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 Saturday.
The underdogs still competing for a playoff spot could hold value Saturday night when Ervin Santana and those Minnesota Twins (55-54, 21-32 away) pay a visit to fellow southpaw Trevor Bauer and the Cleveland Indians (49-59, 20-33 home) in the second game of a three-game weekend series from Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH at 7:10 ET in a game available on SportsTime Ohio.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Minnesota as a road underdog for this contest at current odds of +126.
Snapped Five-Game Skid
The Twins have been one of the most pleasant surprises in baseball this season as not much was expected of them following a last-place finish last year and the firing of long-time manager Ron Gardenhire. Instead they have been in a playoff position all year, and they put a much needed end to a five-game losing streak winning a wild 10-9 slugfest in the series opener here last night, still leaving them only three games behind Toronto for the second wild card.
Conversely the Indians are on the opposite end of the spectrum, as some periodicals picked them to go to the World Series before this season but they are instead in last place in the American League Central 15 games behind the first place Kansas City Royals and 5½ behind these second place Twins. The defeat on Friday makes Cleveland the losing MLB pick in five of its last six games.
Good Santana Since His Return
Remember that the Minnesota starter Santana missed the first half of this season while serving a suspension for testing positive for a banned substance, and he has been effective since making his belated season debut on July 5th going 2-2 with a 3.89 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in six starts. He seems to be getting better with each passing outing as Santana has now allowed three runs or less in three of his last four starts including two scoreless efforts.
Santana has enjoyed facing the Indians in the past allowing three earned runs or less in nine of his last 10 career starts against them including tossing a no-hitter in Cleveland while he was with the Los Angeles Angels. The current Cleveland roster is batting just .198 vs. Santana with five home runs and 24 RBI over 257 at-bats. And the fact that he is facing an Indian team showing signs of having given up on this season does not hurt matters.
Has Bauer Done Enough?
Now, we are actually fans of Bauer and love his future potential. In fact, he probably deserves to be better than 8-8 this season given his respectable 3.98 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 128 strikeouts in 131 innings after going toe-to-toe with Cy Young Award candidate Sonny Gray allowing just one run and four hits in 6.2 innings of a no-decision vs. the Oakland A’s in his last start on Sunday.
Still, has Bauer done enough to be this big of a favorite vs. a more established pitcher and a team that is still fighting for the playoffs? Besides, for all of his potential, Bauer still struggles with his command at times with 52 walks in those 131 innings and he has alarmingly backwards home vs. away splits, going just 3-5 with a 5.59 ERA and 1.36 WHIP here at Progressive Field.
Bauer was not good in his only start vs. the Twins this season either, as he was roughed up for five earned runs and nine hits in only five innings right here in Cleveland.
No Home Field Advantage This Year
Finally, the Indians had been one of the better home teams in the league in recent seasons, but that has not been the case at all this year, which is a key reason for Cleveland’s disappointing record. In fact, the Tribe are a pathetic 1-9 in their last 10 home games following last night’s defeat, dropping them to 20-33 at home for the year.
With all of this on mind, we will back Minnesota at an underdog price as it tries to draw closer in the wild card hunt while visiting Cleveland on Saturday.
MLB Pick: Twins +126