MLB Pick: Total Value Play of the Day Monday

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, May 5, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Monday, May. 5, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Each day the LT Profits Sports Group seeks out an MLB total that does not add up and offers the most value that day. Here is their Total Value Play of the Day for Monday.

There could be a higher scoring game than the posted total suggests on national TV Monday night when Shelby Miller and the St. Louis Cardinals (16-16, 9-11 away) pay a visit to Aaron Harang and the Atlanta Braves (17-13, 9-6 home) at Turner Field in Atlanta, GA at 7:10 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN.

The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 7½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘over’ set at -119.

The Braves have incredibly lost four pitchers for the year this season to Tommy John surgery including two projected starters in Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, and although they have somehow managed to hold on to their slim one-half game lead in the National League East, that lack of pitching depth could be catching up as Atlanta has now lost six straight games after getting swept by the San Francisco Giants this weekend here at home.

The Cardinals are also rather fortunate to be in second place with a .500 record in what is supposed to be a tough National League Central, as the other teams considered contenders entering the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds, are off to even worse starts and the entire division is chasing the upstart Milwaukee Brewers with St. Louis being five games back.

This total is set relatively low because of the good ERA of each starting pitcher, but we see red flags for both of them that lead us to suggest that each team should be able to score its fair share of runs here. Miller comes off of a fine rookie season for St. Louis where he went 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 169 strikeouts vs. 57 walks in 173.1 innings, and he is 3-2 with a 3.15 ERA this year after limiting Milwaukee to three runs in six innings Wednesday.

However, Miller’s peripheral numbers are not only worse than last season, but most are downright bad. His WHIP is up to 1.46 and his command numbers are way off as he has only 26 strikeouts vs. a distressing 21 walks in 34.1 innings. Even while winning his third game last time out, Miller struck out just one batter in six innings while issuing three walks and allowing two home runs!

That leaves Miller with an alarming seven home runs allowed in those 34.1 innings, and when you combine that with a lower strikeouts rate and a high walk rate, the result is a 6.19 FIP, which is the worst in the entire Major Leagues among qualified starting pitchers.

Now Harang was one of the pitchers signed by the Braves to try and fill out a decimated rotation, and he was one of the biggest stories in baseball when the soft-throwing 36-year old posted a tiny 0.85 ERA while allowing a total of three runs over his first five starts. But then reality set in last time out vs. the Miami Marlins in a major way as Harang was torched for nine earned runs on 10 hits plus one walk in just 4.2 innings.

Regression was inevitable after that unrealistic start to Harang’s Atlanta career, and although he cannot be as bad as he was last time out, there is still room for more given that his 3.85 xFIP is still running significantly ahead of his current 2.97 ERA, and he has still been aided by an abnormally low .247 BABIP allowed for a flyball pitcher with just a 31.5 percent groundball rate.

In other words, do not be surprised if the ERA of both of these pitchers is higher by the time they exit this game as the teams go ‘over’ the total in Hot-lanta on Monday.


MLB Pick: Cardinals, Braves ‘over’ 7½ (-119)

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