Pirates at Royals Pick & Analysis 5/31/21

by | May 31, 2021 | mlb

Pittsburgh Pirates (20-32) at Kansas City Royals (25-26), 5/31/21
When: 8:10 pm ET Monday, May 31
Where: Kauffman Stadium
TV: ESPN
MLB Betting odds: Pitt +165/KC -180
Over/under: 8.5

After getting back to within one game of .500 on the season, the Royals now hope for more when they host the Pirates for a quick two-game interleague series beginning Monday night in Kansas City. The Royals lost 11 games in a row not too long ago but have recovered to win nine of their last 15. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is almost already playing out the string on this season. How are we playing this game with our free MLB betting pick?

MLB Betting Odds

Monday’s baseball betting lines opened Kansas City and Minor at around -160 over Pittsburgh and Kuhl, with an over/under of 8.5 runs. Early betting action then steamed the Royals 20 cents to -190 at many sports betting sites.

Pirates-Royals MLB Betting Preview

Pittsburgh just took two out of three games at home from Colorado over the weekend, missing out on the sweep by blowing Sunday’s series finale 4-3. The Pirates led that game 3-1 into the eighth inning, then gave up three runs and lost. Earlier last week, Pittsburgh got swept three games by the Cubs; just before that, they lost three of four to Atlanta; and just before that, they got swept two games by St. Louis. So the Pirates are 1-3 over their last four series and 3-10 over their previous 13 games. At 20-32 overall, Pittsburgh is nearly already out of the National League playoff race. However, the Pirates are slightly ahead of pace, playing against their wins O/U of 59.5, which was the lowest number on that board. Kansas City, meanwhile, just took two of three games at Minnesota over the weekend, winning Sunday’s series rubber match 6-3. So the Royals are 3-1-1 over their last four series and 9-6 over their last 15 games. At 25-26 overall, Kansas City sits three games back of Cleveland and the Yankees in the battle for the last American League playoff spot. The Royals are also playing ahead of schedule against their season wins over/under of 74.5. This is the second meeting between these two teams this season; back in April, they split two games in Pittsburgh.

Monday’s Pitching Match-Up

Lefty Minor is just 1/10 on quality starts this season, but he’s been better as of late. Last Wednesday, he limited Tampa Bay to one run on two hits and four walks through five innings, with nine strikeouts, although Kansas City lost that game 2-1. And over his last three starts, he’s only allowed six runs and 14 hits through 18 innings, with six walks and 24 strikeouts.

The Royals are 5-5 with Minor this season, which is probably about a game better than they should be.

In his most recent start against Pittsburgh, one month ago, Minor threw three scoreless innings, then allowed five runs over the next inning and a third, giving up a couple of long balls, too. Fortunately for him, KC won that game anyway, 9-6.

Kuhl is coming off a stint on the DL (sore shoulder) to make his fifth start of this season, his first in six weeks. So far, he’s 0/4 on quality starts and hasn’t shown a whole lot of good. In his last appearance, he gave up three runs and two home runs through five innings of a 6-5 Pittsburgh victory over Milwaukee. But on the season, he’s allowed 14 runs – 11 earned – on 12 hits and 16 walks (!) over 15 2/3 total innings.

The Pirates are actually 3-1 with Kuhl this season, but he deserves very little of the credit for that.

In his only previous career start against Kansas City, in September of last season, Kuhl gave away nine runs through just 2 1/3 innings of an 11-0 Pittsburgh defeat.

Splits With the Sticks

Pittsburgh is batting .220 against left-handed pitching this season, with a .304 team OBP and a .356 team slugging percentage. Numbers like those lead us to rank this lineup among the bottom half-dozen in the Majors in this split. The Pirates have also been held to three runs or less seven times over their last nine games. Kansas City is batting .233/.302/.379 against right-handed pitching this season, which isn’t exactly great, either. But the Royals did score 19 runs in their three games at Minnesota over the weekend.

The Bullpens

The Pittsburgh bullpen owns a 3.94 ERA this season, along with a 1.24 WHIP and a 2.48 K/BB ratio. The KC bullpen owns a 4.04 ERA, a 1.41 WHIP, and a 1.88 K/BB ratio.

MLB Betting Trends

  • The Pirates are 10-17 on the road this season.
  • The Royals are 12-13 at home this season.
  • The Pirates are 3-7 against left-handed starters this season.
  • The Royals are 17-18 against right-handed starters this season.
  • The Royals are 8-12 as favorites against the run line this season.

Totals Report

Under are 28-21 in Pirates games this season. Unders are 25-23 in Royals games this season. Overs are 14-10 in games played at Kauffman Stadium this season.

Free MLB Pick

Minor gets the check-mark in the pitching match-up and while Pittsburgh owns an edge in the bullpen comparison, Kansas City owns a short edge with the sticks. However, when we add all that up, the final tally does not warrant such a high price. Like many teams in Baseball right now, the Royals are just as apt to choke on a chance to reach .500 in a spot like this as anything else. Betting baseball is often about the value, and the value here resides with the Pirates.