In an effort to serve daily fantasy players and season-long fantasy players who use daily lineup settings, we present daily notes each day of the season. It's a daily version of our Fantasy Forecaster in which we project the best pitcher game scores, as well as the best team-hitting matchups based upon a number of factors.
The Los Angeles Dodgers shuffled their rotation, moving Clayton Kershaw up to be the top play on the day half of the Saturday slate. The Dodgers' southpaw will be challenged by the right-handed heavy Toronto Blue Jays attack in Rogers Centre. With someone else, this could cause pause, but not with Kershaw. Using weighted on base average (wOBA) against as a measure, he's equally as effective facing all hitters.
The evening's best play is Chris Sale, who draws a tasty home matchup against the Twins. The curious thing about Sale is that he's pitching more to contact this season, which has resulted in a 7.9 K/9 through six starts -- a far cry from his 11.8 whiff rate from a year ago. Of course, while his .207 BABIP is due for regression, it's hard to argue with the 1.66 ERA and 1.9 walk rate. Plus, the Twins are fanning at a 24 percent clip against lefties this season to go along with a .296 wOBA, so the strikeout upside remains high. I'm more than comfortable paying up for Sale on Saturday.
David Price also earns elite status. While a start against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium was once considered a scenario to avoid, that's no longer the case. The last-place Bronx Bombers rank last in the American League in runs scored while sporting a below average 96 wRC+ versus lefty pitching. The concern is that Price, despite strong peripherals, has been hit hard on multiple occasions this season, surrendering five or more runs in half of his starts -- including his last time out against the Yankees (6 ER in 7 IP). The Yanks also do a good job at making contact, which dampens the strikeout potential. Ultimately, Price is fanning 12 hitters per nine innings, and his 2.68 xFIP indicates his 6.14 ERA is artificially inflated, so I wouldn't hesitate using him here. I still prefer Sale in cash, though.
At Coors Field, the Rockies sport an MLB-best .373 wOBA. Away from Coors and its offense-increasing powers, they are middle of the road offensively and strike out at a higher clip. The latter scenario is where Johnny Cueto finds himself Saturday, as he faces the Rockies at AT&T Park. The right-hander is averaging seven innings per start with a career-best 1.5 BB/9 while striking out nearly a batter per inning -- all things that give him a solid floor in cash games. In a favorable home matchup like this, Cueto is a great alternative if you're fading Sale.
Say what you want about Bartolo Colon, who is nearing his 43rd birthday, but he's still finding a way to get it done. His control is as good as ever (0.9 BB/9) and his 8.0 K/9 is his highest mark since 2001. Some regression is coming, and there's always some blow-up potential with a guy like Colon who doesn't throw hard and is always around the plate. Then again, there's little risk of that happening against the Padres, who sport a .270 wOBA versus righties and an NL-worst 26 percent strikeout rate.
I'm not sure how you trust Shelby Miller right now. He owns an 8.49 ERA in six starts, and his 7.3 strikeout rate matches his 7.3 walk rate. Still, we can't ignore a matchup against his former team, the Braves, who have been handcuffed with a .274 wOBA versus righties this year. You can't go near Miller in cash, but the matchup is good enough to give the right-hander some tournament appeal.
There's nothing about Jason Hammel that stands out. He has average velocity, an average whiff rate and passable control. While his 1.24 ERA is nice and shiny, it has been aided by a .260 BABIP and 90 percent strand rate. Still, he's a solid pitcher who gets plenty of run support, and his matchup against a Nationals team that's well below average against right-handed pitching (82 wRC+) is one that shouldn't give him much trouble. Look at Hammel is a possible SP2 option.
Jake Odorizzi also has a favorable matchup, squaring off against the Angels, who have managed just a .293 wOBA against righty pitching this year. Although right-hander has fly ball tendencies and doesn't have great velocity, he succeeds by allowing very few free passes (1.8 BB/9) and missing enough bats to be useful (7.8 K/9). I like Odorizzi as an SP2 on sites that require two starters, though his tournament appeal is somewhat limited as the Angels whiff just 15.7 percent of the time -- the lowest mark in the American League
Available in 88 percent of leagues, Ubaldo Jimenez draws a home start against the A's, who struggle against right-handed pitching (.293 wOBA). The right-hander carries some risk, as he often has trouble finding the plate (4.88 BB/9) and he has been hurt by the home run. However, he misses bats (9.4 K/9), gets grounders (52 percent GB rate) and has had some bad luck (.373 BABIP), so there are reasons to give him a chance in a favorable matchup like this one.
Sure, Jonathan Gray's 7.98 ERA his ugly, but we can't ignore that two of his three starts this season came at Coors Field, and that, despite the high ERA, he has fanned 23 batters in 14 2/3 innings while maintaining a 2.5 walk rate. Saturday's matchup against the Giants is a tough one, as they rarely strike out and hit right-handed pitching hard (.343), but Gray has great stuff and he'll be helped out by pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. He's still available in 94 percent of leagues.
Brandon Finnegan, a free agent in 80 percent of leagues, has had both control and home run issues this season, which is not a good combination. However, there's upside here against a Brewers team that's below average against lefty pitching (90 wRC+) while whiffing 24 percent of the time.
Finnegan's opponent, Jimmy Nelson, makes for an interesting streaming option as well. Like Finnegan, he has suspect control and homers have hurt him. However, the Reds are the second-least patient team in the game against righties while sporting a streaming-friendly .299 wOBA and 23 percent strikeout rate in this scenario. Nelson is out there in more than 70 percent of leagues.
We've reached the point where Adam Wainwright just can't be trusted. Although he's coming off his best start of the season, which still amounted to three earned runs in six frames, his walk rate is up, his ground ball rate is down, and he's striking out just 4.8 batters per nine. That 6.68 ERA and 1.57 WHIP are pretty ugly too. Against a Pirates team that sports a strong .341 wOBA against righties, the risk is greater than the upside. Feel free to roll Wainwright out there in seasonal leagues, but you can't justify using him in DFS.
Cody Anderson has been hammered by hitters from both sides of the plate this season, but for Saturday's purposes let's focus on left-handed hitters, who have given him more trouble over the course of his brief big league career. With the Royals on tap, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon and switch-hitter Kendrys Morales are all in play.
It's also a good idea to target left-handed Rangers bats against Mike Pelfrey, who has given up a .422 wOBA to lefty bats this year. The Tigers righty also has walked more than he has struck out. A nice mini-stack would consist of Rougned Odor, who has ascended to the top of Texas' order, along with rookie Nomar Mazara and Prince Fielder.
Jeff Locke is one of the weakest pitchers on Saturday's slate, and his .387 wOBA allowed to right-handed bats tells us where to put our focus. Depending on how the Cardinals' lineup shakes out, Stephen Piscotty, Matt Holliday, Randal Grichuk, Yadier Molina and Aledmys Diaz are all in the discussion.
The Rays' lineup isn't exactly chock full of intriguing fantasy options, but it becomes more interesting with Jered Weaver on the mound. Weaver and his 82 mph fastball have allowed at least a .383 wOBA to both right- and left-handed batters this season, and his 48 percent fly ball rate is the fifth-highest mark in baseball. Could be a nice stacking opportunity for what should be mostly cost-effective Rays bats.
Most likely to go yard: David Ortiz
Ortiz has 12 career home runs at the new Yankee Stadium. Look for him to make it 13 against Eovaldi on Saturday.
Most likely to swipe a bag: Billy Hamilton
There are four steals ratings of nine or above on Saturday, giving us many options to choose from. Let's go with Hamilton to swipe one off Jonathan Lucroy, who has allowed an MLB-high 19 steals this season.