick: Rangers — First Five Innings (+170)