Felix No Longer King - Make Rays Your Underdog MLB Pick Instead

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, May 9, 2016 2:24 PM UTC

Monday, May. 9, 2016 2:24 PM UTC

Felix Hernandez has hardly resembled his common moniker of “King Felix” this season, so the visiting Tampa Bay Rays present good underdog MLB pick value vs. the Mariners Monday.


MLB Record: 16-18-1, +0.67

With a former Cy Young Award winner having a worse year than his stats may lead you to believe thus far, the road underdogs appear to have good value Monday night when southpaw Matt Moore and the Tampa Bay Rays (15-14, 6-5 away) pay a visit to the possibly fallen right-hander Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners (18-13, 5-7 home) as the teams open up a three-game series from Safeco Field in Seattle, WA at 10:10 ET in a game available on ROOT.

The posted money line at Bovada has Tampa Bay as a moderate road underdog for this contest at current MLB odds of +118.


The First Place Mariners
The Mariners are having a nice season while playing in an American League West where no team had been outstanding, so their 18-13 record is good enough for first place in the division, one-half game ahead of the second place 18-14 Texas Rangers. Seattle is returning home from a nice 5-2 road trip that allowed it to maintain the division lead, although the trek did end on a sour note with a 5-1 loss to the Astros in Houston yesterday.

The Rays were picked by many to finish in last place in the American League East before this season, but they have now moved to one game over .500 at 15-14 by being the winning MLB picks in four games in a row all vs. Los Angeles teams, first winning the finale of their last home stand over the Dodgers and then sweeping a three-game series this past weekend on the road over the Angels in Anaheim, leaving Tampa Bay in third place and 2½ games out of first.


Has King Been Dethroned?
Felix Hernandez, affectionately nicknamed King Felix, gets the nod tonight and just a quick look at his 2-2 record and 2.21 ERA would indicate that he has been pitching in bad luck and deserves a better fate. However, it is just the opposite that is true and it is the ERA that is much better than it should be given how he has pitched, as the reality is he has only looked like himself once in six starts, and that was vs. a rather weak Oakland offense.

You see, the former Cy Young Award winner has always been among the league leaders in strikeouts while maintaining very low walk rates, but such has not been the case this year with “King” have a rather poor ratio of 7.12 strikeouts vs. a distressing 4.42 walks per nine innings! Besides that lack of command, Hernandez has also lost velocity seemingly overnight with his fastball averaging just 89.7 MPH this season after averaging 92.1 MPH just last year.

The reason the ERA is so great is because Hernandez has been very lucky in allowing just a .236 BABIP despite pitching to more contact so far than he has his entire career. More important are Felix’s weak 4.11 FIP and 4.31 xFIP, and the ERA finally started to converge toward those peripherals in his last start vs. the Athletics, against whom he had previously had his best start of the year, as he was roughed up for eight runs on nine hits in four innings last Wednesday.


Moore Seems to be Back
As for Moore, he appeared to be on his way to a great career as then Rays Manager Joe Maddon started him in Game 1 of the 2011 ALDS vs. the Texas Rangers after he had made just three Major League starts, and he dominated the Rangers in that game and later went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA and made the All-Star Game in just his second full Major League season in 2013. However he tore his elbow after two starts in 2014 and underwent Tommy John surgery.

Moore came back over the second half of last season but did not appear physically ready while going 3-4 with a 5.43 ERA in 12 starts. However, he has looked much better this year despite being just 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA that is skewed by his one poor start last time out where he allowed seven earned runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings vs. the Dodgers.

He did have a very respectable 3.65 ERA before that stinker though, and more importantly he has gone back to striking out more than one batter per inning this year at 9.17 per nine innings after being at just 6.57 after he came back last season, and he lowered his walk rate from 3.29 per nine to the current 2.48.

And the best news of all is that Moore has his velocity back now two years removed from Tommy John, with his average fastball this season of 93.0 MPH actually being faster than the 92.3 MPH average during that great 2013 season!


Trending the Road Underdogs
Finally, the Rays are 4-0 in their last four road games, 6-1 in their last seven games vs. the American League West and 10-4 in Moore’s last 14 road starts vs. teams with winning records. Meanwhile, the Mariners are 1-5 in their last six home games vs. left-handed starters.

We feel that these pitchers are heading in opposite directions this season and that their year-to-date statistics so far do not yet reflect that belief, so look for those aforementioned trends to continue with Tampa Bay offering good value while visiting Seattle in the Great Northwest on Monday.

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Free MLB Pick: Rays +118
Best Line Offered: at Bovada


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