Saturday's 15-game docket features multiple aces, several bottom-tier arms to attack on the hitting side, and plenty of quality streaming options in between. The most enticing matchup on the slate is an interleague bout between the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers that features Carlos Rodon and Corbin Burnes going toe to toe. It's probably a good bet to avoid the bats in that one.
Here's a look at Saturday's streaming options, focusing on players rostered in fewer than 50% of ESPN leagues.
Merrill Kelly (R), rostered in 24% of ESPN leagues, Arizona Diamondbacks at Chicago Cubs: Kelly may not be the most exciting fantasy option, but he's still been productive over the past month, delivering a 2.56 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over his last six starts. He's even held two of the game's best offenses in check during that stretch, limiting the Dodgers and Padres to a combined one run over 11 1/3 frames. Meanwhile, the Cubs have not been one of baseball's best offenses, putting up an MLB-worst 27.1% strikeout rate with an 89 wRC+ over the last 30 days.
Patrick Sandoval (L), 28%, Los Angeles Angels at Minnesota Twins: In terms of upside, Sandoval carries the most on this list. He's lacked start-to-start consistency, but he sports a 9.7 K/9 and has fanned nine or more batters in three of his last seven starts. Under normal circumstances, the Twins aren't necessarily a team I like to stream against because they've been well above average against lefties. That said, Minnesota has been below average offensively in July, and their lineup looks a lot less intimidating now that Nelson Cruz has been shipped off to Tampa Bay.
Casey Mize (R), 49%, Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals: The Tigers have been making a concerted effort to manage Mize's workload, as the young right-hander hasn't thrown more than 56 pitches in any of his last three outings. It's unclear if this is the new plan going forward, or if they'll loosen the reins again soon. Either way, it's hard to argue with what Mize is doing when he is on the mound. Dating back to April 29, the 24-year-old has allowed more than three runs in a start ... zero times. That's a 14-start stretch in which he has posted a 2.97 ERA. The odds of Mize picking up a win on Saturday are obviously diminished because of how the Tigers are handling him, but he's still a strong bet to hold down a Royals lineup that owns a bottom-five wOBA (.299) in July.
Drew Smyly (L), 31%, Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies: It's hard to feel completely comfortable with Smyly, who has a 4.50 ERA this season and has endured multiple blowup outings. Then again, he's been a fairly reliable arm over the last month and a half, posting a 3.02 ERA over his last seven starts, never allowing more than three runs in an outing. I'd still exercise some caution with Smyly against a solid Phillies lineup at the hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Ballpark, but he still deserves streamer consideration if your league situation dictates you being aggressive.
With the trade deadline fast approaching, we could see some established closers dealt to contending teams over the next week. One name that could be dealt is the Pirates' Richard Rodriguez, which would potentially open the ninth inning for David Bednar. Bednar, who owns a 2.84 ERA and 11.1 K/9 over 42 appearances, is available in 98% of ESPN leagues. He's worth a speculative pickup in case Rodriguez ends up getting traded.
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Catcher -- Austin Nola (R), 20%, San Diego Padres at Miami Marlins (LHP Ross Detwiler): Nola is fresh off the injured list after being sidelined since late May with a knee injury. The 31-year-old offers a solid stick behind the plate and slots into one of baseball's more dangerous lineups. He draws a favorable matchup on Saturday, squaring off against Dewiler, who was blasted for eight runs in his last start.
First Base -- Pavin Smith (L), 30%, Arizona Diamondbacks at Chicago Cubs (RHP Alec Mills): After managing just one homer in June, Smith has gone yard four times in July, including a bomb in each of his last two games. Although there's not big-time power here, he consistently hits the ball hard, and Mills has not fared well against lefty swingers this season.
Second Base -- Jed Lowrie (S), 44%, Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners (RHP Logan Gilbert): Gilbert has been on a nice roll of late, so we're not specifically targeting hitters against him, but Lowrie has been on quite the roll himself. The last 22 games have seen the veteran hit .346 with six homers and 16 RBI. While T-Mobile Park favors pitchers, it's more favorable for left-handed power than the Oakland Coliseum.
Third Base -- Hunter Dozier (R), 22%, Kansas City Royals vs. Detroit Tigers (RHP Casey Mize): After hitting a combined .160/.227/.329 in April, May and June, Dozier has finally found his groove in July, batting .346/.426/.500 over 16 games. The Tigers have been keeping Mize on a strict pitch count lately, so there's a good chance that Dozier will draw multiple at-bats against Detroit's bullpen, which boasts the worst ERA (5.13) in the American League.
Shortstop -- Miguel Rojas (R), 22%, Miami Marlins vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Ryan Weathers): Rojas has settled in as the Marlins' leadoff hitter, which is a pretty good place to be with Adam Duvall and Jesus Aguilar, the top two RBI men in the National League, batting behind him. The Miami shortstop is batting .304 over his last 23 games, and he's absolutely torched left-handed pitchers, producing a .365/.433/.518 triple slash against them.
Corner Infield -- Joey Votto (L), 38%, Cincinnati Reds vs. St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Jake Woodford): Votto continues to be under-rostered, despite his top-tier quality-of-contact metrics. A career .317 hitter against righties, the 37-year-old veteran should get his licks in against Woodfoord, who is surrendering a .428 wOBA to lefty batters this season.
Middle Infield -- Jonathan Villar (S), 22%, New York Mets vs. Toronto Blue Jays (LHP Hyun Jin Ryu): Villar remains one of my favorite streaming options. Not only does he offer versatility in his power/speed skill set, but he also offers plenty of positional flexibility, with eligibility at three different positions. No matter what you need, there's a good chance Villar can provide it.
Outfield -- LaMonte Wade Jr. (L), 3%, San Francisco Giants vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Wil Crowe): With an ugly 6.12 ERA over 14 games (13 starts), Crowe is one of the hurlers we want to attack on Saturday. Wade Jr., meanwhile, has literally done all his damage against righties this season (he's 0-for-16 against lefties), sporting a .950 OPS against them.
Outfield -- Akil Baddoo (L), 42%, Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals (RHP Carlos Hernandez): Baddoo hasn't proven that he can hit lefties (.136/.236/.163), but he's more than proven that he can handle right-handed pitching, illustrated by his .302/.379/.566 slash line against them. That puts him in an appealing spot on Saturday against the right-handed Hernandez. Perhaps more importantly (for fantasy purposes, anyway), Baddoo also provides big-time value on the bases, as he's swiped 14 bags on the year.
Outfield -- Daniel Johnson (L), 1%, Cleveland vs. Tampa Bay Rays (Bullpen game): Johnson has been platooning in right field with Oscar Mercado, though both may play on Saturday if Bradley Zimmer remains out with an illness. All three are in play if they're in the Cleveland lineup with Johnson and Zimmer holding the platon edge since righty Drew Rasmussen will open, followed by Collin McHugh. Johnson has responded to the added playing time by slashing .350/.381/.650 since the break.