After a 2-0 day on Tuesday and a careful inspection of Wednesday’s pitching matchups, I’ve found two strikeout totals on the Major League Baseball card that provide value.
Today, I’m looking to fade one of the best southpaws in the game while also backing a completely unknown lefty. Our Action Labs Player Props tool tells us both angles provide lots of value.
Our Action Labs tool grades each prop on a scale from 1-10, so I’ll be sure to include the grade below my explanation.
MLB Player Props & Picks
Chris Sale — Under 7.5 Strikeouts (-136)
|Red Sox vs. Rays||Red Sox (-102)|
|Time||7:10 p.m. ET|
As a die-hard Red Sox fan, it hurts my heart to fade Chris Sale on Sale day, but I think this line is a bit high.
Sale’s struck out 21 batters through his first 15 1/3 innings of work following Tommy John (12.33 K/9), but they were all at Fenway. Today, he makes his first road start of the year, and Sale struck out 12 fewer batters in seven more innings on the road than at home in 2019.
Plus, Sale’s entering the Thunderdome today. If you want to pick the worst place to make your first away start in two years, Tampa’s your best bet. The Rays smashed the ball in August, posting a league high 121 wRC+ on their way to a 21-6 record.
Moreover, while the Rays are known for being strikeout happy, that hasn’t been the case during this recent stretch. The Rays struck out at just a league-average 22.5% rate in August, and that number drops down to 20.3% against southpaws, good for 19th highest in MLB.
I think Sale could come out and throw a gem, but there are too many issues surrounding him to confidently bet on him. Our Action Labs Player Props tool has Sale projected at just 6.7 Ks today, and while many books have his number listed at 6.5, I’m going to bet the under 7.5 number FanDuel is offering.
Action Labs Grade: 8/10
Justin Steele — Over 3.5 Strikeouts (-140)
|Cubs vs. Twins||Cubs (+155)|
|Time||8:10 p.m. ET|
Steele is making his fourth start this season after being shuffled from the bullpen and into a starting role for the hopeless Cubs. Whether he performs tonight or not, Steele has a lot of value at the 3.5 number DraftKings is offering.
Our Action Labs Player Props tool actually has Steele projected at a whopping 5.5 Ks tonight. Meanwhile, FanGraphs SaberSim projections has him at 4.2. Either way, there’s tons of value in this spot.
As a reliever, why is he projected so high?
Well, he’s striking out over 11 batters per nine innings this season, and that number jumps to over 14 in road games. His two main pitches, a slider and four-seam fastball, have both produced whiff rates close to 40%, plus he manages to mix in a changeup and a curveball for put-away purposes.
Meanwhile, the Twins lineup struck out at the fourth highest rate in MLB this August (25.8%) while posting the fourth lowest wRC+ against that side (72). Steele is in a good spot for a quality outing.
All-in-all, look for Steele to create a lot of strikeout opportunities tonight against a Twins lineup that’s been swinging and missing a whole lot lately.
Action Labs Grade: 10/10
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