The team currently sitting atop the AL Central standings will meet the team at the bottom tonight as the Minnesota Twins will play host to the Kansas City Royals. We’ll preview the game before going over my pick for the first five innings.
The Minnesota Twins are fresh off winning a series against the New York Yankees for the first time since 2001. In fact, they had the opportunity to sweep the series yesterday afternoon, but after a rough outing from Kenta Maeda, who allowed ten earned runs, the Twins could not come back from that deficit. Minnesota did manage to score six runs in the game, which marked the third straight game they were able to do so.
Tonight, the Twins will look to get better production from their starter as they turn to Tyler Mahle to make his fifth start of the season. In 21.2 innings of work, the right-hander has a 3.32 ERA with 22 strikeouts and five walks. In his most recent outing against the Washington Nationals, Mahle threw 6 ⅓ innings and allowed three hits and one earned run while striking out four.
Mahle will face a Royals lineup that was held scoreless yesterday and currently ranks 30th in on-base percentage and 28th in slugging percentage. In their shutout loss yesterday, Kansas City struck out 13 times and looked outmatched at the plate by Zac Gallen. The bad news continues to pile on as well for Kansas City since they’ll face a Twins pitching staff that held them scoreless in two of the three games they’ve played this season.
Veteran Zach Greinke will get the ball for Kansas City tonight, as he is 0-3 this season with one no-decision. The righty has thrown 27.1 innings up to this point and has a 4.61 ERA with 19 strikeouts and four walks. Greinke faced Minnesota on Opening Day and threw 5 ⅓ innings while allowing seven hits and two earned runs.
The Twins F5 spread of (-.5) is currently priced at (-129), and I’ll be taking them for my play in this one. Kansas City is the least profitable F5 team in baseball this season, with an ROI of -39.23%, and they are 3-10 in the last 13 meetings between the two teams. The Royals have also struggled mightily against right-handed pitching this season and rank 29th in runs per game in the first five innings.
Entering tonight, Kansas City is hitting .209 against righties with 163 strikeouts, and they will now face a pitcher in Tyler Mahle, that is in the 62nd percentile in strikeout percentage and 71st percentile in chase rate. Through his first four starts, Mahle has done a solid job of missing barrels, which has him in the 76th percentile in average exit velocity and 57th percentile in expected slugging.
Minnesota’s lineup has performed better against righties this season, and they have already shown the ability to hit off Greinke. The veteran righty is in the 9th percentile in expected batting average and has struggled to keep the ball in the yard when pitching on the road. Greinke has allowed four home runs in ten innings of work on the road, and there are 10 MPH winds expected to be blowing out to left field tonight.
Minnesota Twins F5 (-.5)(-129)