It's a full slate Saturday, and there is no shortage of options. In fact, DFS players are going to have some tough decisions to make, most notably deciding whether to side with Jacob deGrom or Madison Bumgarner in cash games. But that's a good problem to have. Let's dive in.
The Padres' lineup is so exploitable that we usually offer some sort of recommendation for whichever hurler is matching up against them on that day, no matter who it is. On those rare days when it's an ace that's scheduled to take on the Friars, well, that's when you push all of your chips to the center of the table in cash games. That's the case on Saturday, with deGrom winning the matchup lottery to face a lineup that's whiffing 24 percent of the time with an 84 wRC+ versus right-handed pitching. Not only does deGrom own a 1.96 ERA and 10.2 K/9 at Citi Field this season, but he sports a 1.52 ERA and 0.99 WHIP over his last eight outings. We can't say deGrom is a must-play considering Madison Bumgarner is also pitching on Saturday, but you can't go wrong with paying up for deGrom in cash.
If you're fading deGrom, it's probably because of Bumgarner. The Giants ace draws a home start against Baltimore. The Orioles obviously have much more firepower than the Padres, but they've been one of the worst teams in baseball against left-handed pitching this season (82 wRC+). They also strike out 22 percent of the time. Bumgarner is one of the best and safest pitchers in baseball, and that's only amplified when he's pitching at home. In 12 starts at AT&T Park this season, Bumgarner owns a 1.59 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 10.1 K/9, In the end, both Bumgarner and deGrom are elite plays, so you'll be in good shape either way.
Masahiro Tanaka doesn't crack the elite tier, but his home matchup against Tampa Bay puts him in the conversation as one of the day's better plays. While the Rays have been only slightly below average against right-handers this season, they are one of the most strikeout-prone teams in the majors, whiffing 24 percent of the time against righties. This gives Tanaka some nice upside even though his strikeout rate (7.4 K/9) is down this year. He has made five starts against Tampa in his career, and he's 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA and 0.74 WHIP. I won't be building around Tanaka in cash with deGrom and Bumgarner on the board, but he's a nice pivot if you don't want to spend top dollar on pitching.
The Cardinals have been the most dangerous team in the NL against right-handed pitching this season (.112 wRC+). The lineup has been more middle-of-the-road since the All-Star break, however (97 wRC+), meaning Kyle Hendricks is in a better spot than you might think. One of the game's most underrated pitchers, the right-hander owns a 2.17 ERA and 1.02 WHIP this year. The ERA is second-best in baseball, while the WHIP is seventh-best. Since the start of July, Hendricks has allowed zero earned runs in five of his last seven starts. There's not enough strikeout upside here to give Hendricks much GPP appeal, but he offers the kind of stability that cash-game players covet.
Gerrit Cole is one of the day's better hurlers. While a matchup against the Dodgers isn't all that intimidating (102 wRC+), it's not exactly a favorable matchup, either. If Cole were missing a ton of bats, that might get him into the day's conversation, but a 7.6 K/9 doesn't move the needle much. The Pirates righty isn't a bad play by any means, but I'd rather invest elsewhere.
Aaron Sanchez is staying in the Blue Jays' starting rotation for the time being, and that's good news for fantasy owners. He has been Toronto's best starter, and he just continues to produce. Only once in his last nine starts has he allowed more than two runs. A matchup against Houston may look imposing on paper, but the Astros' lineup has actually been below average against righties this year while whiffing at a 24 percent clip, the highest rate in the American League.
With a matchup against Detroit that's not particularly favorable, Cole Hamels kind of gets lost in the shuffle on Saturday. That said, he has been lights out of late, holding a 1.83 ERA and 9.2 K/9 since the break. In fact, when he faced the Tigers earlier this season, he tossed seven shutout frames with nine K's. Still, with so many other quality options on the board, Hamels is more of a contrarian play than a guy I'm focusing on.
