MLB Player Prop Bets & Picks: Best Bets for 3 Strikeout Totals, Including Madison Bumgarner, Chris Bassitt (Thursday, April 1)
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Today is April 1st which means two things: April Fool’s Day, and MLB Opening Day. And with it comes the opportunity to wager on a handful of starting pitcher strikeout props from today’s 13-game slate.
For this article, I will be evaluating my favorite MLB player props based on what my model likes and what the Action Labs Player Prop tool likes. The Action Labs Player Prop tool grades each bet on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade. Additionally, I will be adding my own personal grades as well.
Below, I have laid out three prop bets that I am playing, the case for each bet, and the best books to find odds on those player props.
MLB Player Props & Picks
Gerrit Cole Under 8.5 Strikeouts (-127)
|Blue Jays vs. Yankees||Yankees -195|
|Time||1:05 p.m. ET|
Whenever a pitcher has a strikeout total set as high as 8.5, it can be assumed — even if you knew nothing about Gerrit Cole — that he is a power pitcher.
Cole’s strikeout total at 8.5 seems, based on his history, to be appropriately set. Last season, Cole averaged 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings, and most projections for Cole set his K/9 around 12 for this new season.
Despite all of this, we’re fading Cole and picking the under based solely on the fact that I don’t think he’s going to pitch deep enough into the game to get to nine strikeouts. Last season, Cole averaged around six innings per start, and this season he is expected to average the same amount. Prior to joining the Yankees, Cole averaged around 6.5 innings per start, but Yankees appear to be playing it more cautiously with their prized investment. He’s simply throwing fewer innings on average as a Yankee.
Additionally, my model projects the Blue Jays’ lineup for today’s game to only average 9.08 strikeouts per game against a typical pitcher. The typical MLB lineup for all 30 teams today should average 9.39 strikeouts per game and the Blue Jays on a typical day should have the ninth-fewest strikeouts in the league. Based on the Blue Jays lineup and the potential for limited innings from Cole, I am betting the under at 8.5 strikeouts.
Pick: Gerrit Cole Under 8.5 Strikeouts (-127) would play up to -145.
Action Labs Score: 5
Kevin Davis Score: 3
Madison Bumgarner (ARI) Over 4.5 Strikeouts (-110)
|Diamondbacks vs. Padres||Padres -250|
|Time||4:10 p.m. ET|
Do not be fooled by last year’s performance, Madison Bumgarner is no bum. Last season, Bumgarner had a WAR of -0.3. Most importantly for strikeout props, Bumgarner averaged a lackluster 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings. In the past, Bumgarner has been one of the most reliable pitchers in the league and he has a career average of 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings. In the likely event that Bumgarner lasts at least five innings, he should go over this strikeout total.
The Padres are appropriately projected to have a strong lineup this season, bolstered by Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado. That is one of the reasons why the strikeout total has been set so low, because theoretically the Padres can hammer Bumgarner and get him out of the game early.
However, the Padres’ lineup on a typical night should have 9.33 strikeouts per game according to my model. If Bumgarner gets enough innings, he will go over his strikeout total. That is why I am taking his over.
Pick: Madison Bumgarner Over 4.5 Strikeouts (-110) would play up to -130.
Action Labs Score: 5
Kevin Davis Score: 5
Chris Bassitt (OAK) Over 4.5 Strikeouts (+125)
|HOU vs. OAK||Astros -105|
|Time||10:07 p.m. ET|
Out of all 30 starting pitchers today, the ActionLabs model likes the over on only six of them. Of those six overs, the one with the highest score is on Chris Bassitt to have over 4.5 strikeouts at +125 odds.
The reason why Bassitt’s strikeout output is undervalued by the betting markets is because the over can be considered a contrarian play. Last season, the Astros’ lineup averaged only 7.33 strikeouts per game, the fewest in the league.
On the surface, taking a strikeout total over on a pitcher opposing the Astros is a fool’s errand, but the markets have overreacted. My model projects the Astros to strike out more often this year: 8.1 strikeouts per game, in fact. Last season, Bassitt averaged only 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings. Today’s game will be a nail bitter, but at +125 odds, the price is too attractive to pass up and that is why I am backing Bassitt’s over.
Pick: Chris Bassitt Over 4.5 Strikeouts (+125) would play up to -105.
Action Labs Score: 9
Kevin Davis Score: 8