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 Wednesday.
The team with the best record in the Major Leagues continues to struggle with left-handed pitchers, and that could continue Wednesday night when southpaw Jose Quintana and the Chicago White Sox (33-42, 15-27 away) again pay a visit to right-hander John Lackey and those St. Louis Cardinals (51-25, 29-8 home) for the second game of a brief two-game interleague series from Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO at 8:15 ET on Comcast SportsNet - Chicago.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Chicago as a road underdog for this contest at current odds of +133.
First Place vs. Last Place
The Cardinals may have the best record in the entire league while leading the National League Central by a full eight games over the second place Pittsburgh Pirates, but that did not prevent them from losing to the last place White Sox last night 2-1 in 11 innings last night as they managed just six hits in eight innings vs. southpaw Chris Sale while striking out 12 times against him.
Yes, Sale is an elite pitcher that can do that to anyone, but that contest also continued a pattern as the Cardinals, despite their gaudy record, have continued to struggle vs. left-handed pitchers this season just as in recent years.
The White Sox are last in the American League Central and they trail the first place Kansas City Royals by 11½ games as we approach the midway point of the season. Chicago was expected to be an improved MLB pick this year before the season, but that has yet to come to fruition as they are basically on the same pace as when they finished 73-89 last year.
Not Much Support for Quintana
Now, Quintana may not be in the same class as Sale but the former is a tough left-hander in his own right and certainly better than his 3-7 record and 3.95 ERA. In fact, Quintana has now allowed three runs or less in each of his last five starts, but he continues to be plagued by a severe lack of run support with Chicago averaging a mere 2.33 runs in all of his starts this year.
The actuality is that Jose has a very nice command ratio with 76 strikeouts vs. only 26 walks in 93.1 innings and he has allowed just eight home runs in 15 starts, helping lead to a fine 3.57 FIP and 1.5 WAR. He now has a chance to pitch well again here as, despite the great record, the Cardinals are batting .231 and averaging 3.36 runs vs. southpaws overall this season compared to a .269 average and 4.40 runs per game vs. right-handers.
Furthermore St. Louis is batting .224 and averaging 3.21 runs vs. lefties here at home, so look for Quintana to maintain his fine form, only this time maybe get rewarded with a victory for a change.
Steady but Unspectacular Lackey
The veteran Lackey gets the start for St. Louis and he is 6-4 with a 3.35 ERA and 1.24 WHIP after pitching around allowing eight hits plus three walks in seven innings by giving up only two earned runs over the Chicago Cubs last Friday. Lackey has been a consistent if unspectacular pitcher throughout his career, but his ERA so far may be a bit of an aberration and he may not get away with another outing like last time this go-around.
Lackey is pitching to just a 4.03 xFIP this year, which as often happens is remarkably close to his career 4.00 ERA and is thus a better indication of his ability than the ERA. And Lackey had not had too much success vs. the White Sox over the years going only 3-6 with a 3.81 ERA against them.
This is not to say that Lackey is a bad pitcher by any means, but we do not feel he is worth this much favoritism vs. a pitcher that actually had better peripherals this year despite a worse W/L record, especially since that pitcher is left-handed vs. this Cardinal lineup.
Trouble with Southpaws
Finally, as great as the Cardinals have been at home in recent years especially while going 29-8 here at Busch this season, southpaws continue to be their kryptonite as they are just 7-19 in their last 26 interleague home games vs. left-handed starters.
With the Cardinal facing their second difficult left-hander in as many nights, look for those struggles with lefties to continue and for the Chicago White Sox to prevail at a nice underdog price when they complete their quick series in St. Louis on Wednesday.
MLB Pick: White Sox +133