3 MLB Prop Bets to Target on 5/2/19
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.
Paul Goldschmidt WILL Hit a Home Run (+400)
Betting against Stephen Strasburg isn't usually a great proposition. The 30-year-old right-hander is a three-time All-Star and has received Cy Young consideration in previous seasons. He went 10-7 with a 3.74 ERA and 3.33 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) a season ago, while he's knocked the latter down to 3.06 through six starts in 2019.
Strasburg's also upped his strikeout numbers, yet his problem has been keeping the ball in the park. He's surrendering a career-high 1.43 home runs per 9 innings (HR/9) and has given up three already to those hitting from the right side of the box. Now, that's not to say he hasn't been very good against same-sided bats, as he has limited them to a .263 weighted on-base average (wOBA) and a 21.4% hard-hit rate.
Paul Goldschmidt isn't a pushover against any righty, even one with the resume of Strasburg. For his career, Goldy owns a .382 wOBA and .226 isolated slugging (ISO) against righties, coming on a 40.0% hard-hit rate that ranks 11th of all right-handed bats going back to his debut in 2011. This year alone, he has turned in a .286 ISO with all nine of his home runs without the platoon advantage.
Our models project Goldschmidt for the most home runs (0.34) of anyone in play on Thursday. His +400 odds are longer than three players on his own team and usual home run candidates like J.D. Martinez (+240) and Nolan Arenado (+370).
Travis Shaw WILL Hit a Home Run (+310)
For this afternoon's matchup at Miller Park, the Colorado Rockies will send Jon Gray to the mound to close out the series. Gray has so far improved on his 5.00-plus ERA from a year ago, but his 4.43 SIERA is noticeably worse than the 3.68 he posted in 2018. His opponent's batted-ball stats have, for the most part, remained the same through six starts, though that's amounted to 1.46 HR/9. And to everyone's surprise, he's actually allowed a higher number of them away from the thin air of Coors Field, giving up 1.80 per 9 on a 33.3% hard-hit rate and 31.3% home-run-to-fly-ball rate.
That last number might not be very sustainable for opposing batters, but Milwaukee's Miller Park isn't your average non-Coors park. In 2018, it was simply above-average for overall run production, but according to FanGraphs' park factors, it was fifth in terms of home runs. It was the second-best home run park for left-handed hitters, which bodes well for a slugger like Travis Shaw.
With only four home runs in 30 games, Shaw is off to a slow start this year. His ISO sits at .155, which would be a career-low mark if it were to hold. But it's worth noting that Shaw's batted-ball stats point to a turnaround. His 40.6% hard-hit rate is up from a year ago, and he's still producing fly-balls at a 42.9% rate. He is striking out a ton (33.9%), which is certainly a threat to his homer potential in this spot.
Given the venue and mound opponent, though, expect him to send one packing. Last year, Shaw had a .285 ISO when squaring off with righties at his home park, and against Gray, he has a double, two home runs and an average exit velocity of 93.1 miles-per-hour in 11 career plate appearances (per Baseball Savant). We project him for 0.14 homers.
Jon Gray UNDER 5.5 Strikeouts (+120)
Again, Gray has been a sneaky good pitcher for the Rockies. While he's had to deal with the hitter-friendly Coors Field, he has managed to maintain success because of his ability to make batters miss. In the 2017 and 2018 seasons, he averaged 9.14 and 9.56 strikeouts per 9 innings on strikeout rates of 24.3% and 24.6%, respectively. Last year, his 12.3% swinging-strike rate marked a career high for the 27-year-old hurler.
That Jon Gray would be more likely to hit the over against the Brewers. After all, the Brew Crew is sixth in strikeout rate, at 25.2%, and have been punched out at a rate of 25.9% (fifth) against right-handed pitching. They're also without the reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich, who has just a 16.1% strikeout rate and is expected to be sidelined until this weekend.
But this year's campaign hasn't seen Gray repeat his high strikeout numbers from the past two go-arounds. Though he boasts an 11.5% swinging-strike rate, his strikeout rate is down to 22.5% en route to 8.27 Ks per 9. Through his half-dozen starts, he only has six or more strikeouts in two, averaging more than six innings a start but for only 5.67 strikeouts per. That means, going back to last year, he's had five or fewer strikeouts in 17 of 37 starts (45.9%).
To make matters worse, Milwaukee appears to be coming around. In the first three games of this four-game series with Colorado, the Brewers have struck out just four, seven and seven times. They haven't struck out more than eight times in any of their last four games, while they've posted a 19.4% strikeout rate, ranking 24th in that span -- 18th with a 21.3% rate against right-handed hurlers. And even if we widen the sample to the last seven games, they have cut their strikeouts down to 23.0%.
Our models project Gray for 5.05 strikeouts on the day. Getting underdogs odds is only more incentive to bet on the under this afternoon in Milwaukee.