MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Monday

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, May 12, 2014 4:00 AM GMT

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

A former Cy Young Award winner may actually be a bit overvalued Monday night when southpaw Cesar Ramos and the Tampa Bay Rays (16-22, 8-10 away) pay a visit to “King” Felix Hernandez and those Seattle Mariners (19-18, 12-10 home) at Safeco Field in Seattle, WA at 10:10 ET in a game available on ROOT.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Tampa Bay as a decided underdog for this contest at current odds of +144.

The Mariners made some additions during the off-season including the biggest free agent signing of all in Robinson Cano, but there were still many skeptics coming into this season after Seattle had become an American League doormat for quite a few years. Well, the Mariners do seem to be improved so far as they are one game over .500 and only 3½ games behind the first place Oakland Athletics in the American League West.

The Rays had much higher expectations entering this season as they were expected to compete for the American League East title and were considered legitimate contenders for the World Series. Instead they are currently in the basement of the division, albeit still only a manageable 5½ games behind the first place Baltimore Orioles, and they lost number two starter Matt Moore for the season to Tommy John surgery after his breakout year last season.

Even while the Mariners have been struggling in recent years one constant has been the pitching of Hernandez, as he would be commonly recognized as one of the great pitchers in the game if he pitched for a winning team. Yes he won the Cy Young Award for a last place team, but he has still never had the public acclaim that he deserved. Ironically, now that the Mariners are over .500, Hernandez is slumping with a 4.15 ERA and 1.67 WHIP his last three starts.

This is probably just a blip in the road for a great pitcher like King Felix, but then again he did come up at a very young age and has already logged nearly 1900 Major League innings, so could it be that he actually may have lost something and that stretches like this will become more common?

Before getting carried away, do not lose sight of the fact that Hernandez is still 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with an amazing ratio of 53 strikeouts vs.12 walks in 52.2 innings, and the fact that allowing three, three and four runs respectively his last three starts is cause for a little alarm is just a further testament to how high he has set the bar over his career.

Still, he did allowed four runs on 11 hits plus two walks and without a single strikeout in 6.1 innings in his last start vs. Oakland on Wednesday, which is very un-Felix-like. Also, Seattle as a team is only 4-4 in the games that he has started this year, which contributes to us being unwilling to lay these big odds with Hernandez right now.

On the other hand, we do see value on the other side with Ramos on the bump. Ramos is no longer a youngster as he will be 30 years old in June, but after being predominantly a relief pitcher since being called up in 2009 by the San Diego Padres with just three career starts prior to this year, the shrewd Rays Manager Joe Maddon may have known what he was doing when inserting Ramos in the starting rotation after beginning the season with four relief appearances.

Ramos was hit hard and lasted just two innings in his first start vs. the Cincinnati Reds, but he has since allowed two runs or less in four straight starts leaving him with a 2.96 ERA for the year with an impressive .188 batting average allowed! He is now facing a Seattle team that still ranks second to last in the American League in batting at .231 ahead of only the lowly Houston Astros, even with a supposedly improved lineup keyed by Cano.

Furthermore the Mariners have had great difficulty vs. southpaws lately, batting just .181 while averaging a putrid 2.84 runs per nine innings against them over the last 10 games.

As much respect as we have for Hernandez and for all that he has done throughout his career, we see value in Ramos and Tampa Bay at this nice price in Seattle on Monday.

[gameodds]3/263825/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

MLB Pick: Rays +144