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 Monday.
There is nothing but interleague play in Major League Baseball over the next four days, and look for runs to come at a premium in one of the contests Monday night when southpaw Gio Gonzalez and the Washington Nationals (33-30, 17-18 away) pay a visit to right-hander Erasmo Ramirez and the Tampa Bay Rays (35-29, 17-16 home) for the first of two games from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL at 7:10 ET in a game available on MASN2.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 7 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -110.
Battle of Second Place Teams
Both of these teams enter this game in second place, but while that may be fine with the Rays, the Nationals are probably disappointed after being the preseason favorites this year to win the World Series. Instead they sit at only three games over .500 here in mid-June and they are chasing the upstart New York Mets in the National League East, although they remain just one-half game out after beating the Milwaukee Brewers the last two days.
The forecast for the Rays was not as bright after long-time manager Joe Maddon opted out of his contract to leave for the Chicago Cubs, but they actually have a better record than the more hyped Nationals right now at 35-29 and they are in a virtual tie with the New York Yankees atop the American League East, although they are technically in second place one percentage point back after being the winning MLB picks in all three games vs. the White Sox this past weekend.
Gio Coming Around Lately
The Nationals have not really gotten the outstanding starting pitching day in and day out that everyone was expecting, and that includes tonight’s starter Gonzalez who is just 4-3 with a disappointing 4.42 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. However, Gio has started to come around nicely and his peripherals suggest that his recent improvement should continue over the rest of the season.
After a rough beginning, Gonzalez has allowed two runs or less in three of his last four starts, most recently limiting the Yankees to two runs on four hits in six innings in a game the Nationals eventually went on to win 5-4 in extra innings. That is more like it for a pitcher that has been hindered by allowing an abnormal .359 BABIP this year, and Gio’s very good FIP of 3.08 is a better representation of his ability and an indicator that his positive regression has begun.
Now he has a chance to take advantage of a Tampa Bay lineup that has had its difficulties vs. left-handed pitchers lately, batting a mere .210 while averaging only 2.63 runs against them over the last 10 games.
Ramirez in Good Form Too
Ramirez was highly regarded while in the farm system of the Seattle Mariners, but he has not yet had much success at the Major League level. That may be starting to change here in his first season with the Rays though, despite currently sporting a deceptive 4.96 ERA.
That is because Ramirez has now allowed three runs or less in six of his last seven starts including allowing two runs or less in each of his last three outings, a stretch that included allowing one run vs. his former team the Mariners before following up that start by allowing two runs and five hits vs. the Los Angeles Angels last Wednesday.
On top of all this, the Nationals are unfamiliar with Ramirez with this being his first ever start against them, and he may be catching a humongous break by not having to face National League MVP candidate Bryce Harper, who sat out Sunday's game in Milwaukee with a left knee injury and is questionable to return to the lineup tonight. And even if Harper does suit up, he is still one of many Nationals that have never faced Ramirez.
Trending the ‘under’
Finally, the ‘under’ is now 16-6-1 in the Rays’ last 23 games after allowing two runs or less in their previous game, as well as 14-5-1 in their last 20 interleague home games vs. left-handed starters. The ‘under’ is also 11-2-3 in the Nationals’ last 16 games on artificial turf.
Given the current form of both of tonight’s starters, look for those ‘under’ patterns to continue for at least one more game when Washington visits Tampa Bay at St. Petersburg on Monday.
MLB Pick: Nationals, Rays ‘under’ 7 (-110)