Best MLB player prop bets for today, 9/26: Broken Steele in Atlanta
The final week of regular season baseball is underway, and there should be no shortage of entertainment in the final stretch. With several tightly contested battles for playoff positioning left to sort out, numerous games per day are set to have massive implications on who makes the postseason, and the seeding of those participants. One of today’s most attractive games from a viewership perspective is the Cubs at Braves game, and we have a prop bet for that matchup on Chicago’s ace Justin Steele. Let’s dive in, and make sure to check out all of our MLB predictions for today.
Justin Steele (CHC) over 5.5 hits allowed (-120)
Odds available BetMGM sportsbook at time of initial post to Twitter. Playable to -135 odds.
Justin Steele is one of baseball’s best starting pitchers, but today I will be betting against him in a specific way, attacking his hits allowed market. The left-hander is more than capable of pitching well in any given matchup, but his opponent today happens to be the most lethal lineup of my lifetime. The 2023 Atlanta Braves have truly been on another level all season long, posting a league-best 124 wRC+ regardless of handedness faced. They have fared well against both right-handers and left-handers, pacing the league across most statistical categories vs either handedness. Steele faced off against this daunting lineup earlier this season, allowing 8 hits despite surprisingly poor command in that start. On the season, the lefty ranks 93rd percentile with his 5.0% BB%, but he did allow 4 walks in the first matchup against Atlanta, a season worse mark. The 4 walks and his 7 strikeouts ate into his pitch count, but the Braves were still able to record those 8 hits against him before his exit thanks to their elite talent.
Each of the first 3 Braves to bat recorded a hit in the first inning against Patrick Corbin 4 days ago, the last left-handed starter they faced. Atlanta scored 5 runs off him before a surprisingly short leash landed him with only 5 hits allowed, falling one short of the required 6th hit. Still, Atanta has 6 or more hits recorded against 13 of the last 21 southpaw starters they have faced, and a short leash is not something we need to worry about with Steele. The Cub’s ace has averaged 96.5 pitches and a shade under 25 batters per start across his last 12 outings, pitching 6 full innings or more in 10 of those starts. With their playoffs hopes within reach, I expect another lengthy workload from their main guy. In Steele’s last 14 starts, he has surrendered 6 or more hits 12 times, including 6 games with 7 or more. I mentioned his low walk rate, but his overall strike rate is the 7th highest mark among qualified pitchers this season while he gets ahead with first pitch strikes at the 24th highest rate. With how much he lives in the zone, and with his 24.0% whiff rate sitting just 35th percentile, Steele allows a ton of balls in play which is exactly what we want.
The Braves have 305 PA against left-handed pitching in the last 30 days while recording a hard-hit ball on 40.3% of those PA, the 2nd highest mark in that sample. Their overall contact rate across that 30-day span regardless of handedness faced is the 12th highest, and with the quality of contact being made that is a strong recipe for hits. Steele is a bit of a unicorn with his ability to dominate using 2 pitches as a starter. His 4-seam fastball and slider make up 96.5% of the pitches he has thrown this year, but the Braves match up very well against both of those offerings. Against both left-handed 4-seamers and sliders they sit 7th in AVG and 7th in wOBA, and if Steele isn’t sharp with his location in the zone Atlanta is likely to make him pay.
Check out our expert’s MLB best bet for today!
Seth Lugo (SD) over 16.5 outs recorded (-125)
Odds available at BetMGM sportsbook at time of initial post to Twitter. Playable to -135 odds.
Seth Lugo is not someone I have bet on very much this season, but the converted reliever has had a very productive season for the Padres in what has been an otherwise disappointing year as a team. The now 33-year-old made a combined 108 relief appearances in the last 2 seasons for the Mets, but San Diego convinced him that a starting role was worth another shot. Lugo had been a starter at the beginning of his career, producing decent results, but with the Mets starting pitching depth at the time his role was a bit diminished. This season the right-hander has posted a 3.79 ERA and 3.90 FIP across 137.2 innings of work, the most of his MLB career. While already having reached a career-high workload is not ideal for a workload-related prop bet in most cases, Lugo is not a young prospect, and his body has held up in recent outings. The veteran has thrown 89, 90, 95, and 99 pitches in his last 4 outings, facing between 22 and 26 batters in each of those starts.
In Lugo’s first start in the month of August, he registered the worst start of his season, allowing 8 earned runs in only 3.1 innings of work against an admittedly potent Dodgers offense. At the time of that game, I actually saw that matchup as a poor spot for Lugo and wrote up the game total over for that matchup’s game preview. Since the poor start, Lugo bounced back with a decent 5-inning outing against the Diamondbacks, allowing 2 earned runs across 87 pitches. He was then tasked with a tough repeat matchup against that same opponent but topped his first performance with 6 innings of shutout ball. That start began a stretch of fantastic baseball for the right-hander that is still ongoing. Including that 6-inning game vs Arizona, Lugo’s last 7 starts have seen 6 or more innings of work completed 6 times. The one under was a tough spot against Houston, but one of his overs in that stretch was against his opponent tonight, the Giants.
San Francisco has seen their playoff hopes dry up recently with losses in 8 of their last 11 contests when they needed to win the most. Their lack of starting pitching depth has had an ill-effect on the team as a whole, but their inconsistent lineup has been another glaring issue with the team. They have been entirely too reliant on the home run ball for production, and as the team with the fewest stolen bases in baseball their diversification is limited. The Giants rank 21st in wOBA and 26th in AVG against right-handed pitching across the last 30 days of play, including getting shutout by Lugo and company on the 3rd of this month. Lugo contributed 6 of those scoreless frames, doing so with only 3 hits and 1 walk allowed across 89 pitches, leaving room for error.
The veteran also pitched well against San Francisco earlier this season. Lugo was limited to only 66 pitches across 18 batters faced in that start given it was his first MLB action in over a month following an IL stint. He still carved them up, allowing only 1 run across that sample of work. His wide array of pitches makes him difficult to sit on, as he is more than willing to utilize 6 pitches in any given outing. The 4-seam fastball, curveball, and sinker are his main 3 pitches, however, and will be crucial to his success tonight. Against that trio of offerings from right-handers this season the Giants rank 23rd in AVG, 22nd in wOBA, and 20th in K%. Active Giants have 56 combined PA against Lugo all time, producing a paltry .528 OPS.
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