MLB Pick: Total Value Play of the Day Monday

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, May 19, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Monday, May. 19, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Each day the LT Profits Sports Group seeks out an MLB total that does not add up and offers the most value that day. Here is their Total Value Play of the Day for Monday.

There could be a good old fashioned pitching duel on national TV Monday between two deceptively excellent pitchers when southpaw Drew Smyly and the Detroit Tigers (27-12, 14-4 away) pay a visit to right-hander Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians (19-25, 12-11 home) at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH at 7:05 ET on ESPN Monday Night Baseball.

The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 7½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -113.

The Tigers enter with the best record in all of baseball after completing a three-game road sweep of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Sunday as Anibal Sanchez looked good his first start off of the Disabled List. Detroit has now won six straight games to open up a seven-game lead in the American League Central, and it has not been all about offense as the Tigers have allowed two runs or less in five of the last six games, and the Detroit ‘under’ is on a 6-1 run.

The Indians made a surprising run to the playoffs as a wild card last season, earning Terry Francona the Manager of the Year Award, but it has been tough sledding in the early going so far this year as the Tribe are bringing up the rear in the Central Division, already 10½ games behind these Tigers. Despite the disparity in the standings between these two, we feel that this pitching matchup is conducive to a tight, low-scoring battle.

It may not be obvious form his mainstream stats, but a deep look reveals that Kluber has actually been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball this season. Yes, he is just 4-3 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP, but believe it or not Kluber is third in the Major Leagues in both FIP (2.20) and in WAR (2.0), quite possibly making him the best pitcher in the majors that a lot of people have never heard of!

It is always a great sign when a pitcher’s sabremetric numbers run ahead of his common numbers, so why is that the case with Kluber? Well for starters, he is fourth in the American League with his 66 strikeouts, getting those in just 58.2 innings opposed to just 13 walks and three home runs allowed. Furthermore, he has a very good groundball rate for a strikeout pitcher of 47.6 percent.

And perhaps most importantly of all, a key reason why his ERA and WHIP are not in line with his sabres are because is has allowed an extremely unlucky .353 BABIP. Once that stabilizes, Kluber will only get better in the eyes of the mainstream and start to get the recognition he deserves. Until then, he will remain one of the more underrated pitchers in the league.

The reason we prefer the ‘under’ here to the Cleveland side though is because Smyly is also underrated in our eyes, and he should be particularly tough on an Indians team batting a pathetic .208 vs. left-handed pitchers this season.

Smyly may be just 2-2, but he has a nice 2.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and a .225 batting average allowed with 25 strikeouts vs. seven walks in 25.0 innings after an unfortunate no-decision vs. the Baltimore Orioles last out where he allowed one run on five hits in six innings with seven strikeouts vs. two walks.

And believe it or not, should it come down to it, the oft maligned Detroit bullpen is actually hot right now with a collective 1.88 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over the last 10 games covering 30 innings. Meanwhile the Cleveland pen has been fine all year with a 3.36 ERA, so late tack-on runs in this contest should be kept down to a minimum.

With all of this in mind, go ‘under’ in Cleveland on ESPN Monday Night Baseball.


MLB Pick: Tigers, Indians ‘under’ 7½ (-113)

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