To quote country artist Luke Combs, “Oh lord when it rains it pours.”
I mean, it’s laughable at this point, but in the worst way possible. My cold stretch continued last night with my lone free MLB pick featuring the Tigers vs. Royals.
The Royals opened up a three-run, first-inning lead on the Tigers in a game where I had the Royals -1.5 on the run line. The Tigers fought back, but after three, it was a 4-2 Royals lead. After six, it was an 8-4 Royals lead. I could have the Royals’ bullpen surrender two runs from there (assuming they don’t score any more themselves) but of course, flame-thrower Josh Staumont, he of a 2.66 ERA on the season, surrendered three eighth-inning runs and the Royals won 8-7.
Another infuriating defeat as I continue to search for answers on this Friday night MLB action.
Season Record: 25-24-1
Now let’s take a look at another Tigers vs. Royals MLB pick from Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City!
Tigers vs. Royals Betting Odds
- Tigers (+139)
- Royals (-151)
- Tigers +1.5 (-140)
- Royals -1.5 (+120)
- Over 8.5 (-120)
- Under 8.5 (+100)
Tigers vs. Royals MLB Pick Breakdown
The Tigers will send sophomore right-hander Spencer Turnbull to the mound for his final start of the 2020 season after the 28-year-old put forth some quality results through his first 10 starts of the season.
Turnbull enters this one sporting a 3.83 ERA/3.59 FIP on the season while punching out the opposition at an 8.01 K/9 clip. Turnbull has turned in a quality 50.4% ground-ball rate on the season and he’s allowing just 32.9% hard contact as well, a huge stride made after he allowed 41.4% hard contact last season.
The most impressive aspect of his stat line is the minuscule 0.35 HR/9 he’s worked to this season. Among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched this season, that’s the fourth-best mark in the league behind only Dallas Keuchel (0.28), Corbin Burnes (-.30) and Max Fried (0.32).
That said, while those three names sport low HR/FB ratios as well, Turnbull’s 5.1% mark on the season is not exactly a sustainable figure. Tonight’s conditions at Kauffman Stadium doesn’t bode well for home run suppression in general as there appears to be an 11 mph wind blowout out to left field come gametime tonight.
It’s also fair to wonder whether he’s in for regression overall, although we’re certainly running out of time to find out. Turnbull’s 4.54 xFIP and 5.03 SIERA – along with a 4.70 BB/9 – don’t exactly paint a pretty picture despite quality ERA and FIP figures.
In his career against the Royals, Turnbull has posted a real nice 2.89 ERA in five starts and 28 innings with a 4.00 ERA in two starts spanning nine innings at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals will send right-hander Brad Keller to the mound for his ninth start of the season while he’s turned in work quite similar to his counterpart tonight.
Keller doesn’t possess strikeout stuff, however, as his minuscule 5.55 K/9 is the sixth-lowest mark in baseball among pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched, but otherwise he’s been similar to Turnbull.
He too has suppressed the long ball in the form of a tiny 0.37 HR/9 and he’s inducing ground-balls at a quality 51.7% rate on the season. Additionally, the results have been there as Keller has worked to a 2.77 ERA/3.66 FIP on the season.
That said, the 5.6 HR/FB rate has his xFIP sitting up at 4.55 while his SIERA of 5.06 frowns upon his work. It’s actually striking just how similar these numbers are to Turnbull, to be honest.
In his career against the Tigers, Keller has worked to a 3.31 ERA in five starts, nine appearances and 35.1 innings pitched while he owns a career 3.02 ERA in 164 frames at Kauffman Stadium.
Neither offense has fared well against right-handed pitching this season, but the Tigers have been the worse of the two.
Against righties, the Tigers rank 28th with a .289 wOBA on the season and while Keller doesn’t strike out many, the Tigers’ 28% K-rate against righties is the worst mark in baseball, as is their 7.1% walk rate off righties. Not a good combination.
Interestingly, the Tigers have the best offense in baseball versus lefties this season by way of their .382 wOBA off them, but their production just plummets against righties.
