MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Tuesday

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Tuesday, Jun. 17, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

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 Tuesday.

The first place team in the American League East could hold value as a nice underdog vs. a great pitcher Tuesday night when Marcus Stroman and those Toronto Blue Jays (41-30, 21-13 away) pay a visit to the great Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees (35-33, 13-16 home) in a battle of right-handers from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, NY at 7:05 ET.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Toronto as a decided underdog for this contest at current odds of +149.

This is the first game of a big early-season three-game series between the top two teams in the AL East with the division-leading Blue Jays leading the second place Yankees by 4½ games. Toronto has been winning by out-slugging opposing teams and that could serve the Blue Jays well here provided they are patient at the plate vs. Tanaka.

The Yankees would be the team in first place here and quite possibly with a nice lead if only they could solve the mystery of their struggles here at home this season! You see New York is actually a good 22-17 in the road, but just 13-16 here in the Bronx. Also, the fact that this is the Yankees’ first home game back following a nine-game Western road trip could potentially make them a bit lethargic at the outset of this game.

Now take nothing away from Tanaka, who has certainly proven to be the real deal in his first season in the Major Leagues after finishing a perfect 24-0 in Japan last year. Tanaka is 10-1 with a 2.02 ERA and 0.94 WHIP along with 103 strikeouts vs. 14 walks in 93.2 innings, which makes him a regular on our FIP Leaderboards.

However, if Tanaka does have a slight Achilles Heel, it is that he has allowed nine home runs with 13.0 percent of the fly balls that he has allowed leaving the yard. He has obviously been able to pitch around that thus far, but that is a very dangerous way to live against the slugging Blue Jays!

You see, the Jays lead the Major League with their 92 home runs in 71 games, and they also rank third in the majors in run scored with 4.70 per game, fifth in batting at .260 including .262 vs. right-handers while averaging 4.77 runs per nine innings against them and second in team OPS at .765. In other words, Tanaka may not get away with allowing too many fly balls tonight as he may be more vulnerable to allowing runs than usual.

Now, the young Stroman is not on the same level as a Tanaka, but he has actually pitched well this year over his first three Major League starts while going a perfect three for three in Quality Starts. Stroman has allowed a grand total of five runs in his three starts (2.50 ERA) with an excellent ratio of 17 strikeouts vs. just two walks in 18 innings, and the fact that this is his first ever appearance vs. the Yankees should make him doubly tough to hit, at least early.

Also, the Yankees have had enough trouble this season even against right-handed pitchers that they have already seen as they are batting a modest .245 vs. righties overall while averaging 3.71 runs per nine innings against them, and those figures drop to a poor .239 and 3.24 runs per nine over the last 10 games.

So while it is understandable that Tanaka is a considerable favorite here, we feel that all things considered, Toronto offers nice vale at this big underdog price at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.

MLB Pick: Blue Jays +149

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