MLB Props Picks, Predictions: Fade Alek Manoah vs. Red Sox, Drew Smyly vs. Braves (April 28)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images. Pictured: Drew Smyly #11 of the Chicago Cubs.
It’s a heavy day-game slate today. So, let’s dive into two player props we could wager in the latter half of the day.
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.
Alek Manoah under 6.5 Strikeouts (-110)
|Red Sox vs. Blue Jays||Blue Jays -140|
|First Pitch||3:07 p.m. ET|
The Red Sox bats have been very unlucky this season. Despite ranking top-five in hard-hit balls and average exit velocity, the Red Sox have posted a measly 87 wRC+ as balls continue to avoid the gaps.
Wednesday, those hard-hit balls found the gaps. The Red Sox put up a seven-spot on the vaunted Blue Jays.
Therefore, I’m willing to bet on more positive regression coming for Boston. So, I’m going to fade Alek Manoah.
Manoah is a stud and a huge part of the Toronto rotation. But his strikeout rate is down this season (from 10.27 K/9 to 9.00 K/9) and he’s failed to cash this number in the last two starts.
His spin rate is down just slightly game-to-game, which may not be significant but is worth mentioning.
Image credit: Baseball Savant
Plus, it’s not like Manoah has been Jacob deGrom when facing the Sox. He’s been pretty shutdown (2.45 ERA) but could see some regression (4.71 xFIP), and Manoah failed to hit seven strikeouts in both starts against Boston last season.
Actually, this line might be too high in general. Manoah cashed over 6.5 Ks in just 10 of his last 23 starts (43%).
Meanwhile, the Sox have kept their strikeout rate vs RHPs in the bottom half of the league (22.2%) and should be able to fight off Manoah today.
FanGraphs SaberSim projections mark Manoah for just 5.1 strikeouts today. I’ll bank on that.
Pick: Under 6.5 Ks (-110)
Drew Smyly under 4.5 Strikeouts (-116)
|Cubs vs. Braves||Braves -205|
|First Pitch||7:20 p.m. ET|
As Drew Smyly gets older, he’ll continue to morph into a soft-tossing, soft-contact lefty. He’s been great at forcing soft contact, as his 79.5 mph average exit velocity leads all qualified starters.
But Smyly’s days of missing bats is over. His strikeout rate is way down year over year, currently sitting at a career-low 15.5% (if stretched out over a full season).
Plus, it looks like Smyly is continuing a downward trend with his velocity.
Image credit: Baseball Savant
Smyly has managed to snag five strikeouts in just 12 of his last 35 starts. That 34% hit rate would imply -192 odds to the under.
So far through 2022, the Braves have posted the eighth-highest wRC+ against southpaws and the 14th-lowest strikeout rate. The Braves aren’t plate discipline gurus, but they shouldn’t see a challenge making contact against Smyly.
FanGraphs SaberSim projections mark Smyly for 4.21 Ks today. I think he notches three or four through five innings and tries to get the win on double-play ground balls.
Pick: Under 4.5 Ks (-116)
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