Saturday is finally here. Not only does that mean we've reached the weekend, it means that we have aces again. After getting just two elite pitchers between Thursday and Friday combined, Saturday lets us breathe a little with five hurlers making it into the top tier. Now let's make them count. Time to dive in.
With a road tilt against the Padres, it's no surprise that Max Scherzer is perched atop Saturday's rankings. It's a matchup that, on paper, looks largely one-sided. That's what you get when one of baseball's best pitchers faces one of baseball's worst offenses. The Padres rank dead-last in baseball in both wOBA (.278) and wRC+ (75) against right-handed pitching while whiffing 24 percent of the time. For his part, Scherzer is fanning nearly 32 percent of the batters he faces, and he owns a 2.41 ERA in his last seven starts. Don't get cute. Pay up in cash games.
Zack Greinke can't match Scherzer's upside, as his 7.6 K/9 attests. Still, after a rough April (5.50 ERA), he's posted a 2.57 ERA in eight starts since, including just two runs allowed over his last three starts combined. That makes him a safe play against a Phillies team that can't hit right-handed pitching (75 wRC+) and strikes out at a healthy 22.3 percent clip.
With the Braves coming to town, Steven Matz also gets a mouth-watering matchup. The Braves are the worst team in baseball versus lefty pitching (58 wRC+). They also whiff 23 percent of the time, which pairs well with Matz and his 9.0 K/9 rate. Both have great matchups, but I prefer Matz over Greinke because of the strikeout potential.
Jon Lester finds himself in a tougher spot, facing a Pirates team that's not too kind to left-handed pitching (114 wRC+). That said, they've put up a .282 wOBA in June, the worst mark in baseball. They also whiff an inflated 24.7 percent of the time against southpaws. I don't love Lester for cash given the other elite options, but he makes for a great tournament play.
Rounding out the elite tier is Danny Salazar, who draws a home start against the White Sox. The righty has struggled with walks this year, allowing 4.5 per nine innings, but his 10.8 K/9 helps make up for it. Plus, in seven career starts against the Pale Hose, he owns a 14.1 K/9. In addition to the high strikeout potential, Salazar has also shown a relatively high floor this season, allowing three or more runs just twice in 12 outings this season. He's in a good spot against a White Sox team that's below average against righty pitching and is whiffing 22 percent of the time in June.
Carlos Martinez hit a rough patch in May (5.18 ERA), but he's righted the ship, posting a 2.70 ERA in his last three starts. A matchup against the Rangers will test him, though. The Rangers have been putting a hurt on opposing pitchers in June, as they sport a .356 wOBA that ranks second in baseball. They also make a lot of contact (18.9 percent whiff) rate, which doesn't leave much upside potential for Martinez and his 7.4 K/9. On a day with a wide variety of elite options, the Cardinals righty gets lost in the shuffle.
Jerad Eickhoff is another hurler who figures to get lost in the shuffle on Saturday with a home matchup against Arizona. Although his stuff just doesn't compare with those in the top tier, the right-hander still has a lot going for him. He's been lights-out of late, holding a 1.93 ERA in his last five starts, and he's pitching at Citizens Bank Ballpark, where he sports a 2.03 career ERA (4.24 career road ERA). Eickhoff hasn't been a huge strikeout guy this year (7.6 K/9), but the Diamondbacks have been flailing at the ball in June, posting an MLB-worst 30.3 percent strikeout rate to go along with a .295 wOBA. He makes for an interesting SP2 that could be under-owned
Former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel hasn't exhibited a high enough floor to be a cash-game consideration. He's clearly been dealt some bad luck this season, but the fact he's allowed five or more runs in six of his last 11 outings can't be ignored. That said, he's still inducing a ton of grounders (58 percent) and missing the same number of bats as last year (8.3 K/9), so he doesn't need to be completely ignored, either. Although the Reds' offense has been solid against lefty pitching this season, they've struggled to make contact so far in June, whiffing at a 26 percent clip, the third-highest mark in baseball. Consider the Astros lefty when filling out those GPP lineups.
Tim Lincecum is back. He's set to make his 2016 and Angels debut on Saturday against the A's. Frankly, it's hard to know what to expect. However, the right-hander pitched well in three Triple-A starts, posting a 2.65 ERA with a 10.1 K/9, and he'll be eased back into action against an A's team that doesn't fare well against right-handed pitching (87 wRC+). It's probably best to take the wait-and-see approach here, but the matchup is favorable enough to consider streaming him in deeper head-to-head formats.
Set to make his big league debut is Cody Reed, who could stick in the Reds' rotation if he performs well. The young southpaw held a 3.20 ERA over 11 Triple-A starts this season, with an 8.8 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. Reed will have his work cut out for him. He's facing an Astros team that strikes out a lot, but can also put up runs in a hurry if he's missing his spots. Reed isn't DFS-ready just yet, but he's worth grabbing in season-long formats. He's available in virtually all leagues.
If you're risk averse, you might as well skip ahead, because Michael Pineda has plenty of blow-up potential. However, he also has a high-upside matchup on Saturday, facing a Twins team that's well below average against righty pitching (88 wRC+) and sports a 23 percent whiff rate. Pineda has his flaws, but that 9.9 K/9 is very attractive in a favorable matchup like this one. He's still a free agent in over half of ESPN leagues.
Matt Moore may tempt some owners after spinning seven shutout innings with 10 K's against the Astros his last time out. I'm not ready to trust him just yet. He surrendered at least four runs in four of his previous five starts, and Saturday's opponent, the Giants, are a much different team than the Astros. While the 'Stros strike out more than any team in the AL, the Giants sport the second-lowest whiff rate in baseball and are better against left-handed pitching. I'm fine throwing Moore out there in seasonal leagues, but I'm looking elsewhere in DFS.
Cardinals hitters find themselves in an appealing spot against Rangers call-up Nick Martinez. Lefties Matt Carpenter and Brandon Moss lead the way with righties Aledmys Diaz, Matt Holliday, Stephen Piscotty and Jhonny Peralta all warranting consideration.
With lefty Jon Niese on the mound for the Pirates, it's a good time to invest in right-handed Cubs bats. The Pirates southpaw has surrendered a .377 wOBA to right-handed hitters this season. That's something right-handed slugger Kris Bryant and switch-hitters Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist will look to exploit.
Yovani Gallardo returns from the disabled list after missing seven weeks with shoulder issues. He made only four starts prior to going down, and things didn't go very well, evidenced by the 7.00 ERA. Gallardo should be better now from a physical standpoint, but look for the Blue Jays, who have been smoking hot in June (.354 wOBA), to jump on the right-hander in his first start back. I particularly like lefty swinger Michael Saunders, but Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion are in play, too, even though they lack the platoon advantage.
Most likely to go yard: Matt Holliday
I like the Cardinals to rough up Martinez on Saturday, and Holliday, who already has 11 homers this year, will be right in the middle of things.
Most likely to swipe a bag: Starling Marte
Jon Lester is on the hill for the Cubs on Saturday, and it's no secret that baserunners like to test him. Marte will run wild if he gets the chance.