Today’s MLB Prop Picks and Best Bets: James Can't Be Tamed

James Outman bounced back in a big way, and has the right matchup to keep things rolling tonight — not to mention the right price. See why our MLB player prop picks are backing the NL ROY favorite.

Andrew Caley - Senior Betting Analyst at
Andrew Caley • Senior Betting Analyst
May 18, 2023 • 12:28 ET • 4 min read
James Outman LA Dodgers
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

It’s a lighter day of action on the diamond with just six games on the schedule but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of baseball betting value to be found in today's MLB odds.

Today, Eury Perez makes his second career start for the Marlins against the Nationals, but it’s his opponent’s strikeout number that I’m homing in on. Yankees starter Nestor Cortes could be in for another short outing vs. the Blue Jays. And could Dodgers rookie James Outman be breaking out of his May funk in time for a matchup with Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals?

I break down the lines and bring you my best MLB player prop picks for Thursday, May 18.

MLB props for May 18

Picks made on 5/18/2023 at 11:30 a.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.

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Fanning the Fish

One of baseball’s top prospects takes the mound for the second time in his career when Eury Perez and his electric stuff will be on the mound when the Miami Marlins host the Washington Nationals on Thursday afternoon.

But while everyone will be focused on Perez and his potential strikeouts, I’ll be looking at the opposing starter, Trevor Williams.

Now, let’s get this out of the way: Williams is not a strikeout pitcher. But this is all about the number. It’s on the board at 3.5 and I think it’s a whole strikeout too low.

Williams has a pretty low strikeout rate at 16.5%. But he’s also been giving a not-great Nationals team reliable innings. He’s pitched at least five innings in six of his last seven full starts (he was pulled after 2 1/3 innings in his last start due to a rain delay) and Williams has seen a slight uptick in strikeouts over his last four full starts.

He’s recorded four or more strikeouts in those outings for a strikeout rate of 18.7%. Williams averages 22.7 batters faced in his full starts this season and at a k-rate of 18.7% that works out to 4.2 strikeouts.

Now, mix in the matchup today against the Marlins. Miami ranks 25th in OPS and wRC+ when facing right-handed pitching this season and more importantly, have the 11th-highest strikeout rate vs. righties. 

Williams will have an excellent opportunity to get to his batters faced average against a sub-par hitting Marlins team. Just enough time for him to record at least four strikeouts, something he's done in five of his last six full starts.

Trevor Williams Prop: Over 3.5 strikeouts (-140)

Nestor pestered

New York Yankees starter Nestor Cortes is still trying to find the form that made him so effective last season, but trying to do so against the Toronto Blue Jays may not be the time.

Cortes is coming off a season in which he pitched to an impressive 2.70 expected ERA and limited opponents to a .202 expected batting average, earning his first career All-Star selection. But things haven’t gone as smoothly in 2023.

The southpaw who loves to mess with hitter’s timing has been getting hit with much more regularity this season. Now, he hasn’t been as bad as his 5.53 ERA suggests with a 3.92 xERA and a 4.06 FIP. But that’s still quite the departure from last season.

Cortes uses three main pitches: His four-seam fastball, a cutter, and a sweeper. The fastball has been fine this season, but he's finding too much of the plate with his cutter and sweeper and opponents are teeing off them. Opponents have a .476 expected slugging percentage vs. his cutter and an ugly .647 xSlugging vs. the sweeper.

Right-handed hitters in particular have been a problem. Righties are getting to Cortes for a .281 batting average and a .833 OPS. While the Blue Jays haven’t been as potent vs. lefties this season (eighth in batting average, 14th in OPS) Cortes knows what they are capable of and are sure to put out a righty-heavy lineup against him tonight.

These struggles have led to shorter starts for the southpaw. He's averaging just Under 5 1/3 innings per start this season. So, it’s not shocking to see his outs-recorded prop sitting at 16.5. But it’s a number he’s gone Over in just two of his eight starts this season and not once in each of his last four.

He also went Under this number in two of his three starts vs. the Jays last season. I’m betting he goes Under this number again.

Nestor Cortes Prop: Under 16.5 outs recorded (-115)

Over and out

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder James Outman is the National League Rookie of the Year odds leader, but like any young ball player, Outman is going to experience some ups-and-down in his first Big League season.

Outman came flying out of the gates this season. The rookie was hitting .292 with a .991 OPS, including seven dingers in the month of April. But May has been a bit more of a struggle, with him hitting .182 with a .685 OPS and just two home runs, which included a five-game hitless streak. That is, until last night.

Outman broke out of his funk by going to 2-for-4 with a homer in yesterday’s series finale against the Minnesota Twins. Tonight, he’ll have a great chance to start a new hitting streak as he digs in against Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Wainwright decided to come back for one more season, but maybe he shouldn’t have. The veteran right-hander has made just two starts this season, and he has been shelled in both, surrendering eight runs on 15 hits and two walks over 10 innings of work. That works out to a 5.49 expected ERA and a .337 opponent expected batting average. 

Left-handed hitters have done most of that damage, getting to Wainwright for a .417 average and a 1.131 OPS in 26 plate appearances. Oh, if you didn’t know, Outman is a lefty. The +140 price on the Over 1.5 total bases is the cherry on top.

James Outman Prop: Over 1.5 total bases (+140)

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