Each day during the MLB Playoffs, LT Profits seeks a side that has a better chance of cashing than its odds would indicate. Here is their MLB Playoff Value Play for Monday.
The desperate underdog appears to hold value in a great pitching matchup when right-hander Doug Fister and the Washington Nationals (96-68, 45-36 away) pay a visit to southpaw Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants (91-74, 45-36 home) in Game 3 of their NLDS from AT&T Park in San Francisco, CA at 5:07 ET in a game televised nationally on MLB Network with the Giants on the brink of a sweep with a 2-0 series lead in this best three-out-of-five.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Washington as a road underdog at current odds of +123.
Have Not Looked Like Top Seeds
The Nationals earned the top seed in the National League by being the best MLB picks in the league this season at 96-66, and they also tied for the best home record in the National League at 51-30, but that did not prevent them from dropping the first two games of this series home in Washington. The problem has been a lack of timely hitting as the Nats dropped Game 1 3-2 and then lost an 18-inning marathon 2-1 in Game 2 to disappoint the home folks.
The wild card Giants meantime have continued their momentum since going into Pittsburgh and shutting out the Pirates 8-0 in the National League Wild Card, meaning that San Francisco is now 3-0 in these playoffs with all three wins impressively coming on the road. The Giants are not unaccustomed to runs like these in the post-season lately, especially in even-numbered years after winning the World Series in 2010 and 2012 without real elite rosters in either year.
Great First Year in National League
Although the Nationals had two quality starters in the first two games in Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg, they are actually in very good hand today as they try and save their season with Doug Fister on the mound, as after missing the first month or so of the season with a back injury, Fister excelled in his first year in the National League.
In fact he could be considered the best third starter in all of baseball this season as he finished 16-6 with a great 2.41 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, with that ERA actually being than that of the Giants’ ace Bumgarner and ranking fourth in the National League! There was talk earlier in the year about Fister’s velocity being down, but that did not affect him as his control was outstanding with 24 walks in 164 innings and he had a very good 48.9 percent groundball rate.
Fister has also pitched well in his two career starts in San Francisco allowing a total of one run in 13 innings, including a gem in his start here this season when he tossed seven scoreless innings in a 2-1 victory. Considering his mound opponent today, Fister may need to win another of those 2-1 type games here.
Elite Southpaw, but Meets His Match?
Bumgarner meanwhile is one of the best southpaws in the National League after finishing 18-10 with a 2.98 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and a terrific ratio of 219 strikeouts vs. 43 walks in 217.1 innings during the regular season, with that 2.98 ERA being the third lowest among NL southpaws behind only Clayton Kershaw and Cole Hamels! Bumgarner then shut down the Pirates in the wild card game, tossing a Complete Game four-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts.
Note that the ERA is still a tad higher than Fister possesses however, which is exactly the point, as the Giants will not have their usual pitching edge here that they normally have with Madison on the mound. And this is actually a pitching rematch from June 10th of this year as Bumgarner was the unlucky loser on the other end of Fister’s aforementioned masterpiece in San Francisco. Do not be surprised if this game is a carbon copy.
Not Scared to Travel
Finally, a lot of teams would be dead and buried after losing the first two games at home in a best-of-five series, but the Nationals cannot really be counted out yet because they were a good road team this season. In fact, Washington’s road record this year was exactly identical to San Francisco’s home record at 45-36.
With all of this in mind, look for Fister to again pitch well enough to outlast Bumgarner in a pitchers’ duel and extend the season for the underdog Nationals in San Francisco on Monday.
MLB Pick: Nationals +123