We knew there was something strange about Thursday’s MLB player props. The projections looked good for Edmundo Sosa, Jake Cave and Alec Bohm to each get a hit for the Philadelphia Phillies – except the man they were facing was Seattle Mariners emerging ace George Kirby. Sosa and Bohm went 0-for-3 apiece; Cave didn’t play in Philadelphia’s 1-0 victory.
Good thing we didn’t call any of these props a 5-star deadbolt lock. It’s important not to sweat the results too much when you’re making baseball picks, but after this latest gem by Kirby, we’re going to stick with conservative bet sizes for Friday’s 3-pack of MLB props.
We’re still going to fade the Mariners, though. They’re visiting the Toronto Blue Jays this Friday, and our game plan is pretty much the same: Hammer the bottom of the batting order for value.
- Whit Merrifield Over 0.5 Hits (-167)
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Over 0.5 Home Runs (+550)
- Brandon Belt Over 0.5 Hits (-128)
Friday, April 28, 2023 – 07:07 PM EDT at Rogers Centre
Whit Merrifield is our top candidate in the 7-hole, priced at -167 MLB odds to get a hit as we go to press.
Brandon Belt (-128) is also in our hit parade, usually batting sixth for Toronto but sometimes lower; our lone outlier is No. 3 hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr., except we’re putting him in our MLB picks at +550 to hit a home run.
Who’s Starting for Seattle?
Not Kirby, thankfully, although Luis Castillo (2.93 xFIP in 29.2 innings) is no slouch. Castillo has been brilliant for the Mariners ever since they acquired him from the Cincinnati Reds ahead of last year’s trade deadline.
Castillo has also fared well versus current Toronto batters, holding them to a combined 13-for-64 (.203 BA) with a tiny .477 OPS. It doesn’t look good for any of our heroes:
- Merrifield: 3-for-11 (.273)
- Guerrero: 0-for-6
- Belt: 0-for-9
This is why we’re limiting our recommended bet sizes again. It’s not that we’re lacking confidence in the projections served up at FantasyData – their numbers seem reasonable – but we’re less confident in how some of our other sources in the quant division are translating those numbers into betting edges.
What Do the Projections Say?
Here’s what FantasyData has lined up for each of our three contestants:
- Merrifield: nothing (Cavan Biggio projected to start at 2B)
- Guerrero: 0.16 home runs
- Belt: 0.78 hits
Well, that’s not ideal. FantasyData doesn’t necessarily get these things right; they had Sosa sitting out Thursday’s game for Philadelphia, but it was Cave getting the day off instead.
Other projections we’re looking at have Merrifield (.313 BA) more likely than Belt (.189 BA) to cash in at around 0.9 hits, which makes sense given the MLB odds at press time.
Guerrero (five HR in 25 games) being tabbed for one-sixth of a home run is a bit harder to translate to an edge, although that +550 payout is definitely enticing.
Playing in Toronto should help; Rogers Centre has a park factor of 105 for dingers according to Baseball Savant, and that’s dating all the way back to 2021, so the recent homer-friendly renovations should help even more.
How’s the Weather in Toronto?
Not great. It’s raining in the T-Dot right now, and should continue raining for the next several days, but that’s just fine for our purposes – it means the retractable roof at the former SkyDome will be closed.
The Mariners are also coming in from Philadelphia on zero days of rest, and they have to cross the border, so even though this is baseball and not a more physically demanding sport, these players will still be a bit tired, and perhaps prone to errors that can help us get paid.
That doesn’t include Seattle’s bullpen, though. Kirby went the full eight innings for the Mariners during Thursday’s game, with Philadelphia not required to bat in the ninth. Any kind of complete game is a rarity these days, even if it was eight innings, so that’s another reason to temper our expectations and our bet sizes for Friday’s MLB props.
These are still the props we’re looking for. The Blue Jays are a tremendous hitting club overall, ranking sixth on the FanGraphs WAR charts; each of our three hopefuls is surrounded by quality talent in the batting order, so there shouldn’t be any “pitching around” them and issuing any free passes that would spoil our picks. Bet accordingly.
MLB Pick: Whit Merrifield Over 0.5 Hits (-167) at BetMGM
MLB Pick: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Over 0.5 Home Runs (+550) at Bet365
MLB Pick: Brandon Belt Over 0.5 Hits (-128) at BetMGM