MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Wednesday

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Wednesday, Jun. 18, 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.

The team with the best record in the American League could be vulnerable at a nice price Wednesday when Nick Tepesch and the Texas Rangers (35-36, 19-17 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Sonny Gray and those Oakland Athletics (43-28, 20-14 home) in the final game of a three-game series from Coliseum in Oakland, CA at 3:35 ET.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Texas as a decided road underdog for this contest at current odds of +156.

It has been a banner baseball season in the Bay Area thus far with the Athletics in the American League and the San Francisco Giants in the National League currently tied for the best record in all of baseball. Still, the Athletics have to be a bit concerned about their pitching right now after splitting two high scoring games to begin this series, losing the opener 14-8 on Monday before coming back to win 10-6 last night.

The Rangers have lost more manpower time to the Disabled List this season than any other team in the Major Leagues, so it is actually quite commendable that they are only one game under .500 and still a manageable eight games behind Oakland in the American League West and just three games behind the Detroit Tigers for a wild card position. And some of those walking wounded will come back eventually this season.

The Athletics anointed Gray as the ace of the staff this year after just one stint in the Major League last year that consisted of 10 starts and 64 innings, but he was certainly impressive then and the whole world discovered Gray after two excellent starts vs. the Detroit Tigers during the ALCS. And Gray seemed to justify the Athletics’ faith in him earlier this year while pitching some of the best ball in the league, but he has become much more hittable in his recent starts.

Gray stood at 5-1 with a 1.99 ERA following his May 22nd start vs. the Tampa Bay Rays, but in his four starts since then he is 1-2 with a 5.63 ERA and 1.46 WHIP while allowing a bare minimum of three earned runs in all four of those outings. Sure that still leaves Gray at 6-3 with a 2.93 ERA and 1.18 WHIP overall, but the youngster has not been quite as good sabremetrically.

That is because Gray’s walks are now up to a disturbing 3.13 per nine innings and he has been a tad lucky surrendering a .272 BABIP, resulting in a 3.33 FIP and 3.43 xFIP that are both running behind his ERA. And facing a Texas offense that has scored 20 runs in two games does not help matters, nor does the normally great Oakland bullpen being in a collective slump right now, as that unit has a 5.13 ERA and 1.56 WHIP over the last 10 games.

Granted, Tepesch has been no great shakes for the Rangers as he is 2-2 with a 3.94 ERA and 1.38 WHIP, but he is coming to hand nicely after tossing 6.1 scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and striking out five Seattle Mariners Friday. This will also be Tepesch’s first ever start at Coliseum, which is normally one of the most pitcher friendly stadiums in the American League, so he should appreciate these dimensions.

Tepesch bombed out when he made the Texas starting rotation as a rookie out of spring training last season, but if Friday’s start is any indication, he is more mature now and perhaps more ready to realize the potential that the Rangers saw in him.

Add in the nice price and Texas seems to offer good value in Oakland on Wednesday.

MLB Pick: Rangers +156

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