Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Friday.
You could probably ignore the standings Friday night when Rick Porcello and the last place Boston Red Sox (32-42, 15-22 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Alex Colome and the first place Tampa Bay Rays (41-33, 19-19 home) in the first game of a three-game weekend series from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL at 7:10 ET in a game available on Sun Sports.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Boston as a moderate road underdog for this contest at current odds of +113.
First vs. Worst
The standings in the American League East are not what many envisioned prior to this season, as the Rays have shaken off the departure of longtime manager Joe Maddon to lead the division in their first season under Kevin Cash by 1½ games over the second place New York Yankees, who lost in Houston last night while Tampa Bay was idle after losing two out of three here at home to the Toronto Blue Jays in a series that ended Wednesday.
The Red Sox meanwhile were picked by many experts to win the division this season even after finishing in last place last year, but instead they are in last place again and were the losing MLB picks in two of three games at home in Fenway Park to the Baltimore Orioles in a series that ended with a 8-6 defeat yesterday afternoon. Things could be worse though as last place Boston still only trails first place Tampa Bay by a manageable nine games.
Colome Weak Favorite
Colome is technically still a rookie after pitching a total of 39.2 innings for the Rays over the past two seasons, and he has been forced into a regular starting role this year due to injuries to both Alex Cobb and Nate Odorizzi. The results have not been very good, especially here at home where he has a 5.34 ERA.
Colome is 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.41 WHIP overall this year, and just as relevant is that a first place Tampa Bay team that is eight games over .500 overall is just 3-8 as a team in the games that he has started! That weak stat line for Colome is validated by a 4.83 FIP, and he has very ordinary command numbers with 6.27 strikeouts vs. 2.89 walks per nine innings.
Now he must deal with a Boston lineup that has been heating up lately including destroying right-handed pitchers to the tune of a .330 batting average over the last 10 games while averaging a potent 6.31 runs per game against them during this time.
16 Scoreless Innings Last Two vs. Rays
Granted, Porcello has been a disappointment in his first season with the Red Sox going 4-8 with a 5.61 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, and after appearing to be back on track a few weeks ago, he has again regressed posting an 8.10 ERA while going 0-3 in his last three starts. This is not what Boston envisioned after Porcello won 15 games and posted a 3.43 ERA and 3.67 FIP for the Tigers last season, but the Rays may be the perfect team to re-gain his good form against.
Tampa Bay has not been as potent offensively as Boston has, in fact losing two 1-0 decisions in the last four games, and all that Porcello has done in his last two starts vs. the Rays is toss 16 scoreless innings! He pitched seven of those scoreless innings against Tampa Bay while allowing eight hits and now issuing a single walk on May 5th, and that was after tossing a Complete Game three-hit shutout while again not walking anyone in his previous start vs. the Rays.
Also, although the Rays have a similar batting average vs. right-handers (.240) as vs. left-handers (.245) this year, they are only averaging 3.58 runs per game vs. righties like Porcello compared to 4.15 runs vs. southpaws.
Not a Great Home Record
Finally, despite being in first place the Rays have not been a great home team, in fact sitting at just .500 at 19-19 here at “The Trop” this season. They also have a couple of negative trends in play here as Tampa Bay is just 3-8 in its last 11 home games vs. right-handed starters and 0-6 in Colome’s last six starts overall.
Look for those negative patterns to continue with Boston coming in and stealing a road win visiting Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg on Friday.
MLB Pick: Red Sox +113