Fantasy baseball pitcher rankings, lineup advice for Saturday's MLB games

After a lengthy rehab, Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. appears to be ready to return to the rotation this weekend. Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Look for our fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings, hitter upgrades and downgrades daily to help you make smart fantasy baseball lineup decisions and for MLB betting tips. MLB game odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is geared towards ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.

Note: This file has been updated with any overnight pitching changes or weather-related game postponements, along with the addition of the latest MLB game odds as of the indicated time of publication.

What you need to know for Saturday's MLB Games

By Mike Sheets

  • Saturday's 16-game slate features a double-header between the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins. As always, twin-bills present daily streamers with the opportunity to maximize plate appearances by finding players who will start both games. As a team without many stars, the Marlins have a slew of players who are widely available in ESPN leagues. In fact, every batter in Miami's lineup is rostered in under 33% of leagues. Two names to consider are JJ Bleday (2%) and Charles Leblanc. Bleday, who will get the platoon edge in both matchups, is batting .409/.500/.682 over the last week, and Leblanc is quietly hitting .429/.444/.629 in the 10 games since his promotion.

  • Saturday also marks the return of Lance McCullers Jr. of the Houston Astros, who has been sidelined since last year's playoffs due to a forearm injury. The right-hander made four starts in his rehab assignment and topped out at 86 pitches in his last outing, so he shouldn't be on an overly restrictive pitch count. While there's always some risk in starting a pitcher coming off a serious injury, the Oakland Athletics provide a soft landing spot, so it's OK to go ahead and insert McCullers into the streaming discussion this weekend. Available in nearly 50% of ESPN leagues, McCullers registered a 3.16 ERA and a 10.3 K/9 across 28 starts in 2021, so he has the potential to be a difference-maker down the stretch, making him a high-priority pickup.

  • Reid Detmers has clearly turned a corner since his most recent promotion from Triple-A, but the fantasy community has yet to fully get on board, as he's still rostered in just 42% of ESPN leagues. Since getting the call in early July, Detmers has allowed no more than a single earned run in four of his five starts, culminating in a 1.16 ERA over this stretch. More noteworthy is the fact that his strikeout rate has jumped to 11.0 K/9, compared to just 7.5 over his first 12 starts of the season. Thanks in part to a revamped slider, the 23-year-old left-hander is a different pitcher right now. Even against a Minnesota Twins lineup that has been above average against lefties this season, Detmers is a strong play.

  • Speaking of lefties who aren't rostered in enough leagues, Jesus Luzardo (33%) is back from the IL and has looked good in two starts, allowing just two runs over 12 innings with 11 strikeouts and just one walk. His velocity is down a tad, which is mildly concerning, but the upside -- particularly in the strikeout department -- is still considerable. Luzardo certainly isn't a "must start" against a tough Braves offense on Saturday, but he is a guy who could provide a lot of value down the stretch.

Starting pitcher rankings for Saturday

Best Sub-50% Rostered Hitters for Saturday

Best and worst hitters from the day are generated by THE BAT X, a projection system created by Derek Carty using advanced methods like those used in MLB front offices, accounting for a variety of factors including player talent, ballparks, bullpens, weather, umpires, defense, catcher pitch-framing, and lots more.

Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Saturday

THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Today

  • Arizona Diamondbacks at Jose Urena

  • Los Angeles Dodgers at Brad Keller

  • Atlanta Braves at Nick Neidert

Prop of the Day

Andrew Heaney Strikeouts: Over/Under 5.5 (-132/+104)


THE BAT sees Heaney putting up 5.1 Strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 39.6% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $23.17.

Note: Expected Value is a measure of how good a bet is, factoring the probability that it will win versus the odds the book is providing. If you were to wager $1.00 100 times on a bet with an Expected Value of $25, you would win some and you would lose some, but in the end you would expect to come away with $25 in profit on your $100 investment.


  • Andrew Heaney projects as the 19th-best pitcher in the league when estimating his strikeout skill, via THE BAT.

  • The Kansas City Royals (26.3 K%, via THE BAT X) project to have the most strikeout-heavy lineup today.


  • THE BAT X expects Andrew Heaney to be on a pitch count today, projecting a maximum of 75 pitches.

  • Carlos Torres projects as a Hitters Umpire and is expected to be calling pitches today.

  • Kauffman Stadium projects as the #29 ballpark in the majors for strikeouts, according to THE BAT projection system.

  • The Kansas City Royals have 6 bats in the projected offense that will have the handedness advantage against Andrew Heaney in this matchup, which is especially precarious given his huge platoon split.