The Kansas City Royals are playing out the string and waiting for the offseason, while the Oakland A’s have their eyes on the postseason. Oakland has dipped to 9.5 games behind the Astros in the AL West race, but they’re still just a half-game behind the Rays in the Wild Card chase. Tampa Bay currently occupies the No. 2 position, a half-game behind the Indians. Oakland is really the only other team left in the hunt, as the Red Sox have fallen to six games behind Tampa Bay.
Kansas City, meanwhile, has dropped seven of their last 10 overall to drop to just 46-85 on the year. That’s the third-worst record in the American League, better than only Baltimore and Detroit. The Tigers will keep the Royals from a last-place finish in the AL Central, but it’s been a pretty dismal season overall.
The A’s, who were swept in two games over the weekend by the Giants, will hit the road for four games in Kansas City this week before they take on the Yankees in the Bronx this weekend. Former Royal Homer Bailey will toe the rubber for Oakland in Monday’s series opener, while Brad Keller gets the ball for the Royals. The A’s are heavy -160 moneyline favorites to win, while the Royals are +135 underdogs at home.
|2019 ATR Home||35-32||28-34|
|2019 ATR Away||37-25||33-36|
|2019 O/U Home||29-37-1||33-26-3|
|2019 O/U Away||29-32-1||29-27-3|
The A’s swung a deal to get Bailey from Kansas City after a solid start to the season for the right-hander. The veteran had been shipped from the Reds to the Dodgers over the winter, but the Dodgers released him shortly thereafter. The Royals scooped him up, and he put together a number of solid outings before making the switch to Oakland.
On the season, Bailey is 11-8 through 25 starts with a 5.06 ERA. His 4.76 SIERA and 4.55 xFIP are more promising than that bloated ERA, but not by much. By most measures, Bailey has been about average on the year. He has a 20.9% strikeout rate with a walk rate of 8.5%. He has allowed 17 homers across those 25 games, but his time with the A’s to this point has been shaky.
Through seven starts with Oakland, the 33-year-old has a record of 4-2 with a 5.68 ERA. He has only allowed one earned run through his last two starts against the Giants and Yankees, but he has two other outings with the A’s in which he’s surrendered seven (vs. Chicago) and nine (vs. Houston) earned runs.
There isn’t a whole lot to fear in the Royals’ lineup, but Jorge Soler (.302 ISO vs. right-handed pitching) and Hunter Dozier (.253) have put up impressive power numbers so far this season.
Brad Keller, who started on Opening Day for Kansas City, has put together a solid campaign. His 7-13 record through 27 starts isn’t impressive, but he does have an ERA of 3.95. His 5.17 SIERA makes that 3.95 ERA look pretty flukey, but Keller manages to survive despite not racking up tons of strikeouts. The right-hander has a K-rate of just 17.3% with a walk rate pushing 10%.
Instead of relying on swings and misses, Keller relies on inducing soft-hit ground balls, a la Dallas Keuchel. Keller has a ground ball rate of 50.2% this season, which is slightly below his career rate of 52.2%. He has yielded a hard-hit rate of 36.9%, which isn’t bad either. In this year of the juiced baseball, Keller has allowed just 15 home runs through 164 innings of work.
The Royals’ starter has been tough on right-handed hitters. RHBs have a collective wOBA of just .293 at Keller’s expense this season, and the A’s lineup is heavy on righties. Six of the nine hitters in Oakland’s projected lineup will swing the bat from the right side, which plays perfectly into Keller’s hands. Matt Olson is the only scary lefty, as Robbie Grossman and Caleb Joseph don’t have any power of which to speak from the left side.
Keller is a better pitcher than his underlying numbers may lead you to believe, and I think he profiles pretty well against this righty-heavy A’s lineup. Bailey has been more hit-or-miss. He’s either putting up a dominant start or getting completely blown up. There has been very little middle ground with him in an Oakland uniform to this point.
I certainly wouldn’t go all-in here considering the overall talent discrepancy between these teams, but I think the Royals have a better chance to win than the odds seem to indicate. Kansas City makes for a decent value to win the game outright at +135 considering this matchup between Keller and Bailey seems like a coin flip.
I’ll side with the profit potential and pick the Royals on the moneyline for the Athletics vs Royals game.
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