When looking at MLB player props, some of the best handicapping angles include betting on established players going through a slump (which has deflated their O/U numbers), and backing up-and-coming players whose recent improvement has yet to be factored into their MLB odds.
Those are two narratives I'm looking at this Wednesday, as I put my money on veteran Phillies starter Aaron Nola, and rising Orioles slugger Gunnar Henderson. Here are my best free MLB player prop bets for May 25.
MLB props for May 25
Picks made on 5/25/2023 at 10:30 a.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Best MLB bets today
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Prop bet #1: Nifty Nola
Aaron Nola is going through a bit of a down season but pitched a gem last Saturday when he limited the Cubs to two runs over seven innings while getting 10 punchouts. Despite that performance, Nola has a modest 53 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings this season, for an average of 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
That might be alright for your ordinary MLB starter, but for a guy that averaged 10.7 K/9 over the previous four seasons, it's surprisingly low. However, that low number is helping set his strikeout total for today at just 5.5, which is ripe for the picking. Keep in mind that Nola is still 12th in the majors with a strike percentage of 66.9%, so he is making batters consistently miss.
Although he's facing a dangerous Atlanta Braves lineup at Truist Park today, Atlanta's sluggers tend to swing on a lot of pitches, leading to a strikeout rate that ranks 18th in the majors.
Nola made five regular season starts against the Braves last year and fanned at least seven batters in each of those outings, racking up a total of 41 strikeouts across 34 1/3 innings.
Aaron Nola prop: Over 5.5 strikeouts (-120)
Prop bet #2: Giolito tames Tigers
Chicago's Lucas Giolito was one of the better starters in the AL between 2019 and 2021. He pitched to a 3.47 ERA with 526 strikeouts in 427 2/3 innings over that span for an average of 11.1 K/9.
Giolito had a down year in 2022, pitching to a 4.90 ERA with a 1.44 WHIP, but he seems to be back on track this season with a 3.62 ERA through 10 starts.
Today, Giolito and the White Sox face off against the Detroit Tigers, who are second-last in the majors in OPS (.653) while ranking 23rd in strikeout rate (23.9%).
The O/U on Giolito's strikeouts today is set at 5.5. With the massive righthander eclipsing that number in six of his last eight starts, bet the Over tonight.
Lucas Giolito prop: Over 5.5 strikeouts (-110)
Prop bet #3: Take a shot with Gunnar
Orioles infielder Gunnar Henderson entered this season as one of the top prospects in the majors, but got off to an extremely slow start. While he still has an ugly batting average of .206 on the year, he seems to be figuring things out, and is slashing .303/.324/.546 over the last 10 games.
The O's wrap up a three-game set at Yankee Stadium today, and Henderson has been terrific this series, going 3-for-6 at the plate with a homer and a double.
The Yankees are sending righthander Clarke Schmidt to the hill. Schmidt has a 6.00 ERA with a 1.62 WHIP through 10 starts, and ranks in the bottom 20th percentile in average exit velocity, hard hit rate, and barrel rate. The right-hander also struggles against left-handed hitters like Henderson, allowing southpaws to slug .644.
Schmidt also faced Henderson twice back on April 7, with the 21-year-old picking up a single and a double in those plate appearances.
Expect Henderson to continue to show improvement, and take the Over 1.5 on his total bases. If your book has his total bases set at 0.5 instead, play that at -160 or better.
Gunnar Henderson prop: Over 1.5 total bases (+163)