3 MLB Prop Bets to Target on 4/15/19
Player props can be useful in a variety of ways, from taking advantage of them straight up (to the tune of cold hard cash) to measuring a player's potential to produce in daily fantasy baseball. High odds for a hitter bombing a home run or a pitcher tallying several strikeouts is something worth considering in building your FanDuel lineups. And that's a two-way street.
While you can use those odds in fantasy, you can also utilize our fantasy projections and a variety of other tools to help make money on betting everyday player props.
For the purposes of this article, we are using the odds provided at FanDuel Sportsbook to pinpoint three spots where value can be had on those players likely to go yard and over- or under-perform their expected strikeout total.
Please note that betting lines and our game projections may change throughout the day after this article is published.
Joc Pederson WILL Hit a Home Run (+500)
Tonight's starter, Luis Castillo, has been one of the lone bright spots for a Cincinnati Reds team that is tied for last in the National League Central at five wins and nine losses. The young righty is 1-1 with a 3.32 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) and 35.2% strikeout rate in three starts. Castillo has kept the ball in the yard through all 19 2/3 innings to boot, which is a scary proposition for some bettors.
But we must note that Castillo is coming off a season in which he allowed 1.49 home runs per 9 innings (HR/9), and his hard-hit rate (13.5%) is absurdly low for anyone, let a lone a guy that allowed hard contact at a 38.5% rate in 2018. Certainly, there will be games that bring that figure back to reality, and this looks like one of them.
Despite a 7.5 over/under for this one, the Los Angeles Dodgers have an implied total of 4.11 runs at home. Our models have them down for 1.35 homers on the night, a surprise to no one given their offensive onslaught to star the year. As a team, they are first in weighted on-base average (.379), and second in both weighted runs created plus (wRC+; 137) and isolated slugging (ISO; .246).
Joc Pederson has been absolutely mashing balls, turning a 52.4% hard-hit rate and 51.2% fly-ball rate into a .412 ISO and six home runs. Each and every one of his dingers have come against righties, all behind a 55.3% hard-hit rate and 54.1% fly-ball rate. Going back to the beginning of last year, he now has a .316 ISO and a 45.3% hard-hit rate in that split.
Our models have Pederson down for 0.30 projected homers, tied for second on slate with Paul Goldschmidt (+330) and behind only Eugenio Suarez (+360). We also have him ahead of teammates Max Muncy (+340) and Cody Bellinger (+430), which goes to show the kind of value he presents at these odds.
Justin Bour WILL Hit a Home Run (+600)
Shelby Miller is off to a significantly rough start in 2019. The 28-year-old righty has an 8.25 SIERA through two starts, and while he has yet to surrender a long-ball, Miller is walking 12.71 batters per 9 and giving up a 41.7% hard-hit rate -- 44.4% versus left-handed hitting. In limited action last year, he watched lefties make hard contact 60.0% of the time for 1.93 HR/9.
In steps Los Angeles Angels slugger Justin Bour, who has owned Miller in a dozen at-bats. For his career, two of his five hits have left the yard, resulting in three RBI and a .917 slugging percentage.
This year hasn't been a very productive for Bour to date, having turned in a single dinger and a .116 ISO through 12 games. However, his batted-ball stats -- a 33.3% hard-hit rate and 36.7% fly0ball rate -- aren't all that bad. And in a larger sample, he boats a career .226 ISO behind 38.0% hard-hit rate and 35.6% fly-ball rate versus right-handed hurlers.
If there were a place for Bour to go yard, it's tonight in the confines of Globe Life Park, where hitters reaped the rewards of the league's seventh-best home run park a year ago. The heat and ballpark dimensions gave lefties a slight edge in that department as well.
Bour is projected for just 0.18 homers, but the numbers are more promising for a hefty return at these odds. It's expected to be 77 degrees, so it's no surprise to see this game given a 10.5-run total and Bour's Angels drawing 5.47 of those opposite Miller.
Aaron Nola OVER 6.5 Strikeouts (-140)
Tonight, we get a prime pitching matchup with Aaron Nola opposing Noah Syndergaard as the Philadelphia Phillies play host to the divisional-rival New York Mets. It should be a low-scoring game, as shown by a 7.5-run total, and with both righties pegged for 6.5 strikeouts there should be a healthy number of empty at-bats. If you're going with one or the other, Nola's much more likely to hit the over on Monday.
So far this year, the 25-year-old's strikeout numbers are down from where they've been the last three seasons. Nola is averaging just 7.63 strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9), which is a far cry from the 9.49, 9.86 and 9.81 he's averaged going back to 2016. Naturally, his strikeout rate (20.0%) and swinging rate (8.1%) are both down, the latter falling from 12.4% in 2018.
Is this just small sample noise, though? In looking at pitch velocity and usage, the only difference is that Nola is throwing his curveball at a slightly higher rate (34.1%) while going with the changeup less frequently. Opponents' contact rates are higher across the board, and plate discipline numbers tell us that he's getting a first-pitch strike over only 47.7% of the time, compared to 69.4% a season ago.
If Nola can return to the pitcher he has been and get ahead in counts, he could fulfill the favored over in this spot. We have him projected for 6.74 strikeouts, the second-highest on the slate and what should be considered his baseline for this exploitable matchup.
The Mets are third on the year in swinging-strike rate and eighth with a 25.4% strikeout rate. They are 12th with a 24.7% rate against righties, and going back to last year, their active roster is at an 11.5% (8th) swinging-strike and 22.9% strikeout rate (10th). They have a couple good lefty bats in the order, but Nola struck them out at a 27.4% clip in 2018. Expect him to bounce back and get his 2019 on track tonight.