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.
There could be an upset in New York on this tragic anniversary of 9/11 Thursday night when Tanner Roark and the first place Washington Nationals (82-62, 36-34 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Bartolo Colon and the New York Mets (71-75, 36-35 home) in the first game of a four-game series from what should be an emotional Citi Field in Flushing, NY at 7:10 ET in a game available on SNY.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has New York as a small home underdog for this contest at current odds of +107.
Took Command of the NL East
The Nationals may have to guard against a bit of a letdown here after basically taking command of the National League East by taking two out of three from the second place Atlanta Braves back home in our nation’s capital, leaving Washington with a seemingly safe eight-game lead with 18 games remaining. Should they finish the job as expected, this would mark the Nationals’ second division title in three years.
The Mets meanwhile are mired in fourth place in the division 12 games behind Washington, and they are still not inconceivable MLB picks to finish last in the division considering they only lead the last place Philadelphia Phillies by 2½ games. However it appears the Mets are doing their best to avoid that as they have now won four straight games following their three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
Much More Hittable Lately
Roark is having a breakthrough season, although he may be starting to wear down a bit. Apparently the Nationals are not all that concerned about that though because he is currently their fifth starter and will in all likelihood work out of the bullpen once the playoffs begin. Roark may be just 12-10, but he has a 2.97 ERA that ranks 11th in the National League along with a 1.11 WHIP and 132 strikeouts vs. just 38 walks in 179 innings.
However, Roark has not been himself while allowing a total of seven earned runs and 17 hits in 12.1 innings over his last two starts, and part of the reason for that could be because those 179 innings are a career professional high for him in any year at any level.
And to compound matters, Roark may have picked a bad time to start against New York as the Mets have suddenly started hitting well, especially vs. right-handed pitchers against whom they are batting .275 while averaging a whopping 5.54 runs over the last 10 games!
No Sign of Aging
The ageless Colon is having another serviceable year at the age of 41 as he has a winning 13-11 record while pitching for a sub-.500 team with a 3.96 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, and his command has been as good as ever with 134 strikeouts vs. 23 walks. Colon did have one rough start two outings ago vs. the Philadelphia Phillies shortly following the death of his mother, but he then rebounded by allowing two runs on seven hits in seven innings vs. the Reds on Friday.
He has also had good success while going a perfect three for three in Quality Starts vs. the Nationals this year, posting a 2.57 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in those starts with a great ratio of 17 strikeouts vs. two walks in 21 innings.
And even though the Nationals are on the verge of clinching a division crown, their worst split this season remains vs. right-handed pitchers on the road as Washington is batting a measly .222 while averaging only 3.83 runs in this circumstance.
One Tough Dog
Finally, Colon has been a favorite of underdog players everywhere as he is now an unbelievable 10-4 the last 14 times that he has been cast in this dog role!
Add in the emotion of this day all over New York and look for an upset in Flushing on Thursday.
MLB Pick: Mets +107