Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Thursday.
A struggling ace could lead to a very live home underdog play Thursday night when Matt Harvey and the New York Mets (29-25, 8-17 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Jeremy Hellickson and those Arizona Diamondbacks (25-27, 13-14 home) in the first game of a four-game series from Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ at 9:40 ET in a game available on SNY.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Arizona as a home underdog for this contest at current odds of +128.
Surprising Mets in Division Hunt
The Mets got off to a very hot start this season while for a time holding the best record in the Major Leagues, although they did begin with a very home intense schedule vs. quite a few weak opponents. They are still hanging in nicely however in second place in the National League East, just one-half game behind the preseason favorites to win the World Series, the Washington Nationals.
The Diamondbacks are also showing improvement over last year, when they were the worst MLB picks in the Major Leagues at 64-98. Improvement was expected this year though under new manager Chip Hale after Kirk Gibson got the axe, as the 2014 team was ravaged by injuries with only nine players that began the year on the active roster being active at the end of the season. Now at 25-27, Arizona is fourth in the NL West but only 5½ behind the Dodgers.
Problem with Harvey’s Arm?
Matt Harvey was one of the best pitchers in the game two years ago before Tommy John surgery knocked him out for all of last season. To his credit though he made a rather speedy comeback to be in the starting rotation as of Opening Day of this season and be proceeded to go 5-0 in his first five starts!
However, did Harvey perhaps push himself too hard in retuning so soon, especially while seemingly throwing at peak velocity straight from the get-go this year while hitting 99 MPH with his heater several times? While it is true that many if not most pitchers actually throw harder following Tommy John surgery than they did before the procedure, that is usually a process that takes place after re-building up arm strength over a certain period.
So did Harvey throwing bullets straight from the outset do more harm than good? Rumors are currently abound that he is dealing with a “dead arm,” and that could very well be the case as he is 0-3 in five starts since that 5-0 start and has been lit up for 11 earned runs on 12 hits plus three walks in 12 innings over his last two outings.
Hellickson in Good Form
Hellickson has had a serviceable Major League career prone to streaks, as he has been known to stay good over a rather long stretch of time, only to follow that up with a prolonged period of being really bad. An unfortunately for him he began this season with the latter and thus currently has a 5.08 ERA and 1.41 WHIP to go with a 3-3 record.
However the “good” Hellickson may now be starting to surface as he has won his last two starts over the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers and has tossed three straight Quality Starts over which he has seven runs on only 13 hits and three walks in 18.2 innings with 11 strikeouts. He now gets to face a Mets’ lineup that is batting a mere .219 vs. right-handed pitchers on the road this season while averaging a measly 2.93 runs against them.
Conversely Hellickson has the support of a hot Arizona offense that is batting a whopping .314 and averaging 7.12 runs vs. right-handed pitching over the last five games.
In past seasons the Mets has played better on the road than at this spacious home at Citi Field, but that has not been the case this year with New York going just 8-17 away from Flushing including 1-9 in the last 10 road games overall. The Diamondbacks on the other hand are a lucrative 9-4 in their last 13 games as underdogs.
With these offenses going in opposite directions and with Harvey’s health questionable, look for that Arizona success as an underdog to continue at home while hosting the New York Mets on Thursday.
MLB Pick: Diamondbacks +128