Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Saturday

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Saturday brings us our first full, 15-game slate in the past three days. Short slates can make the streaming game difficult, so seeing every team in action with an abundance of quality streamers is refreshing. Saturday also marks the return of Andrew Heaney, who has been sidelined for roughly three weeks with a shoulder issue. He's a questionable streaming option against the Red Sox in Fenway Park, but he's definitely going to be in the streaming conversation down the stretch.

Here's a look at Saturday's top streaming options, focusing on players rostered in fewer than 50% of ESPN leagues.


Jeff Samardzija (R), rostered in 34% of ESPN leagues, San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies: At some point, we need to start paying some attention to Samardzija. The veteran right-hander isn't missing bats like he used to (7.8 K/9), but his 3.70 ERA is more than serviceable and his 1.16 WHIP ranks top 25 in baseball. Dating back to the beginning of July, Shark sports a 2.11 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over his past seven starts, surrendering two or fewer runs in six of those outings. On Saturday, Samardzija matches up with the Phillies, who sport a .306 wOBA and 88 wRC+ since the All-Star break.

Aaron Sanchez (R), 23%, Houston Astros at Baltimore Orioles: The Astros have a way of getting the most out of their pitchers, and the recently acquired Sanchez could be the latest example. After leading the American League with a 3.00 ERA back in 2016, Sanchez has put up ERAs of 4.25, 4.89 and 5.76 the past three seasons. In his first start with Houston, the 27-year-old righty was part of a no-hitter against Seattle. He threw a season-high 30.4% curveballs and tossed six no-hit frames with six strikeouts. The matchup on Saturday is even more favorable, as Sanchez draws an Orioles club that's brutal against righties, ranking 26th in MLB with a .303 wOBA and a poor 7.6% walk rate.

Adam Wainwright (R), 11%, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: I don't like relying too heavily on home/road splits, but with Wainwright, they're hard to ignore. While he's been pummeled for a 6.96 ERA on the road, he owns a pristine 2.26 ERA in 10 starts at Busch Stadium. Busch is where Wainwright finds himself on Saturday, squaring off against a punchless Pirates lineup that sports a 27th-ranked .293 wOBA in the second half.

Reynaldo Lopez (R), 21%, Chicago White Sox vs. Oakland Athletics: Lopez has shown an uptick in velocity over the past month, and his results have improved as a result. Over his past five starts, the right-hander boasts a 2.56 ERA with 34 K's in 31 2/3 frames. There's still plenty of volatility here because of Lopez's lack of control, though it's worth noting that he also finished the 2018 season on a strong note, putting up a 1.38 ERA over his final seven outings. The A's are far from a pushover, but they've been slightly below average versus right-handed pitching this season (98 wRC+), making this a decent matchup for the 25-year-old righty.

Tanner Roark (R), 18%, Oakland Athletics at Chicago White Sox: Squaring off against Lopez is Roark, who is making his second start since being traded to Oakland at the trade deadline. The right-hander hasn't been pitching deep into games, but he's allowed two or fewer runs in three of his past four starts and owns a career-best 8.9 K/9. The most appealing thing here, however, is the matchup. The White Sox's offense has been stagnant since the All-Star break, ranking 29th in baseball with a .285 wOBA, 76 wRC+, and 26.8% strikeout rate.

Vince Velasquez (R), 8%, Philadelphia Phillies at San Francisco Giants: Velasquez has long held mouth-watering upside. Consistency has been the issue. Not much has changed in 2019, but the right-hander finds himself in an enticing matchup against the Giants, one of the worst teams in baseball against righty pitching (.300 wOBA, 85 wRC+). For his part, Velasquez sports a 10.1 K/9 and has been on a bit of a heater of late, holding a 2.04 ERA over his past three turns.


