Each day the LT Profits Sports Group seeks out an MLB total that does not add up and offers the most value that day. Here is their Total Value Play of the Day for Friday.
There could be a low scoring American League East battle north of the border Friday night when recently acquired southpaw Drew Smyly and the Tampa Bay Rays (62-65, 33-29 away) pay a visit to young right-hander Marcus Stroman and the Toronto Blue Jays (65-62, 33-26 home) in the first game of a three-game weekend series from Rogers Centre in Toronto, ON Canada at 7:07 ET in a game available on Sun Sports.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 8 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -101.
Trying to Stay in Playoff Chase
Both of these teams are trying to stay in the playoff hunt, or more specifically the wild card race as both have dropped back in the division. The Blue Jays were popular MLB picks to win the AL East early in the year when they held the division lead for a good while and were mashing the baseball, but they are now in third place and nine games behind the red-hot first place Baltimore Orioles. More importantly they are four games out of a wild card spot.
The Rays have had a roller-coaster season that saw them get off to simply a dreadful start that at one point had them at 18 games under .500. They then became one of the hottest teams in baseball and they battled back to actually reach the .500 mark when they beat the New York Yankees last Friday. Then they promptly lost four straight games before snapping that streak by beating their long-time staff ace David Price 1-0 in an emotional win yesterday despite getting just one hit!
The Rays are 12 games behind Baltimore while fourth in the division and seven games out of a wild card.
Terrific in a Tampa Bay Uniform
Speaking of Price, Smyly came over to Tampa Bay in that trading deadline deal and the southpaw has pitched very well in a Rays’ uniform. Smyly is 1-1 in three starts for the Rays, but more importantly with a 2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 19 strikeouts in 20 innings vs. six walks. Smyly allowed three runs in 5.1 innings in his Tampa Bay debut, a 3-0 loss at Oakland, and he has been better since then allowing two runs on just seven hits in 14.2 innings his last two starts.
This still leaves Smyly at 7-10 for the entire year, but he has pitched much better than that with a 3.66 ERA and 108 strikeouts vs. 37 walks as he has made a seamless transition back into the starting rotation after being just about the only good part of the Detroit bullpen last season when his posted a 2.37 ERA and 1.04 WHIP with 81 strikeouts vs. just 17 walks in 76 relief innings.
Smyly should also benefit for the unfamiliarity of the Toronto lineup with him as his career work vs. the Blue Jays to this point has consisted of 2.2 scoreless innings in relief.
Nice Bounce-Back Expected
The 23-year-old rookie Stroman had been pitching terrific baseball for the Blue Jays until his last start vs. the Chicago White Sox last Friday when he was lifted after recording just two outs in the first inning as he was charged with five earned runs on five hits with one strikeout.
As bad as that outing was, it still leaves Stroman at 7-4 and while his ERA rose to a still respectable 3.83, he maintains his excellent 1.17 WHIP and good ratio of 73 strikeouts vs. 21 walks in 87 innings during his initial big league season.
Friday marked the third time in his 14 starts that Stroman allowed five runs. The first time he did it, he rebounded by tossing seven scoreless innings in his next start, and the second time he rebounded by tossing a Complete Game while allowing two runs on four hits. We look for him to again prove resilient and have another fine bounce-back outing here, especially with this being the first time the Rays have ever faced him.
Both Offenses Struggling
Finally, neither of these offenses is in top form right now. The Rays have not hit well all year and that has continued while batting a measly .199 overall in the last 10 games. Granted they have somehow averaged 4.10 runs in this span, but that average is only 3.84 vs. righties. The Blue Jays meanwhile have been one of the best hitting teams in the league most of the year, but they have slumped to a .239 average and 3.55 runs per nine innings that last 10 contests.
With all of this in mind, expect a relative low scoring game in Toronto, Canada on Friday.
MLB Pick: Rays, Blue Jays ‘under’ 8 (-101)