The AL Central has not been known to provide thrilling series this season, but they offer betting value, and that’s good enough for me. Following an off day yesterday, the Cleveland Guardians will be in Kansas City to take on the last-place Royals, and we’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be backing for the first five innings.
With a record of 22 wins and 56 losses, the Royals need to find small victories wherever they can, and one of those victories came this past weekend when they were able to split a series with the Tampa Bay Rays. Kansas City’s offense was able to come up big in two of the game, but in the final game of the series on Sunday, they managed just one run and four hits in their 3-1 loss.
As they look to build on the momentum of their split, the Royals will start Brady Singer on the mound tonight for his 16th start of the year. With a 6.34 ERA in 76.7 innings, Singer has been a big part of the Royals’ starting pitching struggles this season. The big right-hander out of the University of Florida is fresh off an outing in which he went seven innings and allowed five earned runs on the way to his 7th loss of the year.
Singer faced the Guardians four times last season and allowed at least three earned runs in each of those appearances. The good news for him is the Guardians lineup he will face tonight has been underwhelming this season and is fresh off a series loss to the Brewers. In Sunday’s 5-4 loss, the Guardians got their offense from a Josh Naylor home run, along with RBIs from Andres Gimenez and Will Brennan, but they still fell in extra innings.
Taking the ball for Cleveland tonight will be their top prospect Gavin Williams who is set to make his second career start. In his first outing against the A’s, the right-hander flashed his potential with four strikeouts and an impressive fastball, but his command was shaky as he allowed three walks, leading to four earned runs in 5 ⅔ innings.
The Guardians and Royals have been two of the worst F5 teams in the league this season but based on tonight’s pitching matchup and the Guardians' success against Singer, I’ll be backing them on the F5 moneyline, which can be found at (-129). Now that Gavin Williams has his first-start jitters out of his system, I think the walks will be down tonight, which makes him a tough matchup for the Royals' offense.
Over the last month, the Royals rank 24th in wRC+ and 23rd in OPS and wOBA against right-handed pitching at home. While Gavin Williams only has one start at the Major League level, his expected numbers after the start are promising, and the fact that no one on the Royals has faced him at this level also helps. As long as he can limit the walks and pitch to his expected .234 batting average, I think he can give his offense time to build a lead.
Offensively, the Guardians are hitting .257 against right-handed pitching on the road over the past month, and now they face a starter in Brady Singer, who has a 5.84 home ERA. Singer also has a 5.93 ERA or higher in four of the first five innings and is in the 6th percentile in expected batting average and 1st percentile in hard-hit percentage.
Cleveland Guardians F5 (-129)