Best MLB prop bets for today 6/1: Framber Valdez delivers quality start

Houston Astros starting pitcher Framber Valdez (59) reacts after the final out of the third inning against the Seattle Mariners in game two of the ALDS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Minute Maid Park.
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June is finally here, and we are looking to start the month off right with a couple intriguing plus-money player prop bets. Today’s article focuses in on two established MLB veteran southpaws, as we are looking to back Framber Valdez and Chris Sale this afternoon. Let’s dive in!

Framber Valdez (HOU) over 17.5 outs recorded (+104)

Odds available at FanDuel sportsbook at time of initial post to Twitter. Playable to -125 odds. Risking 1u.

It has been a bit of a rocky start to the 2024 season for both the Houston Astros and their ace Framber Valdez. Framber has been one of the steadier arms in the sport across the past few seasons, and his proven track record of success earns the benefit of the doubt in my eyes. His season began with 6 walks against the Yankees, but he then followed that up with 7.2 shutout innings against Toronto. An IL stint halted his momentum as he missed nearly 4 weeks of action before returning for 5 innings across 71 pitches against the Rockies. His 4th start of the year was a poor one against Seattle, lasting only 5.1 innings against a team he has struggled with historically. Among his last 4 starts, however, 3 have been very strong including 7 inning outings against both Detroit and Oakland, and 6 innings against that same Mariners lineup in his last start.

Framber struggled in the first inning of his last start, allowing 4 hits and 3 earned runs, but he bounced back nicely with 5 shutout innings allowing just 2 hits to close that outing. Houston left him in the game to face 27 batters across 96 pitches despite his shaky start, and it is clear that he is now fully stretched out. When successful, Valdez generates a ton of ground balls with his sinker-heavy approach. His current GB% of 68.3% is 100th percentile in MLB and even higher than his 2022 mark of 67.4%. He draws a matchup today against a Twins lineup that is competent but can certainly be attacked in this market. Daniel Lynch and Cole Ragans just fell short of this mark with 5 innings of work each, but each of the previous 5 southpaws to face the Twins reached at least 18 outs recorded. This includes shaky arms like Patrick Corbin, Mitchell Parker, Logan Allen, and even 8 full innings from Yusei Kikuchi.

With only 9 walks allowed across his last 43 innings of work, Valdez seems to have dialed in a bit better with his command. Across the last 30 days of play the Twins have just a 3.7% BB%, the lowest mark in MLB, and their 20.6% strikeout rate is the 11th lowest mark in that sample. This combination is leading to quick plate appearances and the ability for opposing starters to work deeper into games. Framber already averages just 3.59 pitches per plate appearance on the season, the 6th lowest mark among 129 qualified pitchers this year. Valdez is on only 4 days of rest between starts after 6 days before his last outing, and that is my largest concern for this wager, but there is still more than enough value here for a wager in my opinion.

Chris Sale (ATL) over 18.5 outs recorded (+145)

Odds available at DraftKings sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to +110 odds. Risking 1u.

While we are asking for just 6 innings from Framber Valdez today, I am looking for Chris Sale to enter into the 7th inning in his matchup against Oakland to cash us out. It may seem like a tall ask to complete 19 or more outs recorded, but for someone in as good of form as Sale is, I feel like we are getting a steal at this price in this matchup. Sale has a reputation for being fragile with a vast injury history that has limited his workload for several seasons. An offseason trade from Boston to Atlanta seems to have rejuvenated the elite talent, however, and so far this season Sale has been absolutely dominant. The left-hander ranks 84th percentile or better in xBA, average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, barrel rate, walk rate, chase rate, and strikeout rate. Sale is an elite strikeout artist, recording 7 or more punch outs in 8 of 10 starts and 8 or more in each of his last 5. Most strikeout pitchers struggle with efficiency which can limit their ability to work deep into games, but Sale’s 3.89 P/PA is a league average mark. Combined with his heavy workload of 96 pitches per start, he has the makeup of a true workhorse when healthy.

Sale has recorded 7 or more complete innings of work in 6 of his last 8 starts made, still pitching well in his 2 misses with only 1 combined earned run against the Mariners and Red Sox. His 3.6% BB% and 49.4% GB% are both marks of efficiency as he limits free passes well and can eliminate them with potential double play balls when they do reach base. Sale draws a very advantageous matchup today against the Athletics. Across the last 30 days against southpaw pitching Oakland ranks 22nd in wOBA, 22nd in hard-hit rate, 19th in BB%, have the 9th highest GB% and a 90 wRC+. They have faced 10 left-handed starting pitchers since April 22nd, and 6 of those 10 arms have pitched into the 7th inning or deeper. This includes arms such as Austin Gomber and Cole Irvin. Even Andrew Heaney recorded 6 complete frames in this matchup. The Oakland lineup will generally be unfamiliar with Sale’s stuff, having combined for only 18 PA against him. In those 18 PA they have just 1 hit and 8 strikeouts. Look for Sale to remain dominant in a plus matchup today.

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