<
>

Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Saturday's games

Yusei Kikuchi added some zip to his fastball but needs to improve his command. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

We're usually treated to a full slate of games on Saturday, but this season has been anything but usual. Because the games between the Nationals and Marlins and the Phillies and Blue Jays have been postponed, we're instead looking at a 13-game slate. Of course, when there are gaps in the schedule, that gives us more opportunities to stream. Make you sure fill those vacant lineup spots to maximize your team's production.

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

Pitching

Tyler Chatwood (R), rostered in 47% of ESPN leagues, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: Chatwood turned some heads after throwing six strong frames against Milwaukee in his season debut, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks while striking out eight. Whether he can keep the walks in check going forward, that's the question. While Chatwood held a 6.6 BB/9 over 180 1/3 innings with the Cubs the last two seasons, he posted a 3.1 BB/9 after the break in 2019 (albeit mostly in relief), so there is some reason for optimism in the walks department. It's worth noting that, after using his cutter just 10% of the time in 2019, Chatwood used it 31% of the time against the Brewers. That usage is something to monitor. While there's a decent chance that the control issues resurface in the future, a start against the Pirates on Saturday is relatively low risk.

Jordan Lyles (R), 2%, Texas Rangers at San Francisco Giants: Lyles flashed some legitimate excellence in 2019. He opened the season with a 1.97 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 9.3 K/9 over his first eight starts, and he finished the season with a 2.37 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 8.6 K/9 over his last 11 starts. Of course, there were some speed bumps along the way, but he was a big-time fantasy asset for a large chunk of the season. This will be Lyles' first start of 2020 after pitching two scoreless innings of relief on Tuesday, and he couldn't ask for a better matchup than the Giants, whose lineup barely looks MLB-caliber.

Mitch Keller (R), 21%, Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs: While Keller held the Cardinals to one run over five innings in his season debut, there were some velocity concerns. After averaging 95.4 mph on his fastball in 2019, he was sitting at 92 mph with his heater against the Cards. Hopefully Keller is just still ramping up, but it says something that he was able to limit the Cardinals to only two hits without his best stuff. This does create some risk against a good Cubs lineup, but Keller remains one of the better arms in Saturday's streaming conversation.

Yusei Kikuchi (L), 4%, Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland Athletics: Kikuchi's first start of the season didn't necessarily go as planned, as the Astros roughed him up a bit, but there's still reason to be optimistic here. There was some buzz surrounding Kikuchi this spring because of a velocity spike, and that added velocity was still there in late July. The left-hander's fastball 92.5 mph last season, and on Sunday against Houston it averaged 95.9 mph on the gun. When evaluating pitchers and potential breakouts, you want to see tangible changes, and a 3.5 mph velocity jump certainly qualifies. While this still isn't an easy matchup for streaming purposes, Oakland's offense has struggled out of the gate with an 83 wRC+ through the first week. Even if you don't pick up Kikuchi here, keep an eye on his next few starts and see whether the increased velocity can help him take the next step.

Bullpen

The closer landscape is becoming more difficult than ever to navigate. Whether due to injuries, ineffectiveness, or managerial whims, it seems like we're finding new potential closer candidates every day. It's possible we have a new ninth-inning man in Kansas City after Trevor Rosenthal nailed down a 5-3 victory over the Tigers on Thursday. Greg Holland, who has two saves this season, pitched the sixth inning on Thursday, and Ian Kennedy pitched the eighth. Ultimately, this could wind up being a frustrating situation where roles are constantly in flux, but Rosenthal, who was repeatedly hitting 100 mph on the gun Thursday, deserves your attention if you're in the closer market.

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

Projected game scores

Hitting

Catcher -- Travis d'Arnaud (R), 21%, Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets (RHP Michael Wacha): d'Arnaud is back from the IL after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The Atlanta backstop has solid pop and is the rare catcher who will often bat sixth instead of eighth or ninth. Hitting in the middle of a top-heavy Braves lineup against a non-threatening hurler is a good place to be.

First Base - Miguel Cabrera (R), 16%, Detroit Tigers vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Trevor Bauer): Are we witnessing a power resurgence from Miggy? After popping just 12 homers in 136 games in 2019, Cabrera has already gone yard three times this season, including twice on Thursday. Even if the power outburst is short lived, he's still showing an ability to get on base with a 15.4% walk rate in the early going.

Second Base -- Robinson Cano (L), 15%, New York Mets at Atlanta Braves (RHP Touki Toussaint): After a slow start, Cano is 8-for-13 over his last four games and now faces Toussaint, a raw righty taking the rotation spot of Mike Foltynewicz. Cano has the patience to wait out the often wild Toussaint and the experience to take advantage of a mistake.

Third Base -- Colin Moran (L), 31%, Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs (RHP Tyler Chatwood): In this shortened season where every game has increased significance, we need to be more willing to ride hot streaks. Moran wasn't on the mixed-league radar heading into this season, but he's batting .300/.364/.800 with three homers on the young season. On Saturday, he gets the platoon edge against Chatwood, who surrendered a .306/.393/.430 slash line to lefty batters in 2019.

Shortstop -- Freddy Galvis (S), 21%, Cincinnati Reds at Detroit Tigers (RHP Michael Fulmer): Galvis belted a career-high 23 homers in 2019, and he's showing that pop again with a pair of dingers in the season's first week. Fulmer got knocked around in his first start since 2018, and the Reds' loaded lineup is going to make him work here. Even batting eighth, Galvis should get some opportunities to produce some runs on Saturday.

Corner Infield -- Ryan McMahon (L), 50%, Colorado Rockies vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Joey Lucchesi): It's rare we recommend a lefty-on-lefty matchup, but this is Coors Field we're talking about. Exceptions should be made. Plus, McMahon, who has been in the Rockies' lineup every single day, actually posted a better SLG and ISO against lefty pitchers in 2019.

Middle Infield -- J.P. Crawford (L), 11%, Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Mike Fiers): The Mariners have been swinging hot sticks in the early going, so it's noteworthy that Crawford has begun serving as the team's table-setter, batting leadoff each of the last two games. He's batting .375/.516/.583 this season with a pair of stolen bases, and he draws the platoon advantage against Fiers, who was pitching with decreased velocity in his first outing.

Outfield -- Mark Canha (R), 49%, Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners (LHP Yusei Kikuchi): Canha provides big-time power from the right side, clubbing 26 dingers in just 126 games in 2019, and Kikuchi has had trouble with righty batters. In 2019, the Seattle southpaw allowed a .304/.359/.545 slash line to right-handed hitters.

Outfield -- Hunter Renfroe (R), 43%, Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Alex Cobb): Renfroe looks like a prime power play on Saturday. Not only does the slugger get a huge park boost by trading in Tropicana Filed for Camden Yards, but he gets to square off against Cobb, who can't seem to keep the ball in the yard. Dating back to last season, the right-hander has served up 10 homers in his last four starts.

Outfield -- Wil Myers (R), 35%, San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies (LHP Kyle Freeland): Here we have another Coors Field special, with Myers squaring off against Freeland, the owner of a 9.25 ERA in 47 2/3 innings at Coors last season. Myers has already hit two balls over the fence this season, and this is another prime opportunity for him to do some damage.