MLB Pick: Total Value Play of the Day Sunday

LT Profits Sports Group

Sunday, July 6, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Sunday, Jul. 6, 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 Sunday.

Although the Sunday Night Baseball matchup this week may look like a pitching duel on paper, it could be a higher scoring game than this total suggests when southpaw ace David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays (40-50, 21-25 away) pay a visit to the scorching right-hander Rick Porcello and the Detroit Tigers (48-36, 23-21 home) in the final game of a four-game series from Comerica Park in Detroit, MI at 8:05 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN.

The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 7½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘over’ set at -106.

The last-place Rays are trying to defeat the first-place Tigers for the third straight night after Detroit took the series opener on Thursday! In fact, Tampa Bay is finally stating to play like the team that was picked by many to win the American League East prior to the season as the Rays have now won seven of their last eight games. They are still last in the division but that are just one-half game out of fourth and a doable 8½ games behind first place Baltimore.

The Tigers meanwhile still maintain their lead atop the American League Central by four games over second place Kansas City. Detroit had been playing well before this series as it began this week by sweeping a three-game series from the team with the best record in the Major Leagues, the Oakland Athletics, and the Tigers then made it four straight wins by beating the Rays 8-1 Thursday before Tampa Bay came back to win the last two nights 6-3 and 7-2.

Now granted, Price is still one of the best pitchers in baseball and a case can be made that he is the very best southpaw in the game despite his almost inexplicable 7-7 record and 3.50 ERA. You see, Price has the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the majors and one of the best you will ever see as he leads the Major League with his 153 strikeouts and has just 17 walks in 131 innings!

So while we concede that Price is better than his record, that is just about the only thing in this game that we feel does not favor an ‘over’ at what is a low number for a Tiger game, and we feel there are enough other circumstances in this contest that should allow it to sneak ‘over’.

For starters, there are the two offenses. The Tigers are batting a solid .274 vs. southpaws overall this season, and that average climbs to an incredible .307 here at Comerica Park where they average a robust 5.52 runs per game vs. left-handers. The Rays were once last in the Major League in runs scored, but they have climbed to 24th rather quickly by scoring at least four runs in seven of their last eight games including scoring at least five runs in six of them.

Then there is Porcello, who is pitching out of his mind right now as he comes off of back-to-back Complete Game shutouts and has 24 scoreless innings in his last three starts. How does that help the ‘over’ may you ask? Well, Porcello has never shown this kind of form before and his ordinary 3.75 FIP and 3.82 xFIP are both running noticeably behind his 3.12 ERA.

Porcello has a low strikeout rate of 5.23 per nine innings and he has benefitted from allowing a low .266 BABIP. Once that latter figure stabilizes, we should start seeing the Porcello we have become accustomed to seeing over the years. In other words, negative regression should be on the way and it may begin vs. the suddenly confident Rays tonight.

Finally there is the matter of the bullpens. The Detroit bullpen has been its Achilles Heel for several years now and that unit is at it again, ranking 28th out of 30 Major League teams with a 4.51 ERA. The Tampa Bay pen is not quite that bad, but it has been far from automatic also ranking 21st with a 3.74 ERA.

Add this all up and these clubs could sneak ‘over’ this posted total that seems to be on the low-ish side Sunday.

MLB Pick: Rays, Tigers ‘over’ 7½ (-106)

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