You don't stream starting pitchers against the Rockies at Coors Field. But when the Rockies are on the road? That's a time to pounce. The Rockies have one of the worst offenses in baseball when on the road, sporting a 79 wRC+ with a 24 percent whiff rate. This is a great spot for Jerad Eickhoff, who owns a 2.92 ERA at home and is available in 70 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
This is also a favorable spot for Eickhoff's opponent, Tyler Anderson. A free agent in 75 percent of leagues, Anderson has actually pitched well at both Coors (3.04 ERA) and on the road (3.06 ERA) this season. He's not overpowering hitters (7.5 K/9), but he's finding success by limiting walks (1.9 BB/9) and keeping the ball on the ground (55% GB rate). He should find success against a Phillies lineup that's the worst in baseball against southpaws (71 wRC+).
Dan Straily sports a 1.93 ERA and 0.76 WHIP so far in the second half, and he'll carry those numbers into a road matchup with the Brewers, who strike out more than any team in baseball against righties (26 percent) and sport a bottom-five wRC+ (86). In addition to being a quality streaming option at just 31 percent owned, he also has appeal as a cheap tournament play.
Matt Andriese owns a 3.10 ERA as a starter this year and finds himself in a very favorable spot on Saturday, facing a Yankees team that's helpful against right-handed pitching (87 wRC+). The Yanks do make plenty of contact, but whiffs aren't Andriese's game anyway. He's a solid streamer with an ownership percentage of just 20 percent in ESPN leagues.
Also take a look at Zach Davies, who has a home date with Cincinnati. The Reds' offense is one of the weakest in the majors against righties (87 wRC+), and they strike out at a healthy 21 percent clip. Available in just under half of leagues, Davies owns a 2.23 ERA in the second half. He's not a big strikeout guy (7.0 K/9), but a strong 2.2 walk rate keeps his floor high.
Rookie Luke Weaver will make his big league debut on Saturday against the Cubs. While the young right-hander has just one start at Triple-A, he rolled through Double-A this season, putting up a 1.40 ERA with a 10.3 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9 in 12 starts. I'm not looking to stream him against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, but his debut is certainly worth keeping an eye on.
There might be some temptation to ride James Shields after he posted a 1.78 ERA in July. However, the blow-up potential is just too great, evidenced by the fact that he followed up that dominant July by allowing a combined 14 runs in his next two starts, the second of which he didn't even get out of the second inning. The Marlins are a decent matchup, but the risk is too high.
Left-handed Mariners hitters are quality plays with Kendall Graveman toeing the rubber for the A's on Sunday. The Oakland righty has surrendered a .357 wOBA to lefty swingers this season, which gives Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager and Seth Smith plenty of appeal.
Mike Clevinger has made only five appearances (four starts) this season, but they haven't been pretty, evidenced by the 6.97 ERA, 5.7 BB/9 and 1.7 HR/9. Right-handed batters have really punished him, putting up .487 wOBA against him. With the Angels in town, Mike Trout is an elite play if you can afford him, and Albert Pujols makes for a fine tournament option.
As highlighted above, James Shields is a powder keg ready to blow. He allows lots of hard contact (34 percent), has trouble with homers and struggles against both right- and left-handed batters. As a result, the Marlins make for an intriguing stack on Saturday.
Left-handed Diamondbacks hitters find themselves in a favorable spot, squaring off against right-hander Clay Buchholz in Boston. Buchholz sports a 6.31 ERA as a starter this season, which includes a .387 wOBA allowed to lefty bats. Arizona is righty heavy, but Jake Lamb is a prime play, and Michael Bourn could be a worthwhile punt in the outfield.
Finally, look at Mets batters against Jarred Cosart. The right-hander has gotten knocked around in six starts this year (5.79 ERA). While he's doing a good job keeping the ball on the ground (61 percent GB rate), he's walking more than he's striking out and allowing hitters from both sides of the plate to get their licks in. Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker and Yoenis Cespedes are the names to consider in this one.
Most likely to go yard: Kyle Seager
There are plenty of worthy options on a jam-packed Saturday, but let's give the nod to Seager, who smashes right-handed pitching and gets a favorable matchup against Kendall Graveman.
Most likely to swipe a bag: Ian Kinsler
Cole Hamels does many things well, but keeping runners close is not one of them. He has allowed 19 stolen bases this year, the third most in baseball. With the Tigers in town, Kinsler is the leading candidate to get frisky on the basepaths.