MLB Props Picks, Predictions: Zack Greinke, Marcus Semien Among Thursday’s Top Value Plays (April 21)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images. Pictured: Marcus Semien
- Thursday's baseball slate was heavy in the afternoon, but there's still MLB player prop value for tonight.
- Marcus Semien of the Rangers has an appealing matchup tonight against the Mariners' Marco Gonzales.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of the pick and MLB player prop analysis.
Another Thursday, another double-digit Major League Baseball slate.
With exactly 10 games, that means there are 20 potential pitchers to back or fade.
I’ve got my eye on one of them. Plus, there’s a position player that provides value from a total bases standpoint.
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.
Let’s dive in.
Zack Greinke over 3.5 Ks (+120)
|Twins vs. Royals||Royals +118|
|First Pitch||2:10 p.m. ET|
It’s tough to back Zack Greinke these days. He’s getting older and is pitching to more contact than he ever has, as he recorded less than seven K/9 with Houston last season.
Moreover, he has recorded just one strikeout through his first 11 innings with Kansas City this year. He’s managed his starts well, pitching to a 2.45 ERA.
So, why am I backing Greinke today? Two reasons.
First, he had a very strong start to the season last year before falling off. He went over 3.5 strikeouts in 19 of his first 24 starts of 2021 before failing to reach the mark in nine of the last 10.
It could be fatigue, or maybe the league cracking down on sticky stuff. But either way, Greinke has proven he can still record punchouts.
Why can’t he hit this line against the Twins? Minnesota is striking out more than 30% of the time against righties in the young 2022 season, good for first in the league.
We’re also getting decent plus-money odds and our Action Labs projections have Greinke slotted for 4.8 Ks today. That gives us more than 25% of edge over the current line and makes this our top-rated play of the day.
Pick: Over 3.5 Ks (+120 | Play to +110)
Action Labs Grade: 10/10
Marcus Semien over 1.5 Total Bases (+110)
|Rangers vs. Mariners||Rangers +110|
|First Pitch||9:40 p.m. ET|
Texas has crushed lefties so far this season, with the lineup hitting a 156 wRC+ in the young season — good for third in MLB against that side.
And this lineup is getting a southpaw treat today with the soft-tossing Marco Gonzales on the mound.
Gonzales actually pitched to a sub-4.00 ERA over 143 innings in Seattle last season, but he was the benefit of a .239 BABIP. His expected stats were much worse, with his xERA, FIP, and xFIP all above 5.00.
It’s hard to see consistent success when your fastball can’t hit 90 and you can’t keep exit velocities low (88.1 mph in 2021, 42nd percentile). Therefore, I’d expect some heavy negative regression from Gonzales this season.
Who better to do that than these Rangers? And more importantly, who in this lineup can take advantage of this?
I’m looking at Marcus Semien, who is 7-for-28 lifetime against Gonzales but has posted a .321 xBA and a .532 xSLG — i.e., numbers that are begging for positive regression.
Gonzales is going to attack with a sinker/cutter/change/curve four-pitch mix, but Semien has the tools to attack all of those pitches. Semien improved his numbers year-over-year against each pitch from 2020 to 2021, and last season posted a combined +8 run value against the combination.
It also doesn’t hurt that we’re getting classic platoon splits in this matchup. In his career, Semien has posted a 118 wRC+ against the left side but just a 108 wRC+ against the right.
If Gonzales is pulled early, I’m still confident in Semien getting to the bullpen. He’s beginning to find his form, going over his bases total in three of the last four games including the first two of this road series in Seattle.
At anything better than even money, I’ll be on this prop.
Pick: Over 1.5 Total Bases (+110 | Play to +100)