MLB Pick on Boston Red Sox as Road Underdogs vs. Mariners

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, May 14, 2015 5:13 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 14, 2015 5:13 PM UTC

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 Thursday.


The road team is heating up and seems to offer value at an underdog price Thursday night when right-hander Joe Kelly and those Boston Red Sox (16-18, 9-9 away) pay a visit to southpaw Roenis Elias and the Seattle Mariners (15-18, 9-8 home) in the first game of a four-game series from Safeco Field in Seattle, WA at 10:10 ET in a game available on NESN.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Boston as a small road underdog for this contest at current odds of +110.

Better since Firing Pitching Coach
The Red Sox finished in last place in the American League East last season, but more than a few experts expected another worst to first move by Boston just like the made two years ago en route to winning the 2013 World Series after finishing last the prior year. However, shaky pitching led to a slow start and the firing of pitching coach Juan Nieves, who was replaced by Carl Willis five days ago. And Boston has won three of its last four games since then.

The Mariners also has high hopes this season for a team that has not made the playoffs since their 116-win season of 2001, but they are a disappointing three games under .500 at this early stage with a 15-18 mark despite being the winning MLB picks in four straight games before having that streak snapped with a 4-2 loss to the San Diego Padres yesterday, but Seattle only trails first place Houston by a manageable 5½ games in the American League West.

Kelly Needs a Turnaround
Kelly began this season in style for the Red Sox vs. the New York Yankees, allowing one run on one single hit in seven innings while getting the victory, but unfortunately he does not own a Quality Start in his five starts since then and has distressingly allowed at least five earned runs in each of his last four outings! Perhaps the switch to Willis can pay dividends here as Kelly is simply too talented to be 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA at this point.

But believe it or not there are positive signs as Kelly is actually averaging a strikeout per inning with 34 strikeouts in 34 frames vs. 15 walks, and he is only allowing an opponents’ batting average of .237. Thus Willis may not need to tweak mark to get Kelly back on track and back in the from that saw him post a 2.69 ERA and 3.53 ERA in two of his season with the St, Louis Cardinals before being acquired last season as part of the John Lackey trade.

It also helps to be facing a Seattle lineup batting .237 vs. right-handed pitchers this season and remember that Kelly tossed five scoreless innings while allowing just one hit in his only career appearance vs. the Mariners last year.

Elias Not as Good as He Has Shown
Now, Elias is filling in for the injured Hisashi Iwakuma in the Seattle rotation and he has been surprisingly effective in his three starts despite his 0-1 record, as he has a 3.86 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 18.2 innings vs. seven walks. Most recently Elias allowed three runs and six hits with five strikeouts in seven innings in a no-decision vs. the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim in a game the Mariners eventually lost 4-3.

Still, we are not convinced that Elias is the real deal as the Cuban defector has a 4.03 FIP as a rookie last season and that FIP is up to 4.48 this year, no thanks to allowing three home runs in his three starts. His mainstream numbers would be worse if not for an abnormally high 82.6 percent strand rate. That has helped cover up his rather high .261 batting average allowed, which is up from the already above average .248 average he surrendered as a rookie last season.

Elias needs to be precise because he has a below average fastball, although he does have a bit more margin for error pitching at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. Unfortunately Kelly has that same benefit for Boston and he may have more ability.

Improved Bullpen a Key
Finally, one aspect that has improved significantly since Willis took over is the Boston bullpen. The Red Sox are still only 19th in the Major Leagues with a 3.75 pen ERA with a mediocre collective WHIP of 1.34, but that ERA stands at 2.37 over the last five games.

Thus, the Mariners do not seem to deserve much favoritism so take Boston at an underdog price visiting Seattle in the series opener on Thursday.

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MLB Pick: Red Sox +110

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