Eys Breakers: Expert Picks – MLB Strikeout Props For Friday

betting experts backing Woodruf's strikeout MLB player prop on Tuesday.
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Betting analyst Keith Eyster gives his best MLB player props picks for today — Friday, July 15, 2022.

We have 14 games left on the MLB schedule today as the Mets-Cubs game has already been postponed due to inclement weather. The remaining games all get started at 6:40 ET or later giving us plenty of options today. 

Chicago was the only real trouble spot for weather, so we should be clear on that front for the rest of the games. Colorado has an honorable mention on Roth’s weather report, but the risk is quite low for a delay. 

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Free MLB Player Props Picks For Today

Jordan Montgomery Under 5.5 Strikeouts (-160) 

We get started with one of the best rivalries in sports as the New York Yankees host the Boston Red Sox for a three-game set. 

Jordan Montgomery will make his 18th start of the season tonight for the Yankees. He has been very solid this year with a 3.19 ERA. The strikeouts have been below average at 19.6%, but the walks have been elite at 4.7%. 

Montgomery has been under 5.5 strikeouts in 15 of 17 starts this season. He just faced this Red Sox team in Fenway Park his last start, and he recorded 4 strikeouts in 5.2 innings. 

I am surprised to see this line at 5.5, but the expected absence of Trevor Story may have something to do with it. Story has been one of Boston’s best hitters versus left-handed pitching with a .303 ISO and .349 wOBA, but his absence does remove a 34.5% strikeout rate from the lineup.

Unfortunately, his likely replacement, Jeter Downs, has struck out in 4 of his 10 plate appearances vs LHP and carried a 28.2% strikeout rate at AAA. We are likely substituting in a weaker hitter with the same propensity for strikeouts. That being said, the rest of the Boston lineup has been very strong against left-handed pitching and this is still a difficult matchup for Montgomery. 

Another positive for us is Montgomery has had a short leash for the majority of the season. He has not thrown over 97 pitches in any start this season, and he has been below 90 pitches in 12 of his 17 starts. 

I think Boston can make Montgomery work in this start, run up the pitch count a bit with their power and patience, and keep him to 6 innings or less. If Montgomery doesn’t get over 6 innings, I love his chances to stay under 5.5 strikeouts. 

Clayton Kershaw Over 6.5 Strikeouts (-140)

Out in Anaheim, the Angels host the cross-town Dodgers in a battle for Los Angeles. Clayton Kershaw takes the mound for the Dodgers in his 12th start of the season. 

Kershaw has been his typically excellent self when he has been able to take the ball this year. He owns a 2.40 ERA with an above-average 27.6% strikeout rate and an elite 4.8% walk rate. 

Kershaw has recorded at least seven strikeouts in 3 of his last 4 starts, but it is the trend we have seen in his last 2 starts that gives me the confidence in his over tonight. He has averaged 100 pitches thrown in those 2 starts, with 98 pitches against the Padres and 102 pitches against the Cubs. He had not previously thrown over 85 pitches in a start this season.

Dave Roberts has a notoriously quick hook for his starting pitchers, but it appears he has let the leash out a bit for Kershaw as the calendar flipped to July. 

The other positive factor for Kershaw today is his matchup against the Angels. They have struck out 26.5% of the time this season, which is the highest rate in baseball. They have been a below-average offense overall, with a 95 wRC+ and a .302 wOBA that ranks just 24th. The fact they have been a below-average offense despite having two of the best hitters on the planet speaks to how weak the rest of the lineup is. 

If he can approach the 100-pitch mark again I like Kershaw to go over 6.5 strikeouts in this plus matchup. 

Brandon Woodruff Over 6.5 Strikeouts (-146) 

We turn our attention to San Francisco as we stick with our California theme to close out the article. The San Francisco Giants take on the Milwaukee Brewers again after Corbin Burnes outlasted Carlos Rodon last night in a battle of aces. Tonight, the Brewers send another ace to the hill as Brandon Woodruff makes his 13th start of the season. 

Woodruff got off to a bit of a slow start this season, so his overall numbers are a little down by his standards. Batted ball luck was the main culprit as he has endured a .315 BABIP this season after being under .270 the two years prior. He still owns an elite 31.9% strikeout rate and above-average 6.4% walk rate this season. His 2.85 SIERA and 2.98 xFIP tell us he is still an elite starting pitcher despite the 4.01 ERA. 

Woodruff missed some time recently with an ankle issue and numbness in his pitching hand, but he has been on fire since his return from the IL. He owns a 41.5% strikeout rate in his first three starts back with 27 strikeouts in 17 innings. He did have the fortune of three great matchups since his return, facing Pittsburgh twice and Tampa Bay, but he gets another plus strikeout matchup today. 

San Francisco currently ranks 13th in strikeout rate at 23.1%, and we have them projected to send 6 lefties to the plate today. Woodruff has a massive platoon split in his strikeout rate this season, 43.3% to lefties and 21.4% to righties. He deploys his change-up nearly 27% of the time vs LHB and has an obscene 72.7% whiff rate on the pitch to lefties this year. Two of the righties expected to be in the lineup are rookies (Villar and Bart) who have struck out at around 40% this season. 

I think this matchup sets up perfectly for Woodruff and he goes over 6.5 strikeouts with ease. He is also a guy we have seen post double-digit strikeout performances on occasion, so I want some alternate strikeout lines today as well. We only get slightly plus money on 8+ strikeouts, so I am aiming a little higher today. Give me a half unit on 9+ strikeouts and a quarter unit on 10+ strikeouts. 

Woodruff has two games this season where he has reached 10 strikeouts, and I think he has a chance to do it again today given the matchup and recent form. 

Eys Breakers Betting Card For Friday

Thank you for reading and good luck with your bets today!