MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Monday

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, July 1, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay underdog that has a better chance of winning than its odds, offering long term value. Here is their Underdog Value Play for Monday.

An overachieving veteran pitcher could make a prime fade at a nice price on national television Monday night when rookie Michaels Kickham and the San Francisco Giants (39-42, 15-27 away) pay a visit to the just referenced veteran Bronson Arroyo and the Cincinnati Reds (46-36, 26-14 home) in the first game of a long four-game series from Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, OH at 7:10 ET in a game televised on ESPN.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has San Francisco as a nice road underdog for this contest at current odds of +146.

While the Reds are 10 games over .500, they have the misfortune of being in the same National League Central Division as the teams with the two best records in baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals, and thus Cincinnati is only in third place, 5½ games behind the first place Pirates and 3½ game behind the second place Cardinals. The good news is that if the season ended today, at least the Reds would be the second wild card.

However, tonight does not seem like a good spot for the Reds as this is their first home game back after a an eight-game western road trip , a situation where teams often come out sluggish, and they are playing with no rest following a 3-2 loss to the Texas Rangers in Arlington yesterday. In fact, the road trip was disappointing as a whole with Cincinnati going just 2-6, and the Reds have now lost seven of their last nine games overall.

They are looking to stop the bleeding tonight with the 36-year-old Arroyo on the hill, and the soft-tossing veteran has exceeded expectations this season even with a 6-6 record, as he has a totally unexpected 3.61 ERA and 1.21 WHIP while pitching half of his games in a hitter’s park. Speaking of that launching pad that is Great American Ball Park, Arroyo is somehow 5-1 with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 10 homes starts covering 68.1 innings!

That is almost inexplicable for a pitcher that would have difficulty breaking a plane of glass with his pitches, and while Arroyo deserves credit for his cunning guile on the mound, there are some alarming signs that his dream run is almost over. First of all, his 4.24 FIP and 4.34 xFIP are both running worse than his ERA, suggesting that regression is inevitable. Secondly, the regression may have begun in his last start vs. the Oakland A’s when he allowed seven runs in four innings.

The World Champion Giants are finding out just how hard it is to repeat, as they are three games under .500 and in fourth place in the National League West, although thankfully they are only three games behind a first place Arizona Diamondbacks’ team that is the only team in the division that is over .500. The Giants should also be feeling a bit better after snapping a six-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Colorado Rockies in Denver Sunday.

Now we totally get that this will in all likelihood be the last start for Kickham before getting sent back to the minor leagues once Chad Gaudin gets activated from the Disabled List when he becomes eligible on Saturday. The youngster is obviously in need of more seasoning after posting a 10.57 ERA and 2.09 WHIP in two starts covering only 7.2 innings, although one bright spot is he did not walk a batter in 5.1 innings last time after walking four in his 2.1-inning debut.

Still, the Giants will probably have a quick hook for the 2010 sixth round draft choice to make sure he does not get embarrassed, and if Arroyo continues his blow-up that may have begun last game, San Francisco might even get a chance to pull Kickham with a lead. The San Francisco bullpen has been one of the strengths of the team, ranking fourth in the National League with a 3.14 ERA.

With all things considered, the Giants appear to offer long-term value as decided underdogs on Monday.

[gameodds]3/237842/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

MLB Pick: Giants +146