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 road underdogs appear to have value on the night portion of the Memorial Day card on Monday as David Phelps and the Miami Marlins (18-27, 8-12 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Charlie Morton and the Pittsburgh Pirates (21-22, 12-9 home) in the first game of a three-game series from PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA at 7:05 ET in a game televised regionally on MLB Network.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Miami as a road underdog for this contest at current odds of +125.
Disappointing So Far
Both of these teams have been disappointing thus far. The Pirates made the playoffs as a wild card each of the last two seasons after a long post-season drought and they were expected to complete for the National League Central title this year. That may still very well happen, but they sit at one game under .500 on this Memorial Day, although they are finally heading in the right direction after sweeping three games from the New York Mets this past weekend.
The Pirates are in third place in the Central Division right now, 6½ games behind the first place St. Louis Cardinals.
The Marlins have been bigger disappointments at 18-27, so much so they fired former manager Mike Redmond last week and replaced him with general manager Dan Jennings. Miami was promptly the losing MLB pick in Jennings’ first five games at the helm, but they have since won two straight games to win their weekend interleague series vs. the Baltimore Orioles. Miami is in last place in the National League East, 8½ games behind the first place Washington Nationals.
Phelps Likes His New Surroundings
Phelps came over to the Marlins from the New York Yankees, and he is seemingly enjoying life in his first season in the National League as he allowed two runs or less while posting a 1.75 ERA in his first six starts before having his worst outing as a Marlin allowing four runs on five hits plus three walks in five innings vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks last time out.
That still leaves Phelps with a fine 3.21 ERA though and that figure is supported by a very good 2.72 FIP as he has 30 strikeouts vs. 14 walks and has yet to allow a home run while pitching for Miami. And because he is changing leagues, most of the Pirates are unfamiliar with him, although he did face Pittsburgh once during interleague play while with the Yankees last year and did well while tossing five scoreless innings and allowing five hits with five strikeouts.
That outing was short because he was primarily a long reliever to begin the season last year so his arm had not yet been stretched out enough with that outing coming in May. Phelps even made two relief appearances to begin this season, but as mentioned he has performed well since being moved to the rotation.
Concerns over Morton
Now the Pirates may be perking up, but they still look like shaky decided favorites here with Morton on the bump. The veteran is making his first Major League start this season following off-season hip surgery, and he was terrible during spring training, allowing five runs on five hits and an ugly six walks over just 1.2 innings in his final spring appearance, necessitating Pittsburgh to place him on the Disabled List to begin the year.
Furthermore the 31-year-old showed signs last year before the surgery that his best days may be behind him as he finished 6-12 while pitching for a playoff team with a deceptive 3.72 ERA, as he struggled with his command for much of the year while issuing 3.26 walks per nine innings. Also, the Pirates as a team went 1-5 in Morton’s last six starts to end last season.
Morton is facing a Miami lineup whose best split this season is against right-handed pitchers on the road, as the Marlins are batting .267 and averaging 4.38 runs per nine innings in this circumstance.
Oh No Giancarlo
The Marlins are hitting a commendable .268 over their last five games, and that is while getting practically nothing from preseason MVP candidate Giancarlo Stanton, who is in a miserable 6-for-39 slump and is batting just .174 during the month of May. Stanton is obviously a candidate to bust out at any time though and he is 7-for-15 in his career for a .457 batting average vs. Morton!
Given that the rest of the Miami lineup has done well vs. right-handers, a breakout game from Stanton could go a long way toward an upset. Regardless, with all the doubts surrounding Morton and with Phelps pitching well, the Marlins look like the play at an underdog price in any event visiting Pittsburgh on Memorial Day Monday.
MLB Pick: Marlins +125