3 MLB Prop Bets to Target on 4/11/19
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.
Kyle Schwarber WILL Hit a Home Run (+400)
On Thursday night, the Chicago Cubs play host to the Pittsburgh Pirates for the rubber match of a three-game series. And as the Cubs look to bounce back from last night's loss, Kyle Schwarber could be in line for a dinger against righty Joe Musgrove.
So far in 2019, Musgrove has been solid through one start and a relief appearance (he appeared in relief after having his game rained out), pitching to a 2.79 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) with a 15.3% swinging-strike rate. He's kept the ball on the ground quite well and has limited hard contact to 21.1%, but that number's likely to come up, as the 26-year-old has allowed a 32.4% hard-hit rate for his career. Against lefty bats, he's seen a career 30.8% hard-hit rate amount to 1.16 home runs per nine innings (HR/9) and a .449 slugging percentage.
Those aren't the most hitter-friendly numbers you'll find, but the conditions at Wrigley are favorable for those stepping into the box tonight. The wind is blowing out, and the temperature (about 60 degrees at game time) is expected to be up considerably from yesterday's game. Wrigley could play small today, and it's for that reason that the oddsmakers have the Cubs with a 5.24 implied total.
If history is any indicator, Schwarber's bat should come into play here. The power-hitting lefty sports a .267 isolated slugging (ISO) and 40.2% hard-hit rate against righties for still his rather young career, while also turning in a 41.8% fly-ball rate. In that split at home, his ISO increases to .285 with 34 long-balls in 501 plate appearances.
Our models project Schwarber for 0.27 homers, tied with two others for third on main slate -- one of those being J.D. Martinez at +230 odds. If you're a fan of getting an extra $170 in your pocket, Schwarber's your guy.
Randal Grichuk WILL Hit a Home Run (+430)
Randal Grichuk is the other hitter tied with Schwarber at 0.27 projected home runs on Thursday's main slate of games. So if Schwarber's value wasn't enough, you can shift to Fenway Park, where Grichuk will match up with Boston's Nathan Eovaldi.
The Toronto Blue Jays' slugger doesn't get the platoon advantage against the right-hander, but he hasn't needed it to showcase his power bat. In his career, Grichuk's weighted on-base average (wOBA) and ISO are both higher against righties than lefties, with his ISO versus right-handers coming in at an impressive .253. Last season, he displayed a 36.7% hard-hit rate and 48.3% fly-ball rate against righties -- with the fly-ball rate ranking 13th last year in righty-righty matchups. He turned those batted-ball figures into 18 homers and a .268 ISO.
Eovaldi has given up 3.60 home runs per nine innings through two starts, bringing his average to 1.5 over the past two-plus seasons. Righties alone have averaged 1.3 taters per nine on a 32.4% fly-ball rate and 33.6% hard-hit rate against Eovaldi.
Tonight, our models have the Blue Jays hitting 1.09 homers while the odds lead to a good-not-great implied total (4.05). Park factor had Fenway as a top-10 hitting park in 2018, and it was rated above average in terms of right-handed homers. Grichuk is a decent bet for a round-tripper.
Walker Buehler UNDER 6.5 Strikeouts (-125)
Los Angeles Dodgers 24-year-old Walker Buehler has had a bit of a perplexing start to this 2019 campaign. After giving up five earned with no strikeouts in his first start, he held the Colorado Rockies to just one run at Coors while tallying four strikeouts. He went five innings with a 21.1% strikeout rate and a 12.7% swinging-strike rate versus the Rox. That had a significant impact on his early-season numbers, but through two outings, his numbers are much worse than last year's, particularly in the punchout department.
In watching his strikeouts per nine fall from 9.90 to 4.50, he has managed a swing-and-miss on only 7.6% of pitches. Now, that will likely normalize in a bigger sample, but it's worth noting that Buehler has also spent less time in the zone (44.8%) than a year ago (47.0%), and his first-pitch strike rate is down to 58.8%. Hitters have also been making contact at a higher rate on pitches outside of the zone while swinging at a lower rate to boot.
That sounds like a matter of deception, because Buehler's velocity numbers are in line with those of 2018. It could just be that teams have more of a scouting report on the youngster, which will force him to adapt and miss bats in different ways. Either way, he's not looking like the same high-strikeout pitcher as a year ago, though there's some small-sample weirdness at play, as well.
Today's matchup won't do him any favors, though, as the St. Louis Cardinals' active roster is in the middle of the pack in strikeout rate -- both overall and versus righties -- going back to the beginning of last year. They are fourth in swinging-strike rate, but Buehler might not log enough innings to take advantage. He hasn't pitched more than five innings in either of his two starts and averaged under six innings a start in 2018 -- with LA taking it slow after giving him a late start to the spring.
We are a bit optimistic, projecting Buehler for 5.98 strikeouts against the Redbirds. Ultimately, though, he's likely to fall short and provide those betting on the under with a return of $80 for every $100.