Cubs vs Royals Pick Today | MLB Odds, Predictions (Friday, August 18)
Pictured: Bobby Witt Jr. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Royals vs. Cubs Odds
Cole Ragans has surprisingly been a diamond in the rough for the Kansas City Royals. The 25-year-old southpaw has limited hard contact and strikes out batters at an above-average clip.
He will face the Chicago Cubs, who have hammered righties but been horrible against lefties this month.
The Cubs will throw Jameson Taillon, who looked to be on track until the Toronto Blue Jays tagged him for eight earned runs at Wrigley Field.
Since there is such a wide discrepancy between these starters, and since the Royals have hit righties well this month, let's back Kansas City on the moneyline.
Ragans owns a 4.21 ERA with a 3.62 xERA this season. However, since the Royals acquired him from the Rangers in July, he has been great. His post-All-Star break ERA is 2.38 (22 1/3 innings) and his Average Exit Velocity ranks in the 72nd percentile. His Hard-Hit Rate is in the 56th percentile and his strikeout rate is in the 67th percentile. His 11% walk rate is concerning, but overall, he's had a solid campaign.
Cole Ragans last 3 starts:
22 Ks (19 over his last 2 starts)
This dude is building a case to be someone we talk about in a major way beyond 2023 pic.twitter.com/l9QQy5sZba
— David Mendelson (@DMendy02) August 8, 2023
Kansas City's offense has surprised in August. The Royals have a 139 wRC+ with an 18% strikeout rate and a .887 OPS off of righties this month. They have five active hitters with a xwOBA over .380 and a few others above .300. They should handle Taillon with ease.
Kansas City’s bullpen has struggled, which is certainly a concern when taking the moneyline. The Royals relievers have a 5.64 xFIP with just a 15.8% strikeout rate and a 10.5% walk rate this month. Nick Wittgren and Carlos Hernández are the more reliable arms, but Ragans will have to limit the walks to put less strain on the bullpen.
Taillon has been awful this season with a 5.71 ERA and a 5.22 xERA. His Average Exit Velocity ranks in the 70th percentile and his Hard-Hit rate ranks in the 58th percentile. He only walks 7.1% of batters, but his strikeout rate is just 20.2% and his Barrel Rate is over 10%.
The Cubs offense has had recent struggles against southpaws. In August, Chicago has a 79 wRC+ with a 5.4% walk rate and a 28.7% strikeout rate. Their OPS is .674 and they only have four batters with a xwOBA over .310 against lefties this month. As a result, Ragans should have another decent start.
In relief, the Cubs have the advantage, but they've also had their own hiccups. This month, Chicago's bullpen has a 4.46 xFIP with a 24.5% strikeout rate and an 11.1% walk rate. They are also getting lucky with a 78.2% LOB percentage. Kansas City could take advantage, especially with righties pitching.
Royals vs. Cubs
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