MLB Player Props Picks: Fading José Quintana & Chris Flexen (Monday, May 9)

MLB Player Props Picks: Fading José Quintana & Chris Flexen (Monday, May 9) article feature image

Alika Jenner/Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Flexen.

  • There's plenty of action on Monday's MLB slate, which means there are plenty of player props we can bet.
  • We see value on two unders on Monday, including José Quintana and Chris Flexen.
  • Check out Tanner McGrath's full breakdown for both picks below.

After a rough start to the season, Action Network's player props team hit on nine of the 12 props played last week. Slowly but surely, the team will make its way back to .500 with a positive ROI.

Today, I'm looking to fade two arms that pitch to contact and may be overvalued in the betting market.

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.

José Quintana Under 4.5 Strikeouts (-167)

Dodgers @ Pirates
First Pitch6:35 p.m. ET
Best LineBetRivers

Two weeks ago, José Quintana took the mound against a division rival in the Brewers and struck out nine over five one-run innings. It was a rather masterful performance, as he managed strikeouts on four different pitches with five coming on his four-seam fastball.

But that's a Milwaukee problem. Outside of that start, Quintana has tossed 19 innings and struck out just 11 batters. That's good for an abysmally low 5.2 K/9 rate, and projections have him keeping that number well under eight.

In those other four starts, Quintana stayed under three strikeouts each time despite never throwing fewer than four innings.

And we somehow expect the southpaw to wrangle the mighty Dodgers?

The Dodgers are 19-7 on the strength of a lineup that's third in whiff rate (23.6%). Their numbers faulter against a lefty — and it might be worth looking toward Pittsburgh's ML at better than +200 — but expecting Quintana to rally five strikeouts in this spot is ludicrous.

Quintana is recording most of his strikeouts on that four-seam fastball. But it barely hits 91 MPH on the gun and ranks in the bottom 10% of four-seamers in spin rate. There's no life to it; the Brewers' lineup is just poor.

Quintana has actually been pitching well. But as many aging pitchers do, he's been pitching more to contact. He's kept his average exit velocity low (86.6 MPH), and his numbers sit in the mid-3.00s (ERA, xERA, FIP, xFIP).

But I don't see him recording the strikeout numbers here. In 127 lifetime PAs against this Dodger lineup, he's managed a strikeout rate under 20% and a whiff rate under 17%. Meanwhile, he's walked 18 batters (14.2 BB%).

Our Action Labs Projections have Quintana at just 3.9 Ks today, while FanGraphs SaberSim projections mark him for a measly 3.01 strikeouts.

I love this play.

Pick: Under 4.5 Ks (-167)

Action Labs Grade: 7/10

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Chris Flexen Under 4.5 Strikeouts (-160)

Phillies @ Mariners
First Pitch9:40 p.m. ET
Best LineDraftKings

It sure was a fun year for Chris Flexen in 2021, as he tossed nearly 180 innings for an up-and-coming Seattle team while keeping his ERA in the mid-3.00s.

This season, things aren't so nice.

The Mariners are 1-4 in Flexen's five starts. He's managed almost 30 innings, which is solid, but his xERA sits over 5.00 and his xFIP comes in over 4.50. And he's striking out just 5.28 batters per nine so far, a number he only bested in 2018 with the Mets (4.26 over only 6 1/3 innings).

As a result, Flexen has struck out five batters in just one of those four starts. He managed to sneak pitches by five Royals, with four coming on a four-seam and cutter mix but otherwise has struck out 12 batters in 22 innings.

Flexen's velocity is down on every pitch. As a result, his whiff rate is way down, ranking below the 15th percentile among qualified pitchers. His chase rate is up slightly, but Flexen isn't the kind of pitcher to make hitters chase.

Image Credit: Baseball Savant.

I'll happily take my chances with this Phillies offense today. Against righties, the Phillies are 18th in strikeout rate (21.9%) and 12th in wRC++ (106). Philadelphia's offense has also been better on the road (113 wRC+), while Flexen has foundered in his home stadium.

Both our Action Labs Projections and FanGraphs SaberSim projections mark Flexen for just 3.9 strikeouts today. I'll happily play the under.

Pick: Under 4.5 Ks (-160)

Action Labs Grade: 7/10

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