MLB Player Prop Picks: 2 Bets for Gerrit Cole & Jordan Hicks (Wednesday, May 18)

MLB Player Prop Picks: 2 Bets for Gerrit Cole & Jordan Hicks (Wednesday, May 18) article feature image

Winslow Townson/Getty Images. Pictured: Gerrit Cole.

  • Tanner McGrath uses the Action Labs Player Props tool throughout the MLB season to find value for bettors.
  • He has two picks for Wednesday's slate of games for Gerrit Cole and Jordan Hicks.
  • Check out McGrath's picks and breakdowns for tonight below.

Betting baseball is a labor of love, and Wednesday gives us another loaded slate filled with value in every market.

Read on for my two favorite plays in the strikeout market, where I see value in fading a St. Louis reliever and backing a New York starter.

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.

Gerrit Cole over 6.5 Strikeouts (-155)

Yankees @ Orioles
First Pitch7:05 p.m. ET
Best LineDraftKings

I don't often but strikeout totals this high, but Gerrit Cole deserves an exception.

Cole has smoked this number in three of his last four starts. He's thrown at least six innings in each of those outings and recorded a combined 34 strikeouts during the stretch.

The Yankees are letting him off the leash, as well. After staying under 70 pitches in two of his first three starts, he's thrown at least 92 in each of the past four and even tossed 114 pitches against Texas 10 days ago.

Cole is throwing his fastball slightly more this season, upping his four-seam usage to 49.8% from 47.1% last season. But he's also blowing it by hitters more, as his four-seam whiff rate has jumped almost seven points year-over-year.

Credit: Baseball Savant.

The last time his In Zone Swing & Miss rate jumped over 30% in 2019, Cole struck out over 13 batters per nine innings in 212 1/3 innings with Houston.

Therefore, I'm willing to back him in this start against Baltimore, which has been slightly better from a plate discipline standpoint this season, but Cole struck out 20 Orioles over 12 innings in the last two starts against the O's.

Our Action Labs Player Props tool projects Cole for a whopping 8.7 strikeouts Wednesday, while FanGraphs' SaberSim projections mark Cole at 7.6.

Either way, I'm comfortable playing Cole's K over at 6.5.

Pick: Over 6.5 Ks (-155)

Action Labs Grade: 8/10

Jordan Hicks under 3.5 Strikeouts (-113)

Cardinals @ Mets
First Pitch7:10 p.m. ET
Best LineBetRivers

I'll go back to the well here with Hicks, who I successfully faded last week against the Giants. This time, I believe he faces a tougher matchup against the Mets.

Many of my peers are low on the Metropolitans. Their batted-ball profile is lackluster at best. Their hard-hit rate ranks among the bottom five (35.8%) MLB teams, while both their barrel rate (6.4%) and avg. exit velocity (87.6mph) ranks among the bottom 10.

So, most project the Mets for negative regression. But let's dig a little bit deeper into New York's hitting strategy.

Only two teams make more contact when chasing than the Mets, who do so on 61% of their opportunities. As a result, only three teams Whiff less than the Mets, as New York is Whiffing just 23.7% of the time.

The Mets aren't smashing the ball, but they're making contact and putting balls in play. Against RHPs, no team has struck out less than the Mets this season, as New York has kept its K rate under 19% against that side.

Hicks is essentially a reliever that they turned starter, and while he threw 77 pitches last time out, I'd be surprised to see him eclipse 80. Plus, Hicks only throws two pitches, and it'll be hard for him to turn over the order with that arsenal.

Image credit: Baseball Savant

When Hicks does throw his plus-pitches — the sinker and slider — neither pitch blows hitters away. He ranks in the 16th percentile of qualified pitchers in swinging-strike rate (8.4%) and the 21st percentile in CSW rate (25.4%).

I'll fade Hicks on a shorter pitch count with a limited arsenal against the most disciplined lineup in the league. Our Action Labs Player Prop tool projects Hicks for only 2.0 Ks Wednesday, making this a top-rated play.

Pick: Under 3.5 Ks (-113)

Action Labs Grade: 10/10

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