The two best teams in the AL Central, the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians, will battle this weekend in a massive four-game series that could go a long way toward determining the division winner. We are also getting a matchup between the two worst teams in the same division when the Kansas City Royals visit the Tigers in Detroit.
The Royals sit 29.5 games behind the first-place Twins, while the Tigers are a whopping 35.5 games back. Something tells me neither of these teams will be making a push for the postseason any time soon. Kansas City has gone 2-8 over their last 10 games, while the Tigers are a robust 3-7 over the same span. Detroit is 25 games under the .500 mark at home, while the Royals at 20 south of .500 on the road.
It’s a real clash of the titans. Jorge Lopez is scheduled to take the ball for the visitors in the opener, while Matt Boyd will climb the mound for Detroit.
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Boyd’s Underrated Season
There hasn’t been much to like about the Tigers’ season, but one of the few bright spots has been the breakout of Matt Boyd. The southpaw has very quietly been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball this season, but he’s still far from a household name. Boyd has a record of 6-8, which speaks to the awfulness of the team around him, through 23 starts. His 3.91 ERA is solid, but his 3.36 xFIP is even more impressive.
Boyd also has a 32.6% strikeout rate, which puts him among the league leaders. He will allow some home runs, which has really been the only blemish on his record. Boyd has been taken deep 23 times this season, so he’s a near lock to surpass last season’s total of 27 dingers allowed. Still, it’s been a very impressive season for a player that not many have paid attention to.
Boyd is the reason the Detroit Tigers are listed as -170 favorites tonight. I can’t really think of any other reason for this, other than the fact that the Royals also happen to be bad. The Royals have a 24% strikeout rate as a team against left-handed pitching this season, which is the 10th-highest mark in all of baseball. They also have a painfully low isolated slugging mark of just .142.
That said, there is legitimate right-handed power in this lineup. Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier in particular have mashed lefties, while Whit Merrifield is quietly in the midst of a breakout campaign of his own. This lineup isn’t completely devoid of talent, so I don’t necessarily think Boyd is going to breeze his way through this outing tonight.
The Royals and Red Sox were tied 4-4 in the 10th inning on Wednesday night before the rains came. The weather didn’t let up, so the teams are going to have to finish the game later this month on a mutual off day. Lopez has pitched primarily out of the bullpen for KC this season, after coming over last year in the deal that sent Mike Moustakas to the Milwaukee Brewers.
The 26-year-old right-hander is 1-7 through 29 games with the Kansas City Royals this season, including 10 starts. His 6.19 ERA leaves plenty to be desired as well. Lopez has a 21.2% strikeout rate with a walk rate north of 8%. His 4.64 xFIP isn’t great, but it’s a whole lot better than his inflated ERA. Lopez threw 54 pitches in his most recent relief outing on August 3rd, so it’s worth wondering just how deep into this game he’s capable of going. He’s making the start in place of Danny Duffy, who just went on the injured list.
We’re likely to see 4-5 innings of Lopez (depending on how many pitches he throws) before Ned Yost turns the game over to his bullpen. The Royals have a bullpen ERA of 4.73 this season, which is ninth-worst in the majors. Among those teams with a worse bullpen than Kansas City? Yes, the Tigers, whose ‘pen has a collective ERA of 5.10.
The Detroit Tigers have gone 7-5 against the Royals so far this season. Boyd has started three of those games, but he’s just 1-2 with an ERA of 5.00 against Kansas City. The Royals have touched him up for 11 runs on 17 hits in 18 innings of work, though he has also racked up 26 Ks against KC.
This bet is nothing but a price play. Both of these teams are horrible, but I think the Tigers are slightly more horrible. As a result, this is a team that should never be a -170 favorite against anybody. I’m a big fan of Boyd, but he’s not infallible, and Kansas City does have better bats than the Tigers do. Detroit traded its best hitter in Nicholas Castellanos prior to the deadline, so the lineup Detroit is rolling out there these days is downright abysmal.
I just think the Royals make for a decent bet at +145 on the moneyline thanks to how atrocious the Tigers are. Kansas City is almost just as bad, but I can never get behind a team like the Tigers at that price. Give me the Royals on the moneyline for the Royals vs Tigers game.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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