Last night marked back-to-back winners for our MLB Picks as we had the Yankees over the Astros on the moneyline.
That Yankees jumped out to a 2-0 lead on another Giancarlo Stanton home run, but things got a little dicey when the Astros put together a three-run fourth. That said, it was all Yankees from there on out as they would tie the game and enjoy a three-run eighth before Aroldis Chapman came in and continued his 2021 dominance with his seventh save of the season.
That was a one-unit profit as we had the Yankees at -137 on the moneyline in that one.
We’ll look to keep rolling as we dive into this Indians vs. Royals MLB Pick from Kansas City!
- Season Record: 7-7
- Units: -0.63
Indians vs. Royals Betting Odds
- Indians (+116)
- Royals (-126)
- Indians +1.5 (-175)
- Royals -1.5 (+155)
- Over 8 (-108)
- Under 8 (-112)
Indians vs. Royals MLB Pick Breakdown
It what marks his fifth start and sixth appearance of the season, the Indians will send right-hander Triston McKenzie to the bump looking to get his season turned around after some rough outings to this point.
The 23-year-old rookie hasn’t fared too well in the early going, working to a 6.27 ERA/6.37 FIP on the season while his 5.70 xERA and 5.08 xFIP aren’t too fond of his work thus far, either. Finally, his 5.01 SIERA is another number indicating subpar work to this point.
The Statcast data is far less than ideal as well. In fact, they peg McKenzie in the league’s 2nd percentile in terms of average exit velocity and the 1st percentile in barrel rate. Additionally, he sits in the 17th percentile in xERA and 29th in xSLG. If you want something positive here, he does rank in the 89th percentile in K-rate and 94th in whiff rate, so while he has good stuff, he’s been hit hard and barrelled up through the first 18.2 frames of his 2021 season.
As that data suggests, he’s striking out plenty of hitters and that number sits at a whopping 13.98 K/9 on the season, but he’s also walking far, far too many in the form of an 8.68 BB/9 on the season. It’s a little strange, however, that he’s walking so many as he walked just 2.43 batters per nine innings in his 33.1-inning debut last season and has a minor-league track record of excellent control. Home runs have been another issue, however, with a 1.90 HR/9 in his 52 big-league frames so far while that number sits at an unacceptable 2.41 here this season.
Again, home runs were not an issue in the minors and we simply have a young pitcher adjusting to the big leagues. Along with unfavorable barrel and hard-hit rates, he’s allowed a whopping 62.2% fly-ball rate so far, and if that does not come down he’s set for far more long-ball trouble in this one.
The Indians are once again scuffling at the plate here this season, something that was predictable given the makeup of the lineup after the first few batters.
They’ll enter this one tied for 25th with a .297 wOBA on the season, although it should be noted they have hit for significant power in the form of a .181 ISO that pegs them fifth in baseball. They simply have not hit for much average at all as their .209 mark checks in at 28th league-wide. Power is one thing, but getting clutch hits is another.
They’ll face a left-handed pitcher in this one, so we’ll focus more on that although the numbers aren’t any better. Against lefties, the Indians rank 23rd with a .293 wOBA on the season and while they’ve showed some pop against lefties as well in the form of a 13th-ranked .163 ISO, that mark is inferior to their work against righties.
A couple of positives come via their strikeout and walk rates versus lefties. The Indians’ 19.7% K-rate versus lefties is the sixth-lowest in the big leagues while their 11.9% walk rate against southpaws is the third-highest. That said, their 27th-ranked .198 batting average against lefties still has them with a subpar .298 OBP against left-handed pitching as well.
Many teams are scuffling at the plate right now as pitching has dominated hitting through the first month and change of the season, but the Indians are certainly still looking to find their stroke at the plate in a big way.
One area where the Indians have excelled once again is in the bullpen, especially in the latter innings.
The Indians once again own one of the best bullpens in baseball as they sit third with a 2.63 ERA on the season, although the peripherals aren’t quite as kind as their 3.96 FIP and 3.81 xFIP rank 14th and seventh, respectively. Nonetheless, the group has been real good here so far in 2021.
According to Statcast, the Indians’ ‘pen ranks 10th with a 36.5% hard-hit rate against on the season, although they’ve been barrelled up at a 10% clip, good for a share of 25th. Still, their 88.4 mph average exit velocity against sits 10th as well, so despite the barrels they haven’t been hit very hard otherwise.
If you’re trailing Cleveland into the eighth inning, good luck. Setup man James Karinchak just gave up his first earned run of the season earlier in the week, but he sits with a 0.64 ERA/0.53 FIP with a cool 18.64 K/9 on the season. After Karinchak shuts you down, you get to deal with the fire-balling rookie Emmanuel Clase who is averaging 100.4 mph on his heater. Clase has yet to surrendered an earned run in his 13.1 innings so far while his 1.68 FIP and 1.90 xERA are that of a dominant closer.
Indians games have largely been decided in seven-innings these days if they have the lead, so the Royals would be wise to get to McKenzie before it’s too late.
