Game Two was a blast, with the Rays getting back in the series behind a monster performance by starter Blake Snell who, unfortunately, blew through the Dodgers lineup and the strikeout over/under mark. With the series tied and two good starters going, we could see a tight low-scoring affair as these teams jockey for the advantage in the Series. Both squads are starting the expected lineups without surprises, we’re probably more likely to see pinch hitters on the Rays side of things where lefties like Austin Meadows and Ji-Man Choi could be lifted in the right spot against the Dodgers bullpen. For DFS purposes the risk is there but somewhat limited, for MLB player prop betting purposes it’s a larger factor. Lets get into some MLB picks + player props.
Game Three is projected for between 7.0 and 7.5 runs, depending on your book of choice (7.0 at BetMGM), meaning Vegas is expecting a similar low-scoring affair. Looking for the home run is a tricky proposition on any one-game slate, doubly so with two good pitchers and two good bullpens going. The strikeout props for both starters are interesting, and there appear to be a few advantageous spots to get prop bets down.
Once again, we’ll be utilizing OddsShopper to look at numerous books across the industry to find the best available bets for any wager. The site lays out player props, game bets and all the information you need in a real-time dashboard, making it simple to quickly find everything you need to get your money in good.
MLB Picks, Player Props & Best Bets: Home Runs & Strikeouts
Walker Buehler – Over 7.5 Strikeouts: +113 (DraftKings & Sugar House)
The admittedly intimidating 7.5 strikeout prop for Walker Buehler is a well-set line. I have the starter projected just over that mark, but it should be very close and will likely just come down to the total number of hitters he’s able to face. The right-handed starter has no issues with generating strikeouts, in 2020 he had a 28.6% rate in his 36.2 innings, which is exactly the same as his career average in 365.2 innings. The Rays lineup ranked as the second worst team in baseball with a 26.4% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching in 2020.
Buehler features an arsenal that includes a 97 mph four-seam fastball with extremely heavy spin that generates a heavy number of swings and misses on the pitch, as well as a curveball-cutter combination that keeps hitters off balance and also generates plenty of whiffs. The fastball is his most reliable individual strikeout pitch, generating 54% of his strikeouts on the pitch in 2020 and 48% in 2019. The stuff is electric and Buehler is more than capable of hitting the 7.5 prop bet we need from him now that he is more stretched out and expected to throw around 100 pitches.
Austin Meadows or Brandon Lowe – Home Run – +400 (common odds)
This one is coming up as an either-or for me and for Vegas, so I’m including them both. The two lefties atop the Rays lineup are leading their team and the game in my home run model, with the only two marks over the magic 10.0 number. Meadows is outpacing Lowe, but they’re very close. As a potential tiebreaker, I would consider the likelihood that Meadows is the one of these two more likely to be pinch-hit for in the right spot, which could cap his overall upside in limited plate appearances. Lowe handles same-handed pitching well if the situation comes up and is not typically someone with whom the Rays are overly concerned about splits.
For their careers, both hitters have gotten plenty of power against right-handed pitching. Lowe has a career .243 ISO and 25 of his 37 home runs against righties, while Meadows has a .236 ISO and 30 of his 43 home runs in the split. Buehler has not struggled much with the home run ball since coming into the league, though his uneven 2020 yielded a career high 1.72 HR/9, which equates to seven home runs allowed in his 36.2 innings. Ultimately a long ball is a tough ask against Buehler in general, but that’s why the prop bet is at +400. If we’re looking to a Rays wager, one of these two would be my home run hitter of choice.
Austin Meadows – no hits – +115 (common odds)
Conversely, I also think the price on Meadows to go hitless is a good one at +115. Any time I can get a good number on a hitter not succeeding, I’m at least intrigued. Overall, Meadows is an excellent option for fantasy and an emerging star with a high-quality bat. He has displayed a quality hit tool throughout his limited run so far, but in 2020 the bottom fell out and he became something of an all-or-nothing power option, putting up just a .205/.296/.371 slash with a 32.9% strikeout rate in his limited 152 plate appearance sample. Over 591 opportunities in his one full season last year, Meadows posted a respectable .291/.364/.558 slash with a 22.2% strikeout rate, but some of that was the benefit of a .331 BABIP. Overall, Meadows is not as bad a pure hitter as he appeared this season, but probably not as good as he appeared last season. For his career, Walker Buehler has held opposing lefties to a .204/.262/.329 slash and a .257 wOBA, while striking them out at a 29.2% rate. This is a pitcher who is very capable of taking the bat out of Meadows hands for three plate appearances before he’s lifted, at which point we could see Meadows lifted against the bullpen. It’s no lock, but this seems like a recipe for limited hit opportunities and a good price on a prop bet with a reasonable chance of coming through.
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