Each day the LT Profits Sports Group seeks out a total that simply does not add up and therefore offers the most value that day. Here is their Total Value Play of the Day for Thursday.
There could be a higher scoring game than the total indicates Thursday night in National League Central play as Jake Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs (43-47, 26-23 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Jimmy Nelson and the Milwaukee Brewers (44-58, 20-29 home) in the first game of a four-game weekend series from Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI at 8:10 ET in a game available on Comcast SportsNet - Chicago.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 7 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘over’ set at -110.
Fallen Behind in Wild Card Race
There was much optimism before the year the long-suffering Cubs would be improved this season, and that has come to pass with Chicago being six games over .500 after 100 games and in third place in the National League Central. The bad news is that the Cubs are 10½ games behind the team with the best record in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals, and even worse they have fallen behind in the wild card chase trailing the San Francisco Giants by 2½ games.
The Brewers meanwhile have been far worse than expected after actually leading this division for much of last season before collapsing late and missing the playoffs entirely as they are in last place with their 20½-game deficit behind St. Louis being the biggest deficit out of first place in the majors. Milwaukee has been the losing MLB pick in four of its last five games after ending a west coast road trip with a 5-0 loss in San Francisco Wednesday afternoon.
Struggling Cub Bullpen Helps ‘over’
Now, Arrieta has rather quietly pitched as well as any pitcher in baseball this season as he is 11-6 with a sparkling 2.61 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 141 strikeouts in 134.2 innings vs. just 31 walks. He is working on a streak of seven consecutive Quality Starts, although his personal five-game winning streak did come to an end in a 5-0 loss to the last place Phillies on Saturday, as he was on the losing end of the no-hitter by Cole Hamels in his last start for Philadelphia.
Arrieta was not quite as sharp as he had been in that outing as he met just the bare minimum requirement for getting an official Quality Start allowing three earned runs in six innings, and he issued an uncharacteristic three walks as well as allowing eight hits including a home run. Now he must deal with a Milwaukee lineup whose best run-production this year has been vs. right-handed pitchers here in Miller Park, averaging 4.41 runs per game in this circumstance.
And one of Arrieta’s lesser outings this season came the last time he faced the Brewers when he allowed four earned runs on seven hits plus one walk while lasting just five innings. Furthermore, be cannot really rely on the Cubs’ bullpen for relief these days as that unit has posted a bloated 5.19 ERA and 1.59 WHIP over the last 10 games, leading to the real potential of late tack-on runs that have blown up many an ‘under’ on low totals like this one.
Walks Make Nelson Inconsistent
Nelson has had great potential since first coming to the Major Leagues, thanks to a sinking fastball that has averaged 93.2 MPH this year, simultaneously leaving him with a good strikeout rate of 7.50 per nine innings and a good groundball rate of 49.9 percent, which is a great combination for any pitcher. However, Nelson will probably never realize that vast potential until he can control his command, as he currently averages 3.24 walks per nine innings.
That rather high walk rate has made the youngster more inconsistent than the Brewers would like and leaves him with a 4.09 FIP that seems a bit scary in a game with such a low posted total. Also note that Nelson was not great the last time he faced the Cubs, surrendering four earned runs in seven innings back in May, before Chicago brought up some prized prospects that make the Cubs’ lineup a bit better now than it was then.
High Scoring in Milwaukee vs. Righties
Finally, Miller Park has played like a hitter’s park this season with games here averaging a total of 9.22 runs, and the ‘over’ is 21-8 the Brewers’ last 29 home games vs. right-handed starters. Additionally, the ‘over’ is 41-20 in Milwaukee’s last 61 home games vs. teams with winning road records.
Look for those ‘over’ patterns to continue with this seemingly low total when the Chicago Cubs begin their four-game set in Milwaukee on Thursday.
MLB Pick: Cubs, Brewers ‘over’ 7 (-110)