Best MLB props for Sunday, April 25: Woodruff, Ryu look to stay strong in plus matchups
Things are lined up for an excellent Sunday across Major League Baseball, with the entire league in action and plenty of appealing pitching matchups. Today, I’m going to dial in on a few props that are particularly appealing, including one pitcher and one hitter. Be sure to check out the rest of our picks and predictions here.
Brandon Woodruff Over 17.5 Outs (-140)
This is an extremely strong spot for Woodruff, and I’m fairly surprised to see his outs at anything below 18.5. The Brewers co-ace has been absolutely dominant this season – to the tune of a 2.97 xFIP and 10.17 K/9 – and has already stifled the Cubs twice, with 13 IP / 14 K / 1 ER against the Chicago side in two outings so far this season, both of which he fairly easily worked through the 6th. Woodruff has been a strong candidate for 18 outs since midway through last season: over his last 8 starts, he’s 6-2 at surpassing 17.5, including landing on 17 once and an Opening Day start where he had a lower pitch count. With the wind blowing directly in at 10-12 MPH, Woodruff is lined up for a classic low-scoring Wrigley Field outing. His strikeout stuff is dominant and is unlikely to be overly affected by the long ball given the weather conditions.
As far as matchup goes, I think the Cubs are unlikely to do much damage. After all, Woodruff has already dominated them twice this season, and outside of their 15-run explosion in a runaway game with the wind billowing out to centerfield, Chicago has done very little damage to opposing righties this year. Even when incorporating that obvious irregularity, the Cubs rank just 18th in wRC+ vs RHP, and I find it likely that they regress to their full-season form rather than continue mashing in a marquee pitching dual. Additionally, SaberSim projections on Fangraphs suggest Woodruff is in line for more than 6 innings pitched, which tells me that his expected analytical performance is over the target, i.e., he doesn’t even have to have an especially great performance to cash. Even so, I do believe Woodruff is in line for an excellent showing today: I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rack up 10 strikeouts in 7 innings.
Hyun-jin Ryu Over 17.5 Outs (-145)
AVAILABILITY ALTERNATIVE: Hyun-Jin Ryu Over 5.5 Strikeouts (-110)
To put it quite simply, the last few left-handed starters the Tampa Bay Rays have faced this year just haven’t been… good. Their recent three games vs LHP were the following arms: Robbie Ray, Steven Matz, and Danny Duffy; those are 2020 xFIP’s of 5.84, 4.15, and 4.94. Even so, those lefties put up extremely respectable numbers vs Tampa Bay, each recording at least 5 IP and 7 strikeouts and generally stifling the Rays offense. Ryu is without question significantly better than any of these pitchers and should have an excellent time working through the Tampa Bay offense today, both in terms of outs and strikeouts. When given both options, I prefer outs, but would be extremely comfortable playing K’s as well. Ryu has already had to pitch against the Yankees twice as well as the Red Sox (striking out 5, 7, and 2 in those three outings), but I think his second outing – vs the Texas Rangers – is a solid comparison for this occasion. Against the struggling Rangers, Ryu went 7 IP and K’d 7, looking like his peak self.
Once again, I am highly encouraged by the projections laid out by SaberSim over at Fangraphs. They have echoed by sentiment that Ryu should be in line for at least 6 innings today, projecting him at 6.4 IP to go along with 6.41 strikeouts. These numbers match what I expect from Ryu, as I believe the Rays may be a little overrated here given that their lineup has hardly produced excellent numbers even against much lower-quality left-handed starting pitching. Ryu may not be a Cy Young contender this year, but he’s seen essentially no dropoff analytically from past seasons. He’s started the 2021 campaign with a 3.27 xFIP through 4 starts, which is perfectly in line with, and even slightly better than, both 2020 and 2019 (3.32 xFIP each season). I expect him to have a strong performance and exceed even high expectations today.