Corey Kluber and James Paxton have been pitching great of late which has forced the total in this game down to 6.5. Our handicapper instead looks at the run line for value as he makes his MLB pick.
The Seattle Mariners return to Safeco Thursday night after a sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays; a sweep that took the Rays out of first place in the AL East. The last game was a fantastic pitching duel between Felix Hernandez and Chris Archer. Poor, Chris Archer – after pitching 8 innings of 2 hit ball with 12 K’s he was pulled for the Ray’s closer in the 9th inning. Two walks and a Nelson Cruz bomb later and the Mariners were up 3-0. Felix took care of the rest in the 9th inning, with the only thing in question being if he would get a ‘Maddux’. New term for me, but essentially a Maddux is a complete game shutout in fewer than 100 pitches. Greg Maddux had an incredible 13 of them in his career! Cleveland is coming off of a walloping of the Texas Rangers on Wednesday to the score of 12-3. They still lost the series at home to the struggling Rangers though and are sitting 4 games under .500 on the season.
Cleveland fans must have been panicking as their reigning Cy Young winner, Corey Kluber, started the season 0-5 as the team lost his first seven starts. After that seventh start, Kluber went all Jeckyl and Hyde on the St. Louis Cardinals, regaining his form to the tune of an 8-inning performance in which he struck out an amazing 18 batters. He’s given up one run in each of his last two starts while striking out 19. I’d admit this makes Kluber’s game log look rather odd and I can’t seem to shake the notion that he was dealing with a minor injury or something that would affect his mechanics. The advanced statistics suggest otherwise as Kluber’s metrics are almost identical to his 2014 Cy Young campaign across the MLB odds board. No, it just appears that Kluber has been the victim of some awful run support this season as Cleveland has scored 2 or less runs in seven of Kluber’s first 10 starts. He would have to have been nearly perfect to get a winning decision in those games.
After a blip in Texas in early April where Paxton gave up 7 earned runs by the 3rd inning, James Paxton has been slowly whittling his ERA away and has it down to 3.52 from 8.40. Since that awful outing on April 19th, Paxton has not given up more than 2 runs in six starts and has won his last three outings. It’s been a strong and encouraging run for big lefty that follows King Felix in the Seattle rotation. Now with a career 151.2 innings under his belt, basically an entire season’ worth, Paxton owns a career ERA of 2.97. It’s not hard when looking at that why the Mariners and projection systems love him.
The MLB Pick: With the strong performances of each pitcher of late, it was not surprising that the O/U total came in at 6.5 runs. And indeed that may be a strong MLB pick to consider. However, I’m looking at the money line and run line for value, as it opened with the home team Mariners set as the dog at +118. The early money was all over Cleveland, eating chalk with Kluber and his last three games in mind. That early line move was against consensus. What it has done though is tightened the run line enough so that the juice isn’t unbearable when taking the home team. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do; getting +1.5 runs for Seattle on what should be a tight pitching duel in Safeco at -159. Grab that line early before it moves out of reach.
MLB Pick: Seattle +1.5 runs at -159 at Pinnacle