MLB Player Props Thursday | Justin Verlander, Ronald Acuna Jr., Grayson Rodriguez (May 4)
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images. Pictured: Ronald Acuna Jr.
Future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander makes his Mets debut in a very familiar place on Thursday at Comerica Park.
Verlander spent the first 12 years of his career in Detroit with the Tigers. After losing both ends of the doubleheader on Wednesday, Verlander will be looking to help his Mets salvage the series finale.
In Kansas City, the Orioles and Royals have split the first two games of their three-game series. The Orioles give young phenom Grayson Rodriguez the ball as they go for the series win.
Last week, the Braves took three of four from the Marlins in Atlanta. The Marlins used a five-run ninth inning in the final game of the series to avoid the sweep.
However, the Braves have picked up right where they left off, outscoring the Marlins 20-6 in the first two games of this series. Ronald Acuna Jr. has been one of the Braves’ biggest contributors, and he may be in a good spot to continue that.
MLB Player Props For Thursday, May 4
Justin Verlander Under 6.5 Strikeouts (-130)
|New York Mets vs. Detroit Tigers|
|First Pitch||1:10 p.m. ET|
Justin Verlander has been one of the great strikeout artists of his generation. With 3,198 strikeouts, Verlander ranks 13th in MLB history. He recorded 2,373 of those punchouts as a member of the Tigers. It is likely that Verlander goes over 3,200 against his former team. However, I don’t think he will to get 3,205 today.
I expect Verlander to be on a pitch count in his Mets debut. In his last rehab start, he threw 69 pitches in 4 2/3 innings. Even bumping Verlander up for this start, he likely does not surpass 80 pitches. That means Verlander will likely have to get seven strikeouts in four or five innings.
Verlander has the matchup to do so. The Tigers are striking out in 25.5% of their at-bats against right-handed pitchers, which ranks sixth in the Major Leagues. However, the Tigers bats have been hot, scoring four runs or more in five of their last six games. That includes 14 runs against the Mets in Wednesday’s doubleheader. Another former Tiger, Max Scherzer, had just three strikeouts in Game 2.
I am not confusing the Tigers offense with the Braves’ after a few good games. However, between the way they are swinging the bat and Verlander’s pitch count, I expect that they will keep him under seven strikeouts.
Pick: Justin Verlander Under 6.5 Strikeouts
Grayson Rodriguez Over 5.5 Strikeouts (-112)
|Baltimore Orioles vs. Kansas City Royals|
|First Pitch||2:10 p.m. ET|
Grayson Rodriguez is starting to get more comfortable in the big leagues. On Saturday, he picked up his first career win against the Tigers. He pitched five scoreless innings, allowed just two hits and struck out nine. It was Rodriguez’s fourth consecutive start with at least six strikeouts.
Now, Rodriguez gets a great matchup with the Royals. Kansas City ranks fourth in strikeout percentage (26%) against right-handed pitchers. Entering this series, Zac Gallen, Pablo Lopez, Bailey Ober and Sonny Gray all went over their strikeout props and each had at least six against Kansas City. Tyler Mahle’s line was 6.5, but he also struck out six Royals.
Rodriguez has not gone past the fifth inning in any of his starts. However, he has thrown at least 90 pitches in each of his last four starts. He could hit this line in five innings, but this also may be the start he works a little deeper into the game.
He will have the advantage of the Royals batters never facing him before. That could help him both with strikeouts and putting together another quality outing.
Pick: Grayson Rodriguez Over 5.5 Strikeouts (-112)
Ronald Acuna Jr. Over 1.5 Hits + Runs + RBI (-120)
|Atlanta Braves vs. Miami Marlins|
|First Pitch||4:10 p.m. ET|
Ronald Acuna Jr. is currently the betting favorite to win NL MVP. He is hitting .355 with six home runs, 14 stolen bases and 19 RBI; he also boasts a 1.039 OPS. He is third in the Majors in batting average and fifth in OPS.
Acuna has routinely crushed this number. He has hit this line in 24-of-31 games (77%), averaging 2.9 hits + runs + RBI per game. He is also averaging 2.5 against the the Marlins this season. Today’s line is at 1.5, which may be because Acuna is just 1-for-6 in his career against Marlins starter Jesus Luzardo. However, Acuna is hitting .313 against left-handers this season.
Luzardo has been this solid with a 3.48 ERA, but with the way the Braves hit lefties, Acuna may not face him more than twice. The Braves tagged Marlins lefty Braxton Garrett, who entered with a 2.45 ERA, for 11 runs on Wednesday.
Acuna’s three-run home run in the fifth ultimately chased Garrett from the game. He enters play on Thursday with a four-game hitting streak and hitting this line in his last four starts. I expect him to stay hot.
Pick: Ronald Acuna Jr. Over 1.5 Hits + Runs + RBI (-120)
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