The top two teams in the AL Central clash when the Twins and Royals open a three-game series at Target Field tonight. Here's our take, with free MLB picks, on how Monday's game might play out.
Royals-Twins Monday Betting Odds
As of early Monday AM the best MLB odds we could find on Minnesota and Phil Hughes was the -105 offered at WagerWeb, while KC with Jason Vargas was lined at -101 at GT Bets. And most books were listing the total on tonight's game at 8.5 runs.
Minnesota just lost two of three games at home over the weekend to Milwaukee, avoiding the sweep with a 2-0 victory Sunday. Just before that the Twins split four games with Boston. So Minnesota has lost four of its last seven games, its worst stretch this season since starting 1-6.
Kansas City, meanwhile, just lost two of three games at home to Texas over the weekend, avoiding the brooms with a 4-3 victory Sunday. Just before that the Royals lost two of three to Cleveland; just before that they split two games with the Cubs; and just before that they got swept three games by the Yankees. So KC is 0-3-1 over its last four series, and 3-9 over its last 12 games.
Big-picture, at 33-23 Minnesota leads the AL Central by one game over 31-23 Kansas City.
These division rivals have split six games so far this season, with the totals going 3-2-1.
Monday's Starting Pitchers
Hughes (4-5, 4.96), by our tough standards, is just three-for-11 on quality starts this season, and 0 for his last two. Last Wednesday he gave up five runs in less than five innings against Boston, and just before that, against those same Red Sox, he gave up four runs through 6 2/3 innings. On the season Hughes has allowed 86 hits through 69 innings; Minnesota, a team that's 10 games over .500 overall, is just 4-7 in Hughes' starts, with the totals going 6-5.
Last year Hughes started four times against Kansas City, allowing 11 runs through 27 innings; the Twins split those four games, with three of those games playing UNDER.
Lefty Vargas (4-2, 4.79) is three-for-seven on quality starts this year, but two for his last three. Last time out he held Cleveland to two runs through six innings, and over his last three starts – separated in part by a stint on the DL - he's allowed six runs through 16 innings. For the season Vargas has allowed 40 hits in 35 2/3 innings; KC is 5-2 in his starts, with the totals going 4-3.
Vargas has already started twice this season against Minnesota, allowing nine earned runs and 18 hits through 8 2/3 innings; the Royals split those two games, and both games played OVER.
Monday's Batting Splits
Kansas City ranks 15th in the Majors against right-handed pitching this season with a .313 team OBP.
Minnesota ranks 12th this season against lefties with a .325 team OBP.
Games played at Target Field this season are 17-12 on the OVERS, averaging a healthy 9.1 runs per.
Kansas City has played eight UNDERS in its last 10 games, mainly because the offense has gone cold. The Royals have been held to three runs or less in 10 of their last 13 games.
Minnesota is 20-9 at home this season, and 15-7 against left-handed starters.
KC is 21-15 against righties.
Royals-Twins Monday Free Picks
Most factors equal out in this match-up, but KC owns the edge in the bullpens comparison. And besides, our guess is Minnesota has been playing a bit above its head so far this year. So we'll go with the Royals tonight. Also, tonight's starting pitchers are trending slightly toward the OVERS this season, as are Twins home games.