4 MLB Prop Bets to Target on 5/15/19
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.
Mike Minor OVER 5.5 Strikeouts (-180)
A useful way to look at props is trying to find players who have undergone changes recently, which may alter their expected output going forward. If we can catch onto these changes before sportsbooks do, we can get some decent value with their lines, even if it does come with the extra risks associated with dabbling in small samples.
Mike Minor is one of those guys who has experienced a recent change. He has been featuring his curveball more over his past five starts, giving him four pitches he has thrown at least 15.0% of the time over that span. This diverse arsenal has helped him find a new gear in the strikeout department.
Over this five-start stretch, Minor has a 28.2% strikeout rate, which is impressive in a vacuum. It's even more impressive when you see that three of those starts came against the Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners, and Oakland Athletics, who all rank seventh or better in active-roster wRC+ against lefties. He also faced the Los Angeles Angels, who have the lowest strikeout rate in baseball versus southpaws at just 13.3%.
Tonight, Minor gets a less daunting task with the Kansas City Royals. Their active roster ranks 25th in wRC+ against lefties and carries a 24.2% strikeout rate. Minor is averaging 7.6 strikeouts per game since featuring his curveball more heavily, which makes a line of 5.5 strikeouts appealing even when you account for the juice tied to it.
Kenta Maeda UNDER 6.5 Strikeouts (-122)
Kenta Maeda has also undergone a change recently, but his isn't nearly as positive as Minor's from a strikeout perspective. It means we should be looking to bet the under here.
Maeda has struggled to get things going in 2019 with his skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) up at 4.80 with just a 21.5% strikeout rate. Things were especially rough early in the year, and it seems like the Los Angeles Dodgers have made a change to try to combat that.
In Maeda's first four starts, he averaged 94.25 pitches per game and exceeded 90 pitches in 3 of 4 games. But lots of pitchers can be effective if utilized in shorter bursts, and the Dodgers are an organization smart enough to recognize this. Potentially as a result, Maeda has maxed out at 86 pitches his past four starts, averaging 79.25 in that span. This even includes a start where he threw six shutout innings, allowing just one hit, and he got yanked regardless.
Because of these shorter spurts and his reduced effectiveness, Maeda is yet to exceed six strikeouts this year, meaning he'd need to set a new season-high to top his line of 6.5 strikeouts. The opposing San Diego Padres will certainly strike out their fair share, but with Maeda not having a full leash, it's wise to bet the under here.
Anthony Rendon WILL Hit a Home Run (+460)
It is a blessing to have Anthony Rendon back in our lives after he hit the shelf in late April due to an elbow injury. He hasn't hit a homer since coming back, but that could change tonight.
The Washington Nationals are squaring off with Wilmer Font, who is making his second start with the New York Mets. In his debut, Font allowed two runs over four innings, which isn't too shabby. But he also had just one strikeout, giving him a 19.6% strikeout rate in his career as a starter. Font has also always struggled with batted balls, allowing a career 42.8% hard-hit rate and 43.7% fly-ball rate.
Although Rendon is yet to go deep since returning, the injury doesn't seem to be the culprit. Of his 18 balls in play, 11 have been fly balls, and 13 have been hard-hit. For the full season, he has a 55.0% hard-hit rate against righties paired with a 50.0% fly-ball rate and 20.5% strikeout rate. It's likely wise to buy into Rendon now before he reminds us of how well he was hitting prior to the injury.
Nomar Mazara WILL Hit a Home Run (+550)
The Texas Rangers in general seem pretty attractive today with Jorge Lopez starting for the Kansas City Royals. He's rocking a 6.07 ERA for 2019, and his ground-ball rate has slipped to 39.8%. In a small sample, his ground-ball rate has gone down to 33.3% this year against left-handed batters, which positions pretty much the entire Rangers' lineup to test the outfield fences at Kauffman Stadium.
From a dinger-hitting perspective, Mazara has his imperfections. His fly-ball rate against righties this year is just 28.6%, and it's hard to pop one out if you're killing worms. The rest of Mazara's profile is a bit more pleasing, though.
He pairs that low fly-ball rate with a 46.8% hard-hit rate and a 19.6% strikeout rate. This means that Mazara is both putting the ball in play often and generally making solid contact. Toss in 79-degree temperatures at first pitch and the aforementioned plus matchup, and Mazara seems like he has decent odds of notching his seventh homer of the year tonight.