Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Saturday

Lucas Giolito struck out eight batters while defeating the Blue Jays last Sunday. On Saturday, he faces them again. AP

Full 15-game slates usually offer up plenty of quality starting pitchers to stream. Well, that's not the case this Saturday. This one is pretty ugly, folks! There are a lot of potential land mines out there. On the bright side, however, a lack of quality pitching options means plenty of favorable hitting matchups -- including multiple recent call-ups, so stack up on bats and tread carefully through the pitching landscape.

Here's a look at the day's top streaming options, focusing on players rostered in fewer than 50 percent of ESPN.com leagues.


Pitchers to stream

Lucas Giolito (R), rostered in 26 percent of ESPN leagues, Chicago White Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays: On a day of lackluster streaming options, Giolito stands out. The right-hander has posted a 1.64 ERA over his last four starts, racking up 28 strikeouts in 22 innings. It's important to remember that, despite his struggles last season (6.13 ERA), Giolito is only 24 years old and a former first-round pick. With improved velocity this season, the young righty is back on the fantasy radar --especially in favorable matchups like what he'll get on Saturday. The Blue Jays are one of the worst teams in baseball against RHP, ranking in the bottom five with a 76 wRC+ and a 26.2 percent K-rate.

Griffin Canning (R), 8 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Kansas City Royals: Canning hasn't been particularly sharp in any of his three big-league starts, with walks and homers getting the best of him. Nevertheless, there's still plenty to like here. Despite the questionable early results that include a 5.65 ERA and a 2.51 HR/9, the rookie right-hander has impressive stuff and is already missing tons of bats (11.9 K/9). I wouldn't start him against a dangerous lineup, but in a pitcher-friendly park and facing the Royals' league-average sticks? There's enough upside here to roll Canning out there on Saturday.

Nick Margevicius (L), 24 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: Margevicius has been hit hard his last two times out, but when you're talking about a matchup against the Dodgers and a meeting with the Rockies at Coors Field, we're willing to give the 22-year-old a pass. Saturday's matchup against Pittsburgh should go much more smoothly. The Pirates, after all, sport an MLB-worst 64 wRC+ against LHP with a .091 ISO and a 28.2 K-rate. Margevicius may not have an enticing skill set, but matchups don't get much more ideal than this.

Corbin Martin (R), 16 percent, Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox: Are we really going to throw Martin out there against the Red Sox at Fenway Park? Well, it depends on your situation, but if you're trailing in your head-to-head matchup going into the weekend and are willing to chase some upside, then let's get crazy. The 23-year-old has only one big league start under his belt, but 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball with nine strikeouts and one walk against Texas was a heck of a debut. Prior to his summoning, Martin had managed a 1.48 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP, and a 10.4 K/9 in five games (four starts) at Triple-A. There's no getting around the tough matchup against Boston, but again, if your situation dictates that it's fine to take on some risk, then go ahead and roll the dice. Plus, it's possible that grabbing Martin now could turn into a wise long-term investment.


The Yankees bullpen is absolutely loaded with Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton and Adam Ottavino operating as a three-headed monster at the back end of games. Don't overlook Tommy Kahnle, though. The right-hander has been downright filthy this season, holding a 1.08 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP and a 12.4 K/9 through 19 appearances. Those in holds leagues in particular should be paying attention, as Kahnle has secured holds in four of his last five games.

The Pittsburgh Pirates will be the latest team to hand the ball to a reliever to start as they've tabbed Montana DuRapau as Saturday's opener. It's unclear whether the Bucs intend to proceed with a primary pitcher or a parade of relievers, but they'll need someone like Steven Brault to work multiple innings. Fortunately, the bullpen is well-rested as Jordan Lyles gave the club seven strong innings on Friday night, with Kyle Crick and Felipe Vazquez each tossing a frame.

Projected game scores



Robinson Chirinos (R), 23 percent, Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox (RHP Hector Velazquez): Chirinos currently stands as the No. 9 catcher in fantasy, according to the ESPN Player Rater, yet he is still available in 77 percent of leagues. Go figure. He sports a 1.154 OPS in May with three homers and more walks (9) than strikeouts (6). Start him against Velazquez and keep him around for a while.

First Base

Chris Davis (L), 2 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Cleveland Indians (RHP Adam Plutko): Everyone is seemingly avoiding Davis after his historically bad start, but he actually has a respectable .268/.349/.500 triple slash over the last month. Still a nice source of power, Davis could do some damage against Plutko, who is making his first start of the season. The pitcher allowed a .319/.382/.667 slash line to left-handed batters in 2018.

Second Base

Tommy La Stella (L), 40 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Jakob Junis): Do you think the Angels might be wishing they had locked up La Stella to a long-term deal instead of Mike Trout? All kidding aside, La Stella has actually been one of this season's biggest surprises. He leads the Angels with 11 home runs, and his .998 OPS is just a few points behind Trout's 1.004. La Stella is batting .337/.400/.674 versus RHP and Junis is getting hammered by lefties (.309/.369/.500).

Third Base

Austin Riley (R), 20 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Chase Anderson): I wanted to highlight Riley here, because come next week there's a very good chance he's not going to be under 50 percent. Riley got called up to Atlanta after belting 15 homers in 37 games at Triple-A, and he's already collected four hits -- including a home run and a double -- in his first seven at-bats. The 22-year-old just might be in the big leagues to stay, and he should be scooped up and started wherever he's available.


Nicky Lopez (L), 4 percent, Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Angels (RHP Griffin Canning): Lopez also got the call this week, and the Royals immediately inserted him into the No. 2 spot in their batting order. The 24-year-old doesn't have a ton of power, but he has a good hit tool, knows how to get on base and possesses good speed. Lopez gets the platoon edge against Canning on Saturday and has a chance to stick in the bigs.

Corner Infield

Brandon Belt (L), 8 percent, San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Zack Godley): Belt has a .921 OPS against right-handed pitching this season, but this recommendation is more about getting exposure against Godley, who has been a powder keg this season. Not only does he have a 7.65 ERA in 10 games (seven starts), but left-handed batters have put up a .415 wOBA against him.

Middle Infield

Brandon Lowe (L), 42 percent, Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees (RHP Masahiro Tanaka): Lowe has slowed down since a torrid April, but I'm still surprised that he's not rostered in more leagues. He has posted a .296/.353/.565 slash against right-handers and gets a massive park upgrade by going to Yankee Stadium. Tanaka, meanwhile, has been much more vulnerable to left-handed bats (.832 OPS allowed) this season compared to righties (.662).


Willie Calhoun (L), 2 percent, Texas Rangers vs. St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Dakota Hudson): Calhoun was recalled from Triple-A on Wednesday and proceeded to go a combined 6-for-12 with a pair of homers in his first two games. He should stay hot against Hudson, as the young pitcher has been a huge liability against left-handed hitters this season (.388/.475/.729).

Christin Stewart (L), 5 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Daniel Mengden): Stewart hasn't done much since coming off the IL, but he remains one of the day's better power options if you need help in the HR category. He draws the platoon advantage against Mengden, who was hit hard in his first start of the season on Sunday and doesn't have overpowering stuff.

Melky Cabrera (B), 4 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at San Diego Padres (LHP Nick Margevicius): At this point, just keep rolling with Melky whenever there's a southpaw on the mound. He's batting .351/.368/.541 against LHP this season and .361/.425/.417 against all pitching so far in May. Cabrera will slow down eventually, but he's an easy "plug and play" streaming option in favorable matchups.

Hitter matchup ratings