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 Thursday.
The prized rookie with tantalizing potential gets our call Thursday over the struggling veteran when the highly touted Matt Wisler and the Atlanta Braves (35-37, 16-22 away) pay a visit to veteran fellow right-hander Doug Fister and the Washington Nationals (39-33, 21-14 home) in the final game of a three-game series from Nationals Park in Washington, DC at 4:05 ET in a game available on Sports South.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Atlanta as a decided road underdog for this contest at current odds of +151.
Nats Going for the Sweep
The Nationals were the preseason favorites on the MLB Futures to win the World Series this year, but while they have not run away and hid in the National League East as many expected, they have now opened up a 3½-game lead on the second place New York Mets after winning the first two games of this three-game series as they prepare to go for their second straight sweep today after sweeping three games from the Pittsburgh Pirates this past weekend.
As for the Braves, this was supposed to be a rebuilding year after trading away most of their best offensive players in exchange for youth during the off-season, but they have actually surpassed expectations by being only two games under .500 at this point and they are trying to hang in the division race, still trailing the Nationals by only four games even after being the head-to-head losing MLB picks the last two nights.
Lived Up To Billing in Debut
The 22-year-old phenom Wisler was acquired by the Braves from San Diego as part of the trade sending closer Craig Kimbrel to the Padres, and he instantly became the best pitching prospect in the Atlanta organization. Baseball America ranked Wisler the 32nd best prospect in all of baseball entering this year among all positions, which was higher than Eduardo Rodriguez (Red Sox) and Chi Chi Gonzalez (Rangers), who have both already had Major League success!
And Wisler lived up to the hype in his highly anticipated Major League debut vs. the New York Mets last Friday allowing just one run and six hits in eight innings, getting the win thanks to the Braves scoring two runs in the bottom of the eighth after he had been pinch hit for.
He has the look of a pitcher that should be very tough his first time through the league and the weakest batting split for the Nationals this season has been vs. right-handed pitchers here at home, as they are at .247 and averaging 3.80 runs in this circumstance.
Fister Not Good Lately
The reason the Nationals were World Series favorites before the season was they were expected to have one of the best staring pitching rotations in many years with all five starters projected to be top-two starters on most other teams. However, some of those pitches have underperformed including tonight’s starter Fister.
Fister has made just eight starts because he spent one month on the disabled list, and he is just 2-3 with a 4.80 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. Granted his forearm problem probably contributed to his early season woes, but Fister did not look good in his first start since returning vs. the Tampa Bay Rays last Friday allowing five earned runs on nine hits in 5.1 innings. That came on the heels of allowing seven earned runs in two innings in his last start before landing on the DL.
Fister has not been terribly sharp in his two starts vs. Atlanta this season either, allowing a total of eight runs (seven earned) on 16 hits over 12.1 innings.
Bryce Harper Questionable
Finally, while National League MVP candidate Bryce Harper played last night and went 2-for-5, he was dealing with cramps in his right leg throughout the game and he is currently listed as questionable for Washington with this being a late afternoon game.
Obviously being without Harper would make the prospects of an Atlanta upset better, but whether he plays or not we still think Wisler gives the underdogs from Atlanta very good underdog value visiting the Nationals in out nation’s capital on Thursday.
MLB Pick: Braves +151