Fantasy baseball daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Saturday

Carlos Martinez hasn't been a strikeout force in 2021, but is still getting the job done for St. Louis. AP

Saturday presents the usual 15-game slate, and the hope is that the weather cooperates and all 30 teams are actually able to take the field and complete their contests. The marquee matchup looks to be Max Scherzer squaring off against a revitalized Corey Kluber, who is coming off his most dominant start in years -- a performance against Detroit that featured eight shutout frames and 10 strikeouts. With every team getting in on the action on Saturday, there are plenty of quality streamers to consider.

Here are Saturday's top options, with recommendations focused on those players rostered in under 50% of all ESPN leagues.


Carlos Martinez (R), rostered in 32% of ESPN leagues, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Colorado Rockies: Martinez has been getting it done on the mound, holding a 3.72 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over six starts, but not in the way you might think. After consistently fanning more than a batter per inning earlier in his career, C-Mart's K/9 rate sits at just 5.0 this season. Although he's showing the best control of his career (2.2 BB/9), once his .230 BABIP normalizes, he's not going to have much margin for error if he doesn't start missing more bats. Either way, there's little reason to be concerned with Saturday's home matchup against Colorado. Facing the Rockies in a pitcher-friendly park is about as good as it gets, making Martinez one of the top streaming options on the slate.

Garrett Richards (R), 13%, Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles: After getting tagged for 12 earned runs over his first four starts (6.47 ERA), Richards has looked much sharper his last two times on the mound. He spun seven innings of one-run ball with 10 strikeouts against the Mets, and he followed that up by allowing only one run in five frames against Texas. Richards is striking out more than a batter per inning, thanks to his slider and curve, which sport whiff rates of 34.4% and 31.4%, respectively. The Boston right-hander should have little trouble staying on track against an Orioles club that sports an AL-worst 78 wRC+ versus right-handed pitching.

Trevor Williams (R), 6%, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: Williams has been volatile this season, as his 6.00 ERA can attest. However, he's the type of guy you feel okay starting against the Pirates, whose 83 wRC+ ranks third-worst in baseball, behind only the Tigers and Rockies. Despite the ugly ERA, the right-hander has held opponents to two-or-fewer runs in four of his six starts, and his 9.7 K/9 is by far a career best, as his revamped slider is generating plenty of swings-and-misses. Williams isn't completely risk-free, but matchups don't get much better than this.

Merrill Kelly (R), 6%, Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Mets: After three starts, Kelly's ERA was an unsightly 8.44 along with a bloated 1.69 WHIP. In his last three starts, he's posted a 3.24 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Kelly spent three days on the COVID-19 list earlier in the week but has been cleared and is in a good spot to continue his roll, facing a Mets lineup averaging the second fewest runs per game in MLB.

Bullpen: Daniel Bard leads the Rockies with three saves, but it hasn't been pretty. He sports an 8.10 ERA with a 2.30 WHIP, and he's allowed seven free passes in 10 innings. Those looking to speculate should take a look at Mychal Givens. The right-hander sports a 10.0 K/9 and holds a 1.69 ERA over his last 11 appearances. Givens also has some experience in the closer role, having saved 20 games for the Orioles between 2018 and 2019.

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


Catcher -- Mitch Garver (R), 43%, Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers (RHP Jose Urena): Garver broke out with 31 home runs in 2019, and he's currently on pace for 32 bombs this season. The skills don't necessarily reflect what we saw from the backstop in 2019, as he's walking less and striking out more, but this is still a potent power bat at a weak position in the heart of a dangerous Twins lineup.

First Base -- Christian Walker (R), 44%, Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Mets (LHP Joey Lucchesi): Just recently activated off the injured list, Walker has already reclaimed the No. 3 spot in Arizona's batting order. The 30-year-old first baseman doesn't get much attention, but he's got good power and a decent batting eye. Walker finds himself in a nice spot on Saturday, facing off against a very hittable Lucchesi.

Second Base -- Jorge Polanco (S), 48%, Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers (RHP Jose Urena): Polanco doesn't have a singular standout skill, but he's got some pop and speed and he hits in the middle of a good lineup. As a switch-hitter, he'll have the platoon edge against Urena, who has been susceptible to left-handed hitters this season, surrendering a .299 batting average and a .368 OBP.

Third Base -- Hunter Dozier (R), 39%, Kansas City Royals vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Lance Lynn): When streaming hitters, sometimes it's as simple as riding the hot streaks -- and that's what we're doing with Dozier. After a slow start, the Kansas City slugger has smashed seven extra-base hits (including three homers) in his last five games.

Shortstop -- Jonathan Villar (S), 14%, New York Mets vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (Undecided): Injuries in the Mets infield have opened up playing time for Villar. While he's yet to do much offensively, let's not forget that this is the same guy who swatted 24 dingers and swiped 40 bags back in 2019. As long he's getting playing time, Villar has the chance to be a multi-faceted fantasy contributor.

Corner Infield -- Andrew Vaughn (R), 34%, Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals (LHP Daniel Lynch): Slowly but surely, things are starting to click for the 23-year-old Vaughn. Although he has yet to leave the yard, he's batting .333 over his last 11 games with a double-digit walk rate. Vaughn also sports a 92.3 average exit velocity, which puts him in the 87th percentile. Good things are coming for the highly touted rookie.

Middle Infield -- Niko Goodrum (S), 3%, Detroit Tigers vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Jose Berrios): The Tigers offense has mostly been a black hole, but Goodrum has still been carving out some fantasy value. Despite an ugly 41.8% strikeout rate, Goodrum has delivered four homers and four steals, with three of those swipes coming in his last five games. Berrios presents a tough matchup, but he's more vulnerable to left-handed batters.

Outfield -- Tyler O'Neill (R), 41%, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez): There are plenty of flaws in O'Neill's game, as he strikes out too much (31.6%) and rarely walks (2.6%). That said, the things he does well are what make him intriguing for fantasy. O'Neill has great power, backed up by a 92-mph average exit velocity and a 14.6% barrel rate, plus elite speed. With five homers and three steals, he could flirt with a 20/20 season if he continues playing regularly.

Outfield -- Joc Pederson (L), 40%, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Wil Crowe): Pederson, who just recently came off the IL, has done next to nothing at the plate this season, hitting just .143/.286/.232 in 18 games. He has a good chance to get going on Saturday, however. The left-handed slugger will get the platoon advantage against Crowe, one of the lowest-ranked hurlers on the slate.

Outfield -- Adam Duvall (R), 15%, Miami Marlins vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Adrian Houser): Rostering Duvall can feel like riding a roller-coaster filled lots of ups and downs. After a brief dry spell, Duvall appears to be heating up again, clubbing homers in both of his last two games. Fire him up over the weekend for a good chance at seeing some more fireworks.