MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Thursday

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, June 6, 2013 4:00 AM UTC

Thursday, Jun. 6, 2013 4:00 AM UTC

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 Thursday.

The underdogs offer nice value in a good pitching matchup Thursday night when Derek Holland and those Texas Rangers (36-22, 18-14 away) pay a visit to Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox (36-24, 18-13 home) in the final game of a three-game series from Fenway Park in Boston, MA at 7:10 ET.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Texas as a road underdog for this contest at current odds of +118.

This series is a battle of division leaders and the clubs have split the first two games of this series, with the Red Sox demolishing Texas 17-5 on Tuesday but the Rangers showing nice resiliency by winning 3-2 last night in a game decided by the bullpens after Alexi Ogando and John Lackey both pitched well. That sets up this rubber game with another nice pitching matchup.

The Rangers have the best record in the American League, but they are hardly running away with things as they have just a 1½-game lead on the defending American League West Division Champion Oakland Athletics. The Rangers have become accustomed to out-slugging teams in recent years, and they are hitting well again now with a .266 team batting average while averaging 4.64 runs per game. However, the bigger story for Texas this year has been pitching.

Texas leads the American League with a 3.55 team ERA, and besides Yu Darvish, no other Ranger is pitching better this season than Thursday’s starter Holland, who is 5-2 with a 2.81 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 72 strikeouts in 73.2 innings against just 18 walks. Holland is tied for sixth in the Major Leagues with Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers with a 2.6 WAR and he is seventh with a 2.55 FIP, actually placing him ahead of Darvish in both categories.

Holland has allowed just one earned run in 13.2 innings over his last two starts with an amazing 18 strikeouts vs. four walks, and he had a great start vs. these Red Sox in Arlington earlier this season when he tossed eight scoreless innings while allowing six hits and striking out nine. That leaves him at 5-1 lifetime vs. Boston with a 2.41 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 37 strikeouts against nine walks while limiting Boston batters to a .204 batting average.

The Red Sox have the second best record in the American League, but like the Rangers, Boston is having a tough time shaking off the second place team in the East Division with a 1½-game lead on the New York Yankees. Boston also has two Comeback Player of the Year candidates in its starting rotation in last night’s starter Lackey and tonight’s starter Lester.

However, Lester has cooled off after looking like vintage Lester earlier on as he has allowed at least four earned runs in each of his last three starts. He has also thrown 240 pitches in his last two starts, first tossing 124 while allowing four earned runs on 10 hits in seven innings vs. the Cleveland Indians and then throwing 116 pitches while allowing another four earned runs on six hits plus four walks vs. the Yankees his last time out on Friday.

Lester has not been great vs. the Rangers in his career either, going 3-3 with a 4.57 ERA against them while yielding a .261 batting average, so go with the hotter Holland and Texas at an underdog price on Thursday.


MLB Pick: Rangers +118

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