Aug. 8 MLB Preview — Kansas City Royals (41-74) at Detroit Tigers (33-78)

(Matthew Boyd photo courtesy Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.

When and Where: Thursday, Aug. 8, Comerica Park, Detroit, Mich., 7:10 p.m. EDT.

In a season of struggles at home for the Detroit Tigers, the solace has been facing the Kansas City Royals. The AL Central rivals open a four-game series Thursday night, with the Tigers looking to build on one of their few areas of success this season.

Lopez to get spot start for Royals with Duffy on IL

Scheduled starter Danny Duffy was put on the injured list Tuesday with a strained hamstring suffered Monday during his off-day running routine. Since the move is retroactive Sunday, the left-hander will miss at least one more turn in the rotation before being eligible to return.

“We were running sprints — it was my day to run — in the outfield, and [I] felt something and pulled up,” Duffy told the Royals’ official website Tuesday. “It’s pretty matter-of-fact. I just went over to the training staff and told him, ‘Hey, I think I’ve either got a really bad cramp, or I’ve pulled my hamstring.’ That’s what happened. It’s pretty frustrating.”

Manager Ned Yost has opted to give Jorge Lopez (1-7, 6.19 ERA) his first start since May 15. The right-hander began the season in the rotation but was dropped in late May after going 0-6 with a 7.07 ERA in 10 starts.

Lopez has been used as a long reliever recently and is on schedule for this game after allowing two runs and four hits in 3 1-3 innings of an 11-3 loss at Minnesota on Saturday.

“He’s up to 75 pitches and probably our smoothest move,” Yost said of Lopez, who threw 54 pitches against the Twins.

The righty has seen plenty of the Tigers this year, making two starts and three relief appearances. Lopez has given up nine runs in 19 innings in those games and will be making his third start at Comerica Park. He was reached for four runs and five hits in seven innings in the most recent matchup there May 3, losing 4-3.

Lopez is 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA in three career starts in Detroit. Christin Stewart has teed off on the righty, going 4 for 7 with two homers and two doubles, and Miguel Cabrera is also 4 for 7.

Boyd looks to help Tigers add to paltry home win total

The Tigers (33-78) are a major league-worst 14-39 at home after dropping three of four to the Chicago White Sox, capped by Wednesday’s 8-1 loss. It was the sixth loss in seven games overall for Detroit, which has not won back-to-back contests since a three-game run from May 28-31.

The Royals, though, have proven to be the one exception to Detroit’s home woes as the Tigers are 5-1 against them at Comerica Park. Matthew Boyd (6-8, 3.91), who picked up one of those victories May 3, will try to end a five-start winless spell as he takes the ball.

The left-hander, who was the subject of much speculation leading up to the July 31 trade deadline but did not move, has gone three games without a decision. Boyd left with a lead after limiting Texas to two runs in 5 2-3 innings, but Detroit’s bullpen faltered in an eventual 5-4, 10-inning loss.

Boyd, though, wants to be in Detroit for the long haul and one of the cornerstones of the rebuild.

“This is where I want to be,” Boyd told the Tigers’ official website after Saturday’s outing. “I feel called to Detroit, the city, this team. Detroit truly is home, and I’m so grateful for that. It means everything to me when I put on that uniform every single day. Things are changing here for the better. Everybody in this locker room knows it, and we’re going to come out on the other side as a squad very, very soon.”

The southpaw held the Royals to two runs and five hits in seven innings in that May victory, but his two starts against them in Kansas City did not go as well. Boyd lost both of them, yielding nine runs in 11 innings after getting reached for four runs and six hits in seven innings of a 4-1 setback July 13.

Boyd is 4-9 with a 6.29 ERA in 17 career starts versus the Royals, including a 2-3 record and 4.32 ERA in seven starts in Detroit. Whit Merrifield has made the lefty’s life miserable, going 15 for 34 (.441) with a triple and five doubles in their matchups.

Notable Trends

The Tigers are:

  • 10-3 in Boyd’s last 13 home starts vs. sub-.500 teams.
  • 5-1 in their last six home games vs. the Royals.

The Royals are:

  • 1-7 in their last eight games vs. AL Central opponents.
  • 1-9 in Lopez’s last 10 starts.
  • 16-44 in their last 60 games vs. starters with a sub-1.15 WHIP.

*****5-Star Pick*****

OVER 9 runs (-115)

The number landed on the lower side of expectations, which makes the over a strong play as Lopez’s struggles as a starter play into this pick. The over has hit in five of Kansas City’s last six games against division rivals and 7-3 in its last 10 series openers.

The over has gone 4-1-1 in Boyd’s last six starts versus AL Central foes, and the over is also 10-4-1 in his last 15 outings against the Royals. The over is also 7-3 in Detroit’s last 10 series openers.

****4-Star Pick****

Tigers -1.5 runs (+125)

This is more of an anti-Lopez pick than pro-Tigers pick, but there is confidence in Boyd putting together a quality start to power Detroit through to a win in this contest. The lefty may be the lone starter who can be counted on and should be able to continue Detroit’s odd run of success at home in this season series.

***3-Star Picks***

Tigers OVER 5 runs (-110)

While there is not an expectation for a slugfest to break out, there is the belief the teams will just score one and two runs in multiple innings to claim the over. In this case, this is another pick against Lopez and the Royals pitching staff as Kansas City has yielded six or more runs in eight of its last 12 games.

Detroit’s offense is enough a concern that there was thought to taking the Royals over 3.5 runs, but Kansas City also scored 15 of its 29 runs in its six games at Comerica Park in its lone road. Taking the Tigers and the over makes taking the Tigers’ over the pick.

Tigers -0.5 runs first 5 innings (+105)

Boyd’s matchup has followed the home team in his three starts against the Royals this year, with the Tigers leading at the midway point in the home game and trailing at Kauffman Stadium. The left-hander is 4-5-1 at home after five innings, but with the Royals 2-5-2 in their last nine games and 0-5 in Lopez’s five road starts — including both previous outings in Detroit — the Tigers are the play.

OVER 5 runs first 5 innings (-110)

This is a toss-up, with the teams splitting the five-inning under in their first 12 games of the season series. The over has split in Lopez’s two starts against the Tigers and 2-1 in Boyd’s three versus the Royals. The teams are riding contrasting streaks into this contest — the five-inning under is 3-0-1 in Kansas City’s last four games and the over is 4-0-2 in Detroit’s last six — but the hedge is the Tigers scratch out just enough offense versus Lopez to deliver a tight win for the over.

Tigers 3-way ML 1st inning (+240)

Some converging trends make the home team worth a flyer in the opening inning. Boyd has not allowed a first-inning run in his three starts versus the Royals and has conceded just one first-inning run in his 10 starts at Comerica Park. The lefty also has a 2.74 ERA overall in the first.

In addition to Lopez making his first start since late May, he also has a 6.30 ERA in the first with eight runs allowed in 10 starts, including a three-spot in the loss to Boyd. Lopez was also reached for first-inning runs in his last three road starts before being dropped from the rotation.

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