MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Thursday

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, June 19, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Thursday, Jun. 19, 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.

A hot team could have value as a nice-sized underdog Thursday night when David Buchanan and those Philadelphia Phillies (32-38, 16-17 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Shelby Miller and the St. Louis Cardinals (39-33, 21-15 home) in the first game of a four-game weekend series from Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO at 8:15 ET.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Philadelphia as a decided road underdog for this contest at current odds of +165.

Do not look now but the Phillies have escaped the National League East cellar after just sweeping a three-game series from the Atlanta Braves on the road and knocking Atlanta out of first place in the process. The Phillies are 7-2 in their last nine games overall and they are now in fourth place while pulling to within only five games of the new division leaders, the Washington Nationals.

The Cardinals had their five-game winning streak snapped by losing to the New York Mets here at home 3-2 on Wednesday, but they have been a hot team in their own right going 8-2 in the last 10 games. They remain in second place in the National League Central, but they are within 3½ games of the surprising Milwaukee Brewers, who have been on top of the division all season.

The Phillies have gotten more consistent pitching as of late, posting a team ERA of 2.42 over the last 10 games with the starters compiling a 3.00 ERA, and that has helped key their hot run. Buchanan contributed to that pitching success by allowing three runs in five innings vs. the Cubs on Saturday, when the Phils elected to pull him early after just 84 pitches, in fact pinch-hitting for him in the bottom of the fifth inning.

That proved to be a shrewd move however as Philadelphia scored three runs in that inning to extend a 4-3 lead to 7-3, enabling Buchanan to pick up the win. However, Buchanan is still just 2-3 with a 5.97 ERA over his first five Major League starts. His biggest problem has been giving up the long ball, as he has already allowed seven home runs in only 28.2 innings.

That may not be as much of a concern in St. Louis though because the Cardinals rank second to last on all of baseball with just 42 home runs as a team overall and home runs aside, Buchanan does have a very good ratio of 21 strikeouts vs. five walks in those 28.2 innings.

Meanwhile, Miller has been nowhere near as good this season as he was as a rookie last year when he won 15 games with a 3.06 ERA and 169 strikeouts vs. 57 walks in 173.1 innings. Miller is 7-5 here in 2014, and although his ERA stands at 3.42, that is a very deceptive number. You see, Shelby’s command numbers have practically taken a 180-degree turn this season as he has only 60 strikeouts in 84.1 innings and he has walked 36 batters already.

On top of that, when you add in his 10 home runs allowed he grades out to a poor 4.64 FIP and 4.58 xFIP, and that is while actually benefitting from a low .254 BABIP, meaning that his numbers only figure to get worse when that normalizes. Miller is facing a Philadelphia lineup batting .306 vs. right-handed pitchers the last five games and that scored a total of 21 runs in the three wins in Atlanta.

All things considered, it appears that Philadelphia offers nice value at this big underdog price in St. Louis on Thursday.

MLB Pick: Phillies +165

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