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Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) reacts after being removed from the game against the Atlanta Braves during the fifth inning at Truist Park

Major League Baseball is approaching the home stretch, and we have a great slate on Friday. As we enter the weekend, there are plenty of opportunities for value. A couple of player props jumped out to me, and that’s what we’ll be breaking down now. One of them centers on another strong performance from Phillies ace Zack Wheeler. Before we get to that, don’t forget to first check what our MLB analysts have backed with side and total picks for all 14 games today.

Zack Wheeler over 7.5 strikeouts (+105)

Line available at publishing at DraftKings

Getting any plus-money here is a steal. Wheeler has built on his strong 2020, blossoming into a truce ace for the Phillies this season. His strikeout rate is way up, and he’s set down 181 batters already this year. In his most recent start he was dominant, tossing a complete game shutout and striking out 11.

Going back a little ways, he’s gotten to at least eight strikeouts in nine of his past 15 starts. So even in a normal outing, I would favor the over here at plus-money. But when you factor in the matchup Wheeler has here it becomes even more appealing. The Reds have a solid offense, for sure.

But they’ve also been whiffing a ton recently. In fact, they have the second-most strikeouts of any team in the league over the past 30 days. Oddsmakers aren’t accounting enough for that here, and they’re giving the Reds too much credit for general offensive success.

Cincy has also been striking out a lot more since the all-star break than they were earlier in the year. Wheeler has some nasty stuff, and he’s also been much better at home this year. In Philly his ERA is 2.02, while on the highway it’s 3.10. At home his strikeout rate is 10.65/9, while on the road it’s only 10.08.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Jesus Luzardo over 5.5 strikeouts (-105)

Line available at publishing at FanDuel

Luzardo is being underestimated here because his ERA doesn’t look great. While the young prospect has struggled in terms of giving up runs, he’s still racking up strikeouts. The 23-year-old southpaw has gotten to at least six strikeouts in nine of his 17 career starts despite having an ERA well above five in those starts.

He should only continue to get better as he gets a little older and gains more experience. Just blindly, you can tell from his past outings that he’s got a good chance of getting to six strikeouts. But when you look at who he’s facing off against, he’s got an even better matchup than Wheeler.

Luzardo gets to pitch against the Cubs on Friday, the most pitiful team in the league right now. Chicago has lost 10 of their last 11 games, and they traded away virtually all their good hitters at the all-star break. They’ve been incredibly consistent with their strikeouts recently. The Cubs have the most strikeouts in the entire league, both in the past 15 days and the past 30 days.

Over the past 15 days they have 148 strikeouts in only 13 games. No other team has more than even 130. Luzardo is also getting to pitch at home here, which should help.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for Chicago Cubs vs. Miami Marlins

Pickswise is the home of free MLB picks and predictions. Make sure to also check out our MLB parlays and MLB prop bets tabs for more expert picks. 

The post Best player props for Friday’s MLB slate: Wheeler makes ’em whiff appeared first on Pickswise.

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