MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Monday

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, June 3, 2013 4:00 AM UTC

Monday, Jun. 3, 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 Monday.

A hot team with a hot pitcher offers nice value as an underdog Monday when A.J. Burnett and those Pittsburgh Pirates (35-22, 14-11 away) pay a visit to Kris Medlen and the Atlanta Braves (34-22, 18-7 home) in the first game of a three-game series from Turner Field in Atlanta, GA at 7:10 ET.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Pittsburgh as a road underdog for this contest at current odds of +118.

The Pirates rallied late for a 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds to salvage the last game of that series Sunday, overcoming a 4-2 deficit by scoring two runs in the eighth inning before winning it in the 11th frame. That win moved Pittsburgh into a second place tie with the Reds in the National League Central, 2½ games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, and in reality the Pirates and Reds are tied for the third best record in all of baseball behind St. Louis and Texas.

Pittsburgh has gotten to that point by going 17-6 in its last 23 games, many times at an underdog price, and the Pirates look like dangerous dogs again tonight with Burnett on the mound, who is due for some good fortune as his record simply does not reflect how great he has pitched this season.

If you overlook Burnett’s 3-5 record and just look at his other stats, you would think that you were looking at a serious Cy Young candidate! That is because Burnett has a 2.72 ERA and 1.09 WHIP while limiting opposing batters to a .199 batting average, and he has an impressive 89 strikeouts in 76 innings against only 29 walks and four home runs allowed. In fact, Burnett is 13th in the Major Leagues with a 2.71 FIP and 18th with a 1.7 WAR.

Burnett has tossed seven consecutive official Quality Starts and he has yet to allow more than three earned runs in any of his 12 starts. Although he is catching an Atlanta team that is in first place here, the Braves have not really been a great hitting team, ranking only 10th in the National League with a .245 batting average.

As has become their trademark, the Braves have been winning with pitching, but surprisingly Medlen has not contributed as much to that pitching success as the rest of the Atlanta starters. You may recall that Medlen was selected to start the Wild Card Playoff last season vs. the Cardinals following a year where he went 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 120 strikeouts vs. only 23 walks in 138 innings with the Braves winning his last 13 regular season starts.

It has been a different story this season though as Medlen is 1-6 and is winless in his last nine starts, with the lone win coming in his second start of the year vs. the lowly Miami Marlins. He still has a respectable 3.48 ERA but his WHIP is up to 1.36 and his 24 walks in 64.2 innings are already more walks than he had all of last year, and he has just 48 strikeouts.

Medlen also lost his only career start vs. the Pirates earlier this year in Pittsburgh, and while he received credit for a Quality Start that day, be met just the minimum requirement to do so by allowing three earned runs on seven hits in six innings.

Not only does it look like Pittsburgh has the better starting pitcher tonight, but remember that the Pittsburgh bullpen leads the majors with a 2.67 ERA so the Pirates should offer long-term value as an underdog Monday.


MLB Pick: Pirates +118

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