MLB Pick: Total Value Play of the Day Wednesday

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 4:00 AM GMT

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 Wednesday.

The return of a star pitcher could key an ‘under’ Wednesday night when right-hander Scott Feldman and the lowly Houston Astros (32-40, 15-20 away) pay a visit to returning southpaw Gio Gonzalez and the Washington Nationals (36-33, 12-25 home) in the finale of a brief two-game series from Nationals Park in Washington, DC at 7:05 ET in a game available on MASN.

The posted total at Bet365 is 8 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -105.

This is actually a matchup of first vs. worst as the Nationals have surged into first place in the National League East overtaking the Atlanta Braves by one-half game despite getting swept in a three-game series by the St. Louis Cardinals this past weekend, as Washington took over the top spot by winning the series opener 6-5 here last night while the Braves have lost at home to the Philadelphia Phillies each of the last two nights.

The Astros meanwhile occupy their normal last place spot in the American League West, although to be fair that have been much more competitive this season at 32-40 and at .444, they actually have a better winning percentage than four of the other five last-place teams in baseball! It has helped that the ‘Stros actually have two good frontline starting pitchers in Dallas Keuchel and tonight’s starter Feldman.

The Nationals welcome back Gonzalez tonight, who was not having a typical season for him at 3-4 with a 4.62 ERA when he went on the Disabled List following his May 17th start vs. the New York Mets with inflammation in his left throwing shoulder. There is little doubt that the inflammation must have had a hand in his early season performance, and with the injury now having had a full month to heal, look for the “real” Gio to begin to surface.

And remember that the good Gonzalez has been one of the better southpaws in the National League since coming to the Nationals in 2012, gaining quite a few Cy Young Award votes that season when he went 21-8 with a 2.89 ERA and 207 strikeouts vs. 76 walks, and although he was only 11-8 last season he still managed a 3.36 ERA and 192 strikeouts vs. 76 walks.

Gonzalez has faced the Astros once this season, and although he was probably not as healthy then as he should be tonight, he still managed to record a Quality Start by allowing three runs on five hits in six innings with nine strikeouts vs. two walks. In fact, Gonzalez was still striking out better than one batter per inning even this year with 53 in 50.2 innings vs. 20 walks when he landed on the DL.

Still, he may not get too much run support in his return start here. Feldman may be a lackluster 3-4 with a 3.98 and 1.31 WHIP while primarily pitching to contact with just 33 strikeouts vs. 16 walks in 61 innings, but he can get away with that with a good groundball rate of 51.7 percent, and he comes off of a very fine outing vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks Thursday where he allowed only two earned runs and four hits in 6.1 innings with six strikeouts and no walks.

Feldman can also get some help from a Washington offense that ranks 19th in the Major Leagues in batting at .247 and that is hitting a mere .231 vs. right-handed pitchers all season. Feldman took advantage of this Nationals’ lineup in his first and only career start against them, allowing only one run and five hits in six innings with six strikeouts.

Therefore, look for both pitchers to do their parts in keeping this contest ‘under’ the total in Washington, DC on Thursday.

MLB Pick: Astros, Nationals ‘under’ 8 (-105)