Each day the LT Profits Sports Group seeks out an MLB total that does not add up and offers the most value that day. Here is their Total Value Play of the Day for Saturday.
Two pitchers who each probably have an ERA lower than they deserve could produce a higher scoring game Saturday night than the low total suggests when Tanner Roark and the Washington Nationals (62-52, 28-28 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Aaron Harang and the Atlanta Braves (59-56, 32-24 home) in the second game of a big three-game series from Turner Field in Atlanta, GA at 7:10 ET in a game televised nationally on MLB Network.
The posted total at Bet365 is 7 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘over’ set at -125.
Battle for Division Supremacy
This series pits the top two teams in the National League East and the Braves drew first blood at home on Friday despite nearly squandering a 7-0 lead, as they held on to prevail 7-6 in a high scoring affair. That win cut the division lead of the first place Nationals down to 3½ games, and keep in mind that Atlanta is also only 2½ games behind the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants, who are currently tied for the second and last wild card spot.
The Nationals have been good MLB picks at home this year at 34-24, but Friday’s loss dropped them to .500 on the road as a couple of their starters have fairly severe home vs. away splits with none of them as drastic as the Friday loser Stephen Strasburg. Washington will probably need to pick up its road play to be considered a legitimate World Series contender.
More Harang Regression Expected
Harang was taken off of the scrap heap as a free agent by the Braves after it appeared his career was over when he went just 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA for the Seattle Mariners last season despite pitching his home games in one of the more pitcher-friendly stadiums in baseball. Instead, the 36-year-old has surpassed all expectation with Atlanta going 9-6 with a 3.41 ERA.
Keep in mind though that Harang was off to an unrealistically great start that had him sitting on a 2.98 ERA on May 17th. He has a still decent 3.68 ERA but with a high 1.53 WHIP in 15 starts since then with a vey poor ratio of 51 strikeouts vs. 37 walks in 88 innings so he is coming back down to earth somewhat.
However, there is still room for more regression when you consider that Harang has a 4.18 xFIP and has gotten by with just a 40.6 percent groundball rate, which is quite low for a pitcher that has a low strikeout rate like he does. That rate currently stands at 6.96 per nine innings, but it has been dropping steadily since the first month of the season as he somehow recorded 37 strikeouts in 36.1 innings during the month of April despite his fastball averaging just 89 MPH this year
Roark Hit Hard Last Time Out
Now Roark had been a bit of a revelation while having a great year for the Nationals prior to his last start vs. the Baltimore Orioles, who reached him for five earned runs on seven hits in 6.1 innings. Roark is still 11-7 with a 2.94 ERA for the season, and that sub-par outings snapped a streak where he had allowed exactly one run in four consecutive starts.
However, while Roark has not pitched as much ahead of his sabremetric numbers as Harang has, there is still room for negative regression there and that may have begun with that last start. You see, Roark also usually pitches to contact with just 106 strikeouts and 30 walks in 141 innings, so you would probably prefer a better groundball rate than his current 44.1 percent. Furthermore, he has benefitted from allowing a rather low BABIP of .269, and that is over a lot of balls in play.
Going ‘over’ on the Road
It is also worth noting that Roark’s ERA is over a full run higher on the road at 3.49 than it is at home at 2.40, and the Washington offense has supported him fairly well on the road resulting in the ‘over’ going 7-3-1 in all of his starts this year away from out nation’s capital.
Given the mound opponent tonight in Harang, look for that pattern to continue with another ‘over’ in Atlanta on Saturday on MLB Network.
MLB Pick: Nationals, Braves ‘over’ 7 (-125)