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

Yoshinobu Yamamoto will be well-rested for his Saturday start against the Royals. Brad Penner-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.

Five is the new four

It's no longer accurate to use the phrase, "pitching on standard four days of rest". Over the past few seasons, working on five days of rest has edged past four days. This is partially due to the new schedule with more off days, but it's also an effort to keep starting pitchers fresh, and hopefully healthy.

It helps that pitchers have been slightly more effective with the extra day between starts. From 2021 to 2023, there were 5,500 games started on five days of rest, with a 4.09 aggregate ERA. There were a tad fewer 4,983 games started on four days of rest, with a slightly worse 4.27 ERA.

This season, the gap has widened, with 862 on five days of rest and 652 on four days. However, the ERA with less rest has dropped to 3.68 as opposed to 4.06 with the extra day. This is likely reflecting some noise, as well as an early-season selection bias with the better pitchers staying on every fifth day schedule.

There's another reason for extended rest, and that's for the pitchers coming from overseas to adhere to a more familiar schedule. Shohei Ohtani is the most recognizable example. This season, Los Angeles Dodgers SP Yoshinobu Yamamoto is getting the same treatment, as he's yet to start on four days of rest. The Chicago Cubs have started Shota Imanaga three times on four days of rest.

On Saturday, Yamamoto will be taking the hill with a full seven days of rest. The Dodgers pushed him back because he's thrown at least 100 pitches in each of his past four starts. Excluding his MLB debut in the Korea series, Yamamoto has posted a 2.41 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with 81 strikeouts to only 15 walks in 71 frames.

The Dodgers host the Kansas City Royals in one of the five evening affairs on the full Saturday slate. The first of 10 matinees begins at 2:10 p.m. ET with the Minnesota Twins hosting the Oakland Athletics.

Betting Tip of the Day: Ignore Miami Marlins 3B Jake Burger's struggles against left-handed pitching this season. Historically the righty swinger thrives with the platoon edge. On Saturday, Burger will face Washington Nationals lefty DJ Herz in hitter-friendly Nationals Park. The wind is forecast to be blowing slightly in from left, but the temperature will be in the mid-80s, and Burger has the power to overcome the breeze. For the past week, Burger has posted a 61.5% Hard-Hit%, so I'm looking for him to hit the over on 1.5 total bases (+105).

What you missed on Friday

By Todd Zola

• The Atlanta Braves thinning outfield lost another key component with Michael Harris II slated to be placed on the 10-day IL today. Harris left last night's game in the bottom of the first innings after he hurt his left hamstring running the bases. He was replaced by J.P. Martinez, who will likely see most of the action in center field while Harris is out. Harris is scheduled for an MRI today, at which point the extent of the injury will be revealed, with a corresponding timetable for a return.

Kansas City Royals C Salvador Perez was forced out of last night's contest with a sore knee. He left in the eighth inning of the club's 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Perez provided all the Royals offense with a three-run homer in the fourth inning. Perez is enjoying his best season since 2020. If he misses any action, backup C Freddy Fermin will pick up the slack, though Fermin already plays more than many No. 2 catchers with Perez frequently playing first base and designated hitter.

Baltimore Orioles SP Kyle Bradish threw five innings last night, yielding two runs on three hits to the Philadelphia Phillies. After the game, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde revealed that Bradish was experiencing elbow discomfort and is expected to undergo tests today. Bradish's 2024 debut was delayed until early May as he was recovering from a UCL injury incurred in spring training. The club is currently deploying a six-man rotation, and SP Dean Kremer is close to rejoining the rotation. If Bradish must miss time, and the Orioles want to stay with six starters, rookie SP Cade Povich will stick with the big club. Down on the farm, 2B/SS Jackson Holliday was placed on the 7-day injured list with right elbow inflammation.

Pittsburgh Pirates C Henry Davis left last night's game with concussion-like symptoms. Yasmani Grandal took over behind the dish to begin the seventh inning. Davis struggled over the first month of the season and was demoted to Triple-A Indianapolis. After posting a 1.065 OPS in 23 games on the far, Davis was recalled but has struggled again, batting just .119/.211/.353 in six games this month. With backup C on the injured list, the Pirates will likely have to call up another backstop if Davis isn't cleared to play. The club was without SS Oneil Cruz last night as he was scratched with a sore ankle. Cruz hurt his ankle on Thursday night. He's considered day-to-day.

• The Washington Nationals will be without 1B Joey Gallo for at least a month after his MRI indicated he suffered a significant hamstring strain. Joey Meneses should continue to fill in at first base with Jesse Winker and Eddie Rosario sharing left field and DH duties.

Everything else you need to know for Saturday

  • The top-ranked streaming option is San Diego Padres rookie SP Adam Mazur (1.3% rostered in ESPN leagues). It's rare for a Padres hurler to enjoy a park upgrade on the road, but Citi Field is slightly more favorable than Petco Park. In fact, the Mets average only 3.6 runs per game in Queens as opposed to a league-leading 5.5 runs per game away from home. Mazur has made two starts, pitching well in his MLB debut, limiting the Los Angeles Angels to one earned run in six frames. In his second, the Arizona Diamondbacks solved Mazur for eight earned runs in just three innings.

  • Saturday poses a dilemma for Ryan Pepiot's team managers, and those contemplating picking him up. Pepiot (49.1%) will take the hill for the Tampa Bay Rays against the Atlanta Braves in Truist Park. What should be a no-brainer call to look elsewhere is clouded by the Braves averaging the eighth-fewest runs per game in June. Their .276 wOBA this month is the fifth poorest in the league. Where teams are situated so far this week in head-to-leagues drive the decision. Otherwise, even though the Braves are in a collective rut, they're capable of breaking out, so not starting Pepiot is the safe approach.

  • On the flip side, team managers of Erick Fedde (43.6%) also have a tough decision, but for the opposite reason as Pepiot. The Chicago White Sox are in Chase Field to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. Fedde has earned active status, but this is a tricky matchup. Through May, the Diamondbacks were a good but not stellar offense. In June, they're the second-most productive team in baseball, with only the New York Yankees scoring more runs per game. However, the Diamondbacks have sported a low strikeout rate all season, so avoiding Fedde is defensible.

  • You know it's a tough ledger for streamers when two of the first three notes are suggesting fading a couple of typically useful options. The "break glass in case of emergency" option is Keaton Winn (1.3%) when the San Francisco Giants host the Los Angeles Angels. Winn struggled in his return from the IL, yielding seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings to the Texas Rangers in Arlington. However, Winn fanned seven, which is encouraging heading into this start. The Angels sport one of the league's least potent offenses, with an above average strikeout rate.

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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.

Hitting report

Plan ahead in fantasy baseball with help from our Forecaster projections. Each day, we will provide an updated preview of the next 10 days for every team, projecting the matchup quality for hitters (overall and by handedness) as well as for base stealers.

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