MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Monday

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, June 16, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Monday, Jun. 16, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

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

An underrated pitcher could be giving a last-place team value Monday night when Jason Hammel and those Chicago Cubs (28-39, 13-25 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Tom Koehler and the Miami Marlins (35-33, 23-13 home) in the first game of a three-game series from Marlins Park in Miami, FL at 7:10 ET.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Chicago as a small underdog for this contest at current odds of +108.

The Cubs may be last in the National League Central and 11½ games behind the first place Milwaukee Brewers, but they have been playing better baseball lately as they are 8-5 over their last 13 games after taking two out of three games from the Phillies in Philadelphia this past weekend. This streak includes also taking two out of three from these Marlins in Chicago during the Cubs’ most recent home stand.

The Marlins are tied with the Washington Nationals for second place in the NL East and just one game behind the first place Atlanta Braves, but they have not taken advantage of an opportunity to take over the division lead and even open up some daylight as they are just 3-5 in their last eight games with all of those contests being against teams with losing records starting with that series against these Cubs in the Windy City.

Chicago’s starter Hammel may not be a household name across the country, but he is making a very strong case for representing the Cubs in the All-Star Game this year. Granted Hammel comes off of one of his worst performances vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday when he allowed four runs on 11 hits in five innings, but even that stinker still leaves him at 6-4 pitching for a team that is 11 games under .500 with a fantastic 2.81 ERA and 0.98 WHIP!

Hammel sits just outside the top 10 in the National League in ERA in 11th, and he has an excellent ratio of 76 strikeouts vs. 18 walks in 83.1 innings with just six home runs allowed. He tossed a gem vs. these Marlins the first time he faced them in that series in Chicago last week throwing seven scoreless innings while allowing only six hits with eight strikeouts vs. one walk. He has the support of what has been a surprisingly good Cub bullpen that boasts a 3.16 ERA.

Koehler could be overvalued right now as he has been nowhere near as good as his 3.68 ERA and 1.28 WHIP while going 5-5 this season. You see, Koehler has a poor ratio of 56 strikeouts vs. 35 walks in 78.1 innings and he has benefitted greatly from a low .252 BABIP allowed. That luck is reflected in both his 4.55 FIP and 4.58 xFIP, so look for the ERA to skyrocket as his BABIP stabilizes.

And that regression for Koehler may have already begun as he was touched up for five earned runs on five hits plus three walks in just 5.1 innings by the Texas Rangers in his last start last Tuesday. In fact Koehler has just one Quality Start in his last four outings with a hideous 7.25 ERA and 1.70 WHIP over that timeframe, and his FIP vs. ERA variance suggests that there is still room for more regression.

Add this all up and Hammel appears to give the Cubs good value at a small underdog price in Miami on Monday.


MLB Pick: Cubs +108

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