MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Saturday

LT Profits Sports Group

Saturday, June 8, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

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 Saturday.

The underdogs have inherent value in what looks like a nice pitching duel Saturday when A.J. Burnett and those Pittsburgh Pirates (36-25, 15-14 away) pay a visit to Jeff Samardzija and the Chicago Cubs (24-34, 13-17 home) in the second game of a three-game series from Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL at 4:05 ET.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Pittsburgh as a road underdog for this contest at current odds of +109.

While this pitching matchup is fairly close, the Pirates have the better overall team as they are in second place in the National League Central and only four games behind the team with the best record in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs meanwhile are in fourth place and still 10 games under .500, trailing the Cardinals by 14½ games and these Pirates by 10½ games.

Pittsburgh recovered from being swept in a three-game series in Atlanta by shutting out the Cubs 2-0 here at Wrigley in the series opener yesterday behind Francisco Liriano. They are now looking for Burnett to bounce back from his worst start of the season, and he should do so vs. the struggling Chicago offense.

Burnett had allowed three earned runs or less in each of his first 12 starts before facing the Braves Monday, when he allowed six runs with most of the damage coming on three home runs. However, Burnett still has a 3.22 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP while holding the opposition to a .211 batting average, which belies his 3-6 record, and he also has an excellent 94 strikeouts in 81 innings against just 32 walks.

Burnett has pitched well vs. the Cubs in his career, as he is 6-2 in nine starts against them with a 3.21 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 59 strikeouts vs. 17 walks in 56 innings, and he is now catching a Cub lineup that is batting an abysmal .214 over the last five games including .191 vs. right-handed pitchers.

Also note that the Pirates are one game over .500 on the road while the Cubs are only 13-17 at home and have lost their last three games at Wrigley Field after a brief hot streak, so it seems likely that Burnett will bounce back well from his one bad start this year.

Burnett will have to be sharp because Samardzija is in awesome form for Chicago, as he has four straight Quality Starts with 34 strikeouts in 30.1 innings over those efforts. At best that only makes this pitching matchup even though, and that would naturally give value to the underdog at plus money with everything else being equal.

Furthermore, everything else is not equal as aside from the even pitching Pittsburgh probably has the edge in every other area, which helps explain the current standings of each of these teams. Thus, the Pirates offer long-term value as underdogs on Saturday.

[gameodds]3/235952/238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

MLB Pick: Pirates +109