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MLB Props Odds, Picks: 3 Bets for Tommy Henry, Justin Steele and Nelson Cruz (Friday, August 26)

MLB Props Odds, Picks: 3 Bets for Tommy Henry, Justin Steele and Nelson Cruz (Friday, August 26) article feature image
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Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Steele

  • Tonight's MLB slate is loaded with value from a player props perspective.
  • Our analyst has found value on a pair of arms throwing tonight who the market has overvalued, as well as one hitter prop.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of our favorite player props from tonight in Major League Baseball.

Happy Friday!

Waltz into the weekend with two more +EV strikeout props using our internal Action Labs Projections, alongside a position player prop I see value in today.

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.

Tommy Henry Under 4.5 Strikeouts (-145)

Diamondbacks @ White Sox White Sox -170
First Pitch 8:10 p.m. ET
Best Line DraftKings

This feels like an overreaction line.

Tommy Henry has made just four MLB starts. He managed to strike out seven over 95 pitches against the Cardinals last time out, picking up a 27% CSW rate in the start with a massive swinging-strike rate.

But to immediately bump his line up to 4.5 is wrong. He managed just three strikeouts in each of his first three MLB starts, and his CSW rate didn’t deviate much from that 27% mark (26.8%). It seems he may have just closed on more opportunities against the Cardinals.

I’m not anti-Tommy Henry. He’s got some Major League stuff, including a changeup that drops about two inches more than the average MLB one:

Tommy Henry, Dirty 83mph Breaking Ball. 😨 pic.twitter.com/syNCg92WZn

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 14, 2022

But projecting him this high is a mistake, especially when you take into account the matchup. The White Sox have struck out at the third-lowest rate in MLB against southpaws over the last month (17.7%) and have the third-highest wRC+ against that side on the season (119).

We know the White Sox mash lefties, but the lineup has been cashing pitching prop under consistently in August regardless of the side. The White Sox have kept 10 of the last 13 opposing starting pitchers under their strikeout total.

We project Henry for just 3.7 strikeouts today, giving us enough value to play the line available at DraftKings.

Pick: Under 4.5 Ks (-145)

Action Labs Grade: 8/10

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Justin Steele Under 6.5 Strikeouts (-155)

Cubs @ Brewers Cubs +130
First Pitch 8:10 p.m. ET
Best Line DraftKings

Justin Steele has always been a soft-tossing lefty. His fastball comes in at only around 92 mph and his spin rates are around league average. He’s been a monster at avoiding barrels (just 3.4%) and has been productive in that capacity.

But something unexpected is happening with Steele.

First, his spin rates are climbing unexpectedly. His fastball spin rate has climbed up into the 95th percentile of qualified starting pitchers, sitting close to 2600 RPMs.

As a result, hitters are swinging and missing more. He’s posted an absurd 30% whiff rate on his fastball this month, which was unheard of from Steele beforehand.

As a result, the strikeouts are coming in bunches.

Steele has struck out at least nine batters in three of his four August starts. He has a whopping 33 strikeouts in just 22 2/3 innings this month, good for a K/9 north of 13. His ERA is 0.79 during the stretch and his FIP is 1.32.

But I’m going to fade Steele.

Eventually, a pitcher just becomes overvalued. A strikeout line of 6.5 for Steele is too high, especially when he’s only hit the mark in seven of his 23 starts this season (30%).

Steele has struck out nine Brewers in each of his last two starts against them, and Milwaukee has struck out at the second-highest rate over of the past month. But Steele failed to reach this 6.5 mark in the previous seven opportunities against Milwaukee.

Perhaps Steele is turning a corner, and this is the start of the next great Cubs strikeout machine. But for today, I’m banking on my projection systems. The Action Labs Player Props tool has him pegged for just 4.3 strikeouts, while FanGraphs SaberSim projections is at 5.3.

Pick: Under 6.5 Ks (-155)

Action Labs Grade: 10/10

Nelson Cruz Over 1.5 Total Bases (+100)

Reds @ Nationals Nationals -145
First Pitch 7:05 p.m. ET
Best Line DraftKings

Nelson Cruz has finally hit a wall. After producing a wRC+ between 133 and 166 in every season between 2014 and 2020, he’s dropped down to 88 this season. He has just 10 home runs in 111 games, slugging only .350 in the process.

But I’m going to back Cruz today. Because this matchup with Mike Minor is a dream.

Similar to Albert Pujols, Cruz can still be used as a very effective platoon bat. While his wRC+ against righties this season is just 75, his wRC+ against southpaws is 115. His ISO jumps 60 points against LHPs while his SLG jumps almost 100.

And as Mike Minor gets older, his platoon splits have become more pronounced as well. Minor is allowing a ridiculous .288 ISO against righties this season on a .310 average. His wOBA allowed jumps 110 points against the right side and his xFIP jumps 1.61 points.

This individual matchup has been overwhelmingly kind to Cruz, too. In 17 lifetime PAs against Minor, Cruz is 7-for-12 with three doubles and two home runs. Cruz has produced a whopping 99.7 mph avg. exit velocity in batted balls against Minor, leading to a ridiculous 1.155 xSLG.

If Cruz can’t cash his bases against Minor, which I find unlikely, he’ll still have a chance against an underwhelming Reds bullpen. The Reds have posted the second-highest reliever wOBA allowed in MLB this season (.335), and Cruz has picked up 10 total bases in his last three games against the Reds.

Pick: Over 1.5 TBs (+100)

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