8:10 p.m. ET – Rays at Royals (-115) O/U: 7.5
The 8-8 Rays travel to Kansas City on Monday to open up a three-game series against the 9-5 Royals. Tampa Bay lost three of four games at home to the Rangers before heading to the Bronx last weekend and completely turning their momentum around, picking up a three-game sweep over the division rival Yankees. The Rays held New York to three runs or less in each of the contests, outscoring them 18-7 over the course of the series. Meanwhile, Kansas City has won five of its last six games, placing them atop the American League Central.
About the Rays
Tampa Bay has come out of the gates a bit slower than they would have liked following their trip to the World Series last fall. The Rays rank 15th in the majors with 4.3 runs per game, while giving up 5.1 runs per game. That is not a recipe for success. Tampa Bay is hoping that sweeping the Yankees is exactly what they needed.
The hope is that they can get back on track and return to the level they played at for the majority of last season. Except for ace Tyler Glasnow. The Tampa Bay starting rotation has been struggling. The lineup has not had the success of last season because 2019 All-Star outfielder Austin Meadows is batting .193 and ALCS MVP Randy Arozarena is batting only .246 with two home runs. Carrying the majority of the load for the Rays offensively so far this season has been second baseman Joey Wendle, who leads the team with a .340 batting average and 11 runs batted in.
About the Royals
The AL Central-leading Royals have come out of the gate hitting the baseball much better than most people around the game were expecting, ranking in the top half of the league in the following categories: runs per game, batting average, hits per game and stolen bases. Kansas City has struggled to hit for power this season.
KC only has 13 home runs so far, ranking 26th in the majors. The team makes a lot of contact and plays a different style of baseball than most teams in 2021 who live and die by the home run ball. Right fielder Whit Merrifield is the perfect example of that and he is having another great year, batting .321 with three home runs and 11 RBI through 14 games. Veteran catcher Salvador Perez has turned back the clock so far this season, batting .291 with five home runs thus far. Kansas City has had all this success this season without offseason acquisitions Andrew Benintendi and Carlos Santana finding much success in the batter’s box, but once they inevitably get going this team might just have what it takes to compete over the long haul in the AL Central.
|Teams||Spread||Money Line||Total Points|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+1½ (-220)||-110||O 7½ (-105)|
|Kansas City Royals||-1½ (+180)||-110||U 7½ (-115)|
The Pitching Matchup
Left-hander Josh Fleming is getting the ball for Tampa Bay and he will be looking to build on a decent season opener last Wednesday against the Rangers. Fleming went five innings and despite only allowing one run, was pegged with the loss. Monday night will be special for Fleming, who grew up in the Kansas City area and will have more than 40 friends and family in attendance to see him pitch in the major leagues for the first time. Fleming burst onto the scene last year, when he was 5-0 with a 2.78 ERA in the COVID-shortened season.
The Royals will be turning to left-hander Danny Duffy to try and cool the Rays off and he has had success this season, boasting a 2-0 record with a 0.75 ERA in 12 innings of work over two starts. Duffy struggled through his worst season since his rookie year of 2011 last year, but has looked sharp early this season as he looks to avoid another down year.
The Rays are the better baseball team from top to bottom and look to have turned the corner over the weekend against New York.
Although Kansas City appears to have a huge starting pitching advantage, this will be the best lineup Duffy has seen this year, with the first two being the Angels and Indians.
Take the defending American League champions to come ready and knock off the pesky Royals.