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 Thursday.
After pulling off a home upset at a very nice price last night, the home underdogs seem to offer nice value again Thursday night when Jeremy Hellickson and the Tampa Bay Rays (76-82, 40-37 away) again pay a visit to fellow right-hander Allen Webster and those Boston Red Sox (69-89, 32-45 home) in the final game of a three-game series from Fenway Park in Boston, MA at 7:10 ET in a game available on NESN.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Boston as a small underdog for this contest at current odds of +107.
Offense Wakes Up
The Red Sox have been mostly a dead team since it became obvious they were not going anywhere this season, but they did summon on some pride last night as their offense erupted in an 11-3 upset at nice +147 odds on the MLB picks. And that was with David Ortiz sitting and the duo of Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig going a combined 2-for-8 with no RBI, so the production came almost entirely from the Boston youngsters, which is a good sign.
Not only have the Red Sox been major disappointments after winning the World Series last year, but the Rays have disappointed also. In fact, the American League East standings look upside-down based on most preseason predictions that had these two clubs battling for the division crown. Instead, the Rays got off to a horrible start that at one point had them 18 games below .500, and despite a hot streak to get back into contention, they never fully recovered.
Webster Showing Improvement…
Webster somehow has a winning 4-3 record for a Boston team that is 20 games under .500 despite owning a 5.54 ERA and 1.50 WHIP over 10 starts covering 52 innings, but to his credit he has shown some marked improvement lately such as holding the hard-hitting AL East Champion Baltimore Orioles to one run in 5.2 innings in his last start on Friday.
That marked the third straight start that Webster has allowed three earned runs or less, and in fact also marked the sixth time in his last eight outings that he has done so. The problem has been three combined starts over which he allowed 16 earned runs in 11 innings, thus skewing his ERA. The reality though is that he has actually pitched reasonably well in seven of his 10 starts.
…and Hellickson Heading Wrong Way
Hellickson missed the first half of the season with issues with his throwing elbow, and he did not make his 2014 debut until July. And he actually showed no ill effects while pitching well in his first few starts, and he still has a semi-respectable 3.96 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. However, whether it is the elbow starting to act up again or some other reason, Hellickson is regressing pretty badly over his recent starts.
You see, he has a ghastly 6.17 ERA and 1.84 WHIP over his last five starts with 19 strikeouts but also 12 walks in 23.1 innings. Granted he tossed 4.2 scoreless innings while allowing five hits in his only start vs. the Red Sox this season, but that was on July 26th soon after his comeback, during his “good” stretch and before his form went so sour.
Also Hellickson cannot expect much help from a Tampa Bay bullpen that has a dreadful 5.12 ERA over 31 innings in the last 10 games.
Can’t Win When He Starts
And as if Hellickson’s recent numbers and those of the Rays’ bullpen were not enough to scare you away from Tampa Bay as a road favorite, consider also that the Rays as a team are now 0-8 in the last eight games that Hellickson has started!
Add this all up and Boston seems to offer good value as a home underdog for the second straight night on Thursday.
MLB Pick: Red Sox +107