Best MLB prop bets for today, 8/22: Tough matchup for Jesus Luzardo

Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jesus Luzardo (44) prepares to pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers during sixth inning at Dodger Stadium.
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Javan Shouey


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Today’s 15-game slate is highlighted by young arms taking the mound, with 6 rookies making a start including an MLB debut for the Giants’ Kyle Harrison. Those talented pitchers will ensure an entertaining slate from a viewership perspective, but in terms of betting value I will focus on more well-known commodities today. Let’s dive in!

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Jesus Luzardo (Marlins) over 4.5 hits allowed (-121)

Odds available at Caesars Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to -140.

Jesus Luzardo is a 25-year-old southpaw with a tremendous amount of raw talent, and to begin the season it appeared as though he had figured things out. The left-hander has posted a lower strikeout rate this season, but his 27.7% mark still ranks in the 80th percentile. He also cut down on his walks, allowing just a 7.1% BB% compared to 8.8% and 11.0% in the last two seasons. The combination of fewer strikeouts and fewer walks has naturally resulted in more balls in play, however, and Luzardo’s somewhat worrisome batted-ball profile is finally starting to catch up to him across his last 4 starts. On the season Luzardo has allowed career-worsts with his 42.7% hard-hit rate, .433 xSLG, and 11.0%-barrel rate all ranking in the 26th percentile or worse.

Across Luzardo’s last 4 starts his strikeout rate has fallen even further from last season’s mark at just 18.2%. His 89.5% zone contact rate allowed is 4.1% higher than his season average, and the contact he is allowing has been 95 mph or harder 2.1% more often during this span. Luzardo has allowed 30 hits across those 17 innings, with 7, 6, 9, and 8 hits allowed in his respective outings. His 9.09 FIP across those starts is not much better than his 10.59 ERA. On the season Luzardo has been worse when on the road, and when facing right-handed batters. Today he will be in San Diego with a large park behind him, and while that can limit home runs it can also lead to a higher probability of bloopers landing in play. He will likely see 6 or more right-handed batters in the order, and against RHB this season he has allowed a .269 average, .805 OPS, and .350 wOBA while seeing a significant drop in his K%.

San Diego not only can stack right-handed batters against him, but the Padres’ lineup has been extremely productive against southpaw pitching. Including Luzardo’s June 1 outing against them, the Padres have seen 22 left-handed starting pitchers and their 719 PA sample is the 11 largest in that span. They rank 6th with a .281 batting average and 4th in both hard-hit rate and SLG. Despite a vastly underperforming season, the Padres made more deadline acquisitions and Garrett Cooper’s .366 wOBA against lefties instantly makes him one of the better 8-hole hitters in the game and lengthens the lineup. Gary Sanchez had yesterday off and should return today as another productive piece of the order. The top of the order features 4 high-quality right-handers and Juan Soto, who is fully capable of handling a lefty pitcher, albeit his patience is not my favorite approach for this prop market.

The Padres have 5 or more hits against 6 of the last 7 left-handed starters they have faced, including Ryan Weathers yesterday. Weathers allowed those 5 hits despite issuing 5 free passes and lasting only 3.1 innings. Luzardo is likely to be more efficient with his strike rate, and likely to have a longer overall leash, especially considering Bryan Hoeing was used up in long relief yesterday. This should give San Diego numerous chances to get 5 or more hits as Luzardo’s stats worsen the 2nd and 3rd time through the order. His .219 AVG and .657 OPS the first time becomes a .257 AVG and .796 OPS the 2nd time, and a .325 AVG and .916 OPS the 3rd time through across 126 PA. Luzardo has allowed 5 or more hits in 18 of his 25 starts overall, and 9 of his 10 road starts. With the matchup at hand, and the price being offered, I am willing to bet that it happens again.

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Lucas Giolito (Angels) over 4.5 hits allowed (-115)

Odds available at DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to -130.

I didn’t necessarily plan on betting two over 4.5 hits allowed props when waking up this morning, but this is another line that seems a bit too low to me. Lucas Giolito was known to be highly sought after before the trade deadline given his talent, experience and his impending free agency. It was not expected that the Los Angeles Angels would be the team to go after the 29-year-old right-hander, but they did, and despite their flurry of aggressive moves, their playoff chances are even slimmer now than the week they made those trades. Giolito himself hasn’t performed as the organization, or any organization for that matter, would have hoped. His 4 outings have resulted in 3, 9, 3 and 4 earned runs. While the 9 earned run game was against the Braves, an excuse used by many competent pitchers this season, he has clearly not been sharp in his time with L.A.

Giolito has allowed a 41.4% hard-hit rate on the season, his worst mark in any season since 2016. His 10.4%-barrel rate falls under that same category and is far higher than his career-long 7.7% mark. He is being slugged by batters from either side of the plate, with 12 of his 26 home runs allowed coming against left-handed batters despite a sample of 138 fewer PA. The Reds will most likely roll out a relatively balanced lineup tonight, showcasing their talent from either side of the plate. Jake Fraley and Jonathan India remain out, but this is still a deep lineup and the call-up of Noelvi Marte brings even more exciting youth to the bottom of the order.

This 4.5 number is one Giolito’s opponents have surpassed in 17 of his 25 starts this season, and 3 of his 4 with the Angels. Giolito has now started 15 games outside of Guaranteed Rate Field this season, and his struggles have been glaring with 5 or more hits allowed in 13 of those outings. That includes 6 or more hits in 7 of his last 8 and a 1.11 hits per inning average on the season. His 17.5 outs prop is juiced heavily to the over, implying he works 6 or more innings in the game. If he were to pitch fewer than 6 innings the likelihood of 5 or more hits allowed is high, as his 9 starts with fewer than 18 outs have been accompanied by 5+ hits on 8 occasions. While the Reds overall batting average against right-handed pitching in the last 30 days is only .240, they do have 5 or more hits against 10 of the last 13 righty starters they have faced.

Giolito had his start pushed back from yesterday due to a postponed game and will now be starting on 6 full days of rest as he did for his last outing. Gio tossed 110 pitches in that start after 101 in his previous outing, and if there was ever a team to push their starter to a max capacity, it would be an Angels organization with very little chance of retaining him in free agency. They might as well get their money’s worth considering they traded away key aspects of their already thin farm system to acquire him. With 25 and 27 batters faced in his last 2 starts I expect another heavy workload, and at this price 5 or more hits is highly attainable.

You can also read our MLB predictions for all today’s games, plus our MLB mega parlay and YRFI//NRFI Best Bets

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