Royals at White Sox Pick: Kansas City Royals (+170)
It’s a lighter MLB schedule as is usually the case on Thursday’s, but there’s still some value to be discovered on the board.
We’ll look to cash in on some of that value as we look into an AL Central rivalry matchup as part of this Royals vs. White Sox MLB Pick from Chicago!
Royals vs. White Sox Betting Odds
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Over 9.5 (-115)
Under 9.5 (-105)
The Royals’ high hopes for the 2021 season were dashed not long into the campaign as they are once again playing meaningless games in August and surely into September. Following an aggressive offseason they appeared to be a sexy contending pick, however they’ve slumped their way to a 46-60 record, good for fourth in the weak AL Central, 16 games back of the first-place White Sox who they face tonight.
That said, they do have some good young talent in the organization, one of whom is left-hander Daniel Lynch who gets the nod in this one tonight.
Through the first five starts of his career it’s been a tough go, however, as he has been touched up to the tune of a 6.95 ERA/7.46 xERA, although his 4.12 FIP, 5.04 xFIP and 5.37 SIERA are at least far more palatable than his surface results.
For a guy with an ERA approaching 7.00, Lynch’s walks and home runs are actually well in check by way of a 2.86 BB/9 and 0.82 HR/9. The problem has been plenty of hard contact and barrels, which eventually should lead to home runs. Lynch has posted bloated 46.3% hard-hit and 13.8% barrel rates against him in his young big-league career, so I would expect his 7.7% HR/FB rate to elevate moving forward if he can’t limit the hard contact and barrels.
His home runs are in check mostly due to a solid 32.9% fly-ball rate, but a big 29.1% line-drive rate has certainly gotten him into trouble.
He has yielded just three runs over his last two starts spanning 14 innings, we’ll see if he can keep it going again in this one tonight.
As noted, the Royals’ front office went out early and often to improve this team’s offense this past winter and initially, it appeared to be working. As the season moved along, however, the results began to mirror that of recent seasons.
For the season, the Royals arte tied with the Cleveland Indians for 23rd with a .302 wOBA on the season while their .151 ISO checks in at 25th league wide. They’ll take on a left-handed starter in this one, so it’s worth noting that the Royals sit 20th with a .313 wOBA off lefties while that ISO moves up to .171, so that offense is certainly superior versus left-handed pitching.
The downside to this offense in this one despite seeing a lefty is the fact they sit all the way down to 29th with a .282 wOBA on the road where the power sinks to a .140 ISO. Only the Rockies have put forth an inferior road offense to the Royals this season.
After scoring just two runs over a three-game span, the Royals busted out for nine runs in a 9-1 upset win over the White Sox and Lucas Giolito in game two of this series last night, so perhaps they can ride that momentum to this one tonight.
A key to any success the Royals had last season was a bullpen that hovered around the top 10 for much of the shortened campaign. With increased expectations this season, the group hasn’t lived up.
For the season, the Royals’ bullpen is tied for 23rd with the Washington Nationals with a 4.72 ERA while their 4.67 FIP and 4.64 xFIP certainly agree with that work. Walks have been an issue with a 4.49 BB/9 on the season while homers are elevated as well to a 1.34 HR/9 clip.
Considering the batted-ball data, the subpar work isn’t a surprise. Their 41.9% hard-hit rate against ranks 29th in the league while their 10.6% barrel rate is the worst in baseball and just one of two in the double-digit area along with the Minnesota Twins.
The club just hasn’t gotten the same results this season as they did last year from arms such as Josh Staumont and veteran Greg Holland who returned to his old stomping grounds with authority a season ago. Another reunion with 2015 postseason hero Wade Davis did not pan out, either.
This group did nice work last night in helping limit the high-octane White Sox to just one run, but I’d suggest their hands will be full in this one tonight.
The White Sox are cruising to their first AL Central crown since the 2008 season here in 2021 as they sit 9.5 games clear of the second-place Cleveland Indians for the division lead at 63-45 and with a run differential of +110, the lone positive differential in the division and third-best in the American League.
They’ll look to bounce back from last night’s loss behind the left arm of veteran Dallas Keuchel who makes his 21st start of the season tonight.
It hasn’t been a banner year for the former Cy Young winner as he’ll carry a 4.51 ERA into this one, but also with a 5.94 xERA and 5.21 FIP. Home runs would appear to be the foremost issue with a 1.58 HR/9 on the season, by far a career-worst figure behind the 1.48 mark he posted in 16 starts as a rookie in the 2012 season.
Considering some of his underlying metrics, the elevated home runs are of no surprise. Keuchel’s 39.8% hard-hit rate is not only easily a career-worst number but also well above his 33.8% career mark. Worst of all, however, is a big 10.1% barrel rate that is almost double his 5.2% career mark, at least since Statcast began tracking the data in 2015.
He’s given up nine runs over his last two starts and 11.1 innings, however, including four runs in six innings against these Royals in K.C. two starts back, so he’ll be looking to get back on track tonight.
Ho Hum Lumber
The White Sox were expected to rake again this season after putting forth one of the best offenses in baseball last season, but early injuries put that notion into question.
Even with long-term injuries to Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Yasmani Grandal and the now-traded Nick Madrigal, the White Sox continued to take as expected.
They’ll enter this one tied for seventh with a .325 wOBA on the season and they’re in similar territory against left-handers such as Lynch with a .328 wOBA that puts them in a share of eighth alongside the L.A. Angels. One thing of note is that the power is down from last season — unsurprising considering the injuries — to a .170 ISO off lefties this season, although that’s still a top-half figure in a share of 14th.
As expected, they’re also raking at home as they sit in a share of eighth with a .335 wOBA at Guaranteed Rate Field this season.
The offense has certainly been hit or miss of late. Their run scored over the last six games: 0, 6, 11, 2, 7, 1. They’ve mostly either raked or gone nearly completely silent.
What they did do is feast on Lynch earlier in the year as they hung eight runs on Lynch back on May 8 in what was his second career MLB start, the only time he’s allowed more than three earned runs in a start.
The White Sox bullpen was supposed to be one of the best groups in baseball given the personnel and fireballers on board, but the group wasn’t quite living up to expectations.
For the season, they rank 15th with a 4.08 ERA and their 3.96 FIP and 3.95 xFIP, while ranking higher, certainly agree with that work. They also sit 26th with a 39.9% hard-hit rate against on the season, so the end results aren’t too surprising.
That said, they recognized the need and went out and addressed it with authority. They not only landed right-hander Ryan Tepera from the Chicago Cubs, but later went back to their cross-town rivals and added closer Craig Kimbrel on deadline day.
Kimbrel has pitched two scoreless frames since being acquired while Tepera has allowed one run in 1.2 innings, although his last two appearances have been of the scoreless variety.
Royals vs. White Sox MLB Pick
The White Sox enter this one sporting a 38-19 record at home this season while the Royals are a lowly 18-35 on the road. Surely those records have been baked into the odds stated by top MLB betting sites as we see the White Sox as heavy favorites, of course.
That said, I’m on the Royals here as I want to roll the dice on Lynch over Keuchel.]
While his blowout came at the hands of these White Sox, that was nearly three months ago and the only time Lynch has surrendered more than three runs in a start. He recently held a deadly Blue Jays lineup to just three runs his last time out.
As for Keuchel, he’s been inconsistent for much of the season and certainly not worth backing at -200 moneyline odds, even if the bullpen is improved.
That said, outside of Liam Hendriks this Sox bullpen has been inconsistent as well and overrated for their bottom-line results this season.
Therefore, I’ll take a role of the dice here with the Royals as big moneyline dogs in this one.
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