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 Friday.
There is a First vs. Worst matchup in an interleague rivalry Friday night when Kyle Lohse and the team with the worst record in the Major League the Milwaukee Brewers (18-36, 9-16 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Kyle Gibson and the now first place Minnesota Twins (32-21, 19-7 home) for the first game of a three-game weekend series from Target Field in Minneapolis, MN at 8:10 ET in a game available on FOX Sports - North.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Milwaukee as a road underdog for this contest at current odds of +118.
The Twins finished in last place in the American League Central last season and not much was expected this year either, especially when Minnesota began this season at 1-6! However, the Twins have gone a remarkable 31-15 since then and are 19-7 at Target Field, and when they beat the Red Sox the last two games while Kansas City lost two out of three to Cleveland, it has now allowed Minnesota to take sole possession of first place by one game over the Royals.
The story regarding the Brewers has been the exact opposite of that of the Twins, as it is easy to forget right now that Milwaukee actually led the National League Central Division for a huge chunk of last season, as this 2015 version is playing a disgusting .333 ball after being the losing MLB picks to the St. Louis Cardinals the last two games, leaving the Brewers 18 games behind the division-leading Cards and even six full games behind fourth place Cincinnati.
Regression Coming for Gibson?
Now, some may look at the standings right now and also look at Minnesota being home here and consider this price on the favored Twins to be extraordinarily short. However we are not part of that camp, primarily because we do not expect the Minnesota starter Gibson to keep pitching to his current 2.61 ERA. Furthermore, the Twins as a whole are outperforming their peripherals right now, so just finishing this season at .500 overall may be considered a success.
But getting back to Gibson, he has somehow managed to garner that 2.61 ERA despite having poor command numbers with 4.35 strikeouts vs. 3.05 walks per nine innings, which in turn have led to a 4.40 FIP and 4.57 xFIP that are both considerably worse than the ERA, which is almost always a bad sign.
As if that were not enough of a red flag, consider also that Gibson was not particularly sharp in his only career start vs. Milwaukee last season, allowing four earned runs on six hits in six innings with only one strikeout.
Lohse Not What He Was, But…
Granted, Lohse has had very few highlights this season as Father Time just might be catching up to the now 36-year-old and he may not be able to regain the form that saw him go 11-10 with a 3.35 ERA in 2013 and then 13-9 with a 3.54 ERA last season in his first two years with the Brewers after a nice career with the Cardinals, although he may also have some added incentive here as he began his career back in 2001 with these Twins.
But is Lohse really as bad as his 6.50 ERA this season? After all, his strikeouts are actually surprisingly up this year at 7.36 per nine innings while his walk rate has remained basically constant at 2.17. His Achilles Heel however as been the long ball as he has allowed an ugly 13 home runs in 62.1 innings, which is the main reason for his 4.01 xFIP.
Notice though that as ordinary as that xFIP is, it is still about 2.5 runs lower than his ERA, which suggests that there is room for at least some positive regression. It is also interesting that Lohse has been a better pitcher on the road this year at 1-2 but with a 4.00 ERA and an excellent 1.07 WHIP.
Extra Day of Rest Helps
Finally, take note that the veteran Lohse has had five days of rest since his last start last Saturday instead of the traditional four. Why is that relevant, you may ask? Well, consider that the Brewers are 11-5 in Lohse’s last 16 starts when starting with five days of rest.
That interesting rest angle combined with Gibson probably being nowhere near as good as his ERA leads us to recommend an underdog play on Milwaukee while visiting its natural interleague rival at Minnesota on Friday.
MLB Pick: Brewers +118