Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Saturday.
Our original choice to win the American League Central before the season may continue making its move Saturday night when right-hander Shaun Marcum and those Cleveland Indians (22-26, 12-12 away) pay a visit to southpaw Roenis Elias and the Seattle Mariners (24-24, 12-11 home) in the third game of a weekend four-game series from Safeco Field in Seattle, WA at 10:10 ET in a game available on SportsTime Ohio.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Cleveland as a moderate underdog for this contest at current odds of +115.
Still Last but Heading Right Way
The Indians remain in last place in the Central Division, but they are heading in the right direction as they are 8-3 in their last 11 games overall after these teams split the first two games of this series with the Tribe winning 5-3 on Thursday and Seattle evening the series 2-1 last night, and Cleveland is still a manageable 7½ games behind the first place Kansas City Royals.
The Mariners also had lofty hopes before the season after adding reigning home run champion Nelson Cruz to a team that won 87 games last season while keeping the rest of the lineup virtually untouched, but even with Cruz again leading the Major Leagues in home runs, this time tied with Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals with 18, they have still disappointingly been just .500 MLB picks to this point at 24-24.
Just Third Start for Marcum
Now, a quick glance at the ERA of these starting pitchers may not make Cleveland such an obvious selection in this contest. The 33-year-old veteran Marcum is 1-0 but with a lofty 6.28 ERA, and this is after missing all of last season after surgery to correct nerve damage in his throwing arm. However, keep in mind that he has made only two starts and in his second one, he was lit up by the hot-hitting Texas Rangers for seven runs in just 2.2 innings on Monday.
Outings like that will certainly skew the ERA this early in the season and the Rangers can do that to any pitcher the way they are scorching the baseball right now. The Mariners do not represent as potent a challenge batting .227 while averaging only 3.51 runs vs. right-handed pitchers overall this year, and there is still a chance that Seattle might again be without Robinson Cano for the third straight day with the flu.
Thus Marcum has a chance to more closely resemble the pitcher he was in his first start back in the majors, which was a very good one on May 20th when he held the Chicago White Sox to two runs on only four hits in 6.2 innings with six strikeouts and not a single walk.
Elias on the other hand has a fine 2.56 ERA to go along with a 2-1 record, as he has allowed three earned runs or less in all six of his starts this season including exactly one run in each of his last three outings. But things may not be as they seem with Elias, and it is not even necessary to delve into his peripherals to see that as his mainstream 1.29 WHIP is already an indication that he has been a bit lucky while pitching with men on base.
And when you do look at those peripheral sabremetric numbers, Elias has just a 4.20 FIP and 4.00 xFIP, both of which are truer indicators of his true ability than the ERA. Elias has allowed an exceptionally high 90.9 percent strand rate, which will certainly not continue and his ERA should rise proportionately once that rate normalizes.
Elias also did not fare well in his only career start vs. the Indians last season allowing five earned runs in six innings here at Safeco.
Hot on Road and vs. Southpaws
Besides the Indians winning eight of their last 11 games overall as mentioned earlier, they are also 4-1 in their last five road games with the defeat coming last night and a perfect 4-0 in their last four road games vs. left-handed starters.
Given the southpaw Elias not being as good as his ERA, expect those trends to continue with Cleveland emerging victorious at an underdog price on the road in Seattle on Saturday.
MLB Pick: Indians +115