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.
Do not expect much scoring in a pitcher’s park Monday night with a perennial Cy Young Award candidate on the mound when Joe Blanton and the Kansas City Royals (39-27, 17-14 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander and Cy Young hopeful Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners (32-38, 16-21 home) in the first game of a three-game series from Safeco Field in Seattle, WA at 10:10 ET in a game available on ROOT.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 6½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -115.
Seeking First Division Title in 30 Years
The Royals are the defending American League Champions, but they did not get much respect from the oddsmakers before this year with their win total set at 81½, or around the .500 mark. Well, they are proving that forecast wrong and that last year was not a fluke as they own the best record in the American League at 39-27 and a 3½-game lead in the Central Division in pursuit of their first division title since 1985, as they won the pennant as a wild card last season.
The Mariners are also performing differently than their preseason forecast, except in their case it is in a negative manner. You see, Seattle won 87 games last year and it was expected to compete for the American League West title with the addition of home run champion Nelson Cruz. Instead the Mariners are six games below .500 and 8½ games out while in fourth place even after being the winning MLB picks in two out of three games vs. the first place Astros this weekend.
King Felix Back on Track
But whether the Mariners have been good or bad, one constant over the year has been “King” Felix being in contention for the Cy Young Award every season. This year is no different and Hernandez showed his mettle by bouncing back from the worst start of his career when he recorded only one out and was charged with eight earned runs in Houston two starts back by tossing eight scoreless innings and allowing only four hits vs. the Giants last Wednesday.
That leaves Hernandez at 10-3 with a 3.08 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with his customarily great ratio of 87 strikeouts vs. 27 walks in 90.2 innings, and if you remove that one anomalous start in Houston, King has a 2.29 ERA and an terrific 0.94 WHIP over his other 13 starts, which is what his overall numbers figure to trend toward when all is said and done.
And Hernandez has pitched well vs. the Royals throughout his career with a lifetime 2.80 ERA and 1.07 WHIP while allowing three earned runs or less in each of his last 10 starts against them lifetime.
Not the Same Joe Blanton
Now, there was a time when most would cringe at the thought of playing an ‘under’ with Blanton pitching, and frankly much of the abuse that the once portly hurler has taken throughout his career has been pretty much deserved given his career 4.48 ERA, as he has had just two Major League seasons with an ERA below 4.00, and one was just marginally so at 3.95 in 2007.
However, Blanton has now lost weight to the point that he is almost unrecognizable, and he is pitching much better as a result so far with a 1.80 ERA and 1.10 WHIP through 20 innings with a sharp 17 strikeouts vs. three walks. Furthermore, he has had more success vs. the Mariners than most other teams with a 3.69 ERA in 18 career appearances (all starts) against them.
And he should continue his resurrection here given than that this Seattle lineup ranks dead last among the 30 Major League teams in batting at .231 (.224 vs. right-handed pitchers), 29th in runs scored at 3.40 per game and 27th in team OPS at .669.
Finally, Safeco Field is one of the more pitcher-friendly stadiums in the Major Leagues with the ‘under’ now standing at a lucrative 51-23-4 in the last 78 games here. The ‘under’ is also an amazing 40-15-1 in the Mariners’ last 56 games with the total set at 6½ or lower!
There is really no reason to believe that this contest will play out any differently, so go ‘under’ again when Kansas City visits Seattle in the Great Northwest on Monday.
MLB Pick: Royals, Mariners ‘under’ 6½ (-115)