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 Thursday.
Runs may be a bit hard to come by Thursday night in interleague play when Mike Leake and the Cincinnati Reds (66-73, 30-41 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles (81-57, 42-28 home) in the final game of a three-game series from Camden Yards in Baltimore, MD at 7:05 ET in a game televised regionally on MLB Network.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 7½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -103.
Putting Heat on the Angels
The Orioles have taken the first two games of this series to improve to 8-2 on their current long home stand, and not only have they practically taken a stranglehold of the American League East by opening up the biggest lead of any division leader at 9½ games over the second place New York Yankees, but at a season-high 24 games over .500 Baltimore has pulled to within two games of the Los Angeles Angels for the best record in the majors!
Conversely the Reds have faded away as MLB picks to make a return trip to the playoffs after earning a wild card spot last year, as they have been unable to overcome key injuries on offense to drop to seven games below .500 and seven games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the final wild card spot. Former MVP Joey Votto remains on the Disables List and Brandon Phillips may have come back too soon recently given he has two hits in his last 22 at-bats.
Leake Pitching Well with No Support
Leake is doing his best to pitch around the Reds’ lack of offensive production as he has now tossed 13.2 scoreless innings over his last two starts while allowing a grand total of eight hits. Leake did manage to beat the Atlanta Braves 1-0 two starts back while allowing only two hits in 6.2 innings, but he them managed just a no-decision while allowing six hits in seven shutout frames vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates in a game Cincinnati eventually lost 2-1.
Leake still has a losing 10-11 record on the season but he has posted a career best 3.33 ERA in the process and this is on the heels of his best Major League season to that point last year when he went 14-7 with a 3.37 ERA. His record this year deserves to be closer to that 2013 mark, but fate (as in the Cincinnati offense) has not been on his side.
This will also be his first ever appearance vs. Baltimore, which is usually to the pitcher’s advantage.
Tillman on Nice Run
Tillman has a nearly identical ERA as Leake at 3.36, but the difference is he pitches for a good offensive club and is thus 11-5 on the year. Tillman has been especially sharp while going undefeated over his last nine starts, going 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and a nice ratio of 48 strikeouts vs. 11 walks while never allowing more than six hits and allowing two runs or less eight times during this span!
In fact, Tillman has now allowed three earned runs or less in 16 consecutive starts. Like Leake, he too is facing his opponents here in the Reds for the first time ever and he is facing a Cincinnati lineup that has been struggling enough even vs. pitchers that it has seen. The Reds are 28th out of 30 Major League teams in batting at .239 overall, an identical 28th in runs scored with 3.73 per game and 29th in team OPS at only .664.
Getting Shut Out Too Often
When the Reds lost 6-0 here last night, it marked the third time in 12 games that Cincinnati was shut out and the 13th time this season the Reds were held scoreless. We cannot like the prospects of that offense improving any tonight given the form that Tillman is in.
The one silver lining for Cincinnati is that at least Leake is pitching well enough that he should be able to keep the Reds in this game, and that could help ensure an ‘under’ in Baltimore on Thursday.
MLB Pick: Reds, Orioles ‘under’ 7½ (-103)