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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

MLB PrizePicks predictions, player picks Sept. 18: Joe Ryan, Bryan Woo

Welcome back to another breakdown of the MLB PrizePicks board.

We have 10 baseball games on the schedule today that start at 6:40 p.m. ET or later.  

Let’s dive right in and discuss some of my favorite projections to target when building out your PrizePicks cards for tonight’s MLB slate. 

Joe Ryan More Than 6.0 Pitcher Strikeouts 

Ryan has struck out at least seven batters in three of his four starts since returning from an IL stint due to a groin injury. 

He has done that against Texas twice and Tampa Bay — two of the better offenses in the league. 

The lone start where he fell short was against the Guardians, who are one of the lowest strikeout teams in all of baseball. 

On the season, Ryan owns a very strong 29.2% strikeout rate, and he gets a great matchup against the Reds today. 

The Reds have been extremely strikeout-prone in the second half of the season, owning the fourth-highest strikeout rate (26.3%) in the league since the All-Star break. 

The only reason for concern is the Reds can get pretty left-handed against Ryan here. They project to roll out seven lefties in the lineup today. 

Ryan has posted an elite strikeout rate versus righties (34.2%), but he has been closer to average against lefties (23.9%). 

Despite the lefties, the Reds still offer plenty of strikeout upside for Ryan to record more than 6 strikeouts today. 

John Means Less Than 3.5 Pitcher Strikeouts 

Means returned to a big-league mound for the first time since April 2022 just last week, as he has been recovering from Tommy John surgery. 

Starting pitcher John Means
Starting pitcher John Means
Getty Images

He gave up 3 runs, including 2 home runs, and struck out just one batter in five innings of work. It was a fine showing for someone coming off major arm surgery, but he is clearly not yet back to top form. 

Means threw just 75 pitches in his first start, and I believe we are looking at a pitch count of just 85-90 pitches in this spot. 

Today, he gets a brutal matchup against the Astros, who have struck out at the lowest rate (18.3%) in the league versus left-handed pitching this season. They rank second in the league in both wOBA (.347) and wRC+ (122) versus lefties this year. 

Means will have a tough time getting through this order more than twice, especially if he isn’t in top form and is facing a restricted pitch count. 

I think he records less than 3.5 strikeouts today. 

Bryan Woo Less Than 6.0 Pitcher Strikeouts 

Woo is coming off a spectacular performance against the Angels where he struck out eight batters in just 5.2 innings. It marked just the fifth time in 15 starts this season that Woo recorded more than 6 strikeouts, and he last did it back on July 23.

The Mariners have been cautious with the young righty as he has averaged just over 80 pitches per start, and he has not pitched past the sixth inning in any of his 15 starts this season. 

Woo has an electric fastball, but he has not yet developed a breaking ball that allows him to rack up strikeouts. In fact, has thrown some variation of a fastball (4-Seam, Sinker, Cutter) 86.8% of the time this season. His slider, which he uses just 9.8% of the time, has generated only a 17.0% Put-Away rate this year. 

He does get a great matchup today against the Athletics, but they project to roll out five lefties in the lineup. Woo has struck out just 18.0% of lefties he has faced this season (compared to 29.5% of righties). 

He started a game against this Oakland team last month and recorded 5 strikeouts in six innings. 

I think he records less than 6 strikeouts this time around as well. 

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Michael Wacha More Than 5.5 Pitcher Strikeouts 

Wacha has recorded more than 5.5 strikeouts in three of his six starts since coming off the IL in mid-August. 

One of the starts he fell short was his first start off the IL when he made only 77 pitches as he was still building back up to a full workload. Another was his last start against the Dodgers, one of the best offenses in baseball that strikeouts at just a 21.7% rate as a team this season. 

Today, he gets one of the best matchups there is, as the Padres welcome the Rockies to town. The Rockies have struck out at the third-highest rate (25.3%) in the league this season. And they have struck out at the highest rate (27.3%) in the league when they are away from Coors Field.  

Wacha should be able to pitch deep into this game due to the great matchup, and I like him to record more than 5.5 strikeouts along the way. 

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