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 could be extremely hard to come by Thursday night in one of the best matchups of the season when All-Star and reigning Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers (56-42, 30-17 away) pay a visit to red-hot fellow right-hander Garrett Richards and the Los Angeles Angels (60-40, 35-18 home) in the first game of a four-game weekend series from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA at 10:05 ET in a game televised nationally on MLB Network.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 7 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at a positive +103.
After a couple of disappointing seasons that saw the Angels miss the playoffs despite having one of the biggest payrolls in baseball, they do appear to be playoff-bound this year as they own the second best record on the MLB picks in the Major Leagues. Unfortunately for the Halos, they have the terrible luck of being in the same American League West Division with the team with the best record, and thus they trail the Oakland Athletics by two games.
The Tigers meanwhile currently have a 6½-game lead over the second place Cleveland Indians in the American League Central Division and Detroit is the second choice on the latest World Series Futures. One key reason for that is because the Tigers have excellent starting pitching to compliment their offense, although the bullpen is still a concern.
No Cy Young But Good Enough
Scherzer has been unable to duplicate his Cy Young season of 2013, but who can after he went a mind-boggling 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts in 214.1 innings! Still, he is having another excellent season in 2014 at 11-3 with a 3.34 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 150 strikeouts vs. 39 walks in 139 innings. He enters this contest having allowed two runs or less in five straight starts, a streak that began two starts after his first Major League Complete Game shutout.
As you would expect, Scherzer has very good sabremetric numbers also with a 3.20 FIP, 3.27 xFIP and 2.8 WAR, and believe it or not that is actually while pitching with a tad of bad luck, yielding a .311 BABIP. He pitched well in his first start vs. the Angels this year back in Detroit allowing one run on only three hits with nine strikeouts in seven innings, and that means he has now allowed three earned runs or less in all five career starts vs. Los Angeles.
He is now facing an Angel lineup batting .257 vs. right-handed pitchers this season compared to .277 vs. southpaws.
All-Star Game Snub
Richards was a notable All-Star Game snub in our minds as he actually has better mainstream stats than Scherzer at this point at 11-2 with a 2.47 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, and he has been tremendous since lasting just two-thirds of an inning and being charged with five earned runs vs. the Athletics on May 30th, as he has reeled off nine straight Quality Starts since then while amazingly allowed two runs or less eight times and one run or less seven times!
And yet he missed three chances to make the All-Star Game, first not being named to the original roster like we felt he deserved, then by losing out to Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox in the “Final Vote” voted on by the fans and finally by not being named as an injury replacement. That could motivate Richards vs. a pitcher in Scherzer that was on the team with comparable stats.
Who Blinks First?
Regardless of who was on the All-Star squad or not, these are certainly two pitchers having great seasons and this promises to be one of the year’s epic pitching duels. That may make taking a side here dicey, although it must be hard to pass up Scherzer as an underdog, but one thing that we are fairly confident about is that this should be a very low scoring affair in Anaheim on Thursday.
MLB Pick: Tigers, Angels ‘under’ 7 (+103)