Pirates vs. Royals Odds & Pick: The Team Total to Bet on Monday (May 31)

Pirates vs. Royals Odds & Pick: The Team Total to Bet on Monday (May 31) article feature image
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Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Adam Frazier (left) and Jacob Stallings (right).

  • The Kansas City Royals host the Pittsburgh Pirates for some Memorial Day baseball action on Monday night.
  • The Royals will send Mike Minor to the mound, and he has struggled to limit teams when starting in Kauffman Stadium.
  • Michael Arinze breaks down the game below and makes a pick explaining why he like a specific team total in this game.

Pirates vs. Royals Odds

Pirates Odds +163
Royals Odds -200
Over/Under 8 (-114 / -107)
Time 8:10 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Monday afternoon and via DraftKings.

After winning two out of three games in their series with the Twins, the Royals are back to within a game of .500.

Kansas City got off to a 16-5 start before an 11-game losing streak sent it spiraling down in the division. It’ll hope to start another winning streak on Monday when it welcomes in the Pirates for a two-game interleague series.

Royals left-hander Mike Minor will get the start, and Chad Kuhl will oppose him for the Pirates.

Historically, games at Kauffman Stadium have favored under bettors. However, that trend has shifted over the last three seasons to favor bettors who fancy playing overs. We could see a similar situation on Monday night when the Pirates and Royals face off.

After digging into this matchup, my model has an edge on a team total for one of these teams. So, let’s take a look to see if we can find some evidence that would justify a play.

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Finding The Upside In Pittsburgh’s Offense

It’s been a woeful year for the Pirates, who find themselves at the bottom of the NL Central and 9.5 games out of first place.

Their offense has undoubtedly struggled throughout the season with a wRC+ value of 83. They’re also ranked 24th with a .228 average and dead last with a .349 slugging percentage.

While there’s plenty wrong with those numbers, one area the Pirates haven’t been as poor is when they’ve actually been able to put the ball into play (BABIP). In this category, Pittsburgh is tied for 17th with a .285 BABIP. That means there are actually eight teams with a worse BABIP than the Pirates. So, perhaps if Pittsburgh fans are searching for something to hang their hat on, they can look to BABIP.

But if we look at Pittsburgh’s numbers over the last seven days, it’s played a bit better as it’s 14th with a wRC+ value that’s just slightly below average at 94. The Pirates’ wOBA is up to .306 from .289, and slugging is up to .412 from their .349 season average.

They’ve also had some success against left-handed pitching, as their ISO jumps from .116 to .136 and their walk rate improves from 7.9% to 10%. Pittsburgh’s lineup has 17 at-bats against Minor along with a .353/.353/.706 line. While it’s a limited sample size, it does have a .455 wOBA and a .353 ISO.

To sum things up, I think Pittsburgh is well-positioned to score some runs against Minor, and I’ll also share why there’s an even better chance of that occurring with him pitching at Kauffman Stadium.

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Minor Can Be Vulnerable With Runners On

The Royals signed Minor in the offseason to add a veteran presence to a very young starting rotation. Both sides were reunited after the Royals took a chance on Minor back in 2017 when he was out of baseball for two years following Tommy John surgery.

This season, Minor is 3-2 with a 4.83 ERA. However, his 1.24 WHIP seems low for such a high ERA, suggesting that Minor has been vulnerable with either a man on base or in scoring position.

After checking his situational numbers, my suspicion proved to be true, as opposing batters have a .378/.429/.649 slash line against Minor with runners in scoring position. In fact, his batting average against and on-base percentage are career lows for Minor, along with a .453 wOBA. Minor’s 3.50 BB/9 ratio this season would also qualify as a career-low.

Earlier, I mentioned that the Pirates’ walk rate increases more than 2% when facing left-handed pitching. If they can show that type of discipline against Minor, they should have a good chance to draw some walks and move runners into scoring position before putting the screws to Minor.

Pirates-Royals Pick

The total for this game is set at 8.5, and while I like its chances to go over, I prefer to isolate the Pirates’ team total over, which BetMGM lists at 3.5 (+100). That number seems a bit low to me, so let me explain my reasoning.

Minor has made four starts against the Pirates, and in three of those games, Pittsburgh managed to score at least four runs. One of those games occurred on April 28 this year in a 9-6 Royals win in Pittsburgh. In just 4 1/3 innings, the Royals left-hander gave up five runs (four earned) while allowing six hits, two home runs, and issuing three walks. Pittsburgh finished the game 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Keep in mind that Minor has been far worse at home, as evidenced by his 6.43 ERA vs. a 3.12 ERA on the road. In fact, the Royals have lost four of their five games Minor has started at home, and opposing teams have scored a minimum of four runs in each game.

Four is the magic number to cash our team total, and I like that trend to continue in Kansas City on Monday night.

Pick: Pirates Team Total Over 3.5 (+100)

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