Eys Breakers: Expert Picks – MLB Strikeout Props For Friday

Our MLB experts are backing Mitch Kellers player props tonight.
Image Credit: Imagn

We have 14 games on the MLB schedule today with the Marlins and Cubs matching up this afternoon. The other 13 games are all later this evening. 

There are some weather concerns to pay attention to tonight with Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York looking like the highest risk spots. Make sure to check the RotoGrinders weather page for Kevin Roth’s updates. 

Free MLB Player Props Picks For Today

Mitch Keller Under 4.5 Strikeouts (-138)

Let’s get started in Baltimore, where the red hot Orioles take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Orioles have climbed to 3 games above .500 and have passed Boston in the AL East standings. They have won 7 of their last 10 games. 

Mitch Keller will make his 19th start of the season for the Pirates. This is probably the riskiest weather spot of the evening, so you know the target is an under here. We will take any added value we get from the chance of an in-game delay knocking the starting pitchers out early. 

Keller has had an inconsistent season with a 4.37 ERA, 20.0% strikeout rate and 8.5% walk rate. He has been under 4.5 strikeouts in 11 of his 18 starts this season. He also carries a fairly wide platoon split as far as strikeouts are concerned. He has struck out 22.8% of righties he has faced and only 16.4% of lefties. He projects to face 5 lefties in the Baltimore lineup today. 

Baltimore has surprisingly been an above average offense over the last 30 days with a 104 wRC+ and a .316 wOBA that ranks 12th in baseball over that time. They have only struck out at a rate of 21.9%. They have hit righties better than lefties all season long, with their projected lineup today owning a .342 wOBA and 18.5% strikeout rate versus righties. 

I like this play regardless of what happens with the weather, but that added value makes the juice easier to stomach. Give me Keller under 4.5 strikeouts.

Framber Valdez Under 4.5 Strikeouts (+140)

Next, we look to Cleveland where the Guardians host the Houston Astros. There is a very small chance of a delay in this one as well, but not enough of one for it to add any value. Framber Valdez will make his 21st start of the season for Houston. 

Valdez has had a fantastic season with a 2.80 ERA. He owns a ridiculous 66.9% ground ball rate that is over 10 points better than any other qualified starting pitcher, and he has surrendered just 4 home runs in 128.2 innings. His game is to pitch to contact and induce ground balls, which has been a very effective strategy for him, but it has led to a below average strikeout rate of 22.3%. 

Today, he gets the most difficult strikeout matchup in all of baseball against the Guardians. Cleveland has struck out at just 18.6% on the season, which is the lowest rate in the league.  Only 1 batter in the projected lineup has struck out more than league average versus left-handed pitching this season, and they have a collective strikeout rate of just 17.8%. Valdez faced them back in May and recorded just 4 strikeouts despite lasting 7 full innings. 

I love the value on this bet since we are getting big plus money here. Valdez likely has a decent outing, limiting the damage as he usually does and pitching deep into the game, but I think he stays under 4.5 strikeouts. 

Nestor Cortes Under 5.5 Strikeouts (-140) 

Over in St. Louis, the Cardinals welcome the New York Yankees to town. Nestor Cortes will make his 20th start of the season for the Yankees. 

Cortes has been brilliant this season with a 2.53 ERA, 26.1% strikeout rate and 5.6% walk rate. 

Despite owning a well-above average strikeout rate, Cortes has surprisingly been under 5.5 strikeouts in 10 of his 19 starts. He also has a very wide platoon split in his strikeout rate. He has struck out 33.9% of the lefties he has faced this season, but a much more pedestrian 24.8% of righties. 

The matchup for Cortes today is a difficult one against St. Louis. They have crushed left-handed pitching to the tune of a 124 wRC+ and .342 wOBA, which ranks second best in the league. Goldschmidt and Arenado present major threats in the middle of the lineup, and even Pujols is still outstanding against lefties in the twilight of his career. The Cardinals project to send 8 right-handed batters to the plate today, which is a bad thing for Cortes’ platoon split. 

I think the Cardinals can get to Cortes despite the outstanding year he is having. They should be able to run up the pitch count and get him out of the game before the end of the 6th inning. Their extremely right-handed heavy lineup should keep Cortes under 5.5 strikeouts. 

Eric Lauer Over 5.5 Strikeouts (-125) 

Finally, we look to Milwaukee, where the Brewers take on the Cincinnati Reds. Eric Lauer will make his 20th start of the season for the Brewers. 

Lauer has been around league average as a starter this season with a 3.75 ERA, 24.3% strikeout rate, and 8.4% walk rate. He has battled some inconsistency this year, but the matchup today is excellent. 

Lauer faced this Reds team back in June, but it was in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark. He allowed 4 runs over 6.1 innings and struck out 5. The Reds also still had Brandon Drury who has since been traded to San Diego. 

The Reds lineup he projects to face today has a 23.4% strikeout rate versus left-handed pitching, and that doesn’t factor in prospect Jose Barrero who owns a 37.6% strikeout rate over 237 plate appearances in AAA this year. Aristedes Aquino also projects to crack the lineup. He has struck out 42.3% of the time in 52 plate appearances versus lefties this season, and 36.3% of the time in 91 AAA plate appearances.  

Lauer should benefit from the shift to his home park and a weaker Reds lineup than he faced back in June. I like Lauer to go over 5.5 strikeouts today. 

Expert Player Props Picks: Betting Card

That will do it for today’s breakdown of the MLB slate. We were able to identify four strikeout props to target: 

Thank you for reading and good luck with your bets today