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 Monday.
Although the American League surface numbers may suggest a low-scoring game on ESPN Monday Night Baseball, we expect the teams to sneak ‘over’ the relatively low total when Max Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers (61-47, 31-20 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Brandon McCarthy and the New York Yankees (57-53, 25-26 home) in the first game of a four-game weekend series from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, NY at 7:05 ET.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 7½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘over’ set at -113.
Five-Game Lead in AL Central
The Tigers were the prohibitive MLB picks to win the American League Central prior to the season, and they do indeed lead the division by five games after sweeping a three-game series from the Colorado Rockies over the weekend back home in Detroit. They are not quite running away with the division as many expected though with the Kansas City Royals hanging tough in second by taking two out of three in Oakland this weekend.
The Yankees have survived injuries to their starting rotation to still be very much alive in the playoff hunt, trailing the first-place Baltimore Orioles by five games while in third place in the American League East and also trailing the Toronto Blue Jays by 1½, not only for second place in the division but just as importantly for the second wild card spot. The Bronx Bombers return home after taking two of three from their bitter rivals the Red Sox in Boston.
From Undervalued to Overvalued?
The Yankees picked up McCarthy in an attempt to help chore up their depleted rotation from the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he sat at just 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. However, he was actually undervalued in Arizona because he had solid sabremetrics, and apparently that fact was not lost on the Yankees’ brass.
Despite his record with the Diamondbacks, McCarthy had 93 strikeouts vs. 20 walks in 109.2 innings for them while being very unlucky yielding a .345 BABIP. That left him with an excellent 2.91 xFIP and an above average 1.1 WAR for Arizona, which you would not expect when looking at his mainstream numbers.
Well, this looks like a shrewd move right now by the Yankees as McCarthy is 3-0 in his four American League starts with a 2.55 ERA and 20 strikeouts vs. four walks in 24.2 innings. However, not all the news is rosy as he has a mediocre 1.30 WHIP and is allowing a high .280 batting average for New York. Plus he is now facing tougher lineups than he did on a regular basis while pitching in the National League West.
The Tigers are a perfect example of that as they lead the Major Leagues in batting at .278 while ranking third in runs scored at 4.72 per game and second in team OPS at .769, and furthermore Detroit is averaging a whopping 5.33 runs per game vs. right-handers on the road this season! McCarthy comes off of his first non-quality start as a Yankee when he allowed four earned runs on nine hits in six innings vs. the Texas Rangers and we do not like his prospects here tonight.
Reigning Cy Young Winner
Scherzer is coming off of a Cy Young Award winning season where he posted numbers that he may never duplicate at 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts vs. 56 walks in 214.1 innings. That is not to say that Scherzer is still not one of the best pitchers in baseball, because he still is this year at 13-3 with a 3.27 ERA and 167 strikeouts vs. 41 walks in 146 innings.
However, considering that we expect the Detroit offense to get to McCarthy, Scherzer may not even need to surrender many runs to push this game ‘over’, and the Yankees are certainly capable of scoring a at least a few runs here. Scherzer has not faced New York this season, but the Yankees did get to him for four earned runs in just five innings the only time he faced them during his 21-3 season last year.
In fact Scherzer has only a 4.08 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in five career starts vs. the Yankees despite being 4-1 in those starts, and he must now contend with a hot New York offense averaging 5.10 runs per game in the last 10 games.
Bullpens Could Make Difference
And once these two bullpens get involved, it will also be a boon to the ‘over’ as the Detroit bullpen ranks 28th out of 30 Major League teams with a 4.55 ERA overall, an ERA that has soared to 7.11 over the last 10 games. The Yankees rank 21st in bullpen ERA at 3.75, and that figure has also risen to 4.50 in the last 10 contests.
Thus, despite the good American League numbers for both starting pitchers look for an ‘over’ in the Bronx on Monday.
MLB Pick: Tigers, Yankees ‘over’ 7½ (-113)