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Royals vs. Guardians MLB Odds, Pick & Preview: Expect Low-Scoring AL Central Matchup (Wednesday, June 1)

Royals vs. Guardians MLB Odds, Pick & Preview: Expect Low-Scoring AL Central Matchup (Wednesday, June 1) article feature image

Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images. Pictured: Brad Keller (Royals)

  • The Royals square off against the Guardians in an AL Central duel from Cleveland.
  • Brad Keller will take the hill for Kansas City while Konnor Pilkington gets the start for Cleveland.
  • D.J. James breaks down the matchup and offers up his best bet.

Royals vs. Guardians Odds

Royals Odds+115
Guardians Odds-135
Over/Under9 (-115/-105)
Time1:10 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

Brad Keller and the Kansas City Royals take on Konnor Pilkington and the Cleveland Guardians in a Wednesday matinee.

Keller has been solid this season, posting a 3.95 ERA and 3.70 xERA. He’s not necessarily strong with limiting hard contact, but he’s one of Kansas City’s best starting pitchers.

Pilkington has only seen limited action, but he’s been stretched to two- and three-inning appearances lately. He works as an opener, but should be able to handle himself against a Kansas City lineup that struggles against lefties.

The same goes for Cleveland. The Guardians only have a 98 wRC+ off of righties, so Keller should be in good shape.

Taking the under is a wise call for this division rivalry game.

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Can Keller Go Deep Into Game For Royals?

Keller predominantly features his slider, sinker and fastball. He has a changeup, which he throws around 7% of the time, too.

Since he’s averaging a slider usage around 37%, looking at how Cleveland has performed on this type of pitch is a strong idea. Unfortunately for them, only four hitters have posted above a .325 xwOBA on this pitch this season: Oscar Gonzalez, José Ramírez, Andrés Giménez and Josh Naylor. Otherwise, the lineup greatly struggles.

Now, Keller will not walk many batters, but he also does not strike out many, either. Essentially, this slider should induce weak contact for the latter half of the Cleveland order.

The Royals’ bullpen has been abysmal in May, but the unit does have a couple of pieces who can fill in successfully when Keller exits.

Since Keller does not strike many hitters out, it allows him the capability — at times — to go deep into the game. He’s gone seven innings in four starts.

Since the Guardians do not hit righties very well — except for the top of their order — he should be in a good position to succeed.

Arodys Vizcaíno, Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont are the only Royals relievers who have a sub-4.00 xFIP in May. Keller will mitigate some damage if he can exit the game late.

Guardians Counting On Strong Bullpen

In his last two outings, Pilkington has gone at least three innings. He has not fared well (five earned runs in seven innings), but this Royals lineup is weak.

Edward Olivares and Michael A. Taylor find themselves on the injured list, so this further hinders manager Mike Matheny’s ability to string together a palpable lineup against a left-handed pitcher.

The Royals only own a 92 wRC+ mark off of southpaws this month, with a .302 OBP and 6.9% walk rate.

This season, only three hitters on the active roster have eclipsed the .340 xwOBA mark off of lefties, and Olivares is one of them. The others are Emmanuel Rivera and Whit Merrifield.

Key contributors like Bobby Witt Jr. and Salvador Pérez come in at a sub-.215 xwOBA.

That likely means Pilkington should be fine against this lineup.

The Cleveland bullpen has also been great in May, as they own a 3.64 xFIP with a 3.09 ERA. They will bear the brunt of innings in this game if Pilkington only goes four innings or so.

They should be up to the task, though. Emmanuel Clase has been phenomenal, and they have five other arms at a sub-4.00 xFIP.

Royals-Guardians Pick

Neither team is spectacular against this type of starting pitcher. The Guardians will struggle against Keller — like they did in April. Pilkington should hold the Royals in check for a few innings and hand it off to a great bullpen from there.

Take the under as two subpar offenses face each other.

Pick: Under 9 (-115) | play to 8 (-120)

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