Best MLB prop bet for today 6/8: Ragans and Royals lead through 5

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Cole Ragans (55) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Kauffman Stadium.
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Javan Shouey


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A lifelong sports fan from Northwestern Pennsylvania. Die-hard supporter of the Steelers, Pirates and Cavaliers. Insane passion for writing about sports and helping others improve. Incredibly thankful for the platform Pickswise is giving me. For Javan Shouey media enquiries, please email
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Sunday’s MLB slate of action looks promising with beautiful weather across the board and numerous interesting matchups. There was one play standing out among the rest for me, however, and that is backing the Kansas City Royals through the first 5 innings of action. Cole Ragans presents a tough matchup for the Seattle Mariners offense while I like how the Kansas City bats profile against the pitch-to-contact George Kirby. Let’s dive in!

Kansas City Royals first 5 innings ML (-120)

Odds available at BetMGM sportsbook at time of initial post to Twitter. Playable to -130 odds.

I bet on George Kirby in his last start by taking his strikeout prop against the strikeout prone Oakland Athletics, and he came through with 9 punch outs through 5 innings of work. Today he draws a far tougher matchup, however, and I am seeing some solid value on the Kansas City Royals leading through 5 innings of play. Kirby has been worse on the road both this season and throughout his career, and he now faces a Royals offense that has been the league’s most productive this season when facing right-handers in their home park. Kansas City sits first in wOBA, 4th in hard-hit rate, 9th in flyball rate, and 1st in strikeout rate with a 119 wRC+ in that sample. Their domination against righties at home has been true during this series as well, scoring 7 earned runs off of Bryce Miller and 5 earned runs off of Luis Castillo in the last 2 days.

Kirby is a pitcher that loves to fill the zone with strikes, and while he is a very good pitcher overall, he tends to struggle more when facing high-contact rate lineups. The Royals have the league’s 7th highest contact rate as a team this season in pitches inside the zone, and the 3rd best rate on pitches outside the zone. Last season Kirby faced the Royals in Kansas City, striking out just 2 batters in 6 innings while allowing 8 hits and 4 earned runs.

Cole Ragans will draw the start for the Royals today and he draws a more favorable matchup on paper than his counterpart. The Seattle Mariners are nearly polar opposite of the Royals offensively, as their extremely low rate of contact leads to some miserable outings as a lineup. Their 74.6% contact rate as a team ranks 4th worst in MLB this season, and the result has been a consistently poor strikeout rate. Across the last 30 days of play they have a 101 wRC+ against southpaw pitching, but their 24.9% K% has held them back from truly breaking out. When facing left-handers on the road this season the Mariners have struggled, ranking just 18th in wOBA with a 95 wRC+.

Ragans has been lights out this season, posting the 3rd best FIP among qualified starting pitchers. His elite strikeout production and his suppression of hard contact has combined for remarkable consistency outside of his 2 poor starts. He excels at winning within the zone, posting the league’s lowest zone-contact rate allowed among that list of qualified arms, and that trait should play up in a matchup like this one. Luke Raley is the only active Mariner to have faced Ragans before, which should lead to early success from the lethal lefty, and his success against right-handed batters should play well against a lineup likely to feature 6 or 7 right-handers.

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