MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Wednesday

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Wednesday, May. 7, 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 Wednesday.

Look for the road underdogs to gain a split Wednesday in an interleague two-game series when Mike Leake and those Cincinnati Reds (15-17, 7-10 away) pay a visit to Jake Peavy and the Boston Red Sox (16-17, 9-11 home) at Fenway Park in Boston, MA at 7:10 ET.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Cincinnati as a decided underdog for this contest at current odds of +146.

The Red Sox drew first blood in this abbreviated series by prevailing 4-3 in 12 innings last night on a walk-off hit by Grady Sizemore, dropping the Reds to two games below .500 and six games behind the Milwaukee Brewers while in third place in the National League Central. It has been a disappointing start for a Cincinnati team that still figures to compete for the division title before the season is through.

Speaking of disappointing starts, the defending World Champion Red Sox are still one game under .500 and a lackluster 9-11 here at Fenway Park even after Tuesday’s dramatics, but they are fortunate to be just 1½ behind both the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles, who are tied for the American League East lead.

Still, the underdog Reds could very well have the pitching advantage as they look to even up this series, as Leake has pitched much better than his 2-3 record as he looks to build on his breakout season of 2013. Leake teased the Reds with glimpses of greatness in the past, but the right-hander finally gained some consistency last season when he finished 14-7 with a 3.37 ERA.

Well, the 26-year-old is off to another fine start this season despite his record, as he has a 3.53 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP though the early going with 25 strikeouts against only eight walks in 43.1 innings. His last start was typical of how his year has gone early on as he limited the division leading Brewers to two runs on seven hits in eight innings on Friday but received absolutely no run support in a 2-0 loss.

This will be Leake’s first ever start vs. the Red Sox, which usually works to the pitcher’s advantage, and his 3.74 xFIP does not vary too much from his ERA, which is an indication that he should be able to maintain his currently fine level. Also the fact that Leake has a pronounced groundball rate of 57.0 percent, which is the sixth highest in the majors, is always a good thing in Fenway Park given the close proximity of the Green Monster in left field.

Now, Peavy actually has the lower ERA of these two starting pitchers at 2.87 to go along with his 1-1 record, but unlike Leake, that ERA is not supported by his sabremetric numbers. Peavy has had some severe command issues thus far, as while he has 36 strikeouts, he also has an alarming 21 walks in 37.2 innings with those 5.02 walks per nine innings being the second highest in the majors among qualifying pitchers behind only Shelby Miller of the Cardinals.

Peavy has also been prone to the long ball with his 38.5 percent groundball rate, as he has allowed six home runs already, and while the Reds may have a nondescript .246 team batting average, their left-handed laden lineup has still fared better vs. right-handers (.253) than it has vs. southpaws (.222).

Add this up and it appears that Cincinnati offers nice value as a rather generous underdog in Beantown on Wednesday.


MLB Pick: Reds +146

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