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 Friday.
There could be a big upset Friday night by a team that has been a definite seller approaching today’s trading deadline when rookie right-hander Buck Farmer and those Detroit Tigers (50-52, 25-25 away) again pay a visit to southpaw Wei-Yin Chen and the Baltimore Orioles (51-50, 32-30 home) in the second game of a four-game weekend series from Camden Yards in Baltimore, MD at 7:05 ET in a game available on MASN2.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Detroit as a big underdog for this contest at current odds of +161.
Not What the Tigers are Used To
The Tigers are the defending American League Central Champions and they have been one of the more successful teams in the American League in recent years, so this is a club unaccustomed to being two games under .500 at 50-52 and 11½ games out of first place at this stage of the year, prompting management to go into “Reboot” mode the last couple of days by trading away ace David Price and closer Joakim Soria.
But yet the Tigers have now won two straight games, following up a 2-1 win behind Justin Verlander Wednesday over the Tampa Bay Rays down in St. Petersburg by winning the series opener here Thursday night in a 9-8 slugfest. And perhaps most importantly Detroit remains only 3½ games out of a wild card spot, making the sell-off by management just a bit curious.
The Orioles in reality do not have a record that much better than the Tigers at 51-50 after being the losing MLB pick here at Camden Yards last night. But at least Baltimore is not in panic mode while still in the playoff hunt, trailing the first place New York Yankees by six games in the American League East but the Minnesota Twins by just two games for that second and last wild card spot in the American League.
Keep it in the Yard!
Farmer is still a rookie although he was called up for a cup of coffee last season and to say he has had atrocious mainstream numbers at the Major League level this year would be a serious understatement given he is 0-2 with a disgusting 9.22 ERA and 1.90 WHIP over 13.2 innings. Believe it or not though, the news is not totally bad as the main reason he has allowed 14 runs has been yielding four home runs over those limited amount of innings.
Perhaps more relevant is the fact that if we include his work from last year, Farmer now has 23 strikeouts in 23 career Major League innings, so there is certainly nothing wrong with his arm. He has a fastball that ranges from 92-95 MPH, but many scouts love Farmer’s plus change-up, which has already caught Major Leaguers off guard on many of his strikeouts. Now if Farmer can only keep the ball in the yard, he may finally be able to begin fulfilling his large potential.
And he may get help here from a Baltimore offense that is in a horrific batting slump vs. right-handed pitchers, hitting a measly .198 against them over the last 10 games!
Chen Not Sabre-Friendly
As for Chen, many would consider his 5-6 record to be unlucky when looking at his spiffy 2.88 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, and furthermore he has allowed more than three earned runs in a game just once in his 19 starts! While that sounds like a perfect profile for an undervalued pitcher, the picture is not nearly as glossy when looking at Chen’s peripherals.
For starters, Chen is primarily a contact pitcher that averages 7.10 strikeouts and 1.92 walks per nine innings, and that contact is mostly in the air as he has a low 39.6 percent groundball rate. And yet, he has had lots of luck on his side given his low .264 BABIP allowed and high 83.9 percent strand rate, neither of which seems sustainable for someone that is not an overpowering pitcher.
Those factors have combined to yield a 4.27 FIP and 3.99 xFIP, so contrary to the first impression you may get when looking solely at Chen’s record and ERA, he has actually been pitching in rather good luck and it is the ERA that figures to rise soon as it converges to his sabremetric numbers.
Trouble with the Righties
Finally, the loss to Alfredo Simon last night continued the disturbing recent Baltimore troubles in beating right-handed pitching, as the Orioles are now 4-12 in their last 16 games vs. right-handed starters.
Expect this pattern to continue at a very nice price vs. the righty Farmer, making Detroit the upset call visiting Baltimore on Friday.
MLB Pick: Tigers +161