MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Thursday

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, June 12, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Thursday, Jun. 12, 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.

The pitcher that has perhaps had the worst luck in all of baseball this season has the chance to pick up a win Thursday night when the unlucky Jeff Samardzija and those Chicago Cubs (26-37, 11-23 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Edinson Volquez and the disappointing Pittsburgh Pirates (31-34, 19-16 home) in the final game of a four-game series from PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA at 7:05 ET in a game available on ROOT.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Chicago as a small underdog for this contest at current odds of +106.

The Cubs are trying to salvage a split of this four-game series after the teams have alternated wins over the first three games, with the Pirates taking the series opener 6-2 and winning 4-2 last night and the Cubs splitting those two Pittsburgh win with a 7-3 win. The Cubs remain in the National League Central basement 11½ games out of first place and four games behind the third place Pirates.

The Pirates are perhaps suffering a hangover this year after both making their first playoffs appearance and posting their first winning season since 1992 last season, and it does not help that they have a decimated pitching rotation right now with Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole going on the Disabled List over the last few days and an arthritic elbow forcing the release of Wandy Rodriguez earlier in the year.

The good news for the last-place Cubs is that they have been playing a bit better lately while going 6-3 in their last nine games, so perhaps they can now finally give Samardzija some run support! Jeff has pitched as well as any pitcher in the National League this year although you would not know it from his 2-5 record. Things are starting to turn though as both of Samardzija’s victories have come within his last three outings.

Samardzija did not pick up his first win of the year until he beat the San Francisco Giants three starts ago on May 26th when he recorded 10 strikeouts on seven innings, and he posted his second win his last time out vs. the Miami Marlins Saturday when he allowed two runs on five hits with eight strikeouts in seven innings.

Do not let the 2-5 record in 13 starts dissuade you though as Samardzija is sixth in the National League with his 2.54 ERA, to go along with a 1.13 WHIP and 75 strikeouts vs. 24 walks and just five home runs allowed in 85 innings, resulting in a spiffy 3.04 FIP and 1.8 WAR. Samardzija also tossed a masterpiece in his only start vs. the Pirates this year, but naturally got nothing to show for it except a no-decision despite allowing just five hits in seven scoreless innings.

Samardzija now has a 1.90 ERA and a miniscule 0.99 WHIP in 19 career games vs. Pittsburgh including eight starts, with 61 strikeouts vs. 22 walks in 71 innings while allowing Pirate batters to hit just .189 off of him.

The Pirates will now have to start relying more on the likes of Volquez until their top starters get healthy again, and he has been rather erratic in his first season with Pittsburgh while going 3-5 with a 4.27 ERA and only 48 strikeouts in 71.2 innings vs. 23 walks. Volquez officially has just two Quality Starts in his last eight outings and his more recent one barely qualified as one as he allowed four runs but three earned in six innings vs. the Brewers on Saturday.

Volquez’s low strikeout rate and fairly high walk rate leave him with a bad 4.83 FIP and -0.3 WAR, and the most alarming part about those poor numbers is that he has actually been pitching in good luck, yielding an extremely low .231 BABIP. Volquez does not have the power arsenal to be able to carry anything close to that, so once the BABIP starts stabilizing, Volquez’s other numbers will only get worse.

Finally, Volquez has yet to face the Cubs this season but he was awful in two starts against them last year while he was a member of the San Diego Padres, as he was roughed up for nine earned runs on 12 hits plus five walks in two short outings totaling only 6.1 innings by the normally light-hitting Chicago lineup.

Therefore we recommend going for the value here with the Cubs with Samardzija at a small underdog price in Pittsburgh on Thursday.


MLB Pick: Cubs +106

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