Neither the Royals or Rays are very hot at the moment, but they're both right in the running in AL playoff races. We found leans on the side and the totals for Monday's opener of a four-game series at Kauffman Stadium.
Rays-Royals Monday Betting Odds
As of this writing the best price we could find on KC and Edinson Volquez was the -130 offered at Pinnacle, while Tampa and Alex Colome were getting +125 at WagerWeb. And every book we surfed was posting a total on tonight's game at 7.5 runs, with most of the grease sliding toward the UNDER.
Kansas City just split four games at home with Minnesota over the weekend, taking Sunday's series finale 3-2 in walk-off fashion. Just prior to that the Royals got swept three games at Houston. So KC has lost five of its last seven games.
Nonetheless, at 46-33 the Royals lead the AL Central by 4.5 games over the second-place Twins.
Tampa, meanwhile, just dropped two of three games at Yankee Stadium over the weekend, avoiding the sweep and snapping a seven-game losing streak with an 8-1 victory Sunday. So the Rays have lost four series in a row and 11 of their last 14 games. Still, at 43-41 Tampa trails the first-place Yanks by two games in the AL East, and sits just one game back in the battle for the second American League wild-card spot.
This is the first meeting between these teams this season. Last season the Royals took four of six games from Tampa, and those games leaned toward the low-scoring, averaging less than seven total runs per.
Monday's Arms Battle
Volquez (8-4, 3.48) is eight-for-16 on quality starts this season, but only one for his last four. Last Wednesday he gave up five runs in five innings against Houston, and over his last four starts he's allowed 12 runs through 22 1/3 innings. For the season Volquez has allowed 82 hits through 96 innings, walked 33 and struck out 73. Kansas City is 11-5 in Volquez' starts, with the totals leaning OVER by a 7-6 margin.
Last year, pitching for Pittsburgh, Volquez started once against Tampa, giving up just one run and five hits through eight innings of an 8-1 Pirates victory.
Colome (3-4, 4.70) is just two-for-13 on quality starts this season, in part because of a short leash, and in part because he's been so inconsistent. Three starts ago he held Cleveland to one hit through seven innings; then he gave up three runs in six innings against Boston; and last time out he got nicked for five runs in seven innings by the Indians. And he's been doing that all season, giving a couple of decent/good efforts, then getting bombed for 5-6-8 runs. For the season Colome has allowed 73 hits through 69 innings, with a mediocre K/BB ratio of 44/24. The Rays are just 3-10 in Colome's starts, with the OVERS going 7-6.
This will be Colome's first-ever start against Kansas City, which could give him a much-needed edge, at least for the first couple of times through the lineup.
If this game comes down to the bullpens the Royals own an advantage; KC relievers lead the Majors with a collective 2.03 ERA, while Tampa's pen ranks 21st with a 3.88 ERA.
Monday's Batting Splits
Tampa ranks among the worst lineups in baseball this season against right-handed pitching, with a .248 average and a .299 team on-base percentage. Kansas City, on the other hand, ranks second in the Majors against righties with a .270 average, 13th with a .320 team OBP.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at Kauffman Stadium are 20-15 on the UNDERS this season, averaging 7.4 runs per.
Kansas City 3B Mike Moustakas (.301, seven HR) left Sunday's game due to a personal matter, and reports indicate he probably won't play tonight.
On the other side of the scorecard Tampa OF Steven Souza (15 HR) is iffy with a sore hand, after getting beaned Sunday.
Rays-Royals Free Picks
We give KC edges in the pitching match-up, with the sticks and in the pens. So we'll take the Royals for our money line MLB picks today. Also, neither team has exactly been banging the ball around lately, so we're thinking UNDER.