Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Friday.
Despite the home team starter putting up Cy Young Award type stats so far, the road underdogs could still hold value Friday night when southpaw Chris Capuano and the New York Yankees (25-23, 13-13 away) pay a visit to hot right-hander Sonny Gray and the Oakland Athletics (18-32, 7-16 home) in the second game of a weekend four-game series from O.co Coliseum in Oakland, CA at 10:05 ET in a game available on YES.
The posted money line at Bet365 has New York as a decided underdog for this contest at current odds of +130.
Still 14 Games Below .500
The Athletics have made the playoffs each of the last three seasons but they now seem like longshots to make a return trip this year. Granted Oakland won the series opener 5-4 here last night, but that still leaves the A’s 14 games under .500 at 18-32 and in last place in the American League West, 13 games behind the surprising first place Houston Astros.
The Yankees had been on a high entering that series opener Thursday after being the winning MLB picks vs. the defending American League Champion Kansas City Royals the previous three days, the same Royals’ team that beat the Athletics in the Wild Card Playoff last season. And the Yankees led 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning before the A’s got home runs from two unlikely sources in Billy Burns (2nd of season) and Brett Lawrie (3rd) en route to victory.
Gray Deserves Credit and Respect
Now let us preface tonight’s selection by saying we have all the respect in the world for Gray, who has managed to go 5-2 for a last-place team with a spiffy 1.77 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and a great ratio of 61 strikeouts vs. 18 walks in 66 innings. It may be noteworthy that Gray was forced from his last start Sunday vs. the Tampa Bay Rays with an ankle injury, but that does not appear to be much of a concern with Gray having no issues after a bullpen session Tuesday.
Still, this game is priced accordingly based on Gray’s greatness, and for all of his heroics have the last-place A’s as a team really done enough overall to merit this much favoritism over the first-place Yankees? After all, no mater how great Gray pitches, you still cannot win if you cannot score runs and Oakland has been simply abysmal vs. southpaws this year.
To wit, the A’s are batting a pathetic .218 overall vs. left-handed pitchers this season while averaging just 3.09 runs per game against them. Also, it may be a stretch to expect heroics from the likes of Burns and Lawrie for the second straight night at the plate
Third Start Back for Capuano
Capuano began this season on the Disabled List with a quadriceps injury and he has worked just 7.1 innings in his first two starts. He first allowed four runs on four hits in three innings vs. the Kansas City Royals and then was a tad better allowing only two earned runs in 4.1 innings vs. the hot-hitting Rangers on Sunday, a Texas team that has quickly ascended to ninth in the Major Leagues in runs scored.
This assignment seems easier for Capuano and the Yankees may even be able to stretch him out to six innings if the Athletics continue to struggle vs. southpaws as they have all season. And New York is always tough when it gets six innings from its starters because it boasts one of the best set-up man / closer combinations in baseball in Dellin Betances (no earned runs allowed in 26 innings with 41 strikeouts) and Andrew Miller (0.84 ERA, 14-for-14 in save chances).
What Home Field Advantage?
Finally, the Athletics have usually had a strong home field advantage during their playoff runs of recent seasons, but that advantage has not existed as of yet this season with the A’s being just 7-16 overall at O.co Coliseum and 4-14 in the last 18 games here even with the win last night.
So as great a pitcher as Gray is, the fact that Oakland cannot hit a lick vs. left-handers plus the disparity in the standings between these two teams may be enough to give value to the New York Yankees as decided road underdogs on Friday.
MLB Pick: Yankees +130