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

Zack Wheeler takes the bump against the struggling White Sox. Eric Hartline-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 ESPN BET, and fantasy advice is geared toward 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.

Drawing Blancos

I'm tapping out. Ronel Blanco's first three starts came on one of my "Need to Know" coverage days. Even though he landed favorably in the Starting Pitcher Rankings each time, I recommended fading the Houston Astros right-hander. I'll take my crow with a side of steamed vegetables, please.

Guess who is slated to pitch on Saturday? Yup, Blanco is scheduled for a road date with the Washington Nationals. He's rostered in 83.8% of ESPN leagues, so it's not a matter of picking him up, but I'm no longer going to point to a poor 9.2% K-BB% and warn he's due a correction. Go ahead, feel free to ignore a .118 BABIP and 86.7% left on base mark, both of which are wholly unsustainable. Consider his 0.86 as deserved, regardless of a 4.64 xFIP and 4.67 SIERA.

Hang your hat on the fact Blanco has altered his pitch mix by throwing more changeups and fewer sliders. Note his swinging strike rate portends a higher strikeout rate. Your team, your call.

I'm still not deploying Blanco. One of these times I'll be right.

• Somewhere Ernie Banks is smiling with the Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins playing two in Wrigley Field on Saturday. Javier Assad (23.3% rostered in ESPN leagues) is slated to start the opener for the hosts with Shota Imanaga getting the nod in the nightcap. The guests will counter with Edward Cabrera (15.8%) in the first game, followed by Jesus Luzardo. Of the four hurlers, Assad checks in as the best streaming option. Luzardo's and Imanaga's rostership levels are too high, and Cabrera is facing a better lineup with lower strikeout potential. Assad isn't likely to rack up a lot of punchouts, but he should limit hits and runs and be in a position to garner a win.

• Saturday's ledger kicks off at 1:05 p.m. ET in the Bronx with Nestor Cortes (33.6% rostered) and the New York Yankees taking on Zach Eflin and the Tampa Bay Rays. Cortes is ranked as the top streamer for the day. This may seem aggressive, but through the early part of the season, the Rays have recorded the third-lowest wOBA in MLB, with a strikeout rate a tick above average. In addition, Tampa Bay has been running, but Cortes does an excellent job of controlling the running, usually by holding the ball for varying times before delivering.

Logan Allen (12.5%) is my favorite spot starter on Saturday's docket. Just be sure to click on the correct Logan Allen as the older version was promoted by the Arizona Diamondbacks and is back in the league. The Cleveland Guardians' Allen has a home date with the Oakland Athletics. The southpaw is off to a slow start, but facing the Athletics has been a panacea for many hurlers as they sport the third-lowest wOBA and second-highest strikeout rate in MLB so far this season.

Reese Olson (8.5%) is in a favorable spot with the Detroit Tigers visiting the Minnesota Twins. Olson pitched well in his last start, fanning eight Texas Rangers in 6⅓ innings. He allowed just six hits and one earned run. Olson draws a Twins team checking in with the fourth-poorest wOBA and third-worst strikeout rate so far.

Betting Tip of the Day: The St. Louis Cardinals host the Milwaukee Brewers this afternoon with Miles Mikolas taking the hill for the home team and southpaw DL Hall toeing the rubber for the visitors. Mikolas is displaying control issues to begin the season and the Brewers are averaging the sixth most run per game. On the other side, the Cardinals offense has been weak, with veterans Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado slow out of the gate. Facing Hall could be their panacea as both have historically handled left-handed pitching well and Hall has given up 22 hits, including four homers in just 12 2/3 innings. Together, this portends to a high scoring affair, so I'll take the over at 8.5 total runs (-105)

What you may have missed on Friday

By Todd Zola

• The New York Mets won their fifth straight game last night, downing the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-4. The victory raised the Mets road record to 5-2. However, catcher Francisco Alvarez had to leave the game after hurting his thumb to help brace a stumble around second base. Manager Carlos Mendoza expressed concern, though more will be known today after Alvarez undergoes an MRI. Omar Narvaez will take over primary duties behind the plate.
• The Milwaukee Brewers will be without Jake Bauers for at least the weekend as he was placed on the bereavement list prior to Friday night's game with the St. Louis Cardinals. Players must miss at least three games and are permitted to be absent for up to seven. The Brewers like to deploy platoons, so Oliver Dunn could see more action this weekend with Gary Sanchez and Owen Miller also candidates to garner some at bats.
DJ LeMahieu was slated to embark on a rehab stint last night, but an MRI revealed his foot had not healed as much as expected, so LeMahieu will continue to take batting practice and do infield drills until he's cleared for game action. Oswaldo Cabrera will continue to man the hot corner for the New York Yankees. Cabrera has posted a .310/.349/.534 line over 16 games, 15 of which he appeared at third base. Last season, Cabrera played at least once at every position but catcher, so look for manager Bret Boone to keep his bat in the lineup often, even after LeMahieu eventually returns.
• There were a few noteworthy pitching performances last night, beginning with Nick Lodolo's second start of the season. The Cincinnati Reds right-hander needed only 80 pitches to work 6 1/3 innings, holding the Los Angeles Angels to one run on seven hits in the Great American Ballpark. Lodolo fanned six without issuing a walk, bringing his strikeouts to 16 over 12 frames, with only one free pass. After throwing a total of 43 2/3 innings last season, Lodolo's 2024 workload will be monitored, but he's shown he's fantasy ready whenever he's on the hill.
Brayan Bello continued his early success to the season with his first quality start, tossing six scoreless stanzas in PBC Park, allowing the Pittsburgh Pirates just one hit. Bello fanned seven with two walks. For the season, Bello has recorded 26 punchouts in 26 2/3 innings.
Spencer Turnbull registered his second quality start of the young season, albeit at the expense of the struggling Chicago White Sox. Turnbull punched out six in seven frames. He's still nothing more than someone to pick up for a favorable matchup, but in today's landscape, the key to managing a fantasy pitching staff is sage streaming.

It's not too late to start a free fantasy baseball league. Leagues drafted this week will start scoring fresh the following Monday. Come and join the fun!

Starting pitcher rankings for Saturday

Reliever report

To get the latest information on each team's bullpen hierarchy, as well as which pitchers might be facing a bit of fatigue and who might be the most likely suspects to vulture a save or pick up a surprise hold in their stead, check out the latest Closer Chart, which will be updated every morning.

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 Saturday

  • Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Jose Butto

  • Seattle Mariners at Dakota Hudson

  • Chicago Cubs vs. Roddery Munoz