Each day the LT Profits Sports Group seeks out an MLB total that does not add up and offers the most value that day. Here is their Total Value Play of the Day for Monday.
The last-place home underdog could hold some value Monday night in an American League Central battle of rookie southpaws when T.J. House and the Cleveland Indians (50-48, 21-29 away) pay a visit to Kris Johnson and the Minnesota Twins (44-53, 21-25 home) in the first game of a three-game series from Target Field in Minneapolis, MN, which was the site of the All-Star Game last week, at 8:10 ET.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Minnesota as a home underdog for this contest at current odds of +113.
These certainly appear to be two teams heading in the opposite direction. The Indians in fact have bullied their way into the AL Central race, taking three out of four from the division-leading Tigers in Detroit this weekend to move past Kansas City into second place and pull to within 5½ games of first. Can the Tribe be situating themselves for another second half charge to a playoff berth, much like last year when they earned a wild card?
On the flip side the Twins have yet to win a game coming out of the All-Star break as they were swept three games here at home over the weekend by the Tampa Bay Rays. Home field advantage has not meant much for the Twins this year as they are just 21-25 at Target Field, and that has been a contributing reason to Minnesota being in last place, 5½ game behind their opponents from Cleveland and 11 games behind the first-place Tigers.
Despite the standings of these teams and the direction each club is heading in, we actually see value in Minnesota here with House being such a decided favorite on the road. After all, with a 1-2 record, 4.40 ERA and 1.53 WHIP this year, has House done enough to merit this road price? Yes he was highly regarded when he was first called up on May 23rd and he has had some nice moments, but he has been erratic for the most part while going through growing pains.
Granted he has allowed three earned runs or less in six of his eight starts, but that is deceptive because he has not been working deeply into games with only three of those outings being official Quality Starts. His last start was typical as he was charged with three earned runs, but that was only over 4.2 innings while allowing eight hits and walking two batters vs. the New York Yankees in a game the Indians ultimately won 9-3.
The Twins may be batting a modest .243 as a team while averaging 4.21 runs per game overall, but they have been a bit better vs. left-handed pitchers at .251 compared to .239 vs. right-handers and they are actually hitting southpaws very well over the last 10 games, batting .299 and averaging a whopping 5.06 runs per nine innings against them during this time.
Meanwhile, Johnson was not horrible in his first start for the Twins this year vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers as he tossed 4.1 scoreless innings allowing four hits with five strikeouts, but he has to be pulled early because his six walls allowed ran his pitch count all the way up to 106. He tailed off considerably in his second start vs. the Rockies July 11th when he was roughed up for five earned runs on eight hits (but no walks) in four innings.
However, we are willing to grant Johnson a mulligan for that one as it was his first ever experience of pitching in the altitude of Coors Field. We look for this outing to be closer to his first start but with fewer walks while taking on a Cleveland lineup that is batting only .235 and averaging 3.55 runs per game vs. left-handed pitchers on the road this season.
And if Johnson could give the Twins five solid innings, it could be enough to key an upset because the Minnesota bullpen has been the best facet of the entire team, ranking fourth in the American League with a 3.14 ERA overall and putting up a tiny 1.78 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over the last 10 games.
Thus, look for the home puppy to spring the mild upset in Minnesota on Monday.
MLB Pick: Twins +113