Each day the LT Profits Sports Group seeks out a total that simply does not add up and therefore offers the most value that day. Here is their Total Value Play of the Day for Wednesday.
Do not expect a boatload of scoring Wednesday night in a matchup of right-handers when Dan Straily and the Houston Astros (49-37, 21-21 away) pay a visit to Trevor Bauer and the Cleveland Indians (39-44, 16-24 home) in the third game of a long four-game series from Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH at 7:10 ET in a game available on SportsTime Ohio.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 8 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -115.
Astros Not Going Away
The Astros were expected to be improved this season, but even the most enthusiastic of supporters must be surprised that they still lead the American League West by 2½ games over the hard-charging second place Los Angeles Angels as we approach the All-Star break. Granted the Astros have lost three of their last four games with the lone win coming in the first game of this series 9-4 behind All-Star Dallas Keuchel, but that followed a five-game win streak.
The Indians then evened up this series by being the shutout winning MLB pick 2-0 on Tuesday with reigning Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber tossing 6.2 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts while allowing five hits. Unfortunately the offense continued to struggle though as the Indians have now scored a total of nine runs their last four games. Picked by some to go to the World Series before the year, Cleveland is fourth in the AL Central 10 games behind the Royals.
No Hits Allowed
Bauer made his very first start of this season vs. these Astros on April 9th, and all he did was hold Houston hitless through six innings! However, he was pulled from the game at that point because his impressive 11 strikeouts and not-so-good five walks ran his pitch count to 111 at that early stage of the season. The Cleveland relievers then carried the combined no-hitter into the ninth inning before Jed Lowrie hit a solo home run for Houston’s only hit.
Now, we are not saying that we expect Bauer to finish off a no-hitter tonight, but we do expect him to pitch well again. Yes he has been erratic throughout this season and he had a couple of tough outings recently, but through it all he is 7-5 pitching for a team with a losing record with a respectable 3.88 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. And Bauer seemed to straighten himself out vs. the Pirates in Pittsburgh Friday allowing only two runs and three hits in 6.1 innings.
But what makes Bauer especially tough for the Astros is that he is a strikeout pitcher with 93 of them in 97.1 innings, and Houston leads the Major Leagues in strikeouts offensively whiffing 9.4 times per game. And Bauer has yet to allow a run in two career starts vs. Houston as he tossed six scoreless innings while allowing just four hits and striking out nine ‘Stros batters last season.
Tribe Slumping vs. Righties
Now, Straily was supposed to be the next big thing when he came up with the Oakland Athletics in 2012, the next in the line of fine pitchers developed in the Oakland farm system, It did not turn out that way though and he was traded to the Chicago Cubs last year before landing in the Astros’ minor league system to begin this season.
Straily was not impressive in his first start in the Major Leagues this year on Friday allowing four earned runs on six hits plus three walks in 4.2 innings vs. the Red Sox in Boston, although he did have seven strikeouts. Despite Straily not living up to his potential yet, he still has a chance to, based on his 22 percent whiff rate on his slider last year that actually ranked in the top 10 in the majors, not to mention an excellent change-up that produced a 17 percent whiff rate.
And he now gets to face a Cleveland lineup that is struggling vs. right-handed pitchers right now, batting .227 against them over the last 10 games and a dismal .208 over the last five.
Two of the Better Bullpens
Finally, these two bullpens should keep the late tack-on runs that have blown up many an ‘under’ in the past to a minimum here. Part of the reason for the Houston success this year has been the improvement of that bullpen, as it went from one of the worst in the league last season to second in the American league with a 2.70 ERA this year! Meanwhile Cleveland is fourth in the AL with a 3.16 pen ERA, and that figure has improved to 2.66 over the last 10 games.
Thus, look for pitching to dictate this contest from start to finish and for Houston and Cleveland to stay ‘under’ at Progressive Field on Wednesday.
MLB Pick: Astros, Indians ‘under’ 8 (-115)