Royals vs Red Sox Prediction Today | MLB Odds, Underdog Picks on Monday, August 7
Ed Zurga/Getty Images. Pictured: Cole Ragans #55 of the Kansas City Royals.
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've got two more to recommend today.
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Royals vs. Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET
Cole Ragans vs. Brayan Bello
Cole Ragans will be on the mound for them tonight. He's pitched well this season. He's had two starts and pitched mainly out of the bullpen. If you look at his numbers in those starts compared to what he's done in the bullpen, he's been a 3.50 xERA pitcher in both situations. Ragans has two very good off-speed pitches; his slider and his curveball both have a Stuff+ rating over 100, and they both are allowing an expected weighted OBP under .240. The Red Sox are slightly above average against left-handed pitching.
Look, I love Brayan Bello. He's awesome. However, when you dig deeper into his metrics, you start to question if he should really be this big of a favorite tonight. He has a 4.10 xERA and a 4.00 xFIP, which are around the league average. Everything with him is designed to induce ground balls. His main two pitches are a sinker and a changeup. He does have around a 57% ground ball rate, and that's great. However, when you dig into his expected weighted OBP allowed, his xSLG allowed and his barrel rate allowed, they're all just around the league average.
He has burst onto the scene; the expectations for him coming into the season were kind of low since he was supposed to be a back-end rotation guy for them and he's kind of popped and has become, with all the injuries Boston has had, the main guy for them. But again, all the underlying metrics say that he is an average Major League starting pitcher.
The Royals haven't quit yet this season. Over the last three days, they're 11th in Major League Baseball in weighted OBP. Even if you go over the last two weeks, they have significantly better offensive metrics than the Red Sox.
I only projected the Red Sox at -145 here, so I like the Royals here at +175. My price cutoff target is +166.
Sean Zerillo: The Royals, as B.J. mentioned, are hot at the plate.
Cole Ragans is a guy I think you should keep an eye on, not only for this start, but also for the rest of the way. He was the main return for the Aroldis Chapman trade for the Royals. He was working out of the Texas bullpen, getting his fastball from the left side into the upper 90's.
In his first start against the Rays, he averaged 97.7 MPH on his fastball. The two top left-handed velocity leaders this year are Shane McClanahan and Jesús Luzardo, who are both sitting at 96.8 MPH. He was a full tick above those two in that first start. He dialed it back in his last start against the Mets, but it seemed to be intentional because, when he needed 97 or 98, it was still there. He was getting guys out with his secondary stuff: the changeup and the breaking ball.
I think Ragans projects really well, but I also think there's some upside in his arm too. If he's gonna be able to pump it up to 97 and 98 when he wants to, maybe even going into next season, as he stretches out and becomes a full-time starter, it's very possible that he picks up that velocity even more. If he does, we're looking at a serious starting pitcher. He could be a Tarik Skubal-level left-handed starter. I'm high on Ragans, I think he has a lot of upside. The Royals have also been hot at the plate.
I made the Royals +125 for the first five innings and +135 for the full game, so I like them in both halves here.
Payoff Pitch Underdog Picks for August, 7
- Royals ML
- Royals F5