Friday night is great for making MLB pick ’em selections at Underdog Fantasy since the slate is bursting at the seams. After sorting through the options, the following five picks were the most exciting and advantageous selections.
Friday’s Top Underdog Fantasy MLB Pick ‘Em Picks
Kyle Schwarber: 6.0 Fantasy Points – Higher
Schwarber isn’t having a banner year. However, he’s been rather unlucky. According to Baseball Savant, his .310 wOBA is .033 points lower than his .343 xwOBA, tying for the 42nd-worst differential out of 258 qualified hitters.
Schwarber also has an impressive track record of success against right-handed pitchers. According to FanGraphs, Schwarber has had a .348 OBP, .321 ISO and 142 wRC+ against righties since 2021. Conversely, Josiah Gray has traditionally struggled against lefties. The 25-year-old righty has allowed a .357 OBP, .499 SLG and .367 wOBA to 558 left-handed batters faced in his career. Schwarber can make the most of tonight’s matchup.
Bryce Harper: 1.5 Total Bases – Higher
Harper made his season debut on May 2, and his return from Tommy John surgery has gone swimmingly. In 109 plate appearances, Harper has three homers, a .304 batting average, .163 ISO and .467 SLG. However, the left-handed hitter has had a more impressive .509 xSLG and more authoritative contact than his .163 ISO suggests.
And, like Schwarber, Harper will benefit from the platoon advantage against Gray. Harper has a .389 batting average, .204 ISO and .593 SLG in 67 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers this season and more impressive marks over a larger sample. Specifically, in 767 plate appearances against righties since 2021, Harper has had a .325 batting average, .314 ISO and .639 SLG.
Josh Lowe: 1.5 Total Bases – Higher
Lowe is tearing the cover off the ball this year and feasting on righties. In 154 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers this year, the toolsy outfielder has 11 doubles, 10 homers, a .310 batting average, .283 ISO and .593 SLG.
Lowe also gets pick-me-up from the left-handed-batter park factors at Fenway Park. The matchup is also helpful. This year, Garrett Whitlock has allowed a .250 batting average and .550 SLG to 42 left-handed batters. In addition, Whitlock has been unimpressive as a starter. In 60.0 innings pitched as a starter in his young career, he has had a 4.50 ERA, 3.88 xFIP and 1.23 WHIP, allowing a .267 batting average and .461 SLG to 247 batters.
Jon Gray: 6.0 Strikeouts – Higher
Gray wasn’t missing bats out of the gate this year. In his first six starts spanning 30.2 innings, he had 5.58 K/9, a 14.5 K% and 9.3 SwStr%. However, Gray’s strikeouts have surged lately. In his last four starts totaling 27.0 innings, he’s had 9.0 K/9, a 27.0 K% and 14.2 SwStr%. Notably, Gray’s average fastball velocity climbed from 95.0 mph in his first six starts to 95.9 mph in his last four, and he’s used his secondary offerings more often.
Gray can stay in his strikeout groove in a punchout-friendly matchup tonight. The Mariners have struck out in 25.4% of their plate appearances against righties this year. They’ve punched out in 26.3% of their plate appearances in the last 14 days. And Seattle has struck out in 26.1% of their plate appearances on the road. Thus, Gray should strike out more than 6.0 batters tonight.
Framber Valdez: 6.5 Strikeouts – Higher
Valdez is striking out a career-high 26.9% of batters this year. The lefty’s 28.9 CSW% is also his second-highest mark in his career, validating Valdez’s excellent strikeout numbers.
The 29-year-old lefty consistently strikes out batters instead of relying on a few outliers to prop up his strikeout rate. Valdez has struck out over 6.5 batters in seven of his last 10 starts. He’s punched out more than 6.5 batters in his three most recent starts at home and five of his last six turns in Houston.
Thankfully, Valdez’s strikeout dominance at home isn’t limited to this year. Instead, in 193.0 innings at home since 2021, he’s had 214 strikeouts, 9.98 K/9 and a 26.2 K%. And, of course, Valdez’s strikeout potential gets a lift from tonight’s opponent. The lefty had 12 strikeouts against the Angels in an 8.0-inning start on May 9. Moreover, according to Baseball Savant, the Angels’ hitters have had a 31.5 K% against Valdez in 149 plate appearances.
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