MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Friday

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, September 13, 2013 4:00 AM UTC

Friday, Sep. 13, 2013 4:00 AM UTC

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay underdog that has a better chance of winning than its odds, offering long term value. Here is their Underdog Value Play for Friday.

The underdog looks live with a chance to play spoiler in the National League Central Division race Friday night when Jake Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs (62-84, 33-38 away) pay a visit to Charlie Morton and the Pittsburgh Pirates (85-61, 46-25 home) in the second game of a four-game series from PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA at 7:05 ET.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Chicago as a nice underdog for this contest at current odds of +156.

The Pirates are now back in a flat-footed tie with the St. Louis Cardinals atop the Central after sweeping a three-game series from the Texas Rangers in Arlington and then making it four wins in a row by taking the series opener 3-1 here last night. Pittsburgh already seems assured of its first playoff berth in over 20 years as it has an eight-game bulge for a wild card spot, but it would obviously prefer to win the division to avoid the one-game Wild Card Playoff.

The Cubs meanwhile are in last place and 23 games behind the Pirates, but at least they showed some spunk in the spoiler role by taking two out of three from the Reds in Cincinnati before losing a tough, well-pitched game here last night. Believe it or not, not much separates these teams in the scoring department this year as the Cubs are averaging 3.88 runs per game but the Pirates are only averaging 3.91, and both teams are hitting an identical .239 vs. right-handers.

The difference of course is that the Pirates have had the huge pitching edge over the course of the year, but that may not be the case tonight, potentially giving Chicago value. Morton injured his foot in his last start while getting lit up for five earned runs on six hits plus two walks in only 1.2 innings by the St. Louis Cardinals, and he also did not fare well in his only start vs. the Cubbies this year allowing four earned runs on seven hits plus three walks in six innings.

In fact, Morton has had more trouble than most vs. the normally light-hitting Cubs throughout his career, as he is 2-4 in seven starts against them with a 5.80 ERA and 1.65 WHIP while yielding a .287 batting average. Also Chicago has shown some improvement vs. right-handed pitchers lately, batting a still modest .245 but averaging a very respectable 4.24 runs per game against them over the last 10 games.

As for Arrieta, we were fans of his when he pitched for the Baltimore Orioles and we expected him to improve with the move over to the National League. Well, while he is a modest 2-2 with a 4.28 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in a Cub uniform, it is still an improvement over his 7.23 ERA and 1.77 WHIP in five early-season starts with the Orioles. Also, he is incredibly allowing just a .178 batting average since joining the National League!

The disconnect between that average allowed with the Cubs and his other key number is due to issuing an alarming 20 walks in 33.2 innings, but that can be correctable, especially vs. an aggressive Pittsburgh lineup that is not exactly known for working deep counts. Also, the Pirates are not really improving vs. right-handers, averaging just 3.36 runs against them over the last 10 games.

Finally, while the Pittsburgh bullpen ranks second in the National League with its 2.90 ERA this season behind only the Atlanta Braves, that pen has slumped to a 4.50 ERA over the last 10 games, while it is the Cubs’ bullpen that has 3.34 ERA over that same time. Thus, the Cubs appear to offer long-term value at this nice price on Friday.


MLB Pick: Cubs +156

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