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 Tuesday.
Runs may be hard to come by in America’s Heartland Tuesday night when southpaw Jon Lester and the Oakland Athletics (72-46, 35-25 away) pay a visit to right-hander Jeremy Guthrie and the Kansas City Royals (64-53, 31-27 home) in the second game of a big four-game series from Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, MO at 8:10 ET.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 7½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -123.
The Royals have caught fire winning eight straight games to get to a season-high 11 games over .500 after beating Sonny Gray and the Athletics 3-2 here last night, and amazingly Kansas City has now overtaken the heavily favored Detroit Tigers for the American League Central lead after it had appeared the Tigers has all but clinched the division following their recent acquisitions of David Price and Joakim Soria.
Meanwhile the A’s continue to be the best MLB picks in baseball this year at 72-46, although they are still having a bit of trouble shaking off the second place Los Angeles Angels, who remain just 3½ games back. And remember that the Tigers were not the only team that acquired an elite starting pitcher at the trading deadline as the Athletics acquired Lester for Yoenis Cespedes, which certainly bolstered the rotation but also probably hurt the offense a bit.
Lester Great Since Trade
And Lester has pitched well in his two starts in an Oakland uniform, the first of which came against these Royals in Oakland when he limited them to three runs in 6.2 innings. Lester then tossed a gem in his second start for Oakland, hurling a Complete Game three-hit shutout vs. the Minnesota Twins with eight strikeouts on Thursday.
That leaves Lester at 12-7 with a sparkling 2.44 ERA and 1.10 WHIP for his two teams combined this year with a great ratio of 160 strikeouts vs. 35 walks in 158.2 innings. Thus he is fifth in the Major Leagues among qualified starting pitchers with a 2.59 FIP and third with a 5.1 WAR.
Lester’s Oakland debut marked his second start vs. Kansas City this year and he tossed eight scoreless innings at the Royals allowing just four hits and striking out eight the first time he faced them while he was still in Boston.
Guthrie Pitching Well Too
Now we have never been fans of Guthrie and think his nondescript 8-9 record and 4.35 ERA with just 94 strikeouts in 147 innings are just about his proper level after he overachieved by winning a career-high 15 games last season. With that said, he has looked sharp in his last two starts, he has had some success against Oakland and he is facing an offense that has struggled since dealing Cespedes to get Lester, especially vs. right-handed pitchers.
Guthrie comes off of a Complete Game of his own needing an economical 109 pitches to finish the deal while allowing two run on seven hits vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks Thursday. That came on the heels of tossing six scoreless innings vs. these Athletics while allowing only three hits in Oakland in a 1-0 victory, marking the second straight career scoreless outing for Guthrie vs. Oakland after he threw seven scoreless innings in his prior start vs. the Athletics.
He now gets to face an Oakland lineup batting a mere .207 vs. right-handed pitchers over the last 10 games as the production of the two-time Home Run Derby champion Cespedes is certainly being missed.
Low Scoring Head-to-Head Series
Furthermore these teams have a recent history of playing relatively low-scoring games with the ‘under’ going 15-5-1 in the last 21 head-to-head meetings. That includes the ‘under’ going 3-1 in the four meetings so far this season with the three ‘unders’ producing just one, five and six total combined runs respectively.
Add this all up and look for yet another ‘under’ in this series on Tuesday.
MLB Pick: Athletics, Royals ‘under’ 7½ (-123)