MLB Pick: Underdog Value Play Wednesday

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Wednesday, Jun. 4, 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 Wednesday.

There could be a big upset in our nation’s capital Wednesday night when A.J. Burnett and the Philadelphia Phillies (24-32, 12-13 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals (28-28, 17-15 home) in the second game of a three-game series from Nationals Park in Washington, DC at 7:05 ET.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Philadelphia as a large underdog for this contest at current odds of +170.

The Phillies are struggling along in the National League East basement and there are rumblings behind the scenes that some teams have expressed interest in Ryan Howard. The news is not entirely bleak in Philadelphia though as they still have a solid first three starting pitchers and despite being eight games below .500, they are still a manageable 6½ games out of first place in a division where no team seems to be running away.

The Nationals were expected to compete with the current division leaders, the Atlanta Braves, before this season started, and they still might before all is said and done with possibly the best first four starters in all of baseball. One of them, Jordan Zimmermann, tossed eight scoreless innings as the Nationals won the series opener 7-0 Tuesday, and things do not get any easier for the Phillies tonight having to face Strasburg.

With that being said, the Phillies could be undervalued in this spot with Burnett on the hill. A.J. was one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball while with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season as he somehow finished only 10-11 despite a 3.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 209 strikeouts in 191 innings vs. 67 walks! Well, he may have brought some of that bad luck with him to Philadelphia as he is 3-4 despite a 3.79 ERA, but he does come off two shaky outings vs. the Mets and Dodgers.

Still, the Nationals have not been offensive juggernauts this season, especially vs. right-handed pitchers, so Burnett has a good chance to pitch well here and give the Phillies a chance at a big price. Washington is batting just .235 vs. right-handers overall this season while averaging only 3.96 runs per nine innings against them.

And Burnett has certainly shown that he can handle the Washington lineup as he beat the Nats the first time he faced them this year while allowing just one run and three hits in six innings with seven strikeouts. In fact, Burnett has faced Washington four times since returning to the National League with Pittsburgh in 2012 and he allowed two earned runs or less in all four starts, allowing a grand total of five earned runs in 28 innings with 31 strikeouts vs. five walks!

Now we get that Strasburg deserves better than his 4-4 record as he has a 3.15 ERA, an amazing ratio of 90 strikeouts vs. 19 walks in 74.1 innings and he has been a regular on our FIP Leaderboards. However, the Nationals have not supported him very well offensively, and given Washington’s troubles vs. right-handers this season and Burnett’s recent dominance over the Nats, that unfortunately could be the case again tonight.

Finally, while the Nationals have had the far superior bullpen between these teams over this whole season with Washington leading the Major Leagues with a 2.18 pen ERA and Philadelphia ranking 25th at 4.25, the Phillies have improved immensely on that area lately with a spiffy 2.95 bullpen ERA over the last 10 games, which is not significantly worse than the Nationals’ bullpen ERA of 2.52 over that same span with each pen posting a 1.20 WHIP.

With all of this in mind, Philadelphia seems like a nice overlay at this big price at Washington on Wednesday.


MLB Pick: Phillies +170

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