Two teams operating under different agendas meet as the first-place Royals and fading Tigers open a three-game series in KC Monday night. Johnnny Cueto takes his third shot at victory with his new team, and is favored by a ton.
Tigers-Royals Monday Odds
Most of today's MLB betting market opened Kansas City and Johnny Cueto at around -190 over Detroit and lefty Matt Boyd, then bumped that price upwards of 20 cents in the early betting. As of this writing the best line we could find on the Royals was the -206 offered at Pinnacle, while the Tigers could be found getting +200 at 5Dimes. And every book we consulted listed a total on tonight's game of seven runs, with most of the grease leaning toward the OVER.
Kansas City just swept three games at home from the White Sox over the weekend, winning Sunday 5-4. The sweep snapped a two-series losing streak for the Royals, who had lost six of eight games.
At 66-44 Kansas City leads second-place Minnesota by 11.5 games in the AL Central, and the Yankees by five games in the battle for the best record in the American League.
Detroit, meanwhile, just dropped two of three games at home to Boston, losing Sunday 7-2. The Tigers are now 1-5-2 over their last eight series, 10-16 over their last 26 games.
At 54-57 Detroit trails the Royals by 12.5 games in the divisional race, and has fallen 5.5 games back in the battle for the second American League wild-card spot.
These teams have split 10 meeting so far this season, with the UNDERS going 6-4.
Monday's Mound Match-Up
This pitching match-up is a rematch of a game of last Wednesday, a 2-1 Detroit victory.
Cueto (7-7, 2.69), by our strict standards, is 13-for-21 on quality starts this season, one-for-two with his new team. Ten days ago he gave up three runs in six innings against Toronto, while last Wednesday he held this Detroit lineup to two runs through seven innings. Going back to his last outing with Cincinnati Cueto has held foes to five runs through his last 21 innings. For the season Cueto has allowed 105 hits through 134 innings, while compiling a strikeouts/walks ratio of 129/33.
The Reds went 11-8 in Cueto's starts this year, but Kansas City has lost both of his starts.
JC also started once earlier this year against the Tigers while with Cincy; so in his two outings against Motor City this season he's allowed five runs and eight hits through 12 1/3 innings; his teams split those two games.
Boyd (1-2, 7.90) will be making his second start for his new team, and hopes this one goes as well as the first. Last Wednesday, in his debut for the Tigers, Boyd held this Kansas City team to one run and seven hits through seven innings, walking none while striking out two, in a 2-1 Detroit victory. Boyd must have been supremely relieved, considering in his previous ML start, for Toronto against Boston back on July 2, he didn't even record an out, and got charged with seven runs.
The Jays and Tigers are a combined 1-2 in Boyd's starts this year, with the UNDERS going 2-1.
Boyd may have had a rough start to his ML career, but was tough in the Minors, going 15-12 with a 2.48 ERA over parts of three seasons. And this year, with 12 starts in Double-A ball and seven in Triple-A, Boyd is a combined 9-2/1.65, allowing just 71 hits through 115 innings, compiling a K/BB ratio of 108/27.
This will be Boyd's second start against the Royals, which probably removes any advantage he may have had over KC hitters previously unfamiliar with him.
Monday's Batting Splits
Detroit ranks third in the Majors this season against right-handed pitching with a .274 team batting average, and fifth with a .327 team on-base percentage. But both those figures have been affected by the absence of Miguel Cabrera.
Kansas City, on the other hand, ranks fourth against left-handed pitching with a .270 batting average and 12th with a .320 team OBP.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at Kaufmann Stadium this season are 27-23 on the UNDERS, averaging a shade under eight runs per.
Detroit is still playing without slugger Miggy Cabrera, who's on the DL with a pulled calf. Since he went down the Tigers are 14-18 overall, 18-11-3 on the OVERS, averaging 4.6 RPG. But they've also been held to two runs or less in 11 of their last 17 games.
Tigers-Royals Monday Free Picks
Johnny gets the check mark in the pitching match-up, and we rank Kansas City's bullpen among the top five in baseball, while Detroit's ranks in the bottom five. So we like the Royals for tonight, and in searching for a better price we'll play 'em on the run line. Also, KC pitching should be able to hold the Tigers to a couple of runs, so we're thinking UNDER for Monday's MLB pick.
MLB Picks: Royals +110 on the run line at Pinnacle and UNDER seven runs (+110) at Heritage