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Royals vs Padres Predictions Today | MLB Odds, Picks for Monday, May 15

Royals vs Padres Predictions Today | MLB Odds, Picks for Monday, May 15 article feature image

Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Brad Keller

A new week in Major League Baseball means a new opportunity to make some money. There are 11 games on this Monday slate and plenty of value to be found.

As a reminder, the Payoff Pitch podcast MLB experts break down their favorite picks from the day’s slate every Monday, Tuesday and Friday, including each analyst’s favorite underdog on the slate, and they’re aligned on one juicy underdog today..

You can read about their picks below, and be sure to subscribe to Payoff Pitch for MLB picks and predictions all season long.

Royals vs. Padres, 9:40 p.m. ET

Brad Keller vs. Michael Wacha

Sean Zerillo: Our favorite underdog is the Kansas City Royals. I like them to both halves, projected them closer to +150.

We’ve talked a lot about Brad Keller and I’ve written a lot about Brad Keller this season. He’s having a very odd year because I know for a fact that he’s not hurt. The velocity and everything holds up fine. He’s just struggling and tinkering with his pitch mix. He went to Driveline Baseball over the winter and swapped out his entire arsenal: four-seam fastball became a cutter, slider became a sweeper, added a curveball.

It wasn’t working. He was throwing his curveball as much as 40% of the time through his first four starts, and then he scrapped it almost completely. He started pushing his slider up, his changeup up. His slider got up close to 50% in his last start. In his last five starts he has 13 strikeouts and 24 walks, which is about as bad as it gets in terms of a major league pitcher being able to stay in a rotation and walk and strikeout guys.

But I know that the form is going to come for Keller, I see it. I’ve watched all of these starts. He’s going to find it. He’s just tinkering with his pitch mix and he hasn’t found it yet, but it’s coming.

I think throwing this slider more might be the key. He threw it about as much as he ever has in last start. So I would expect to see that again. He kept walking guys and then getting a double play ball immediately. Everything was on the ground in the infield, the Royals just have a horrendous defense and they let a few of those get through.

But if you look at these two pitchers on paper, Brad Keller and Michael Wacha, FanGraphs projections across five different systems basically views them as the same pitcher. Their FIP ranges for the two pitchers are 4.6 to 5.15 – essentially identical across those five projects. So on paper, they’re very similar pitchers.

Obviously there are advantages for the Padres elsewhere, but I make this line about 40% for Kansas City, so anything +165 or better in either half would be a bet for me – they’re certainly within range of both of those.

And Keller is a guy I’m just going to keep backing, expecting him to find it at some point. I’ve downgraded him a little bit, relative to where I had him earlier in the year when I thought he would improve off the new pitch mix, and I have him back to previous levels, but even there I still like him.

B.J. Cunningham: I’m going to echo everything Sean said about Brad Keller. But I’ll talk about Michael Wacha, who has vastly outperformed his expected metrics going on four years now, and really did vastly over-perform with Boston last season. Through seven starts this season he’s around a five xERA, and it’s because all of his pitches are incredibly below average. His Stuff+ rating is 90, but his Location+ rating is 103, so he’s getting by with very below average stuff.

What tends to happen with pitchers like Michael Wacha is, you can’t outrun your expected metrics. Eventually, they will catch up to you. You can’t just keep getting hit hard over and over again. Balls will eventually start to find the gaps, balls will eventually start going over the fence.

Like Sean mentioned, Brad Keller really has struggled with location and control, and the Royals offense has been bad – they’re near the bottom in wOBA and wRC+ against right-handed pitching – and from a talent perspective the Padres have been significantly better. But if you look at the Royals bullpen, it’s not terrible. It’s right around league average: Stuff+ rating 105, they’re 14th in xFIP, and they actually have the second highest K per 9 rate in baseball.

I agree with Sean. I project the Royals at +143, so anything +165 or better, there’s definitely some value on the Royals.

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