MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Monday

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, September 30, 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.

The underdogs look to offer value in an American League play-in game on Monday night to determine the second wild card spot when David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays (91-71, 40-41 away) pay a visit to Martin Perez and the Texas Rangers (91-71, 46-35 home) from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, TX at 8:07 ET in a game televised nationally on TBS as the teams battle for the right to visit the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Texas as a home underdog for this contest at current odds of +107.

The Rangers are the team entering this game with the better momentum as they have won their last seven games after ending the regular season by sweeping the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels for a 7-0 home stand, and now getting to stay home here while the Rays had to travel from Toronto without a day off after nearly blowing a 7-0 lead Sunday is an added advantage.

Remember that of the three teams chasing the two wild card spots, the Rays appeared to be in the best shape at the beginning of last week when they held the first wild card spot by one game over Cleveland and by two games over Texas with the Rangers then being on the outside looking in. However, the Indians and Rangers had perfect weeks while the Rays lost the first two games in Toronto this past weekend and then held on for dear life to prevail 7-6 yesterday, so here we are!

At least the rotation worked out where the Rays can start their ace and defending Cy Young winner Price on his normal four days rest for this game after he last pitched on Wednesday and tossed a gem, holding the New York Yankees to two runs on six hits with eight strikeouts and not a single walk in seven innings of an 8-3 win. Price had a terrible start to this year while pitching with a triceps injury, but he has regained his great form since returning from the DL.

The problem here though, other than the Rangers having the better momentum coming in, is that Rangers Ballpark has probably been Price’s least favorite stadium to pitch in throughout his career. Price has made four starts in Arlington in his lifetime and he is 1-2 with a lofty 10.26 ERA and 1.98 WHIP while permitting Ranger batters to hit .357 here!

Price was fortunate enough to avoid Arlington this year until now, but he was lit up as usual here for six earned runs on 10 hits in just four innings the last time he pitched in this ballpark last season.

The Rangers counter with the rookie Perez, who has looked like anything but a rookie while going 10-5 with a 3.55 ERA during the heat of a pennant race, and he has maintained his form well through 199 innings as he has allowed three runs or less in nine of his last 11 starts while allowing exactly four runs in each of the other two outings.

The young southpaw is making his first career start vs. Tampa Bay, which should make him doubly tough to hit, and he is facing a Rays’ lineup that is batting only .228 vs. left-handed pitchers over the last 10 games while averaging just 3.65 runs per nine innings against them in that time.

Finally, should Perez be in need of relief, Texas ranks second in the American League in bullpen ERA at 2.91, behind only the Kansas City Royals, and that Rangers’ pen has been lights-out lately with a collective 1.76 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in the last 10 contests.

Add all of this up and it is quite conceivable that the wrong team may be favored here, giving the Rangers long-term value at an underdog price on Monday.

[gameodds]3/246513/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

MLB Pick: Rangers +107