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MLB Props | Home Run Odds, Picks For Friday’s Playoff Games, Including Teoscar Hernandez, Eduardo Escobar

MLB Props | Home Run Odds, Picks For Friday’s Playoff Games, Including Teoscar Hernandez, Eduardo Escobar article feature image
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Pictured: Eduardo Escobar. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

The MLB playoffs begin Friday with a quadruple-header of games beginning with the Rays vs. Guardians at 12:07 p.m. ET and concluding with the Padres vs. Mets at 8:07 p.m. ET.

If you’ve followed along during the regular season, then you know my process for finding optimal home run selections for the popular “Dinger Tuesday” promotion at FanDuel. I use barrel rates, max exit velocities, price comparisons and pitcher matchups to find the optimal home run picks.

Looking to bet HR props this weekend?

Top 10 barrel rates since Aug. 1 (min 50 batted balls) amongst players hitting this weekend:

1. T. Hernandez
2. Ji-Man Choi
3. J. Kelenic
4. K. Schwarber
5. C. Raleigh
6. E, Suarez
7. J.T. Realmuto
8. A. Pujols
9. L. Nootbaar
10. T. Nido

— Anthony Dabbundo, Aaron Nola enjoyer (@AnthonyDabbundo) October 6, 2022

Pitching is superior in the playoffs and we’re likely to see only the best pitchers for every team in Game 1 of the Wild Card Round. With that being said, some players remain undervalued to homer across Friday’s slate.

Here’s a look at my favorite home run prop selection for each of the four games.

Note: All of these are +550 or longer and thus have an implied probability of less than 16%.

MLB Home Run Props For Friday

Rays at Guardians, 12:07 p.m. ET

Shane McClanahan vs. Shane Bieber 

Pick: Ji-Man Choi +750 at DraftKings

Ji-Man Choi has been red-hot over the past two weeks and is a prime breakout candidate for a lackluster Tampa Bay offense. Choi slashed .346/.452/.615 in the final 14 days of the regular season. Among all hitters playing this week, Choi ranks second in barrel rate since August 1.

Choi has barreled 11 of his 62 batted ball events since August began. Even though his numbers haven’t popped off of the screen this season, Choi has posted a career-best barrel rate and has maintained his max exit velocity.

Rays manager Kevin Cash loves to play matchups, but the Guardians don’t really have many left-handers in the bullpen that they are likely to use in this game. Sam Hentges is the only lefty in the bullpen who would be trusted in a high-leverage spot.

Choi is likely to get two looks against Shane Bieber, who doesn’t have the overpowering stuff he once did, even though his numbers were excellent this season.

Runs will be hard to come by in this game and there are other intriguing options in Oscar Gonzalez and Randy Arozarena, but neither is barreling the ball as well as Choi right now.

Phillies at Cardinals, 2:07 p.m. 

Zack Wheeler vs. José Quintana

Pick: J.T. Realmuto +700 at DraftKings

J.T. Realmuto also finds himself in the top 10 in all of baseball in barrel rate since August. Realmuto’s second-half surge should earn him some MVP votes given his catching and production at the plate. The Phillies and Cardinals played seven games against one another in July. After that series, Realmuto had a .240/.313/.371 slash line. Since then, Realmuto has a .317/.376/.608 line.

He gets a favorable matchup with the lefty in this game and because of his likely batting order position behind Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper, he could potentially face a lefty in the later innings too.

Realmuto has homered off of Quintana before in nine career at-bats against the southpaw. Schwarber isn’t ever a bad bet given the tear he’s been on, but he’s likely to get just one or two at-bats against a righty — and there’s a decent chance one of those at-bats is against Ryan Helsley.

Mariners at Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m. ET

Luis Castillo vs. Alek Manoah

Pick: Teoscar Hernandez +600 at DraftKings

Teoscar Hernandez’s slugging percentage is 54 points higher at home than it is on the road. Since August 1, no player hitting this weekend has a higher barrel rate. Hernandez finished his season strong in September and October following a poor August. He will swing and miss plenty and also chase, but he has six homers in the past month and is prone to being a very streaky hitter.

From a ballpark perspective, the Rogers Centre is the most friendly home run hitting environment this weekend. This is the game to expect more home runs because of the strength of the Blue Jays’ offense. Seattle isn’t a slouch either, as the Mariners have three hitters on my top 10 barrel list, which is posted above.

Luis Castillo has a career average HR/9 rate of 1.08 and that’s three-tenths higher than Blue Jays’ ace Alek Manoah.

Padres at Mets, 8:07 p.m. ET

Yu Darvish vs. Max Scherzer

Pick: Eduardo Escobar +550 at DK

The Mets opted not to start Jacob deGrom here in an attempt to potentially save him for the NLDS if the Mets are able to sweep the Padres. The Mets still have the pitching advantage from a home run perspective. Yu Darvish has been incredible in the past month, but his HR/9 is solidly higher than Max Scherzer’s.

Eduardo Escobar has been the Mets best hitter in September and has the added versatility of being a switch hitter. Even though Escobar has better season-long numbers against lefties, he’s more than capable of homering from either side of the plate. Escobar’s career splits are also closer to neutral, so I don’t read quite as much into the single-season splits variance.

The Padres do have a potential Josh Hader matchup in the back-end of the bullpen, but I don’t worry about Escobar getting pinch hit for because he can hit right-handed. Darvish has a 9% barrel rate allowed and a career 1.13 HR/9 allowed.

That’s more than a full tenth per nine higher than Scherzer at 1.01 per 9.

Escobar had a 14.3% barrel rate on 83 batted balls since September 1 and that’s enough for me to take a shot on him.

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