Categories: MLB

Royals vs Rangers – MLB Pick for May 25th

Kansas City Royals (+131)
Texas Rangers (-141)
Total: 9.5

On the shoulders of a dominant effort from Danny Duffy, the Kansas City Royals opened their 4-game weekend series in Arlington with an 8-2 win over the Texas Rangers on Thursday night. KC’s efforts were aided by a massive gaffe by DeLino DeShields Jr. that led to what essentially amounted to an inside-the-park home run, but Texas’ miserable season continued.

In fact, both of these clubs are in the midst of forgettable campaigns, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see both heavily involved as sellers at the trade deadline. The Royals are just 17-33, while the Rangers are 20-32. KC would be alone in the cellar of the AL Central if not for the White Sox, while the Rangers find themselves as the only team in the AL West with a sub-.500 record.

Tonight, former Royal Mike Minor will take the mound for Texas. Minor was excellent as a reliever last year in Kansas City, but he’s largely struggled to re-acclimate himself as a starter. While the surface numbers leave plenty to be desired – that 5.59 ERA is unsightly – he’s pitched better than that. Minor has a SIERA of 3.85 and an xFIP of 4.32.

His strikeout rate is sitting at a shade under 22 percent. It was always going to come down from the 28.7 percent mark we saw last season now that he’s starting, but he has still shown slightly above-average strikeout ability. Minor has kept the walks to a minimum (5.2 percent), though the hard contact of nearly 41 percent is problematic.

He’s also a fly ball pitcher pitching in Texas, which can lead to trouble. Minor is yet another lefty with a wide split. Lefties have a hard time against him (.235 wOBA, 0 HR), while righties have enjoyed quite a bit more success (.384 wOBA, 8 HR). The problem for the Royals tonight is that they’re without one of their best left-handed hitters (Lucas Duda), and their other best bat is also a lefty (Mike Moustakas). With so many weak righties in the lineup, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Minor enjoy a solid start against his former club.

That said, it’s expected to be hot in Arlington tonight, and it’s worth noting that the Rangers have a weak bullpen behind him.

The Royals will be countering with a left-hander of their own in Eric Skoglund. He hasn’t pitched well this season, as evidenced by his 6.15 ERA and 1-4 record. His 4.33 SIERA suggests that ERA is a little unlucky, but he still hasn’t been good. Skoglund has allowed a hard contact rate over 45 percent (!!!) and he’s another fly ball pitcher pitching in a home run park tonight.

Skoglund is a below-average strikeout arm (17.1 percent K-rate for his career). While he’s kept the walks down this season, he’s been so hittable that it almost doesn’t even matter. Hitters from either side of the plate have had success against him. Lefties have a wOBA of .322 with a home run, while righties are at .357 with 6 long balls.

His advanced numbers actually suggests he’s a reverse-splits lefty, which plays right into the hands of the Rangers. Most of Texas’ best hitters swing it from the left side of the plate, so Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Shin-Soo Choo should be able to make decent contact against Skoglund in this spot.

These aren’t great offenses, but 9 ½ runs looks a shade low for a game that features elite hitting conditions. Both pitchers are vulnerable and have shown that they’ll give up home runs if they miss spots. I think the over on 9 ½ is the play in this one.

Taylor Smith

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Taylor Smith

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