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 Monday.
The visiting team potentially has a nice pitching edge over the home team Monday night when southpaw Alex Wood and those Atlanta Braves (25-25, 13-15 away) pay a visit to rookie right-hander Archie Bradley and the Arizona Diamondbacks (23-26, 11-13 home) for the first game of a three-game series from Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ at 9:40 ET in a game available on Sports South.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Atlanta as a very slight underdog for this contest at current odds of -101.
17-Inning Marathon on Road
The Braves were not expected to do much in 2015 after losing much of their offense during the off-season, so they have actually surpassed expectations by being at .500 here on June 1st while still in with a chance to win the National League East, sitting in third place just three games behind the first place Washington Nationals. Atlanta gained a four-game split in San Francisco this weekend by beating the defending World Champion Giants the last two games.
The Diamondbacks expected to improve this year after finishing as the worst MLB picks in baseball at 64-98 last year, and they have while much healthier under new manager Chip Hale at just three games under .500 while fourth in the National League West, a reasonable six games behind the first place Dodgers. However, after winning the first two games in Milwaukee this weekend, they dropped a 17-inning marathon 7-6 yesterday before taking the long flight home.
Often Underrated Wood
Now, Wood may be just a .500 pitcher over his brief Major League career, but he has had the numbers of a much bigger winner while getting little run support. That was almost the case again vs. Zack Greinke and the Dodgers in his last start last Wednesday when he allowed just one run on seven hits in seven innings but departed with the score 1-1. Luckily the Braves scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning allowing Wood to get the win as they went on to win 3-2.
Wood broke into the majors in 2013 and went 3-3, but his talent was obvious as the young left-hander had a 3.13 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 77.2 innings. Then last season he finished just 11-11 despite a sparkling 2.78 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 171.2 innings vs. just 45 walks!
In short, Wood would get more national recognition with better run support. As for this season, the win over Greinke improved him to 3-2 with a rather deceptive 3.50 ERA, as in fact he has allowed three runs or less in eight of his nine starts! Wood also sparkled in his only career start vs. the Diamondbacks last season allowing two runs and only three hits in seven innings.
Bradley Not the Same since Comeback
Bradley came up highly regarded this year, and he certainly looked the part while allowing a total of three runs in 18.2 innings over his first three big-league starts. He was then hit in the face with a line drive in the second inning of his fourth start vs. the Colorado Rockies here at home and landed on the Disabled List.
To say that Bradley has struggled after being re-activated would be an understatement, as in three starts since his return he has allowed 14 earned runs and 19 hits plus eight walks while lasting a total of just 10.2 innings! For those of you scoring at home, that translates to an atrocious 11.81 ERA and 2.53 WHIP.
Now he must deal with an Atlanta lineup that has been considerably better vs. right-handed pitchers then vs. left-handed pitchers this year, batting .250 and averaging 4.53 runs per game vs. right-handers like Bradley compared to just .219 while averaging 2.58 runs vs. southpaws overall.
Taxed Bullpen Does Not Help
Besides some lingering fatigue for the Snakes following the long flight home from Milwaukee after a marathon and without a day off, the Arizona bullpen was also taxed yesterday as six relievers were used over a total of 11.1 innings. That means the Diamondbacks will need more innings from Bradley tonight, making his recent form that much more discouraging.
Add this all up and Atlanta seems to hold value in a game rated very close to a toss-up by the oddsmakers, so look for the Braves to emerge victorious over Arizona on the road in Phoenix on Monday.
MLB Pick: Braves -101