Royals vs. Rangers Odds & Picks: Why to Bet Kansas City On the Road
William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Brad Keller.
- The Kansas City Royals travel south to take on the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.
- The Royals send Brad Keller to the mound while the Rangers counter with Martin Perez, and both have impressed early in 2022.
- Check out Charlie DiSturco's full betting breakdown for this Tuesday matchup below.
Royals vs. Rangers Odds
|Time||8:05 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.|
Fresh off a series loss to the Yankees, the lowly Texas Rangers return home to face another slumping American League foe in the Kansas City Royals, who dropped two out of three in Baltimore this weekend.
The Rangers will turn to veteran southpaw Martin Perez on Tuesday night, and he has been dominant in the early portion of 2022. The same could be said for Royals starter Brad Keller, who will take the mound opposite Perez.
Can the slumping Royals bounce back behind Keller en route to a much-needed win, or will Texas defend its home field and get Perez his first win of 2022?
Keller Improving After Rough 2021 Season
One of the biggest surprises out of Kansas City this season has been the improved play of Keller.
A year removed from a dreadful 2021 in which he struggled with control and finished in the bottom 1% of all pitchers with a 6.51 xERA, the righty has a 1.74 ERA over five starts.
While the sample size is limited, Keller has been above-average in nearly all advanced metrics. He has limited hard contact, his xERA sits at 3.00 and opponents have a .244 xBA against him this year. If the season ended today, both of those numbers would be career bests.
From an arsenal perspective, Keller has been throwing his sinker less, and his most effective pitch, the slider, has jumped up nearly a mile per hour. He’s not generating more swings and misses, but a slight tweak has led to an incredibly effective start.
Last year, opponents had a .248 xBA and .416 xSLG against Keller’s slider. This season? Just .183 and .268, respectively.
From an offense perspective, Kansas City has struggled to get anything going. It’s the sixth-worst team in wRC+ and third-worst in wOBA. While they do hit slightly better against southpaws, the Royals have lagged behind.
Whit Merrifield, one of the most consistent hitters in recent years, has a wRC+ of -3. Yes, negative. And Salvador Perez has been below-average himself (89 wRC+). While they should turn it around as the season progresses, it’s quite alarming for the Royals’ two best bats to still be struggling nearly a month in.
Rangers’ Bats Continue to Struggle
Like the Royals, the Rangers’ biggest flaw has been its offense. They enter this series fresh off a series loss to the Yankees in which Texas was held to one run twice.
The Rangers have been slightly better than the Royals at the plate but also rank in the bottom 10 in both wRC+ and wOBA — and they’re actually below KC in on-base percentage.
Texas’ superstars have also struggled in the early going. Its big free agent signings of Marcus Semien and Corey Seager have yet to pay off, as both rank below average in wRC+, with Semien actually being the second-worst Ranger in that category behind Kole Calhoun.
And to make matters worse, this team has struggled significantly more against right-handed pitching, which it draws Tuesday night against Keller.
The Rangers hit just .208 against righties with an on-base percentage of .269. When facing a southpaw, those numbers jump up to .235 and .315, respectively.
Texas will be relying heavily on Perez once again as he continues to look for his first win of 2022. Despite a 2.25 ERA and an impressive 2.73 xERA to start the season, run support has come at a premium for the veteran.
Perez has made a few changes from last season, specifically throwing his four-seam fastball and cutter a lot less and focusing on a sinker-changeup combo. The end result has been a huge bump in ground ball percentage — over 10% from last season — and not one ball has left the park this season.
The only concern for the southpaw is that he grades out around average in hard-hit percentage, walk rate and average exit velocity.
To me, this is more of a 50-50 matchup than the current line indicates.
Both of these offenses are scary to back because of their struggles over the past month, but the edge might tip ever-so-slightly in Kansas City’s favor. The Rangers have been abysmal against right-handed pitching, and Keller has been a different pitcher in 2022.
While the same could be said for Perez, I’m a bit cautious with backing him. His BABIP is .256 — nearly .05 lower than his career average — and his xFIP sits at 3.95.
The veteran southpaw has been great by all standards this season, but I think the Royals should be closer to EV and truly think this matchup is a toss-up.
So, give me the underdog Royals on the road behind Keller to take down the Rangers on Tuesday night.
Pick: Royals +120 (Play to +110)