MLB Player Prop Picks: How to Bet Gunnar Henderson, Taj Bradley, Alek Manoah
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Taj Bradley (Rays)
On Tuesday, a pair of NL West-AL East matchups have my attention.
Last night in Baltimore, the Dodgers snapped the Orioles' eight-game winning streak with a 6-4 victory. Gunnar Henderson will look to help the Orioles start a new start streak tonight.
In Toronto, the Blue Jays will host the Padres for the first duel of a three-game series. Alek Manoah will get the start for the Jays in his second outing since being recalled from the minors. He may have a bit more trouble with the Padres.
In Texas, the Rays and Rangers will continue their series after Texas rallied for a 3-2 victory last night. Taj Bradley will get the start for the Rays tonight, and the Rangers will look to get to him again.
MLB Player Props For Tuesday, July 18
Gunnar Henderson Over 1.5 Total Bases (+100)
|Dodgers vs. Orioles|
|First Pitch||7:05 p.m. ET|
Henderson was one of the game's top prospects entering this season. He struggled mightily to begin the year, but lately, he's reminded us why he was so highly regarded.
Since June 1, he's hitting .299 with nine home runs and 26 runs batted in. He has a hit in five of his last six games, including a triple last night to give him three total bases.
Henderson has been a hot hitter of late, but tonight is all about his matchup against another rookie in Dodgers right-hander Michael Grove. Against right-handed pitchers, Henderson is slashing .257/.336/.532 with 11 doubles and four triples. He has a .248 isolated power and all 14 of his home runs are against righties this season.
Meanwhile, Grove has allowed left-handed batters to hit .345 with a 1.016 OPS and four home runs, among 11 extra-base hits. He has a 6.89 ERA this season that jumps to 11.15 ERA on the road.
Henderson's batting average (.260) and OPS (.829) are both higher at home. He's also hit this line at a 20% higher rate in Baltimore.
This is a matchup where the splits decidedly favor Henderson. The Dodgers may try to negate that by using an opener and then bringing in Grove, like they've done a couple of times when he was scheduled to start.
Henderson led off last night, but the Orioles have deployed him all over the lineup this season.
Either way, he should get at least two plate appearances against Grove and likely another two against a Dodgers bullpen that's been inconsistent.
That should help him get two total bases tonight.
Pick: Gunnar Henderson Over 1.5 Total Bases
Alek Manoah Over 2.5 Walks (-115)
|Padres vs. Blue Jays|
|First Pitch||7:07 p.m. ET|
Last year, Manoah was an All-Star for the first time and finished third in the Cy Young voting. However, in 2023, he's been a shell of that pitcher.
As a result, the Blue Jays sent him to the minors to get things worked out. The results were mixed, as he had one horrific start (11 earned runs allowed) and one solid start (one earned run allowed).
The one thing that was consistent about those starts was that Manoah walked five batters in 7 2/3 innings. In fact, that's been consistent about Manoah all season. Manoah has walked 13.8% of the batters he's faced, which ranks in the fourth percentile of MLB pitchers.
He didn't walk a batter and struck out eight in six innings in his return to the majors against the Tigers, which was a strategic confidence-building start by the Blue Jays just before the break.
However, I'm going to need more than one start against a bad Tigers offense to be convinced that Manoah has righted the ship.
Tonight, he faces the Padres, who walk at the highest rate (11.5) in MLB. They're led by Juan Soto, who's walked 86 times in 94 games this season. I considered taking Soto to walk individually, but his line is at 1.5 (+160), which is a bit of a risk considering he may only have four plate appearances.
Additionally, if Manoah struggles again, he'll likely walk more batters than just Soto. He's averaged three walks per start this season. He's gone over this line in eight of 14 starts this season, walking four in seven of them.
However, three is the magic number for us tonight.
Pick: Alek Manoah Over 2.5 Walks
Taj Bradley Over 2.5 Earned Runs (-125)
|Rays vs. Rangers|
|First Pitch||8:10 p.m. ET|
With 80 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings this season, Bradley has already flashed that he has elite stuff in the big leagues.
He also had a 3.60 ERA through his first seven starts.
However, it was a start against the Rangers that began the rough patch he's been in over the past month.
Bradley allowed five runs (four earned) in 3 2/3 innings against the Rangers on June 10 in Tampa. Since then, he's allowed three earned runs in four of his last six starts, including each of the last three.
His ERA has ballooned to 5.43 as a result.
Bradley has struggled keeping the ball in the park of late, as he's allowed a home run in each of his past four starts and seven in total. He has a 8.35 ERA in that span.
Statcast deems Bradley as a bit unlucky, as he has a 4.04 xERA this season. However, he also ranks in the sixth percentile in average exit velocity and 12th percentile in hard-hit percentage.
That could spell trouble against a deep Rangers lineup. The Rangers lead the majors in runs and batting average and rank sixth in home runs.
Walks doomed Bradley in his last start against the Rangers. A couple of walks — combined with the Rangers' ability to string hits together — could lead to one big inning.
That may be all it takes for Bradley to give up three runs tonight.