Best MLB player prop bet for today, 10/24: Bryce Harper keeps walking
MLB bettors can expect an intense game in Philadelphia tonight as the Arizona Diamondbacks have tied the Phillies at 3 wins apiece in this best-of-7 series to decide the National League champions. Philadelphia is known for its intense home crowd, and we will surely see a rowdy group in the stands tonight for Game 7 of the NLCS. While there aren’t a ton of betting angles that I am personally fond of in tonight’s game, there is one play I see value in, and it is a spot we have attacked numerous times this postseason. Our MLB props handicappers are on an INSANE 21-4 run in the postseason, so let’s look to cash another MLB prop bet! Let’s dive in.
Bryce Harper (PHI) over 0.5 walks (+100) (to win 0.5u)
Odds available at BetMGM sportsbook at time of initial post to Twitter. Playable to -125 odds.
The Arizona Diamondbacks kept their season alive with yesterday’s 5-1 victory over the Phillies in Philadelphia. Merrill Kelly, despite walking 3 batters, pitched very effectively for Arizona while their bullpen stepped up and tossed 4 scoreless frames in relief. Tonight, they will turn to rookie right-hander Brandon Pfaadt for his 2nd start of this series and his 4th start of this playoff run. The Game 3 matchup was on the 19th, giving Pfaadt 4 days of rest in between starts. Despite pitching extremely effectively this month, and especially in his start against the Phillies, the team’s top pitching prospect has been kept on a short leash with their caution in sending him out to the mound for the 3rd time through the order. His 67 pitches against the Brewers came in his worst start of the 3 outings, but despite throwing 10 scoreless innings in his last 2 starts against the Dodgers and the Phillies, he was still held to 42 and 70 pitches. We likely don’t see Pfaadt for more than 15-18 batters in Game 7, and as a result, the Phillies batters should get multiple looks.
Pfaadt has generally had good command of the strike zone, ranking in the 82nd percentile with just a 6.2% BB% in the regular season. That being said, the rookie is stepping into an imposing environment in a Game 7 matchup against a team that has just seen his stuff. This is a tough spot to be in for any arm, let alone a rookie who has had his share of struggles despite recently pitching better. Against left-handed batters this season, Pfaadt saw his walk rate spike to 8.2% compared to only 4.4% against batters of his same-handedness. Bryce Harper, a lefty, is the most dangerous batter in what is a potent Phillies lineup overall. Philadelphia has numerous high-paying contracts in their lineup with young guys like Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott waiting for their paydays. Harper has already been paid and has certainly lived up to the billing with his postseason production across the last 2 seasons.
This year alone in the playoffs, the converted first baseman has accrued a 1.201 OPS thanks to 5 home runs and 13 walks through only 51 PA. Those 13 walks have been the result of concerted efforts from opposing pitching staffs to avoid giving him numerous pitches to hit within a plate appearance. Harper is an aggressive swinger who has posted the 2 highest swing rates of his career in the last 2 seasons, yet he is still disciplined enough to rank among the league leaders in walks. This season he drew 80 regular season walks, ranking 96th percentile with his 14.7% clip. Among those 80 walks, 29 came in his final 32 regular-season games as he began to really focus on hunting the pitches he wanted.
In the playoffs, Harper has had at least 1 walk in 9 of 12 games, including 5 of the 6 games in this series against Arizona. The Diamondbacks were also cautious with Harper in the regular season, walking him at least once in 6 of those 7 matchups. Game 5 was the only time in this series that Harper failed to record a 4th ball, but he still saw 3 separate 3-ball counts in that game, including a 3-0 count he swung at. Nobody was on base for that 3-0 pitch and he received a meatball down the heart of the plate that he decided was worthy of a swing. Still, Harper saw only 7 of 18 pitches inside the zone, and he did damage on those offerings with a home run and a single. In Game 6, Harper saw another first-inning walk with a runner on base ahead of him. A Game 7 environment in Philadelphia is not the time to pitch to Bryce Harper, in my opinion, and we could even see an intentional walk in a crucial moment.
Be sure to read our full Arizona Diamondbacks vs Philadelphia Phillies predictions