After taking a good, long look at Friday’s pitching matchups using the Action Labs Player Prop tool, there are two strikeout total props that stand out as strong bets tonight.
Additionally, there’s a position player prop in one of the late-night west coast games that offers betting value while adding an extra sweat to the Friday night card.
Our Action Labs Props tool grades each prop on a scale from 1-10, and I’ll be sure to include the grade for each of my betting recommendations in my discussions below.
Robbie Ray (TOR) Under 8.5 Strikeouts (-130)
|Blue Jays at Rangers||Blue Jays -255|
|First Pitch||7:07 p.m. ET|
Ray is having a great season. By simply stuffing fastballs in the zone, he’s become Toronto’s most effective pitcher — even more so than Hyun Jin Ryu.
Ray’s success as a pitcher is entirely dependent on the effectiveness of his fastball. After getting crushed on that pitch during the past few seasons, it seems he’s regained his feel for it. His fastball has generated fantastic metrics this season, many of which are personal bests for Ray dating back to 2014 or 2017:
- 46.1% zone rate (best since 2014)
- 23.9% whiff rate (best since 2017)
- .297 wOBA allowed (best since 2017)
It also helps his velocity is higher now than ever before in his career:
Ray’s fastball-heavy approach has led to a lot of strikeouts — 11.62 per nine innings to be exact. He has also punched out double-digit batters in four of his last seven starts.
However, in those other three starts, Ray recorded just 17 strikeouts in 17.1 innings. From a bird’s eye view, Ray has put together a phenomenal season; but from game to game, he’s been inconsistent. So, asking him to notch nine strikeouts at even money is questionable value at best.
Two other factors push me towards the under in this spot:
- First, Ray’s strikeout numbers drop slightly when pitching at home. This season, Ray has posted 10.17 K/9 at home compared to 12.72 on the road. I realize that split is not an ideal comparison given Toronto’s unique home situation, but it’s noteworthy, nonetheless.
- Second, Texas has been fairly disciplined recently. Over the past 30 days, the Rangers have posted a 20.4% strikeout rate — the fourth-lowest rate in MLB during that span. Additionally, the team is above-average in weighted fastball runs created. Texas has a real shot to knock Ray around today.
In the end, there are too many question marks surrounding this matchup to confidently bet Ray will hit this over. Our MLB PRO Projections make Ray’s strikeout total 7.1, which means there’s value on the under 8.5 up to -140.
Pick: Under 8.5 Strikeouts -130
Action Labs Grade: 8/10
Charlie Morton (ATL) Under 7.5 Strikeouts (+100)
|Braves at Rays||Braves -130|
|First Pitch||7:20 p.m. ET|
Tampa Bay strikes out a lot — the second-highest strikeout rate in MLB — and Morton has posted a solid strikeout rate this season (10.36 K/9). Nevertheless, Morton’s 7.5-strikeout total is inflated by the Rays’ reputation.
This is Ground Chuck we’re talking about, the curveball-heavy pitcher who hunts for weak contact. Morton has pitched well recently, even posting a 2.73 ERA and a .84 WHIP in the month of June, but he has struck out more than 7.5 batters just once in his past eight starts.
Plus, the Rays rank ninth in weighted curveball runs created, so the lineup won’t be scared of Morton’s curveball-heavy approach.
I believe Morton is due for another good outing. But similar to Robbie Ray’s situation, this number is just slightly inflated. Our MLB PRO Projections make Morton’s strikeout total closer to 6.5 Ks, so there’s a ton of value on the under 7.5 at plus-money.
Pick: Under 7.5 Strikeouts +100
Action Labs Grade: 10/10
Position Player Prop of the Day
Mitch Haniger (SEA) Over 1.5 Total Bases (+120)
|Mariners at Angels||Angels -150|
|First Pitch||9:38 p.m. ET|
I was debating between Haniger and Kyle Seager for this spot, but I decided that Haniger is the better bet.
Haniger has a track record of success against Andrew Heaney and boasts excellent splits against southpaws. On top of that, Haniger is a solid fastball/curveball hitter — Heaney’s two best pitches.
He has gone 6-for-18 lifetime against Heaney while mashing three home runs and a triple. Furthermore, Haniger has posted a .487 xwOBA and .761 xSLG against Heaney in those 20 plate appearances, with an average exit velocity of 90.4 mph and a 12.8-degree launch angle.
Haniger’s current .798 OPS is around his career average, but he has always hit better against the left side. This season is no different, as he’s slugging .538 with an .845 OPS against left-handed pitchers. Plus, Haniger has been mashing fastballs and curveballs, accumulating a wOBA near .400 against both pitches combined.
Meanwhile, Heaney reports an 8.38 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in his four starts before the All-Star break. In his only start against Seattle this season, he managed just 3.1 innings while allowing four runs on six hits.
If Haniger doesn’t hit this over against Heaney, I’m hoping that he can snag a big hit against a very mediocre Anaheim bullpen. I love this prop, which you can still snag at DraftKings for plus money.
Pick: Over 1.5 Total Bases +120