Game 6 of the World Series means do-or-die time for the Tampa Bay Rays in their matchup against the Dodgers and Tony Gonsolin. The Florida team will counter with their ace Blake Snell, coming off a 4.2 inning, nine-strikeout performance in World Series Game 2. The prop bets board looks interesting for MLB picks tonight. While Snell is an excellent strikeout pitcher, he did give up the long ball somewhat in 2020, driving up the power marks for Los Angeles slightly in my home run model.
The real question is do we chase the Snell strikeout prop again? With Vegas setting the mark at the same tempting 5.5 that we saw him blow through in Game 2, and my model coming in just slightly over that number, I’m hesitant to pull the trigger paying for the over at -124. But there is only one pitcher on the board, and BETMGM is pushing their price to -154, so it’s the most appealing pitching bet available.
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As always, I’m working with my home run model as well as my pitching model for the power and strikeout props, while making sure the analysis aligns with stats and with Awesemo’s fantasy point projections. If he’s projecting a low DraftKings total for a pitcher, you can rely on the notion that I won’t be predicting that pitcher to blast through a strikeout prop.
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World Series MLB Picks: Player Props & Best Bets | Home Runs & Strikeouts
MLB Pick: Blake Snell – Over 5.5 Strikeouts: -124 (SugarHouse & DraftKings)
Like I said, it is more that this is the best available pitching prop bet than it is a stone-cold lock of a bet. Snell blew away this same Dodgers lineup for a nine-strikeout performance in Game 2 of the World Series, so the upside is clearly there. He only went 4.2 innings, throwing just 88 pitches. If he sees a similar workload, the strikeout mark could be greatly reduced.
Snell pitched very well through 2020. The lefty put up a stellar 3.05 xFIP across 50.0 innings in 11 starts. He struck out 31% of hitters, inducing 15% swinging strikes with his excellent four-pitch repertoire. Snell features a changeup against right-handed hitters that he utilizes primarily as a setup to keep them off balance, while weaponizing his heavy-spin, 95-mph fastball 50% of the time and a 30% curveball-slider mix to strike hitters out. Snell was particularly nasty against fellow lefties this season, striking out a whopping 42.6% compared to 27.6% of right-handed hitters he faced. The Dodgers lineup was excellent at limiting strikeouts against left-handed pitching this season, with just a 20.7% rate, but with several of their key hitters on the left side of the plate and Snell’s overwhelming advantage in the split, we’ll side with the over this time around.
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MLB Pick: Ji-Man Choi – Home Run: +525 (common odds)
As MLB picks go, this is one of the bets I’ve liked best so far. While picking home runs is always a longshot proposition, we’re getting a nice price on the upside for Choi to go deep in one of what we hope will be three plate appearances against right-handed pitching, if not more. The slugger is a platoon-split specialist, and he’s hitting in the leadoff spot today, hopefully buying us the additional plate appearance before the Dodgers get into their bullpen to truly start mixing and matching.
Gonsolin has been mostly excellent at limiting the home run throughout his professional career. In fact, it could easily be argued that his worst stretch has come in these playoffs, where he has yielded three home runs in just 7.2 innings. Compared to the two he allowed in 46.2 innings in the 2020 regular season and the four he allowed in 40.0 innings in 2019, that’s a virtual bonanza. Of the six regular season home runs, three have come against each hand.
Choi struggled to find his power in 2020, hitting just three home runs in 145 plate appearances. In 2019 he hit 19 in 487 opportunities while putting up a .198 ISO, a mark which he fell well short of in 2020 with his .180. Still, there is undeniable power available in Choi’s bat against a right-handed pitcher. For his career, Choi has a .221 ISO with a WRC+ 25% above average in the split. He’s hit 35 of his 38 career home runs off of right-handed pitching. Part of the danger with the Choi bet is that he will likely get pinch hit for later in the game. However, this is mostly baked into the price. Overall, we’re getting a good look at a player on the up-side of his power split. Choi has the second-highest home run mark on the Rays in my model behind Austin Meadows — who I would also consider at +400. He looks like one of the more solid MLB picks available for a home run tonight.
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MLB Pick: Cody Bellinger – Home Run: +390 (Common Odds)
Bellinger is on pace to be one of the best home run hitters of his generation. The 2019 NL MVP scuffled to just a .239/.333/.455 slash in his 243 plate appearances in 2020, though he still managed to hit a dozen home runs. In his MVP season just last year, the superstar hit 47 longballs in 660 plate appearances while posting a .305/.406/.629 slash. At 25 years old, Bellinger already has 123 home runs in his career. Through his age-24 season, Bellinger’s 14.7 at-bats per home run pace was third all-time.
For his career, Bellinger has hit left-handed pitching for power, though his overall hit tool does suffer in the split, falling to a .253/.339/.493 slash. Still, it’s the .240 career ISO and 39 home runs in just 694 plate appearances against southpaws that draws the eye. Bellinger has been able to limit strikeouts against same-handed pitching to just 22.0%. While not excellent, it’s more than acceptable for someone who has generated this much power in the split, and it helps alleviate some concern of Snell completely taking the bat out of his hands three times.
Overall, Bellinger is drawing the highest mark in the game in my home run model in his matchup against Snell. The lefty hurler is fantastic, and we already touched on his ridiculous strikeout rate against same-handed hitters, but he did yield 10 home runs in his 50 innings this year, a trend that continued into the playoffs. He’s given up five in just 24.1 innings in the 2020 postseason. While the power is not a huge concern for Snell overall, there is plenty of upside to pick off a nice price on one of the game’s best home run hitters.
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