Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Saturday

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Saturday offers the standard slate with staggered start times beginning at 1:10 p.m. ET. Several teams are closing in on division titles and wild-card berths, with others auditioning players for next year. Lineups are more in flux than usual, so be sure to confirm your players are active. If not, here are some possible replacements, all available in at least 50% of ESPN leagues.


Justus Sheffield (L), rostered in 7% of ESPN leagues, Seattle Mariners at Baltimore Orioles: Sheffield is a risk to ratios, especially with the contest in Camden Yards, however if you're chasing strikeouts and wins, the rookie southpaw is in play. The Orioles offense teeters near league average facingf left-handers, but Sheffield has fanned an impressive 19 in 15 ⅓ September innings.

Zach Davies (R), 31%, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: Davies has been inconsistent the past couple of months, typical of a guy reliant on getting outs on balls in play. He pitched fewer than five innings in five of his past nine starts, working exactly five in the others. Still, Davies is in play for those desperate for a win, as the Brewers are still in the thick of the playoff hunt while the Pirates have been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league this month.

Johnny Cueto (R), 31%, San Francisco Giants at Atlanta Braves: This comes with an asterisk, though Cueto has pitched well enough to be in consideration regardless. The Braves' magic number is one entering Friday's games, so there could be some celebrating in SunTrust Park. Traditionally, teams give their regulars a well-deserved off-day the game following clinching, so Cueto could face a much weaker Braves lineup than usual.

Asher Wojciechowski (R), 4%, Baltimore Orioles vs. Seattle Mariners: Wojciechowski came through earlier in the week after being recommended, so let's double down. That outing came at the expense of the lowly Tigers. This time he draws a Mariners offense that isn't faring much better, averaging the 24th-most runs in the league during the second half.

Tyler Alexander (L), 1%, Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox: After holding the Orioles to one run in six innings in his latest start, Alexander earned a rotation spot to round out the season. The 25-year-old southpaw didn't excel with Triple-A Toledo this season, but 39 strikeouts with only five walks at the major league level in his rookie campaign warrants a look down the stretch. The White Sox tote a league-average offense facing left-handers into Motown.

Bullpen: A couple of injured starters are slated to return Saturday, but neither is expected to pitch more than a couple of frames. The Arizona Diamondbacks will send Luke Weaver to the hill while the Miami Marlins are getting a few more innings for Jordan Yamamoto to close the season. Normally, Weaver would be an intriguing option but he's only thrown bullpen sessions and a two-inning rehab start. In addition, the Boston Red Sox will rely on the old-fashioned bullpen game, leading off a parade of relievers with Travis Lakins.


Catcher -- Robinson Chirinos (R), 18%, Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels (LHP Patrick Sandoval): There's a chance the Astros clinch the division Friday night, which could give Chirinos and the other regulars the day off, despite still competing for the overall best record in the AL and home field advantage. Chirinos excels against lefty pitching and has been scorching lately, slashing .583/.706/.1250 the past week.

First Base -- Albert Pujols (R), 19%, Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros (LHP Wade Miley): Eleven of Pujols' 23 homers have come against lefty pitching, despite having the platoon edge in only 35% of his plate appearances.

Second Base -- Kevin Newman (R), 41%, Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Zach Davies): There was a time batting .317 with double-digit homers and steals would be Rookie-of-the-Year worthy, especially from a middle infielder. The fact Newman has put up these numbers with little acclaim reflects the quality of the 2019 rookie class, as well as playing in a small market for a second-division team.

Third Base -- Miguel Sano (R), 40%, Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Glenn Sparkman): Sano has been featured so much he's getting his mail forwarded here. That said, even in the elevated power landscape, there's not many batters with the ability to carry your team for a week. Case in point, Sano has four homers over the past eight games. Meanwhile, Sparkman has surrendered 29 dingers in just 127 innings.

Shortstop -- Gavin Lux (L), 15%, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez): After a slow start, Lux has adjusted to major league pitching, slashing .360/.385/.680 over the past eight games heading into Friday's action. On Saturday, Lux draws one of the weakest hurlers in the league in Gonzalez.

Corner Infield -- Kyle Seager (L), 46%, Seattle Mariners at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Asher Wojciechowski): Seager's roller coaster of a season continues, as he's cooled down since a recent hot streak. However, Statcast data shows he's continuing to hit the ball hard, suggesting there's one more heater left in the season.

Middle Infield -- Harold Castro (L), 3%, Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Ivan Nova): Castro remains a shining light in an otherwise dim Tigers campaign. If nothing else, he's proven worthy of a super-utility role, filling in all over the diamond, receiving near-regular at-bats. The 25-year-old rookie is batting .375 (24-for-64) this month. Victor Reyes joins Castro as Tigers making a strong play for next season and is a power/speed threat, benefiting from the platoon advantage on Nova.

Outfield -- Ramon Laureano (R), 26%, Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers (LHP Brock Burke): Let's give Mark Canha a break and feature his teammate Laureano, who is getting hot again at the opportune time. Laureano is slashing .389/.429/.511 the past week, also adding a precious stolen base.

Outfield -- Oscar Mercado (R), 29%, Cleveland Indians vs. Philadelphia Phillies (LHP Jason Vargas): Consider this a needs-based recommendation. If you're seeking a late-week steal, click in Mercado. If power is your desire, pivot to Franmil Reyes. Both are in a great spot, enjoying the platoon edge on a middling lefty.

Outfield -- Austin Hays (R), 1%, Baltimore Orioles vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Justus Sheffield): Anthony Santander has been a frequent visitor to these lists but is in a tailspin, so let's shift the focus to another young Baltimore fly-chaser, as Hays has been playing a lot down the stretch after an injury-riddled summer. The 24-year-old is closing out the season in impressive fashion, posting a .435/.500/.739 line the past week, fanning in just two of 26 plate appearances in this span.