Odds Show Cole Favored To Lead American League In Strikeouts
Due to COVID-19, the baseball season has been shortened to just 60 games. Each team will play their divisional neighbors 10 times each and then play the remaining 20 games against interleague teams. That changes a lot of things – especially with props. With that being said, we are going to be taking a look at the strikeout leaders prop in the American League to see where there’s value.
Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees
Cole should be the favorite for this upcoming season as he won the competition by a wide margin last year. He held a near 40% strikeout rate last season and that was recorded as the highest in a single season by any starter in MLB history. There shouldn’t be any reason to doubt Cole going into this season as he posted a 35% strikeout rate back in 2018 as well. Only downside is that last year was a contract year and sometimes players are a little hungrier or outperform in those seasons versus once they’re fresh off of a new contract signing.
Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
Justin Verlander has been helped tremendously due to the season being delayed as he had recently injured his right groin earlier in training. He was planning to play through it but decided to get surgery quickly because the season was delayed. He is now expected to be at full health for the start of the season.
Verlander had 300 strikeouts last season despite his age (37) and is also a five-time AL strikeout champion. It would be hard to bet against Verlander for this prop.
Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox
Lucas Giolito recently broke out as a big league All-Star last year and looks to continue his high level of play this upcoming season. He was 14-9 with a 3.41 ERA and 1.06 WHIP for the White Sox last season. He had 228 strikeouts but pitched just 176.2 innings. To put that in perspective, Verlander threw 223.0 and Cole threw 212.1.
Giolito has all the intangibles of a player with big strikeout potential with a fastball that can hit high 90’s and some other pitches that he continues to develop. He is also primed to be a workhorse this season for an up-and-coming White Sox team.
Charlie Morton, Tampa Bay Rays
Morton was absolutely incredible last season, posting career-highs in strikeout percentage (30%) and 11.10 strikeouts per nine innings. Each of those numbers had been on the rise as of late after he lessened his use of fastballs and utilized his curveball more. Last year, he had thrown his curveball on 37% of his total pitches, which was a career-high for him. In turn, there was a fast drop in contact rate and a huge jump in swinging strikes. He may be 35 years old entering this season, but he was able to finish third place in Cy Young voting last year. Morton may be a bit of a long shot, but he has the talent and skills to be worth a play – especially in a shortened season.