MLB daily notes: Fantasy rankings for Saturday

Jacob deGrom has a strong pitching matchup against the Brewers on Saturday. AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Who are the top pitchers and hitters to target in fantasy baseball on Saturday? Mike Sheets breaks down our rankings.



Felix Hernandez may no longer be a true fantasy ace (his 7.4 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 are both career worsts), but he could pitch like one Saturday against Cincinnati. Not only are the Reds one of the worst teams in baseball versus right-handed pitching (74 wRC+), they're also whiffing at a 23 percent clip with the worst walk rate (6.7 percent) in the National League. Although there's a big park downgrade going from Safeco Field to Great American Ballpark, it's partly offset by the fact Hernandez won't have to face a DH.

Jacob deGrom recently admitted he's still not comfortable with his mechanics, which, frankly, shouldn't come as a surprise considering his 5.8 K/9 rate and the fact that his average velocity (92.5 mph) is well under where he was a year ago (95 mph). With a 2.50 ERA through six starts, he's finding a way to make it work. Fortunately, a prime home matchup against Milwaukee gives deGrom plenty of appeal even if he's not firing on all cylinders. The Brewers boast a below-average lineup and strike out 26.5 percent of the time versus righties, the highest mark in baseball.

While King Felix and deGrom are struggling to match what they've done in the past, Jose Fernandez is missing more bats than ever. His 13.0 K/9 is more than a batter per inning better than the next-best pitcher (Max Scherzer, 11.7 K/9). Yes, the walk rate is up, but that's a concession most DFS players are willing to make. Fernandez draws a home outing against the Nationals, a team that ranks bottom-five in baseball with an 85 wRC+ against righties. He already faced them twice this season, allowing just two runs in 13 innings while fanning 20. Fernandez is a strong play in both cash and GPPs and certainly carries more upside than the two names above.

It's fair to say Alex Wood hasn't exactly earned elite status, but his matchup against the Padres at Petco Park warrants his inclusion in the top tier. The Padres sport the second-worst wOBA in baseball (.281) and struggle making contact against lefty pitching, striking out 26 percent of the time. For his part, Wood has allowed exactly one earned run in three of his last four starts and is paring a solid strikeout rate (8.3 K/9) with a top-10 ground ball rate (56 percent). Compared to the names above, Wood will be a much more cost-effective option, too.


Jon Lester has been as consistent as they come. He registered a quality start in seven of his eight outings this season (he fell one out short of going 8-for-8), and, more impressively, he surrendered one or zero runs five of his last six times out. Lester's also whiffing nearly a batter per inning. In other words, if you're seeking a hurler who gives you a high floor in cash games, this is it. The upside isn't super high with a matchup against the Giants, who sport the lowest strikeout rate (16.4 percent) in the NL, but the lineup isn't overly threatening.

Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees head to Oakland, where he'll square off against an A's team that owns that worst wOBA in the American League against righty pitching (.302). Although Tanaka has gotten touched up a bit his last couple times out, his strikeout and walk rates are in line with 2015, and he h's boosted his ground ball rate to 56 percent, which ranks fourth-best in the AL. It's also worth noting that, in addition to getting a big park upgrade going from Yankee Stadium to the o.CO Coliseum, Tanaka has thrived on the road this season, putting up a 1.83 ERA in three starts. He deserves strong consideration in cash games.

The Angels' offense has improved in May after putting up the worst wOBA in the AL in April. However, they've still been merely average against right-handed pitching while sporting the worst ISO (.127) in the AL. This puts Kevin Gausman in a good spot to succeed Saturday. He doesn't project to rack up many K's against an Angels team that makes good contact, but his stuff is plenty good enough to keep them in check. The right-hander also has a great chance to register his first win of the season against Matt Shoemaker, owner of an 8.49 ERA in seven starts.


J.A. Happ's whiff rate has plummeted in 2016, and his 4.43 xFIP suggests he hasn't pitched as well as his 3.40 ERA indicates. Either way, he finds himself in a terrific spot Saturday, taking the hill against a Twins team that's the worst in the AL against left-handed pitching (.259 wOBA, 25 percent whiff rate). Happ, who is a free agent in nearly 40 percent of leagues, is a fine streaming option, as well as a suitable SP2 in cash games if you're looking to save cap space.

Sean Manaea has hit a few speed bumps since getting called up (see his 7.91 ERA in four starts). That said, he's coming off his best outing of the season, a one-run, 6 2/3-inning effort against the Rangers, and he matches up favorably against a Yankees team that struggles mightily against lefty pitching (81 wRC+). Manaea is available in 95 percent of ESPN.com leagues.

Like Manaea, fellow rookie Michael Fulmer has faced some struggles since being called up (6.52 ERA in four outings). However, even though he's not pitching deep into games, his 10.2 K/9 gives him nice strikeout upside, especially against a Rays team that's fanning more than 25 percent of the time against righty pitching.


Matt Cain has actually looked pretty sharp of late, tossing eight innings of two-run ball against Toronto last Tuesday, and following that up with a one-run, seven-inning effort against the Diamondbacks his last time out. That's all well and good, but the right-hander has still been more bad than good this season, and I'm not trusting him against a Cubs team that hammers right-handed pitching and leads the NL in both walk rate and run scored.


Shoemaker has been brutal this year. Had he lasted enough innings to qualify, his 8.49 ERA in seven starts would rank last in baseball. All Orioles bats are in play here. Shoemaker has actually struggled more against righty hitters this year (.481 wOBA), so don't hesitate to roster the likes of Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo, even though they lack the platoon advantage.

There's some long-term potential with Reds lefty John Lamb, but the results haven't been there. The fact that he gives up so many fly balls (42 percent), combined with a 38 percent hard-hard hit rate, means there's lots of blowup risk here. Right-handed hitters have blasted Lamb for a .414 wOBA this year. It's unfortunate that Seattle's lineup is so left-handed-heavy, but Nelson Cruz looks like a great play and Chris Iannetta, who is batting .378 versus southpaws, should be an affordable option at catcher.

Robbie Ray has done some positive things this year, including whiffing 10 batters per nine innings, but right-handed hitters have still been a thorn in his side (.370 wOBA). With the Cardinals on tap, feel free to fire up some combination of Matt Holliday, Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, Yadier Molina and Aledmys Diaz, who moved up to second in the batting order Thursday.

Also take a look at left-handed Royals bats against the White Sox's Miguel Gonzalez. He has surrendered a .384 wOBA to lefty swingers this season, and he's constantly filling up the bases with a 5.7 walk rate. Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon and switch-hitter Kendrys Morales are all worthy options Saturday.

Most likely to go yard: Adam Jones

I could go with any number of Orioles hitters to take Shoemaker deep Saturday, but I'll go with Jones, who has hit four of his five home runs this season over the last week-and-a-half.

Most likely to swipe a bag: Denard Span

With Lester on the mound for the Cubs, you know the Giants will have the green light whenever they get on base. Span is the best equipped to pilfer a bag or two.