Royals vs Rays Preview & Free Pick [May 24, 2024]

Rays host series-opener vs. red-hot Royals

Kansas City (32-19) at Tampa Bay (25-26)
When: Friday, May 24th 2024
Where: Tropicana Field,
St. Petersburg, FL

Time: 6:50 ET | TV: MLB Network
Opening Odds: Kansas City -110/8

Two teams going in opposite directions will begin a three-game Memorial Day Weekend series in St. Petersburg, as the struggling Tampa Bay Rays host the surprising Kansas City Royals. Yes, I said the Kansas City Royals. They have shattered expectations through 51 games, going 32-19 and sit just 1.5 games out of first place in the AL Central. The Royals trail on the Philadelphia Phillies with 21 home wins, but are just 11-11 away from Kaufman Stadium. K.C. comes into the weekend having swept both of their recent series against Oakland and Detroit, limiting them to four runs or less in each.

The Rays are in fourth place in the AL East, just a game head of Toronto for dead last after losing four in a row. That is on the heels of a four-game winning streak last week. Tampa scored seven total runs in getting swept by Boston earlier this week and let up 18 runs. The Rays blew an early three-run lead, as the bullpen imploded in an 8-5 setback to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday. Josh Lowe exited the game with tightness in his right side and will undergo an MRI. He already missed the first 5 1/2 weeks of the season with an oblique strain.

Pitching Matchup

Royals – Seth Lugo (7-1, 1.79)
Rays – Shawn Armstrong (1-1, 4.03)

Lugo has been a big part of the terrific Royals starting staff this season. His seven victories and sparkling 1.79 ERA lead all American League pitchers. He improved his record to 4-0 over his last five starts with a victory over Oakland last Saturday. He allowed two runs and struck out 10 in 5 2/3 innings in the 5-3 triumph. In his lone career start against Tampa Bay, Lugo allowed two runs (one earned) in 6 1/3 innings while a member of the New York Mets in 2020.

Tampa Bay will counter with right-hander Shawn Armstrong as an opener Friday. Left-hander Tyler Alexander (2-2, 5.17 ERA) will follow and pick up the bulk of the workload. Alexander helped take a perfect game into the eighth inning last Friday before being charged with three runs on three hits in 7 1/3 innings. The Rays went on to beat Toronto 4-3. Alexander is 2-2 with a 4.29 ERA in 11 career appearances (one start) against the Royals.

I’m definitely taking the Royals in this one. I know they don’t play as well on the road, but the Rays are under .500 at home. Lugo has been awesome this season and the Rays are hitting just .125 against lefties over their last 10 games.

Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free MLB Picks page for today.

Pick: Royals -106