Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Saturday

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Saturday's full, 15-game slate offers up a little bit of everything. We've got a nice assortment of aces, several divisional rivalries, and multiple games with playoff implications. Of course, there are plenty of interesting streaming options, too. Whether you're in the thick of a head-to-head matchup in the fantasy playoffs or are still clawing for first place in your rotisserie league, every lineup decision carries extra weight. Let's make them count.

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


Pitching

Jon Lester (L), rostered in 11% of ESPN leagues, St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs: Lester was legitimately one of the worst pitchers in baseball when he was with the Nationals. His tenure in St. Louis has been a different story. Maybe it's the infamous Cardinals devil magic, but the veteran has limited opponents to two or fewer earned runs in six consecutive starts, culminating in a 2.27 ERA during that stretch. The underlying numbers with Lester still aren't overly encouraging, as his 14% strikeout rate is a career worst, but Saturday's bout against the Cubs doesn't pose much of a threat. The North Siders have been middle-of the-road against lefties this season while posting an inflated 26.1% K rate.

Huascar Ynoa (R), 48%, Atlanta Braves at San Diego Padres: The Padres' offense is one we would have avoided a month ago, but they've seemingly run out of gas, ranking 27th in MLB with an 82 wRC+ over the past 30 days. This presents Ynoa with a nice opportunity to take advantage of San Diego's cold bats. Since returning from the injured list, the 23-year-old righty has put up a solid 3.93 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with 38 Ks over 36 2/3 frames, and Petco Park is very favorable to pitchers.

Rich Hill (L), 40%, New York Mets at Milwaukee Brewers: After enduring a rough patch in June and July, Hill has found his rhythm, delivering a 3.32 ERA over his past nine appearances (eight starts) with nearly a strikeout per inning. Only once in Hill's past five turns has he allowed more than two earned runs, which speaks to the solid floor the veteran has shown of late. A matchup against the Brewers, who have lost five straight and sport a bottom-five wOBA (.300) in September, puts Hill in an appealing spot on Saturday.

Nestor Cortes Jr. (L), 42%, New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox: It's fair to have some hesitancy in running Cortes out there against a red-hot Red Sox lineup, but the 26-year-old southpaw still deserves some consideration. In addition to racking up Ks with a 10.1 K/9, Cortes has posted a 2.94 ERA over 64 1/3 innings as a starter, allowing more than three earned runs just once over 12 turns. He's also held high-octane offenses like the Blue Jays, White Sox and Rays at bay, limiting them all to two runs or fewer, so it's reasonable to expect him to have similar success against Boston this weekend.

Pitcher to Avoid

Tarik Skubal (L), 25%, Detroit Tigers vs. Kansas City Royals: Skubal racks up Ks and gets a favorable matchup against Kansas City, but he's not a recommended streamer for Saturday. The Tigers seem intent on managing the young lefty's workload the rest of the way, as he hasn't surpassed three innings or 50 pitches in any of his past three outings. While Skubal is an interesting arm for 2022, his fantasy value for this season looks to have expired.

Bullpen: The Royals have been out of playoff contention for some time, but there's still value to be had in their bullpen. Despite being rostered in just 35% of leagues, Scott Barlow has been a top-15 fantasy reliever over the past two weeks. He's registered 14 saves on the season, including one in each of his past three appearances, while posting a 2.43 ERA and 11.0 K/9. Against the Tigers, another team that has long been eliminated from playoff contention, Barlow has a good chance at some save opportunities this weekend.

For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.

Hitting

Catcher -- Keibert Ruiz (S), 6%, Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Vladimir Gutierrez): Ruiz did little at the plate when the Nationals first called him up, but that's changed dramatically over the past week. The rookie's elite contact skills have started to show up at the big-league level, as the past seven games have seen him hit .462/.500/.538 with multi-hit efforts in four of his past six contests. Meanwhile, Gutierrez has been looking vulnerable on the mound, stumbling to an 8.84 ERA over his past five starts.

First Base -- Gavin Sheets (L), 2%, Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Indians (RHP Eli Morgan): Making the most of increased playing time, Sheets has put up a .379 wOBA in September while primarily playing against right-handed pitching. On Saturday, he matches up with Morgan, who owns an ugly 8.31 ERA at Progressive Field this season.

Second Base -- Brad Miller (L), 8%, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Wil Crowe): Crowe was bumped to Saturday after originally being slated to start on Thursday, but he remains one of the hurlers we want to attack. The Pittsburgh hurler has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball this season, putting up a 5.77 ERA over 23 starts, including a 6.55 mark in his past eight turns. Miller, the owner of a .361 wOBA against right-handed pitching, is a good way to get exposure to the Phillies lineup in this prime matchup.

Third Base -- Hunter Dozier (R), 25%, Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers (LHP Tarik Skubal): After hitting just four home runs in June, July and August combined, Dozier has already clubbed five homers in September, which includes a .333/.370/.810 slash line over his past 13 games. While Skubal will start Saturday's contest, he's not expected to pitch deep into the game, so Dozier should get multiple at-bats against Detroit's weak bullpen.

Shortstop -- Kyle Farmer (R), 20%, Cincinnati Reds vs. Washington Nationals (RHP Erick Fedde): We keep on waiting for Farmer to slow down, but it just hasn't happened. He's posted a .310/.343/.500 triple slash since the All-Star break, including a .300/.328/.483 slash line in September. Fedde, who has posted ERAs of 8.02, 5.17 and 5.21 the last three months, should help keep the good times rolling.

Corner Infield -- Brandon Belt (L), 40%, San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies (RHP Jon Gray): All Belt has done in the second half is put up a 1.024 OPS. That includes a 1.071 OPS with six homers and 18 RBIs in 18 September games. And now he gets the platoon advantage at Coors Field? Don't overthink this one.

Middle Infield -- Andy Ibanez (R), 2%, Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Chris Ellis): Ibanez has a lot going for him as a streamer. He's been raking at the plate, hitting .310/.359/.489 in the second half. Best of all, Ibanez's eligibility at first, second and third base makes him easy to slide into your lineup.

Outfield -- Victor Reyes (S), 8%, Detroit Tigers vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Jon Heasley): Reyes has earned regular playing time with the way he's been swinging the stick. He's batting .314/.339/.504 since the break, showing a splash of power and speed. The switch-hitter should get his licks in against Heasley, who looked overmatched in his first major league start last week.

Outfield -- Lorenzo Cain (R), 23%, Milwaukee Brewers vs. New York Mets (LHP Rich Hill): At age 35, Cain still has something left in the tank. Over his past 15 games, he's batting .319/.407/.574 with three dingers. He's also snagged three bases in that stretch, making him a rare source of speed that's still widely available this late in the season.

Outfield -- Dylan Moore (R), 34%, Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels (RHP Jaime Barria): Although it's been a disappointing season for Moore, he's still doing things that make him relevant in fantasy. He's still swiping bags, hitting the occasional homer, and providing eligibility at multiple positions. With a .318/.400/.545 slash line over his past 10 games, this is a good time to utilize Moore's power/speed skill set.