The offense has been productive of late as the Tigers have averaged a healthy 5.2 runs per game over their last five and have scored 5.7 per game over their last three, but have lost each of those contests by a single run, including last night’s contest with the Royals.
The Tigers have averaged 4.4 runs per game across their seven games against the Royals so far this season.
Although productive of late, the Royals haven’t fared too well against righties in 2020, either
They’ll carry a 21st-ranked .308 wOBA against righties into this one while they also sit 21st with a .157 ISO off righties, just one spot ahead of the Tigers and their .150 mark.
That said, those numbers have seen a boost given their work against right-handed starters over their last two games.
After touching up the Cardinals’ Carlos Martinez for a whopping eight runs in his five innings of work on Wednesday, the Royals got to Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer for another four in just 2.1 frames last night. Martinez and Fulmer have struggled mightily this season, but the Royals offense is certainly scorching-hot enters this one after hanging a combined 20 runs on their opponents over the last two nights.
In their seven games against the Tigers this season, the Royals have averaged 5.4 runs per game.
One of the more surprising aspects to the Tigers’ solid start to the 2020 season was the improved work of their bullpen after that group struggled mightily last season. However, as the season has moved along, their 2020 numbers more or less resemble those of a season ago.
The Tigers enter this one ranked 25th with a 5.10 bullpen ERA on the season, 24th with a 4.88 FIP and 19th with a 4.71 xFIP. They have actually displayed solid command with a fifth-ranked 3.16 BB/9 on the season, but a lack of strikeouts (8.07 K/9) and home run issues (1.52 HR/9) have come back to bite them throughout the season.
They’ve struggled mightily with a 5.66 ERA/5.34 FIP and 1.72 HR/9 over the last 30 days, but if we zoom in to the last week, the Tigers’ bullpen has bounced back with a 3.21 ERA in that time, but probably deserved far worse given their 5.08 FIP and 5.28 xFIP in that span as well.
While the Tigers will look for some length out of Turnbull in this one after using four relievers spanning 5.2 innings last night, Turnbull has surpassed five innings pitched in just five of 10 starts this season, so we could see a notable chunk of this group again tonight.
It’s the Royals sporting the bullpen advantage in this matchup tonight as they’ve received quality work from that group here in 2020.
The Royals sport the league’s eighth-best bullpen ERA at 3.97 while their 4.16 FIP and 4.41 xFIP are well above average as well.
The group has racked up strikeouts at a nice 10.14 K/9 on the season and while their 41.7% hard hit rate against, as per Statcast, is the second-highest mark in baseball, it’s clearly not hurting them to this point.
Like the Tigers, the Royals also used four relievers in last night’s contest, but Keller has gone at least six innings in five of his eight starts this season, so perhaps the Royals won’t need to go too deep into their ‘pen in this one.
Tigers vs. Royals MLB Pick
It’s been a tough go for the Tigers of late.
While they’re certainly a pesky team and have come just one run shy in each of their last three games – two of which came against the powerhouse Twins – they have now dropped four in a row, seven of eight and nine of 11.
Injuries have mounted, the bullpen has regressed and despite Turnbull’s quality results so far, their 6.47 starters ERA is by far the worst mark in baseball with the Red Sox and their 5.60 mark ranking 29th. Yeesh.
One area where the Royals can exploit Turnbull in this one is on the bases. Of pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched this season, his eight stolen bases allowed are the fourth-most in baseball. In other words, Adalberto Mondesi and his league-leading 22 steals along with Whit Merrifield and his T-4th 11 steals on the season should have a field day should they get on base atop the Royals’ lineup tonight. Tigers catcher Austin Romine is throwing out only 20.1% of potential base-stealers this season.
Additionally, the Royals offense has been superior versus righties and is white-hot at the moment. The home side also sports the bullpen advantage in a big way.
Add in the fact the Tigers are just 10-18 on the road and the Royals 13-14 at home and I’ll take Kansas City on the moneyline in this one tonight.