Monday’s best MLB player prop hails from the opening game of a set between the Houston Astros (20-14) and the Kanas City Royals (12-23).
Astos ace Gerrit Cole takes the mound for the home team, looking to improve on his surprisingly poor 2-4 record in 2019 so far. I say surprising because he’s been completely in the strikeout department, leading the league in that category through the early part of the season. A big part of that record is run support — despite the highest batting average in MLB (.271) and the second-highest slugging % (.478) – Houston ranks just 15th in runs scored.
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Let’s jump into tonight’s play.
Astros RHP Gerrit Cole
Over 8.5 Ks (-114)
Run support may be an issue for Cole’s record, but it’s not affecting his maestro-like performance when it comes to making batters miss. As mentioned, he leads all pitchers in total Ks with 65, three more than the next-closest pitcher. He also:
- Leads MLB in K/IP with 1.50, well ahead of fellow aces Carlos Carrasco and James Paxton
- Leads MLB in K/game with 9.29 per appearance
- Is 7th in total strikes thrown with 471, despite pitching just the 17th-most innings
In short, when he’s not walking people – his 15 base on balls ranks just 69th among starters – Cole’s been borderline unhittable. With K totals of 10, 9, 6, 11, 8, 10, and 11 in his seven starts in 2019, this 8.5 number is probably half-a-K too low.
Over his last 20 starts, Cole has struck out an incredible 34.6 percent of the batters he’s faced.
Matchups & Misc
Tonight’s opponent is not one that should inspire fear in the hearts of the Cole over bettors.
While Kansas City does have the 10th-lowest K/9 rate in the league (8.63), they’re not a good-hitting club, ranking 17th in batting average (.244), 19th in on-base percentage (.318), and 18th in runs per game (4.69).
They’re hitting just .230 against Cole in their last 26 at-bats, while striking out 25 percent of the time, right in line with their 24% kRate vs right-hand pitchers on the season.
Further strengthening our cause is that his home-town Minute Maid park ranks as the most pitcher-friendly environment in MLB this season, and the Astros are a massive -289 favorite in this one.
I wouldn’t want to play this if it moves to 9Ks, but this-this 8.5 number, I’d pay the vig up to -130.