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 Sunday.
One of the better pitchers in baseball may not get much support on Sunday, potentially giving value to the road underdogs when Trevor Bauer and those Cleveland Indians (48-55, 28-23 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander and Cy Young Award candidate Sonny Gray and the Oakland Athletics (46-59, 22-31 home) in the final game of a four-game weekend series from O.co Coliseum in Oakland, CA at 4:05 ET in a game available on SportsTime Ohio.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Cleveland as a decided underdog for this contest at current odds of +138.
End of Oakland Playoff Streak
The Athletics have made the playoffs each of the last three seasons, but that streak will come to an end for the team that inspired “Money Ball” this season with the A’s in last place in the American League West at 13 games under .500. Oakland did manage a 5-1 win here on Saturday after losing the first two games of this four-game set, but even with that victory the Athletics are still just 2-7 in their last nine games overall.
The Indians have been another disappointing team this year after some experts predicted they would go to the World Series before this season started, as they are also a last-place team in the American League Central, going seven games under .500 as MLB picks. The Tribe do appear to have a bright future though with a fine young pitching rotation, so perhaps those expecting big things from Cleveland this season were a year or two early.
Nice Road Numbers for Bauer
One of those young starting pitchers with a bright future is Bauer, who has had some growing pains this year while going 8-8 with a 4.13 ERA. He does have a more representative 1.21 WHIP though, as well as 122 strikeouts in 124.1 innings, and he comes off of a nice outing in a Complete Game loss to the team with the best record in the American League the Kansas City Royals, allowing just two runs and five hits with six strikeouts in the 2-1 defeat.
One thing that sticks out about Bauer however is his seemingly backwards home vs. away disparity. For whatever reason, he has struggled back home at Progressive Field, but Bauer has been at his best on the road going 5-3 with a very nice 2.47 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 60 strikeouts in 58.1 innings. He can be especially tough here vs. an Oakland lineup that has never faced him before, and the A’s are having enough troubles vs. right-handers as it is.
The Athletics are batting a dismal .196 while averaging 2.67 runs vs. right-handed pitchers over the last 10 games.
Not Much Support Expected for Gray
Now Gray is certainly a legitimate Cy Young contender as he has managed to go 11-4 for a team that is 13 games below .500 with a superlative 2.16 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 21 starts covering 145.2 innings with 124 strikeouts vs. 36 walks. One minor knock for Gray is that his 3.34 xFIP is more that a full run higher than his ERA, leaving room for at least a little bit of regression the rest of the way, although it may not be all that noticeable.
The real problem for Gray in this matchup though could very easily be lack of support. We have already chronicled the difficulties the Athletics have had hitting righties recently and the uncanny success that Bauer has had on the road, a combination that does not seem conducive to a lot of Oakland runs today. On top of this, Gray cannot rely on his bullpen with very much confidence given that unit posting a 4.17 ERA in the last 10 contests.
Trouble with the Righties
Because of their lack of offense, the Athletics are 1-6 in their last seven games vs. right-handed starters. Additionally, the A’s are 1-4 in Gray’s last five home starts vs. teams with losing records overall, which makes for a profitable fade, and although the Indians have a losing record, they are actually a very good 28-23 on the road compared to a disappointing 20-32 home mark.
Expect the unusual road success for both the Cleveland team and for Bauer individually to continue, as the Indians pull off an upset win over Gray in Oakland on Sunday.
MLB Pick: Indians +138