After winning a series over the Dodgers in impressive fashion, the Kansas City Royals were unable to keep any of that momentum as the Twins immediately swept them. The Royals are now set to continue their road stand with another divisional series with the Guardians, and we’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be backing.
The Guardians come into this series with the Royals two games under .500 but still in second place in the division. Cleveland started their homestand with a series loss to the Braves, as they could not win the rubber match yesterday. In their 8-1 loss, the daunting Braves lineup got to the Guardians' pitching staff for 19 hits, while the Guardians lineup registered just seven hits and got their one run from an Amed Rosario groundout.
In fairness to the Guardians, no team since the start of June has been able to slow down the Braves. Rookie Tanner Bibee avoided that premier lineup and will get the ball tonight to make his 13th start of the season. The young right-hander has racked up three straight wins, as he is coming off 5.2 shutout innings over the Cubs in which he had nine strikeouts.
The Royals lineup that Bibee will face tonight scored fewer runs in their three-game series with the Twins than in the final two games they won over the Dodgers. Kansas City had the chance to avoid getting swept yesterday but ended up falling 5-0. At the end of the game, KC had just four hits on the board, with MJ Melendez and Kyle Isbel's doubles being the only highlights.
Getting the start for Kansas City tonight will be right-hander Jordan Lyles, who finally got his first win of the season in his last outing. Lyles has made 16 starts up to this point, and the team is 1-15 in those games. He may have found the win column in his last start, but he still allowed four earned runs in the game, making it eight out of his last ten starts in which he’s allowed four more runs.
Jordan Lyles and the Royals may have put an end to a historically bad streak the last time he got a start, but I don’t think that will be the case tonight. For my play in this one, I’ll be taking the Guardians run-line of (-1.5), which is priced at (+102). Not only has Lyles struggled on the road this season, but the Guardians have been hitting right-handed pitching well as of late.
Cleveland is hitting .315 with a .847 OPS against right-handed pitching at home over the last month, which has them ranked 4th in wRC+ and wOBA. Those numbers make for a rough matchup for Lyles, who has a batting average against of .276 and a FIP of 5.59 when pitching on the road. Additionally, the Royals starter is in the 30th percentile in expected batting average and 11th percentile in expected slugging.
Meanwhile, Tanner Bibee is in the 74th percentile in expected batting average, 75th percentile in xERA/xwOBA, and opponents are hitting .195 against him at home this season. This again sets up a bad matchup for the Royals, who, over the last month, rank 25th in wRC+ and 24th in OPS against right-handed pitching on the road.
Cleveland Guardians (-1.5)(+102)