The MLB Underdog Fantasy pick ’em slate is bursting at the seams tonight. Pitchers are well-represented among tonight’s top picks. Two pitchers look like good choices to go lower than their totals. Conversely, one pitcher should go higher on strikeouts than his prop. Additionally, two hitters in mouthwatering matchups should go higher than their posted totals.
Tuesday’s Top Underdog Fantasy MLB Pick ‘Em Picks
Alex Wood: 5.0 Strikeouts – Lower
The Giants have had short leashes for most of their starters this year. Wood falls in the bucket of starters who’ve been yanked quickly this year. He’s pitched 3.0 and 4.2 innings in his two starts, hurling 71 and 75 pitches. As a result, Wood has had three and five strikeouts in his two starts in 2023.
Sadly, his plate discipline data isn’t encouraging for a strikeout surge. Per FanGraphs, Wood has a 22.6 CSW%, 7.5 SwStr%, 97.6 Z-Contact% and 22.1 O-Swing%. The matchup is tricky for Wood to strike out batters, too. The Marlins have only a 19.2 K% against lefties this year. So, the under for 5.0 strikeouts is an excellent pick.
Adley Rutschman: 8.5 Fantasy Points – Higher
Rutschman’s bat is the real deal. The No. 1 pick in the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft hit the ground running in the majors last year and hasn’t slowed down this year. In 547 plate appearances in The Show, he’s had a .378 OBP, .196 ISO and 142 wRC+.
Additionally, he’s done his best work against righties. In 407 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, Rutschman has had a .398 OBP, .229 ISO and 161 wRC+. Finally, Josiah Gray is a mess against lefties. The 449 left-handed batters who’ve faced Gray in his career have crushed him for a .549 slugging and a .386 wOBA. Therefore, Rutschman should have his way with Gray tonight.
Josiah Gray: 96.5 Pitches – Lower
Gray’s inability to tame left-handed batters should be his undoing tonight. The Orioles will likely have six batters in their lineup tonight who will bat left-handed against him. The betting info is also optimal for the Orioles scoring runs. According to Betting Pros, the Orioles are -145, and the game’s total is 9.0 runs.
According to ESPN, Gray has thrown 103 and 102 pitches. Thus, the Nationals will allow him to throw more than 96.5 pitches. However, Gray was good in those starts. He threw only 87 pitches when the Braves lit him up for five runs in 5.0 innings in his 2023 debut. So, the Nationals probably won’t let him take it on the chin too hard if the Orioles tattoo him. And I expect the Orioles to crush him. Therefore, Gray should get the hook before 96.5 pitches if the Orioles rough him up.
Byron Buxton: 7.5 Fantasy Points – Higher
It’s a dream spot for Buxton tonight. First, he faces a lefty. Since 2021, Buxton has crushed southpaws for a .309 ISO and 156 wRC+. Second, the lefty he’s facing is in a rut. Chris Sale has an 11.25 ERA and 6.85 xERA in three starts this year. Sale has also yielded a .576 slugging and .415 wOBA to 76 righties faced since 2022.
In addition, Sale hasn’t controlled the running game this year, and Buxton has the speed to swipe a base. Sale has allowed five stolen bases in three starts this year. Buxton hasn’t stolen a base this year. However, per Baseball Savant, he has the fourth-highest sprint speed (29.9 ft/sec) in 2023. So, there might be some sneaky stolen base potential.
Regardless, Buxton’s bat should get him over 7.5 fantasy points in a hitter-friendly ballpark. Fenway Park is a wonderful venue for hitting. Right-handed batters are treated to park factors of 1.116, 1.298, 1.643 and 1.095 for singles, doubles, triples and homers, respectively. So, hop on Buxton’s over for 7.5 fantasy points.
Brad Keller: 4.0 Strikeouts – Higher
Keller has enjoyed success this year after altering his pitch mix. According to FanGraphs, Keller threw his fastball 63.4% of the time, his slider at a 32.6% clip, his changeup 3.6% of the time and a splitter 0.4% of the time in his 633.2 innings pitched before this year. This season, his pitch splits are 40.8% and 20.9% for his fastball and slider. Keller has scaled back his heater and slider usage in favor of throwing more changeups (13.2%) and unveiling a curve (25.1%).
The curve is a nasty offering. Keller’s new curve has the 10th-highest Stuff+ grade among qualified pitchers. Additionally, Keller has a jaw-dropping 22.5 SwStr% on his curve. The veteran righty has a career-high 23.2 K% this year and a good matchup against a team he had success against last week. Keller had seven strikeouts in 6.2 innings in Texas last week.
The matchup is excellent for Keller’s strikeout outlook. Sadly, Corey Seager is on the Injured List (IL), removing one quality hitter from their lineup. Among their probable starters, only two hitters have had a sub-21.2 K% against righties since 2021, and they could use five starters with at least 26.1 K%. So, Keller should surpass 4.0 strikeouts tonight.
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