Well, we have a frontrunner for my favorite greasy cover of the early MLB season. Tyler Anderson was getting shelled last night against the Phillies. There’s no way around that truth. The left-hander had surrendered four earned runs and a pair of long balls before finishing the second inning, and he would go on to concede a total of 10 opponent hits before his evening was through. Still, Dave Roberts made the call to save the bullpen and let Anderson wear the damage. He’d end up pitching six ineffective innings and striking out five — just hitting the over on his prop. Sweet success.
That win brought our record on article plays to 15-13.
Let’s get back at it with three more bets.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
I’m a simple man. The Astros are the hottest team in baseball, having won 10 straight contests entering play on Friday. That fact alone would be enough to take interest in them on the run line, but this also happens to be a fantastic matchup against the Nationals. Framber Valdez will start for Houston and he’s been about as reliable as any pitcher in the league so far this season. Not only does Valdez boast a 3.34 ERA and a 3.14 xERA through six outings, but he’s the only qualified pitcher in baseball that’s yet to allow an opponent barrel. Seriously. Thanks primarily to a 72.0% ground ball rate, Valdez has induced 94 batted ball events and not one has been barrelled.
Valdez has the advantage of being left-handed, as well. Washington has struggled immensely with lefty pitchers in 2022, with the team’s wRC+ of 84 ranking ahead of only Arizona and Cincinnati among National League squads. The Nationals’ ISO of .086 within the split is the second-lowest mark in all of MLB. Valdez should generally be able to keep Washington off the scoreboard, while the Astros’ red-hot bats can do the rest.
Speaking of those red-hot bats, Alvarez has had one heck of a start to 2022. The hulking slugger currently owns the second-best wOBA (.471) among all qualified players, while his 191 wRC+ sits fifth. He’s striking out more infrequently than at any point in his career, which is incredible news considering he’s producing a barrel on a whopping 19.5% of his batted ball events this season. As always, Alvarez is also absolutely demolishing any RHP in his path, with a .290/.380/.758 slash line and a 231 wRC+ within the split in 71 plate appearances.
The right-hander in question on Friday? Josiah Gray. The much heralded prospect is certainly having a better campaign this year as opposed to last, yet his issues with left-handed bats remain. To wit, the 71 LHBs Gray has faced in 2022 have combined for a .565 slugging percentage and a .400 wOBA. This is mainly the result of Gray surrendering 2.76 home runs per nine within the split. If anyone can take advantage of these flaws, it’s Alvarez.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but a pitcher seems like he’s really coming into his own as a member of the Rays. After spending most of last season in the bullpen, Rasmussen is back to being a full-time starter in 2022 and the results have been very encouraging. Through six outings, the RHP is in possession of a 2.89 ERA and a 3.05 FIP, as his newly found cutter is having a positive impact. Specifically, Rasmussen’s last three appearances have been noteworthy, with the 26-year-old pitching to a 1.13 ERA and striking out 28.8% of the 59 batters he’s faced within that span. Still, it’s not like swings and misses are a relatively new thing for Rasmussen. For his career, he’s averaging over a strikeout per inning thrown.
Opponent also plays a role in the viability of this prop. The Blue Jays have been struggling to score runs as of late, and the team’s strikeout numbers are becoming an issue. In the month of May, Toronto sports a top 10 strikeout rate at 23.7%, while its 12.4% swinging strike rate registers as the second-highest mark in the American League. Toronto is also a predominantly right-handed team, entering Friday’s action with far and away the most right-on-right plate appearances of any team in baseball (757). Rasmussen’s strikeout rate versus RHBs is 27.1%, much higher than his 18.9% mark when opposed by an LHB. Look for Rasmussen to exploit this matchup.
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