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 Monday.
The road underdog could hold value Monday night in a National League East head-to-head series that has disconnected with the division race when southpaw Mike Minor and the Atlanta Braves (74-69, 34-38 away) pay a visit to right-hander Doug Fister and the Washington Nationals (80-61, 44-27 home) in the first game of a huge three-game series from Nationals Park in Washington, DC at 7:05 ET in a game televised nationally on MLB Network.
The posted money line at Bet365 has Atlanta as a road underdog for this contest at current odds of +129.
Looking for a Miracle
On the surface, the Nationals look like they are well on their way to a National League East title as they have a seven-game lead over the second place Braves, and the Nationals are even the MLB pick second choice on the latest National League Futures to represent the league in the World Series behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers. It has helped that Washington has the best home record in the National League at 44-27.
However, the head-to-head series between these teams this year has not resembled their place in the standings one bit, as it is the Braves that have dominated going 9-4 in the 13 meetings, and they have not been impressed by Washington’s excellent hone record either going 4-3 in our nation’s capital. The Braves now get a chance to make a semi-miraculous run at the division title as tonight marks just the first of six meetings between these teams in the next 10 days!
Coming on Strong After Belated Start
Minor had shoulder surgery during the off-season that delayed his 2014 debut, and he then had a slow start that still leaves him at only 6-9 with a 4.65 ERA and 1.41 WHIP overall. However he has gotten stronger and, more importantly, better as the season has gone on and a strong case can be made that he has become the most reliable starter on the Atlanta staff at the present time.
That is because Minor has now recorded five consecutive Quality Starts after limiting the Philadelphia Phillies to three runs in 7.1 innings in his last start last Tuesday despite taking the unlucky 4-0 loss, and he has a 2.52 ERA and a tiny 0.90 WHIP over those five outings with 29 strikeouts vs. nine walks.
Minor pitched extremely well in his only start vs. the Nationals this season when he allowed two runs on seven hits with an impressive 11 strikeouts in seven innings back in June here in this stadium, and he is now catching a Washington lineup batting only .188 vs. left-handed pitchers in the last 10 games while averaging just 2.89 runs against them during this time.
Off of His Game Lately
Fister was acquired by the Nats from the Detroit Tigers during the off-season and he too had a belated start to this season due to a back injury. However he has still had a mostly successful first year in the National League as he is 12-6 with a stellar 2.66 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over 21 starts covering 135.1 innings.
Fister appears to be wearing down a bit though as he has been much more hittable while allowing at least four runs in each of his last three starts, posting an ugly 5.94 ERA and 1.86 WHIP in those outings. He went just six, 5.2 and 5.2 innings again respectively in those starts while allowing 27 hits in those 16.2 innings, so his stamina is starting to become an issue.
And there is even some unrest in what had been a very good Washington bullpen until recently, as Rafael Soriano was pulled from his closer role after blowing a save vs. the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday in a game Washington went on to lose 9-8 after once leading 7-2.
Having Nationals’ Number?
The Braves’ success vs. the Nationals this year while other teams have struggled against them is nothing new either, as Atlanta is now 26-10 in the last 36 head-to-head meetings overall. This gives the Bravos some feint hope of making things interesting in the division race over the next 10 days.
Given that head-to-head success and the directions that each of there starters have gone in lately, we feel that Atlanta offers nice underdog value in Washington on Monday.
MLB Pick: Braves +129