Hot McHugh Could Fuel MLB Odds Upset

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 3:01 PM UTC

Tuesday, Sep. 9, 2014 3:01 PM UTC

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.


An under-the-radar pitcher that is in impeccable form could help fuel an upset Tuesday night when the hot right-hander Collin McHugh and the Houston Astros (63-81, 28-42 away) pay a visit to southpaw Roenis Elias and the Seattle Mariners (79-64, 37-36 home) in the second game of a three-game series from Safeco Field in Seattle, WA at 10:10 ET in a game available on ROOT.

The posted money line at Bet365 has Houston as a road underdog for this contest at current odds of +135.

Trying to Hold Wild Card Spot
The Mariners have gone for American League doormats the last several years to currently holding the second wild card spot by one-half game over a team that did not run away and hide from its division as expected in the Detroit Tigers. And despite seemingly being at a disadvantage talent wise, the Mariners do not appear to be going away as they have won seven of their last nine games after taking the series opener from Houston here 4-1 last night.

The Astros were the worst MLB picks in the Major Leagues each of the last three years, but they have shown improvement this season and, with 63 wins, have already assured themselves of not having another 100-loss season. The defeat on Monday was also just the second loss for Houston in six games since interim manager Tom Lawless took over for the fired Bo Porter.

McHugh in Raging Form
McHugh had a very nondescript career in the majors prior to this year as he was 0-8 in 15 appearances over three seasons with an ugly 8.94 ERA in 47.1 career innings, but apparently that brief sampling was not enough to show his true colors. McHugh is 8-9 but with a stellar 2.89 ERA and 1.09 WHIP after beating the team with the best record in baseball, the Los Angeles Angels, last out allowing one run on four hits with eight strikeouts and no walks in 7.2 innings!

That marked the seventh consecutive start that McHugh allowed two runs or less, and his great command vs. the Halos was not out of the ordinary for this year either as he now has a rather remarkable 140 strikeouts in 134 innings vs. just 40 walks! Add in allowing a reasonable 11 home runs in 22 starts and McHugh grades out with a 3.13 FIP and 3.17 xFIP, both close enough to his ERA to suggest that this season has not been a fluke.

McHugh has also managed to record a 2.9 WAR while pitching for an Astros’ team that is 18 games under .500, so he seems much undervalued at the current time in general and in this game in particular.

Still Has Losing Record
Elias on the other hand is just 10-12 with a 3.90 ERA for a Seattle team 15 games over .500 despite pitching his home games in one of the best pitchers’ parks in the league. In fact, one oddity about Elias is that he has struggled at home, going 4-7 with a 4.23 ERA at spacious Safeco Field! Granted Elias has allowed two earned runs or less in eight straight starts, but that loses relevance when you consider that he went six innings just once in those eight outings.

Elias also lacks the strong sabremetric numbers that McHugh possesses, as the former has just a 4.06 FIP and 3.91 xFIP. Granted Elias has a good strikeout rate of 8.03 per nine innings, but he has bee hurt by the eighth worst walk rate in the Major Leagues among qualified starting pitchers at 3.55 per nine frames.

He must also now deal with a Houston offense that has hit left-handed pitchers well all year batting .265 while averaging 4.57 runs per game against them overall, and they have maintained that .265 average vs. southpaws over the last 10 games but have averaged a robust 6.43 runs against them in this time!

Masterpiece in Seattle
And one final note on McHugh is that his first start of this breakthrough year came right here in Seattle back on April 22nd, and he immediately served notice by allowing 3 hits with an impressive 12 strikeouts and not a single walk in 6.2 innings.

Look for the undervalued McHugh to again give Houston good underdog value vs. the wild card hopeful Mariners in Seattle on Tuesday.

MLB Pick: Astros +135

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