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 Tuesday.
The road underdog could hold some value in the Battle of Texas Tuesday night when southpaw Brett Oberholtzer and the Houston Astros (69-88, 31-45 away) pay a visit to right-hander Nicholas Martinez and the suddenly red-hot Texas Rangers (63-93, 29-46 home) in the second game of a three-game series from Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX at 8:05 ET.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Houston as a small underdog for this contest at current odds of +103.
Not Spoilers Here
From out of the blue, the Rangers have won nine of their last 10 games, although they are still the worst MLB picks in the Major Leagues at 30 games under .500 (63-93). However, the Rangers publicly stated that they relished the ‘spoiler” role, and the first eight of those nine wins came vs. playoff contenders. They are not in a spoiler role here vs. fellow also-rans, and although Texas won this series opener 4-3, that was with red-hot Derek Holland on the mound.
The Rangers will replace the Astros as the team with the worst record in baseball after Houston held that dubious honor the last three years, as even with the Texas win on Monday, the Astros are still five games ahead of Texas in the American League West. And Houston had some nice pieces that make its future look brighter, such as American League batting leader Jose Altuve (.345), Chris Carter (37 home runs) and recently shut down pitcher Collin McHugh.
Terrible Lack of Command
We look for the recent Texas joyride to come to an end here with Martinez in the mound. Martinez has been simply miserable this season as he is 4-11 with a 4.85 ERA and 1.53 WHIP, and those numbers are no accident when you look as his terrible command numbers. You see, Martinez has worked 128 innings, and he has only 70 strikeouts (4.92 per nine innings) and a distressing 55 walks (3.87 walks per nine).
Add in 1.27 home runs allowed per nine frames and Martinez has a disgusting 5.22 FIP, 5.26 xFIP and 0.2 WAR. Do not be fooled by him allowing two earned runs or less in four straight starts because he failed to go beyond six innings in any of them, primarily due to running up pitch counts with his poor command.
Granted the Astros have hit left-handed pitchers considerably better then right-handers over the course of this entire season, but they have hit righties much better lately at a .268 clip over the last 10 games and a whopping .316 over the last five contests.
Better Than His ERA
Now, at a quick glance, Oberholtzer’s 4.39 ERA may indicate that there is not much difference between these starters, but a deeper look reveals that Oberholtzer is clearly the better of the two.
For starters he has a commendable 1.34 FIP, but more importantly the biggest difference between these hurlers has been Oberholtzer’s excellent command as he has a very nice ratio of 91 strikeouts vs. 26 walks. That has helped lead to a good 3.47 FIP, and Oberholtzer has also pitched in bad luck while allowing a high .321 BABIP.
He comes off of another fine outing vs. the Cleveland Indians last Wednesday where he allowed two runs on seven hits in 7.2 innings without walking a single batter in am unlucky 2-0 loss, and although he is currently 2-6 on the road this season, his actual pitching has not varied much home vs. away as he has a 1.36 WHIP and an outstanding 49 strikeouts vs. 15 walks in 11 starts away from Houston.
Not the Best of Favorites
It is also worth noting that most of the recent Rangers’ success has come in an underdog role, as they were dogs in all of their recent wins until last night. Texas has been a very unreliable favorite this year though, which makes sense when you are 63-93, as the win on Monday still only brought the Rangers to 3-9 in their last 12 games as favorites.
With all of this in mind, our recommendation is to back Houston with Oberholtzer at an underdog price in Arlington on Tuesday.
MLB Pick: Astros +103