The Royals Are Approaching First Place In The AL Central

Royals vs Rays Series Preview: Another Series Win For Kansas City

The Kansas City Royals have been among the most surprising teams to start the MLB season. The Royals, who had struggled to make the playoffs over the last few seasons, are currently 32-19 and led by a potential AL Cy Young candidate.

No, it’s not a recognizable name. It’s Seth Lugo, who will ultimately pitch Game 1 of Kansas City’s new series against the Tampa Bray Rays. Lugo is 7-1 with a 1.79 ERA and, again, will get the ball for Friday’s series opener.

While the Royals are on a six-game winning streak, the Rays have lost four games and are currently below .500, sitting at 25-26 in the Tampa standings.

On the road, the Royals still won’t have the easiest task of winning this series.

Still, in the opening game, the Royals are favored on the road with Lugo on the mound, sitting at -115 on the moneyline. Meanwhile, the total is set at 7.5, but the Over is still juiced to -115.

Here’s a glance at our Royals vs Rays Series preview for this weekend’s three-game series.

Royals logo Royals vs Rays Rays logo

Records: Royals (32-19)/Rays (25-26)
Location: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL
TV & Live Stream: Bally Sports Sun, Bally Sports Kansas City

Kansas City’s Bullpen Usage

It’s no secret that Kansas City’s bullpen is the weakest portion of the Royals. Not only do the stats suggest this, but the bullpen usage always proves this.

The Royals have heavily relied on James McArthur, John Schreiber, and Angel Zerpa. Meanwhile, the other bullpen arms haven’t been getting the same run.

We’ll see if this ultimately fatigues their trustworthy arms in the long run. But for now, it’s working.

Tampa Bay Swept By Boston

We’re a third of the way through the MLB season. The Rays have been about as neutral as you can get. They’ve been stuck around .500 for most of the season and were just swept by the Red Sox at home to begin the week.

They’ve yet to establish momentum. However, one ten-game winning streak would change everything. That’s why you can never count out .500 teams this early in the season.

Royals vs Rays Series Preview & Odds For Game 1:

RL: Royals -1.5 (+135) ML: Royals -115, O/U 7.5 -115/-105

⚾ Game 1 ⚾

Friday, 6:50 pm ET
Seth Lugo vs. Shawn Armstrong

Seth Lugo will take the hill for the first game of this series. He’s a righty with a 1.79 ERA on the season. Lugo doesn’t have high strikeouts. However, he’s held walks to 5% and has limited teams to a .137 ISO and wOBA of .269.

Those are fantastic numbers. However, analytically, there are better MLB pitchers out there. Right now, he’s found success, and we can’t ignore that.

Ultimately, this season, against righties, the Rays have hit a .123 ISO and wOBA of .301. That also includes Josh Lowe, who is injured and could potentially miss multiple games in this series. Only Isaac Paredes has been consistent against righties. Lugo has a really exciting matchup this weekend.

On the other hand, Shawn Armstrong will be the opener for Game 1 of the series. However, he’ll likely be followed by Tyler Alexander for the bulk of the game.

Alexander is a lefty, who has only struck out 18.7% of batters this season. In addition, he’s given up a .210 ISO and wOBA of .34 with more fly balls than ground balls induced this season. That’s ultimately why the Rays are trying to bring him in from the bullpen.

Therefore, we’d consider the Royals for Game 1 of this series. Check the MLB scores today to see if we’re right!

⚾ Game 2 ⚾

Saturday, 4:10 pm ET
Brady Singer vs. Aaron Civale

Brady Singer will start the second game of the three-game series. Singer has earned 25.8% of strikeouts and has limited teams to a .151 ISO and wOBA of .289. His ERA is currently 2.70, yet analytically, he’s performed better in many areas over Lugo, for example.

Singer has even induced 51.6% of grounders and has limited fly balls to under 20%.

He’ll go up against Aaron Civale of the Rays. Civale hasn’t been nearly as good as Singer. Instead, Civale is coming into the game with a 5.92 ERA this year. The veteran righty has allowed a .235 ISO and wOBA of .387 to his first 89 lefties.

Against righties, the Royals’ projected lineup has six batters with an above-average ISO number against other righties. It’s also difficult to strike those Royals out. Most of the projected lineup has struck out below 20% of the time against righties throughout the season.

We’d also take the Royals in the second game of this series.

⚾ Game 3 ⚾

Sunday, 1:40 pm ET
Michael Wacha vs. Taj Bradley

In the finale of our Royals vs Rays series preview, veteran righty Michael Wacha will get the call. Wacha has struggled with lefties, allowing a .202 ISO and wOBA of .353. But overall, he’s done fine against righties.

Still, he’s only struck out 19.6% of batters this year and has allowed nearly 25% of line drives. If anything, the Rays would probably want to take advantage of Wacha after facing two difficult pitchers between Lugo and Singer.

Tampa Bay will also have its best pitcher in this series on Sunday. That’d be Taj Bradley. While he still has a 4.00 ERA on the year, he’s struck out 32.4% of batters and only walked 4.2%. If the Rays want to avoid back-to-back sweeps, they’ll need this one.

While the Royals have many powerful lefties, including Vinnie Pasquantino, MJ Melendez, and Michael Massey, we’d still roll with the Rays in the series’ final game on Sunday when the MLB betting odds are released.

Royals vs Rays Odds

For MLB news, odds analysis, and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.

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