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 Wednesday.
One of the best Cinderella stories in baseball this year could be contributing to good line value for their opponents Wednesday night when Miguel Gonzalez and the Baltimore Orioles (23-28, 6-15 away) pay a visit to rookie fellow right-hander Lance McCullers and those Houston Astros (33-20, 18-12 home) in the third game of a four-game series from Minute Maid Park in Houston, TX at 8:10 ET in a game available on MASN2.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Baltimore as a road underdog for this contest at current odds of +118.
Best Record in American League
The Astros has three straight 100-loss seasons from 2011-2013, and although they showed some improvement last year they still finished with the second worst record in the American League ahead of only the Texas Rangers. Thus this young club has been one of the best stories on baseball this year currently owning the best record in the American League at 33-20 after taking the first two games of this series from Baltimore.
The Orioles meantime are on the opposite end of the spectrum as they made the playoffs each of the last two years including as the American League East Champions last season, but they are now five games below .500 and in third place, although luckily only four games behind the first place New York Yankees, after being the losing MLB picks in their last four straight games.
Too Much Respect for McCullers?
With all of that being said, it does appear that the Astros are beginning to venture into overvalued territory as rather decided favorites here with McCullers, son of former Major Leaguer Lance McCullers, Sr., on the mound, he of the three Major League starts since being called up on May 18th.
The 21-year-old never even pitched in Triple-A, as he was called up by the Astros after posting a 0.62 ERA at Double-A while averaging 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings. McCullers is 1-0 with a nice 2.40 ERA over his first three big league starts, but he has not really been that effective while pitching with men on base often as evidenced by is 1.33 WHIP, and since he has worked so hard while amassing pitch counts, he has failed to go more than 4.2 innings in two of his three starts.
He is now facing an intelligent Baltimore lineup that knows how to work counts, and also a lineup that now again includes Adam Jones after he returned from a two-game absence with an ankle injury on Monday. All in all, we are not convinced McCullers deserves this much favoritism yet at this infant stage of his career.
Now we are not huge fans of Gonzalez, as he is a pitcher that outperformed his peripheral numbers last season and is doing so again this year with a 3.48 ERA vs. a 4.43 FIP and 4.11 xFIP. Still, given his price and mound opponent here, we feel that Gonzalez is still solid enough to back in this spot as an underdog.
Gonzalez’s mainstream numbers are fine enough as he is 5-3 with that good 3.48 ERA and very good 1.16 WHIP, and he comes off of his best start yet vs. the Tampa Bay Rays Friday allowing just one run and three hits in a season-high eight innings with six strikeouts and not a single walk. The latter is more significant as Miguel is averaging a rather high 3.20 walks per nine innings so far this season.
Gonzalez held the Astros to two runs on only five hits in 6.2 innings the last time he faced them, and he now gets to face a Houston offense that is batting a mere .211 vs. right-handed pitching here at Minute Maid Park on the year.
Home Runs Covering Up Weak Average
In fact, for all of the Astros’ success this season, they are still batting just .239 as a team overall to rank 27th out of the 30 MLB teams in batting average. Houston has been able to cover up that flaw by leading the American League in home runs with 72 and also by scoring the most runs in the Major Leagues after the sixth inning, neither or which we expect to continue.
So when you add this all up, the Cinderella Astros do seem overvalued a bit here so we recommend back Baltimore at an underdog price while visiting Houston on Wednesday.
MLB Pick: Orioles +118