Over their last three series, the Royals have split with the first-place Tampa Bay Rays, lost to the Guardians, and beat the Dodgers in two out of three games to take the series. Quite frankly, I don’t think I could come up with a better example of the unpredictability of baseball than that. As the team looks to build off the series win, they will be in Minnesota tonight to take on the Twins, and we’ll preview the game before going over why I’ll be targeting this F5 market.
The Minnesota Twins had the opportunity to pick up a sweep over the Orioles yesterday, and despite a phenomenal pitching performance from Sonny Gray, the team fell 2-1. At the start of the series, it had seemed Rocco Baldelli lighting a fire under his team following the Braves series worked as they scored eight runs in the opening game against the O’s. Minnesota would score just two runs the rest of the series, which led to them losing on an RBI hit by pitch with the bases loaded in the 8th.
That lack of run support made it difficult for the solid Twins bullpen to come up big in two straight games. With the team looking to put that frustrating loss behind them, they will send Joe Ryan to the mound for his 17th start. The young right-hander fell victim to the powerhouse that is the Braves lineup his last time on the mound as he allowed six earned runs on nine hits in just three innings.
Ryan will take on a Royals lineup that was given their flowers from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts following yesterday’s game, as they beat LA 9-1. Kansas City put up 15 hits in the game, with most of them being singles, as just three went for extra bases. Nicky Lopez created a majority of the offense by driving in four of the runs himself.
Kansas City’s pitching staff also deserves credit for yesterday’s win, as they held a strong Dodgers lineup to just six hits. Looking to win their third straight game and build off Brady Singer’s start yesterday, they will have lefty Austin Cox on the mound. Cox made his first six appearances out of the bullpen, but in his first start against the Guardians last week, he struggled, allowing four earned runs on four hits and four walks.
Trying to figure out when the Twins' offense will come to play has been tricky this season, but tonight is a night I think they will find success. That said, I’ll be taking their F5 team total over 2.5, which is priced at (-135). While Minnesota ranks 24th in average runs scored per game in the first five innings, they actually rank 8th in that stat when playing at home.
The Twins matchup tonight, Austin Cox, has thrown just 16 innings at the Major League level, but in those innings, he has been a heavy flyball pitcher, with a flyball percentage of 34.2%. Not only is that 10.9% higher than the league average, but he’s pitching in a ballpark tonight that is forecasted to have 10+ MPH winds blowing out to left field. Over the past month, the Twins rank 9th in pull percentage and 14th in fly ball percentage against lefties at home.
With the rough outing in his first start, Cox is still sporting a 2.25 ERA, but his expected ERA is at 4.72. Not only that, but his xFIP is at 4.50, so regression is expected from the young lefty. Even if Cox is pulled early, the Twins will face a Royals bullpen with a 5.12 ERA over the past month.
Minnesota Twins F5 Team Total Over 2.5 (-135)