KC vs. CLE, Sept. 21: Odds, Preview, Prediction

September 21st, 2021

A version of this article originally appeared on the Action Network. For more betting insights, check out ActionNetwork.com.

Royals Odds: +110

Indians Odds: -130

Over/Under: 9

Time: 6:10 p.m. ET


Why talk about this hotly contested game between the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians? Well, Cleveland is not eliminated from playoff contention, but this could be their last game with value regarding the postseason.

It also includes a matchup between to young pitchers trying to establish a stronghold in their team’s rotation heading into 2022. Cleveland has also been dominant against the Royals in 2021.

Heading into Monday’s series-opening doubleheader, Cleveland is 11-1 against the Royals with seven games left between to the two clubs. Their only loss was their home opener on April 5th.

That would make the Royals 28-23 against the rest of the A.L. Central and Cleveland 27-25. Can the Royals beat their season odds, and can we find value from either club?

Kansas City Royals

The Royals’ bats have a rare opportunity to stack their lineup with right-handed hitters against a righty pitcher. Cal Quantrill allows a slash line against of .268/.313/.399 against right-handed hitters compared to .158/.231/.263 against lefties.

The Royals have been below average against righties in road games (83 road wRC+, 85 road wRC+ against RHP) but continue to be one of the better contact teams. Their 23% road strikeout rate and 6.6 walk rate against righties plays into their strength with Quantrill being a contact pitcher.

Daniel Lynch’s Strikeouts Per 9 dipped and Flyball Rate increased at each level in the minors leading to his promotion in 2021. One in 10 pitches is barreled and 43.8% of contact made has been deemed Hard Hit, according to Statcast.

Lynch has been playing with fire each outing, and his 3.99 road ERA is fluky. His slash line against on the road is .306/.360/.444. Only his slugging percentage against is lower away from Kauffman Stadium. 31% of Lynch’s starts in 2021 have ended with an equal or higher walk total than strikeouts.

Cleveland Indians

Cal Quantrill may not end up being a top-end pitcher for Cleveland, but he has shown that when his command is on he can be a difference-maker.

RotoGraphs focused on Quantrill this week and how strong his pitching has been based on his control. The article mentions that control is not static, meaning it can come and go in the short and long-term.

Quantrill can continue his strong September with another good home start (2.27 home ERA) and not pitching to Salvador Perez. Any pitch close to the zone or in the wrong location and he is launching it.

Cleveland’s hitters have found the formula to being perfectly mediocre at home. Just looking at their .278 BABIP, it would be easy to lean towards a lot of bad luck for their offense, but they rank no higher than 13th or worse than 19th in Hard Hit, Medium Hit, and Soft Hit percentages.

It does not get much better as Cleveland’s home wRC+ against southpaws is 101 which despite being above average overall is only tied for 19th in MLB. What works in their hitters’ favor is Lynch’s inability to miss bats and propensity to miss the strike zone.

Royals-Indians Pick

The success of the starting pitchers will go a long way in deciding this game, although neither bullpen should be trusted with a small lead.

What can help decide the contest besides a generally good outing is pitching deeper into the game. Quantrill has 11 outings of six-plus innings (21 starts) while Lynch has four (13 outings). That gives an edge to Cleveland, but with their moneyline juiced, it is not a priority.

I mentioned pitching control earlier and it comes into play for me more than some, but taking the over is the bet to make. Games at Progressive Field in Cleveland average nine runs per contest, and that total has hit or gone over in six of 12 games between the two clubs.

Getting that at slightly lower juice than Cleveland to win outright gives leniency to poor pitching but allowing control issues for Quantrill to be part of the run-scoring equation.

Pick: Over 9 Runs (-125, bet to -135)