Last Friday, rain once again deprived us of the opportunity to have a perfect 3-0 performance, but I’ll gladly take a 2-0 record with one big ol’ void. Heading into the final stretch of May, we’re sitting at 20-15 on article plays for the season, with a few outstanding future bets. It’s a rare occurrence, yet I can’t find anything to complain about.
Let’s keep the good times rolling. Here’s what I like on tonight’s MLB card.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
The odds on this prop aren’t spectacular, but I feel pretty strongly that Ohtani gets this done. It all just lines up too perfectly. I mean, you really don’t have to know much more than the fact Ohtani’s 34.0% strikeout rate is the fourth-highest mark among all pitchers who have thrown at least 30.0 innings in 2022. Longevity also shouldn’t be an issue. Though the right-hander hasn’t cleared the 100-pitch plateau in any of his seven starts, Ohtani’s worked at least six innings in four of his last five outings, striking out at least seven opponents on three of those four occasions.
However, the most important aspect of this prop is Ohtani’s opponent. The Blue Jays are technically relatively league-average when it comes to overall strikeout rate — their 21.8% mark is the 11th-lowest in the majors — but where Toronto differentiates itself from the pack is its glut of right-handed bats. Entering play on Thursday, no team has more right-on-right plate appearances that the Jays, with the team’s total of 1,032 over 100 more than any other club. Ohtani’s held RHBs to a .140 wOBA in 2022. He’s also struck out 41.9% of the righties he’s faced. That’s amazing.
I’m running out of ways to say that Dallas Keuchel is washed. The left-hander has been downright awful across his past six starts, pitching to a 6.84 ERA. Within that span, Keuchel’s faced 128 batters, and they’ve combined to hit .330 with a .422 OBP. This is the kind of thing that happens when your strikeout rate is an anemic 8.6% and your K/BB ratio is a hideous 0.6. You read that correctly. Since mid-April, Keuchel has walked more opponents that he’s struck out. That’s just not going to get it done against a red-hot Red Sox lineup.
Not only is Boston’s roster full of assets who have crushed left-handed pitching throughout their careers, but it might be hard to find a trio of bats currently in a better groove than Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Trevor Story. Those three men have been leading the charge the past few weeks, combining to help the Red Sox own the league’s best slugging percentage (.463), wOBA (.351) and wRC+ (130) in the month of May. There aren’t many starters I’d trust to shut down this lineup right now, and I assure you Keuchel is no where near that shortlist.
It’s really difficult to pick against Eric Lauer at the moment. The 26-year-old has been downright incredible in 2022, maintaining a 2.16 ERA and a 32.9% strikeout rate across 41.2 innings of work. However, at the end of the day, he’s still left-handed. No team in baseball has been as successful against LHPs as the Cardinals. In fact, no team has even come close. St. Louis leads MLB in OPS (.860), wOBA (.377) and wRC+ (147) within the split. The Yankees, who sit second in wRC+, sport a mark of just 123. The disparity is jaw-dropping.
Also, I do think we have to expect at least a little normalization is on the horizon for Lauer. His 92.7% strand rate is unstable, as is his opponents’ .100 BABIP with runners in scoring position. It’s worth noting Lauer’s been susceptible to the long ball, too. The lefty comes into Thursday’s outing surrendering 1.51 home runs per nine, while he sits in the 21st percentile in barrel rate and the 36th percentile in expected slugging percentage. Again, he’s been fantastic, but those numbers are underwhelming. I wouldn’t anticipate the Cardinals to break out for eight or nine runs off Lauer, yet for a lineup this good, this total should be higher.
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