One of the earlier surprises of the MLB season is member of the Royals’ rotation and that would be southpaw Danny Duffy who has more or less shocked the baseball world in the early going.
Duffy will enter this one sporting a sparkling 0.60 ERA across the first five starts and 30 innings of his 2021 season. He’s simply dominated in the early going with a 10.20 K/9 against a 2.70 BB/9 while keeping the ball in the yard at a 0.60 HR/9 clip. That said, buckle up for the regression train. Maybe it doesn’t happen this afternoon, but it’s coming.
For one, Duffy’s .247 BABIP is 50 points below his career mark and his outrageous 95.4% strand rate is more than 20% above his career mark. Additionally, Duffy is allowing fly-ball at an elevated 44% rate and hard contact at another elevated rate of 41.3%. Hard-hit fly-balls often leave the yard, but Duffy has allowed home runs on just 6.1% of fly-ball allowed, a figure that is 4% below his career mark of 10.1%.
If we move onto the Statcast data, Duffy ranks more or less in the middle of the pack in terms of xwOBA, xERA, xBA, xSLG, barrel rate, walk rate, fastball spin and curve spin. Additionally, he’s in the bottom 40% of the league in terms of hard-hit rate and average exit velocity. That absolutely does not represent a pitcher sporting a sub-1.00 ERA.
The Indians aren’t hitting lefties well, but there is a wealth of evidence suggesting Duffy is due to regress moving forward and there’s still a real chance that could take place today.
Over the offseason, a focus for the Royals front office was adding offense and lengthening the lineup, something they looked to do with the additions of Carlos Santana, Andrew Benintendi and Michael A. Taylor. The lineup was certainly lengthened, but was it going to be better?
So far, the answer is yes. The Royals enter this one ranked 14th with a .311 wOBA on the season on the whole while their .163 ISO also checks in at 14th. Additionally, it’s a dynamic offense with 25 stolen bases on the season, good for a share of second alongside the Chicago Cubs. That’s even without speedster Adalberto Mondesi, a players that was originally favored to lead the AL in stolen bases before what has been a five-week stay on the IL so far to begin the season.
Since they’re seeing a righty to start in McKenzie, we’ll dive into their figures against right-handed pitching so far.
The Royals have hit righties well, at least relative to the rest of the league. They sit sixth with a .316 wOBA against right-handed pitching so far, and while the ranking is good the number is closer to pedestrian. For instance, a .316 wOBA versus righties would have put you between 18th and 19th and in 2019 it was 17th. In other words, be careful to not look at the ranking so much as the production itself.
It’s been a fairly average of late. They’ve scored 17 runs over their current four-game losing streak, good for 4.25 runs per game. For the season, the Royals are averaging 4.6 runs per game, so they’ve been right in line with their work for the season over their last four contests.
The Royals surprised a little bit last season when they posted top-10 bullpen numbers, but that group has taken a significant step back here in the 2021 season.
Entering this one tonight, the Royals’ bullpen ranks 26th with a 5.24 ERA and a 4.72 FIP while sitting 22nd with a 4.45 xFIP. For good measure, their -0.3 fWAR sits 25th.
Unfortunately for them, the Statcast data does not paint a prettier picture. Statcast has the Royals’ bullpen ranked 27th with a 43.5% hard-hit rate agaisnt on the season and 28th with a 11.6% barrel rate on the season. Additionally, their 90.9 mph average exit velocity against ranks 30th, so this data is even slightly worse than their ERA/FIP/xFIP figures.
The Royals actually managed to get to Shane Bieber for three runs last night in his six innings, but the bullpens were the difference. While the Indians’ bullpen shut down the Royals, the Royals’ bullpen surrendered two earned runs in the final two innings of the game as Cleveland rallied for a 5-4 victory in that one.
It’s been an unreliable group so far and the underlying metrics don’t point to any positive regression moving forward.
Indians vs. Royals MLB Pick
The Indians are looking for a four-game sweep of the Royals in K.C. in this one, and I think they get it as road underdogs.
No, there hasn’t been much to like about Triston McKenzie other than the punchouts. His stuff is electric, but walks and home runs have killed him.
That said, given his history of impeccable command, I don’t foresee those free passes coming at the same rate they have so far in 2021. Additionally, McKenzie dominated throughout his minor-league career and posted a 3.24 ERA/3.91 FIP in his 2020 big-league debut. I can see him improving from here.
I’m more on the Duffy regression and poor Royals bullpen here at nice value. No, the Indians haven’t hit lefties well, but the trio of Jordan Luplow, Jose Ramirez and Franmil Reyes certainly do. There’s more to it than that, but Duffy’s Statcast data tells us he’s been rather average and average pitchers do not post 0.60 ERA figures for long.
There’s a major advantage for the Indians after the starters depart here, and it’s not as if the Royals are crushing the baseball right now.
Add it up and I’ll go for the four-game sweep here with the Indians on the moneyline.