MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Thursday

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, August 1, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

Thursday, Aug. 1, 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 Thursday.

The team that had the best record in the Major Leagues when this series began now finds itself in second place and is trying to avoid a five-game sweep Thursday night when Joe Kelly and those St. Louis Cardinals (62-44, 30-27 away) pay a visit to Charlie Morton and the upstart Pittsburgh Pirates (65-42, 36-18 home) in the final game of a long five-game series from PC Park in Pittsburgh, PA at 7:05 ET in a game televised nationally on MLB Network.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has St. Louis as a small underdog for this contest at current odds of +104.

It is now the Pirates that own the best record in the Major Leagues as the only team playing .600 baseball (.607), and Pittsburgh has suddenly opened up a 2½-game lead on the Cardinals after beating St. Louis four times in the past three days. Still, it is hard to sweep a good team in any series let alone on a rare five-gamer, and although the Cardinals have now lost seven straight games, we still think they are one of the better teams in the National League.

Their recent struggles notwithstanding, the Cardinals are still ranked fourth in the Major Leagues in team ERA at 3.44 and they still lead the National League in both batting average (.271) and runs scored (4.76 per game) offensively. They had been in a severe offensive slump, but after scoring a grand total of six runs over the first six games of the losing streak, they appeared to bust out last night while pounding out 13 hits in a 5-4 loss.

St. Louis is turning to their fifth starter in Kelly to try and avoid the sweep, but he has been just fine in his four starts since entering the starting rotation allowing one run or less in three of them including tossing 6.1 scoreless innings vs. the Atlanta Braves last time out in an unfortunate no-decision in a game the Cardinals ultimately lost 2-0.

That leaves Kelly with a 3.44 ERA for the entire season in 25 appearances including those four starts with a good ratio of 41 strikeouts against 18 walks in 55 innings. He is facing a Pittsburgh offense batting just .238 vs. right-handed pitchers over the entire year, and as hot as the Pirates have been as of late, they are still batting a scant .230 vs. righties the last 10 games.

The Pirates now lead the Major Leagues 3.04 team ERA, although a lot of that has to do with the world class Pittsburgh bullpen having a 2.78 ERA. Morton did not make his first start until June 13th this season due to an elbow injury, and although he is 3-2 with a 3.59 ERA, he has only gone seven innings once and he has an unspectacular 1.29 WHIP to go with a bad 4.35 FIP and a nondescript 3.71 xFIP.

Morton did not pitch well the last time he faced St. Louis allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits plus two walks in 4.1 innings, and if last night’s 13 hits by the Cardinals are any indication, he might be facing them at the worst possible time as they are obviously in a sour mood right now and seemingly on the verge of an offensive explosion.

Therefore, look for the proud and talented Cardinals to avoid the sweep with a mild upset win on Thursday.

[gameodds]3/240364/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

MLB Pick: Cardinals +104

comment here