MLB Player Props: Ryne Nelson Prop Pick for Thursday

MLB Player Props: Ryne Nelson Prop Pick for Thursday article feature image

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Ryne Nelson.

It is a big day for the Rangers organization as former No. 2 overall pick Jack Leiter will make his MLB debut on Thursday. He may be set up for success in his first start against the Tigers.

Rain is expected in Chicago as the Marlins visit the Cubs. However, if the game goes on as scheduled, bad weather may not be enough to cool down Michael Busch.

In the final game of the night, the Diamondbacks will head to San Francisco to face the Giants in an NL West battle. Ryne Nelson will get the ball for Arizona, and he may be able to provide innings for manager Torey Lovullo.

Let's get into my MLB player props for Thursday, April 18.

MLB Player Props: Ryne Nelson Prop Pick for Thursday

Thursday, Apr 18
9:45pm ET
Ryne Nelson Over 15.5 Outs (+100)

Ryne Nelson comes into today's start 1-2 with a 5.27 ERA.

However, he also boasts a 4.11 xERA, which suggests he may have been unlucky.

He's also done progressively better in each start. After going just 2 and 2/3 innings in his 2024 debut against the Yankees, he went five innings and allowed three runs against the Braves. I would consider that a quality start, considering the opponent.

He did record an official quality start in his last start against the Cardinals, pitching six innings, scattering seven hits, allowing one run, and striking out four.

Nelson pitched into the seventh inning in his two 2023 starts against the Giants, both of which came in San Francisco.

The Giants made some offseason additions to their lineup, adding Jorge Soler, Matt Chapman, and Jung Hoo Lee. Thus far, it has only resulted in a modest improvement, as they are still middle of the pack in most categories against right-handed pitching. Their walk rate is also down from fifth last season to 12th thus far this year.

Nelson has only walked one batter in his past two starts. If he limits his free passes, he may keep his pitch count in check, increasing our chances of cashing this prop.

Pick: Ryne Nelson Over 15.5 Outs (+100)

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Thursday, Apr 18
7:40pm ET
Michael Busch Over 0.5 Hits (-140)

Editor's Note: The Marlins-Cubs series opener scheduled for Thursday was postponed. 

Few hitters have had a better week than Cubs first baseman Michael Busch.

Beginning last Wednesday, Busch homered in five consecutive games, the longest streak by a Cub since 1900. Busch is tied for fourth in the MLB with six home runs thus far. He has a .317 and has a 1.067 OPS this season.

Busch's home run streak ended on Tuesday as he went 0-for-4 against the Diamondbacks.

I considered him on Tuesday, but at that point, he had not recorded a hit off a left-handed pitcher this season, and Arizona started southpaw Tommy Henry. Busch did pick up his first hit off a lefty yesterday and improved to 1-for-9 this season.

Today, I am backing him even though he's facing another left-hander.

A.J. Puk is transitioning to becoming a starter after years in the bullpen and has yet to complete five innings. Walks have played a factor, as he walked at least three batters in each of his first three starts. He's also allowed left-handers to go 3-for-9 (.333) with a home run.

Additionally, because of the weather, if the game starts but has to be delayed an hour or more, Puk likely won't return.

That would increase Busch's chances of facing a right-handed reliever, considering he's been hitting in the middle of right-handed hitters Christopher Morel, Garrett Cooper, and Nico Hoerner.

Additionally, 1-for-4 with a single would cash this line, which is favorable for a hitter as hot as Busch. He has recorded a hit in eight of his last 10 games, including two hits (+430) in four of his previous five.

In seven of those games, Busch has also recorded two total bases, and you can back him for two more at +180 on FanDuel.

Pick: Michael Busch Over 0.5 Hits

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Thursday, Apr 18
1:10pm ET
MLB Network
Jack Leiter Over 4.5 Strikeouts (-148)

Coming from a family of pitchers most famous for his father, Al, who pitched 19 years in the big leagues, it's unsurprising that Jack Leiter has also made it to the majors.

The Rangers selected Leiter in the first round of the 2021 MLB Entry Draft following a stellar 2021 Vanderbilt campaign, which featured a 2.13 ERA with 179 strikeouts (which tied the NCAA Division 1 record) in 110 innings.

Considered an advanced prospect, Leiter was projected as a candidate to quickly rise through the minors. However, in that 2021 season, he also walked 45 batters, and control issues followed him to the minors, where he walked 108 batters in 192 innings. Early returns suggest that may be a thing of the past, as he walked just three batters in 14 innings (including two starts) in the minors thus far. The strikeout stuff (highlighted by a mid-90s fastball) is still evident, as he also has 25 strikeouts, leading to his eventual call-up.

As always with rookies, particularly those making their first starts, my baseline expectation is for them to go five innings, meaning Leiter would need one strikeout per inning to hit this line, which has not been an issue for him at any level thus far.

He'll face a Tigers team that is averaging 9.5 strikeouts per game. Leiter's teammates, Jon Gray and Dane Dunning, each struck out five Tigers on Tuesday and Wednesday. Twins starters Pablo Lopez (seven), Joe Ryan (12) and Simeon Woods Richardson all posted at least five in Detroit's previous series as well.

If Leiter can control his jitters in his first start and keep his pitch in check, there is a clear path to him getting five strikeouts.

If he exceeds that, you can back him for seven strikeouts at +230 and up to nine strikeouts at +870 on FanDuel.

Pick: Jack Leiter Over 4.5 Strikeouts

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