Catcher -- Travis d'Arnaud (R), 49%, Tampa Bay Rays at Seattle Mariners (LHP Tommy Milone): d'Arnaud has been blistering-hot since the break, batting .329/.424/.658. He's also clubbed nine homers in just 94 at-bats against left-handed pitching. That matches him up well with Milone, who is surrendering a .357 wOBA so far in the second half.

First Base -- Justin Smoak (S), 43%, Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees (Bullpen game): The results just haven't been there for Smoak this season, but there's still been a lot to like. He's still hitting for power, his 16.8% walk rate is elite, and his hard-hit rate is a career-best 42.3%. Plus, he's a switch-hitter so he'll enjoy the platoon edge the whole game on a day where the Yankees will open with righty Chad Green before handing the ball to southpaw Nestor Cortes Jr. for the middle innings.

Second Base -- Keston Hiura (R), 47%, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Pedro Payano): It's baffling that Hiura is still available in more than 50 percent of leagues. All he's done over his past 25 games is hit .363 with six homers, 11 doubles, 18 RBIs, 17 runs and four steals. He's been a top-five fantasy second baseman during that stretch. Start him against Payano on Saturday and then keep him around for the rest of the season.

Third Base -- Gio Urshela (R), 22%, New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Jacob Waguespack): It's become clear that Urshela needs to be taken more seriously in fantasy circles. After belting another pair of homers on Thursday, the Yankees third baseman is now batting .319/.363/.547 on the season with 14 dingers in 93 games. This includes a .365/.390/.784 triple-slash since the break. Saturday's matchup versus Waguespack is highly appealing.

Shortstop -- Scott Kingery (R), 37%, Philadelphia Phillies at San Francisco Giants (RHP Jeff Samardzija): With eligibility at shortstop, third base and outfield, Kingery continues to be a quality streaming option. He's been a little less consistent of late, but he's still popping homers and stealing bases. Streaming players who can provide both power and speed are a valuable commodity.

Corner Infield -- Jake Lamb (L), 13%, Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers (RHP Kenta Maeda): Maeda has had a rough go of it of late. His past three starts have seen him give up 13 earned runs over his past 11 innings. Meanwhile, Lamb sports a .365 wOBA in the second half and gets the platoon edge in Saturday's matchup against the struggling Dodgers righty.

Middle Infield -- Luis Arraez (L), 6%, Minnesota Twins vs. Cleveland Indians (RHP Adam Plutko): Arraez's bat-to-ball skills continue to impress. Through 48 big league games, he's batting .348 with more walks (20) than strikeouts (14). Arraez doesn't offer much in the power department, but he can provide value in other ways. He'll have no trouble getting his licks in against Plutko and his pitch-to-contact approach.

Outfield -- Bryan Reynolds (S), 34%, Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Adam Wainwright): Reynolds has become a must-start against righties. The 24-year-old outfielder is hammering right-handed pitching to the tune of a .348/.424/.543 slash line. He's also batting .315/.385/.500 since the All-Star break. It all adds up to the rookie being a high-end streamer against Wainwright, who is allowing a .359 wOBA to lefty batters.

Outfield -- Ender Inciarte (L), 49%, Atlanta Braves at Miami Marlins (RHP Sandy Alcantara): There's plenty of potential in Alcantara's right arm, but we haven't seen much of lately. After posting a 3.82 ERA in the first half, he owns a 7.06 ERA in five outings since the All-Star break. This is a nice spot for Inciarte, who provides both power and speed potential in a dangerous Braves lineup.

Outfield -- Kole Calhoun (L), 44%, Los Angeles Angels at Boston Red Sox (RHP Rick Porcello): Porcello has followed up a 5.33 first-half ERA with a 6.28 mark so far in the second half. Not great, Bob! The Boston righty has been particularly vulnerable to lefty batters, who have put up a .356 wOBA against him. Fire up Calhoun for one of Saturday's prime matchups.

Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days) as well as ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively. Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. So, for example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent. A "*" means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate hitter rating; these are the author's ratings.