MLB Pick: Total Value Play of the Day Monday

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, July 29, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

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 Monday.

A higher scoring game than the low posted total suggests could kick off a crucial series in the National League Central Division Monday night when Jake Westbrook and the St. Louis Cardinals (62-40, 30-23 away) pay a visit to Francisco Liriano and the Pittsburgh Pirates (61-42, 29-25 home) in the first game of a big five-game series from PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA at 7:05 ET.

The posted total at Pinnacle Spots is 7 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘over’ set at -114.

These teams may have had an eye on this series, elongated due to a previous rainout, while both struggling over the weekend as the Cardinals were swept in a three-game series by the Atlanta Braves after entering that series on a four-game winning streak, getting outscored 11-3 in Atlanta, while the Pirates were busy losing two out of three games to the last place Miami Marlins, the team with the worst record in the National League.

It is a shame that these two teams are in the same division as the Cardinals have the best record in the entire Major Leagues, and yet own just a 1½-game over the Pirates, who have the second best record in the National League and third best in the majors. These teams had the two best records in all of baseball before the Boston Red Sox past the Pirates on Sunday.

That only adds to the drama of this series though, which has the Cardinals sending Westbrook and his 2.95 ERA to the mound for the opener. Westbrook is not in the best of form entering this game though despite going 2-1 in his last three starts, as he was quite fortunate to escape with a 3.54 ERA in those outings given his 1.52 WHIP, as he allowed a disturbing 31 baserunners in the three games.

Westbrook also has an ugly 4.01 FIP and 4.58 xFIP, which is further evidence that his ERA is very fluky and an indication that his regression has just begun. Perhaps worst of all, Westbrook has 33 walks against just 32 strikeouts in 88.1 innings. He has not fared well at PNC Park going 1-7 with a 4.81 ERA here lifetime, and much of that came vs. lousy Pirate teams.

Liriano comes in at a surprising 10-4 with an even spiffier 2.23 ERA, but at least his ERA is supported by a 2.74 FIP and 3.08 xFIP. Liriano has been even better at home, where he is 5-1 with a 1.67 ERA and 1.09 WHIP while allowing just seven runs in six starts.

Still, while his xFIP is very good, it is still 0.85 higher than his ERA leaving room for some regression, and the Cardinals are not nearly as bad offensively as they looked against the Braves over the weekend. In fact, St. Louis is still second in the majors in team batting average at .274 and third in runs scored with 4.88 per game, so the enormity of this series may awaken those bats.

Finally the ‘over’ is 4-1 in all the head-to-head meeting between these teams so far this season despite both having very good pitching staffs, and look for that pattern to continue in the series opener Monday.

[gameodds]3/240200/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

MLB Pick: Cardinals, Pirates ‘over’ 7 (-114)