MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Thursday

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, May 22, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Thursday, May. 22, 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 Thursday.

Some expected correction in the starting pitching could give value to the underdogs Thursday night when Matt Garza and those Milwaukee Brewers (28-19, 14-9 away) pay a visit to Aaron Harang and the Atlanta Braves (25-20, 15-9 home) at Turner Field in Atlanta, GA at 7:10 ET.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Milwaukee as a road underdog for this contest at current odds of +125.

The Brewers have been probably the biggest surprises in baseball as despite losing two of the first three games of this four-game series, they still lead a National League Central that includes three teams that made the MLB Playoffs last season while Milwaukee finished fourth by 2½ games over the second place St. Louis Cardinals. They snapped a four-game losing streak with their 6-1 victory here last night.

The Braves won the National East last year and were considered strong contenders to repeat this season until losing three-fifth of their stating rotation to Tommy John surgery! Yet here they are in first place anyway by 1½ over the team they expect to battle for the division crown all season in the Washington Nationals. They have been held together by discarded retreads filling in ably for their injured starters such as Ervin Santana and tonight’s starter Harang.

Who would have guessed before this season began that Aaron Harang would be seventh on our latest FIP Leaderboard update in mid-May? After all, we are talking about a fairly soft-throwing 36-year-old pitcher whose career appeared to be approaching its end when he went 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA for the Seattle Mariners last season with only 87 strikeouts in 120.1 innings.

And yet, here he is somehow baffling National League hitters with 59 strikeouts in 54.1 innings against just 17 walks, all while sitting with a 2.98 ERA and 1.16 WHIP! For how much longer can Harang go on to defy logic? Well, the downside is that he is just 1-3 in his last four starts, although to fair he did not pitch badly while losing to the Cardinals on Saturday allowing three runs but only two earned on six hits with seven strikeouts in six innings.

Still, we feel that Harang has been living a charmed life and we simply do not see him maintaining that kind of form, with his current 1-3 stretch possibly being a precursor of things to come.

On the other hand, we feel that Garza has more to offer than his 2-4 record, 4.83 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in his first season in a Milwaukee uniform. Garza does have a good ratio of 46 strikeouts vs. 19 walks and he has allowed only four home runs after having issues at times in the past with allowing a bunch of dingers, and thus his sabremetric numbers are running ahead of his mainstream stats with a 3.44 FIP and 3.88 xFIP. That is almost always a good sign.

Granted Garza has had his troubles with the Braves in the past with a career 4.50 ERA against them but he pitched very well in his only start against Atlanta this season allowing only one run and two hits with seven strikeouts and only one walk in eight great innings. Unfortunately one of the two hits was a solo home run by Chris Johnson and that was enough for the hard-luck 1-0 loss, ironically enough also vs. Harang!

Garza was also excellent after allowing three runs in the first inning vs. the Chicago Cubs last time out, tossing six scoreless innings after that while ending up allowing just four hits with seven strikeouts vs. one walk in those seven frames despite the 3-0 loss.

Look for a turnaround in the fortunes of both pitchers here tonight as Milwaukee appears to offer nice underdog value with Garza on the bump in Atlanta on Thursday.


MLB Pick: Brewers +125

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