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 Saturday.
With regression expected for each starting pitcher only in opposite directions, the road team could hold value Saturday night when right-hander Tyson Ross and those San Diego Padres (33-37, 17-18 away) pay a visit to southpaw Robbie Ray and the Arizona Diamondbacks (33-34, 17-17 home) in the second game of a three-game weekend series from Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ at 10:10 ET in a game televised regionally on MLB Network.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has San Diego as a tiny favorite for this contest at current odds of -108.
Arizona Trying to Get to .500
The Padres had high hopes before this season after uncharacteristically spending a lot of money during the off-season, but a slow start cost longtime manager Bud Black his job earlier this week as he was replaced on an interim basis by former Arizona State Coach Pat Murphy for the rest of this season. And Murphy did not enjoy his return to Arizona last night as the Diamondbacks took this series opener 4-2, handing James Shields his first loss of the year.
Thus the Diamondbacks improved to 33-34 under first-year manager Chip Hale and now have a chance to reach the .500 mark, which is quite the improvement for a team that finished as the worst MLB pick in the Major Leagues last season at 64-98 under former skipper Kirk Gibson. To be fair though, that team was beset by a plethora of injuries so improvement was expected this season.
Dream Ride to End for Ray?
And part of that improvement has been the pitching of Ray, who has made four starts since being recalled May 6th by Arizona and has promptly posted a 1.09 ERA and a minuscule 0.97 WHIP while going 2-1 in those starts covering 24.2 innings. Remember, this is the same Robbie Ray that the Tigers gave up on after he went 1-4 with a bloated 8.16 ERA for Detroit last season. So where did this come from?
Well, we recommend you do not get too excited because it seems almost certain that regression is coming, as Ray has no shortage of red flags while accumulating those great mainstream stats.
For starters, his command numbers are very ordinary with only 5.84 strikeouts vs. 2.55 walks per nine innings. But even more significantly, Rays has allowed a tiny .229 BABIP while pitching to contact often, and he has escaped with an insanely high 93.2 strand rate! Do not expect any of that to continue, so you should see a decline in Robbie’ numbers very soon.
Ross Better than His Numbers
Ross, on the other hand, is the exact opposite situation in that he is actually better than his bad common stats which show him at 3-7 with a 4.02 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. Given that stat line, it may be difficult to believe that Ross had a streak of eight straight starts of allowing three runs or less snapped when he allowed four runs in only five innings in his last start vs. the Oakland A’s on Monday.
However, his peripherals paint a brighter pitcher other than his high walk rate, as he has an excellent strikeout rate of 9.93 per nine innings and he has allowed only three home runs in 14 starts covering 80.2 innings. That has helped lead to a fine 3.06 FIP and 3.25 xFIP that both belie the ERA, so look for Ross to soon return to the hurler that posted an outstanding 2.81 ERA last year and a 3.17 ERA the year before while annually striking out about one batter per inning.
Not Much Disparity Home vs. Away
Finally, home field advantage may not mean much when these teams meet because neither club’s record really varies that much at home vs. away. The Padres are 17-18 on the road, which is actually better than their 16-19 home mark, while the Diamondbacks are 17-17 here in the desert compared to 16-17 on the road.
Thus this line may be over-adjusted for home field, which is just another reason to back San Diego visiting Arizona in Phoenix on Saturday.
MLB Pick: Padres -108