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 Thursday.
The road underdogs appear to have value Thursday in a matchup of two pitchers both coming off of scoreless outings when Ervin Santana and the Minnesota Twins (50-44, 19-28 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Garrett Richards and the Los Angeles Angels (54-40, 31-18 home) in the final game of a three-game series from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA at 3:35 ET in a game available on FOX Sports - West.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Minnesota as a decided underdog for this contest at current odds of +156.
Undefeated Since All-Star Break
The Angels come in riding a seven-game winning streak including a perfect 6-0 mark coming out of the All-Star break, and they are going for a three-game sweep here after winning 7-0 on Tuesday and then 5-2 last night. The Angels continue to lead the American League West, but that lead is only two games over the pesky Houston Astros.
The Twins are heading in the opposite direction as they have now been the losing MLB picks in their last four games since winning their first game out of the break in Oakland. They have continued to over-perform overall though after finishing in last place in the American League Central last year, as they still in second place 7½ games behind Kansas City and they are currently the second wild card in the American League with a three-game lead on the Tigers!
Sparkled in Third Start Back
Remember that Santana is just beginning his season for the Twins as he did not make his first start until July 5th in Kansas City following a three-month suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. He had a nice return that day limiting the Royals to two runs and only three hits in eight innings with eight strikeouts, and after having a bad “bounce” in his second start back, his third outing was his best yet, boding well for the rest of the season.
All that Santana did on Friday was out-duel Cy Young Award contender Sonny Gray by tossing 7.2 scoreless innings and allowing five hits in a 5-0 victory that still represents that last time the Twins won a game to date. Yes, he is facing a scorching-hot Angels’ lineup here, but it is also a lineup that he should be familiar with after coming up through the Halos’ organization and spending his first eight Major League seasons in Anaheim.
Numbers Down Across the Board
Richards did Santana one better on Saturday by finishing the job, tossing a Complete Game two-hit shutout over the Boston Red Sox that was very reminiscent of his breakthrough season last year, a season that was cut short by a serious knee injury that took place interestingly enough in Boston in late August.
Richards had already established himself though as one of the best pitchers in the American League in 2014, finishing 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, a .201 batting average allowed and 164 strikeouts in 168.2 innings vs. 51 walks. He also finished with a 2.60 FIP, 3.15 xFIP and 4.5 WAR sabremetrically.
Richards a has followed up that season by going 10-6 so far, but that outstanding last effort notwithstanding, his numbers are down basically across the board overall this year, which have him with a 3.24 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, a .232 batting average allowed, only 83 strikeouts in 108.1 innings vs. 36 walks, as well as a 3.57 FIP, 3.86 xFIP and 1.7 WAR.
He has not been the most consistent pitcher either as his shutout on Saturday came after allowing four earned runs and 12 hits in 5.1 innings at Seattle in his final start before the All-Star Break.
Angels Have Dominated Head-to-Head, But…
Now, we can appreciate that the Angels have dominated this head-to-head series going 10-1 in the last 11 meetings overall. But remember that the Twins had lousy teams while totaling 188 losses the last two years, and this series represents the first meeting between these clubs this season.
With the Twins seemingly improved and these pitchers not appearing to be separated by much right now, we will buck that head-to-head trend and back Minnesota at a fat price visiting Los Angeles in Anaheim on Thursday.
MLB Pick: Twins +156