3 MLB Prop Bets to Target on 4/26/19
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.
Nelson Cruz WILL Hit a Home Run (+310)
On Friday's massive 15-game slate, we're bound to see a massive number of home runs. But of all 30 clubs in action, the Minnesota Twins hold the highest implied, at 5.16 runs, in their matchup against Alex Cobb and the Baltimore Orioles. They're the only team above 5.00 and are 0.38 clear of the next-closest team.
The reasoning is quite simple: Cobb isn't very good. His 11.88 ERA is a bit inflated, yet -- per FanGraphs -- his skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) is at or above 4.30 for the fourth straight year. Through two starts in 2019, he's allowing 5.40 home runs per 9 innings (HR/9) despite a 27.3% fly-ball rate and 48.5% groundball rate. That stems from a 93.8 mile-per-hour exit velocity that ranks second-worst among all pitchers and worst of starting pitchers. He has also allowed the Majors' highest barrels per plate appearance rate (20.0%).
No one could fault you for rolling with the red-hot Eddie Rosario from the left side, but righty Nelson Cruz is an even better candidate tonight. In his first 18 games with his new team, the 38-year-old has turned in three home runs with a .213 isolated slugging (ISO) with all three coming against righties, against whom he has a .241 ISO on a 48.8% hard-hit rate and 51.2% fly-ball rate. He put up 26 dingers and a .237 ISO versus same-sided arms in 2018.
Our models project Cruz for 0.26 home runs, the highest on the team and tied for 11th on the slate.
Michael Conforto WILL Hit a Home Run (+410)
At longer odds, Michael Conforto is a great bet to homer as he gets the platoon advantage against the Milwaukee Brewers' Chase Anderson. While his New York Mets are in the middle of the pack by implied total (4.23), the lefty bat figures to be a factor, as he has been for most of the early going this season.
After dropping to a .342 weighted on-base average (wOBA) and .204 ISO in 2018, the 26-year-old is enjoying a bounce back, converting a 36.2% hard-hit rate and 52.2% fly-ball rate into a .411 wOBA and .281 ISO. He's already hit six home runs, with four of those against right-handed hurlers. He owns a 38.8% hard-hit rate and 49.0% fly-ball rate in that split.
Heading into Friday's game, Anderson has a very good 3.00 ERA and 3.62 SIERA. However, he's pitched only 15 innings with one start, so we need to be cognizant of that here. Plus, some of his other metrics are a bit alarming, as the big righty is surrendering 1.80 HR/9 after giving up 1.71 last year. His hard-hit rate and fly-ball rate are up to 37.8% and 48.6%, respectively, and against lefties alone he's been exploited for a 42.4% fly-ball rate, 34.4% hard-hit rate and 13.9% home-run-to-fly-ball rate going back to last season.
Flying a bit under the radar by name, Conforto sits second on the slate at 0.35 projected home runs. He trails only Joey Gallo (+270) and is ahead of some guy named Mike Trout (+220). The value is evident from him being fifth in home runs odds for the game, yet he's a worthwhile bet at the shortest odds on his own team.
Max Scherzer OVER 9.5 Strikeouts (+100)
For his standards, Max Scherzer isn't having a high-caliber start to 2019. Even before a minor injury, he began the year at 1-3 with a 4.45 ERA in five starts. But the Washington Nationals ace has a much lower SIERA (2.75), and -- as he always does -- is piling up the strikeouts.
On a 32.6% strikeout rate, Scherzer is tallying 12.25 Ks per 9 after averaging 12.24 last year. And somehow, his swinging-strike rate is up by 0.2% to 16.3% -- second to only Blake Snell.
So far, the 34-year-old has one game at or above 10 strikeouts and two with nine. Last season, he racked up double-digit strikeouts in 18 of 33 starts (54.5%), including 11 at home in Nationals Park, where he has averaged 12.4 strikeouts per 9 compared to 11.8 on the road going back to the beginning of 2017. Clearly, Scherzer finds comfort in pitching in his home park, and it allows him to fan batters at a rapid pace.
As if that wasn't reason enough to bet the over, the three-time Cy Young winner gets a San Diego Padres that, for all the money they've invested in free agency, has disappointed on the offensive side. Ranking 22nd in wOBA, one of their key issues has been in punchouts. San Diego has a 26.2% strikeout rate (third) overall and 26.5% against righties (third), while they are eighth in swinging-strike rate at 12.0%. The result? 10-plus strikeouts in 10 of 25 games this season; they've had 12 or more in seven.
While we project Scherzer at a conservative 8.55 strikeouts, you can see the apparent strikeout upside. Given the underdog odds on the over, you'll return $100 for every $100 laid compared to $78.13 on the under.