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 Tuesday.
There could be an enormous upset in the Bay Area Tuesday night when Brett Oberholtzer and the lowly Houston Astros (41-58, 20-30 away) pay a visit to fellow southpaw Scott Kazmir and the first place Oakland Athletics (61-37, 32-16 home) in the first game of a three-game series from O.co Coliseum in Oakland, CA at 10:05 ET.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Houston as a humongous underdog for this contest at current odds of +232.
The Athletics came out of the All-Star break by taking two out of three games here at home vs. the Baltimore Orioles, with the loss on Saturday being the only loss for Oakland in its last nine home games. The A’s currently have the best record in the entire Major Leagues at 61-37, and yet they cannot shake off the second place Los Angeles Angels in the American League West, leading the Halos by only two games.
The Astros will never be confused with a title contender as they trail the A’s by 20½ games, but the good news is that after having the worst record in baseball over each of the last three years, Houston is no longer even in last place in its own division, recently bypassing the Texas Rangers to move up to fourth. The ‘Stros maintained their one-game lead over Texas by salvaging the final game of a three-game series vs. the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
Kazmir has been one of the best stories in baseball this year, as after being totally out of organized ball in 2012 and having a mediocre 2013 comeback season for the Cleveland Indians, he has rediscovered his vintage form and made the All-Star Game at the age of 30 this season! And that bid was certainly deserved as Kazmir is 11-3 with a miniscule 2.38 ERA and 0.98 WHIP and a great ratio of 108 strikeouts vs. 27 walks in 117.1 innings.
Those 27 walks are probably the biggest story as it was command issues that plagued Kazmir and ultimately forced him out of organized baseball for a year. In fact, his current rate of 2.07 walks per nine innings would be the lowest of his entire career if he can maintain it through the end of the year.
While we have no issues and nothing but respect for what Kazmir has done, we do have issues with laying enormous odds like this with any southpaw vs. a team that hits lefties well. And you may be surprised to know that while the Astros are batting just .237 as a team, they are actually batting .272 vs. left-handers while averaging 4.81 runs per game against them overall. Moreover, that are batting an incredulous .377 and averaging 8.78 runs vs. lefties the last 10 games!
Another reason why the Astros seem worth an investment at a huge price is because Oberholtzer may be a bit undervalued. Do not get too caught up in the fact that Oberholtzer is 2-7 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.44 WHIP as his has pitched better than that.
You see, Oberholtzer has an excellent ratio of 51 strikeouts vs. 17 walks and has allowed seven home runs in 12 starts, leading to a good 3.62 FIP. Furthermore he has now allowed two earned runs or less in five of his last six starts overall and he has pitched well in his two career starts in Oakland, which came this year and last year, allowing a total of two runs in 11.2 innings with eight strikeouts vs. two walks.
Granted the Houston bullpen ranks dead last in the Major Leagues with a 4.98 ERA, but that unit has shown great improvement lately while posting a 3.19 ERA over the last 10 games, which is actually a tad better than the 3.33 ERA the more highly regarded Oakland bullpen has posted in that same span.
Add this all up and Houston does seem to offer good value at this enormous price in Oakland on Tuesday.
MLB Pick: Astros +232