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 Tuesday.
The road underdogs seem to have inherent value Tuesday night in a very close pitching matchup when right-hander Tyson Ross and the San Diego Padres (39-46, 21-24 away) pay a visit to southpaw Francisco Liriano and the Pittsburgh Pirates (48-34, 27-15 home) in the second game of a three-game series from PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA at 7:05 ET in a game available on ROOT.
The posted money line at Bet365 has San Diego as a road underdog for this contest at current odds of +135.
Pirates Won Series Opener in Nail-Biter
The Pirates have now won six of their last seven games as after taking two out of three from the Cleveland Indians here at PNC Park over the weekend, they won the series opener vs. the Padres in walk-off fashion 2-1 Monday on a two-out RBI single by Pedro Alvarez in the ninth inning. Thus Pittsburgh kept pace with the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central, still trailing the Redbirds by six games while in second place.
The Padres meanwhile have now been the losing MLB picks in three straight games on this road trip, a trip that stared out with great promise with two wins in St. Louis vs. the team with the best record in the Major Leagues. The Pads then lost the last two games vs. the Cardinals before the defeat last night, but San Diego pitching is not to blame with the three losses being by scores of 2-1, 3-1 and 2-1 respectively.
Ross in Fine Form
Now the Padres hope to continue that fine pitching run with Ross, who is much better than his 5-7 record and 1.46 WHIP and has shown that with his recent good form. Ross is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over his last three starts to lower his ERA for the season to 3.63, and he had a Quality Start vs. these Pirates in San Diego earlier in the year.
The truth of the matter is that Ross’s WHIP is anomalous because he has actually been very solid all year, allowing three earned runs or less in 15 of his 17 starts overall and a reasonable four runs on the other two occasions. He has an excellent strikeout rate of 9.83 per nine innings and he has allowed only three home runs all year in 101.2 innings, with that rate of 0.27 home runs allowed per nine being the second best in baseball behind A.J. Burnett of Pittsburgh (0.24).
That has helped lead to a fine 2.99 FIP and 3.25 xFIP for Ross, who has also allowed exactly two earned runs in each of his last three career starts vs. the Pirates. The most recent of those came on May 30th of this year when he held Pittsburgh to those two earned runs on seven hits in six innings.
No Disrespect for Liriano
Now do not get us wrong as we have all the respect in the world for Liriano, who himself is better than his 5-6 record given his 2.99 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 2.85 xFIP and 9.94 strikeouts per nine innings. And Liriano also has a good home run rate with only nine allowed in 102.1 innings covering 16 starts.
The issue we have here is that while those peripherals are indeed excellent, they really do not vary that much from Ross’s peripherals and thus do not justify the latter being such a decided underdog. Also, if this is a close game late, the Padres’ bullpen has been hot with a 1.84 ERA and 0.85 WHIP over the last 10 games. Sure the Pirates are third in the majors with their 2.53 bullpen ERA, but that figure has gone up to 3.25 with an ordinary 1.34 WHIP the last 10 games.
Also, while Ross has been a model of consistency allowing as many as four runs only twice, Liriano has been a tad more volatile such as when he allowed five earned runs in 5.2 innings while permitting eight baserunners vs. the Washington Nationals three starts ago.
San Diego Head-to-Head Dominance
Finally and surprisingly, the Padres have had uncanny success in this head-to-head series vs. the Pirates going 42-19 in the last 61 meetings overall! And even with the narrow Pirates’ victory on Monday, San Diego is 35-16 in the last 51 meetings in Pittsburgh.
With Ross seemingly undervalued in this contest, look for that San Diego head-to-head dominance to resume in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
MLB Pick: Padres +135