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

ESPN FantasyMay 19, 2023, 12:31 PM ET5 Minute Read

Why Louie Varland is a strong pitching option for this weekend

Eric Karabell explains why Louie Varland is a solid pitching option for fantasy managers this weekend against the Angels.

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 toward ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.

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Note: This file will be 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

  • It’s hard to believe that we’re still talking about Nolan Gorman (51% rostered in ESPN leagues) as a good pickup, but he’s somehow still that widely available. The 23-year-old slugger is looking like an early MVP candidate, hitting .295/.386/.629 with 12 homers and 36 RBI in 39 games. His hard-hit data is borderline elite, and he’s being much more selective at the plate compared to last year, as his strikeout rate has dipped nearly 9%, while his walk rate has climbed roughly 4%. Better yet, after riding the pine against lefties early in the season, Gorman has now started the last two games in which the St. Louis Cardinals have faced left-handers, even taking Julio Urias deep on Thursday. Go grab Gorman now if you can and fire him up against Noah Syndergaard on Saturday. Time is running out.

  • Rookie Tanner Bibee (17% rostered) has made a strong early impression for the Cleveland Guardians, posting a 3.22 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP in his first four big-league starts, with an 8.9 K/9 and a 1.6 BB/9. He delivered his best performance in his last outing, against the Los Angeles Angels, when he spun 7 2/3 frames of one-run ball on two hits and no walks while fanning seven. Against a New York Mets lineup that sports a below average 96 wRC+ in May, Bibee makes for a fine streaming option on Saturday.

  • Patrick Sandoval (46%) also finds himself in the streaming discussion this weekend. The left-hander with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP has held opponents to two (or fewer) earned runs in six of his eight starts this season. In his most recent outing — a 7 2/3-IP, 2-ER performance against Cleveland — Sandoval threw his slider a season-high 43.8% of the time and generated a season-high 12 whiffs with the offering, so it will be interesting to see if he continues featuring the pitch that much going forward. On Saturday, Sandoval matches up well against a Minnesota Twins club that has struggled against left-handed pitching this season (84 wRC+, 27.5% K-rate).

  • One of the most favorable matchups of the day belongs to Hunter Brown (59%), who takes the hill against the Oakland Athletics. Through eight starts this season, Brown has a 3.43 ERA with a 9.5 K/9 rate. While we’d like to see the 3.4 BB/9 tick down a tad, aside from a five-walk outing against the San Francisco Giants earlier this month, he hasn’t handed out more than two free passes in any of his last six starts. As a hurler who misses bats, gets plenty of grounders, and has one of baseball’s best lineups providing support behind him, Brown is a great streamer if he’s available.

  • Speaking of favorable matchups, that’s what Texas Rangers hitters have on Saturday, when they take on Kyle Freeland of the Colorado Rockies. The southpaw actually sports a strong 3.16 ERA this year, but it’s only a matter of time before Freeland, armed with his 89-mph fastball, reverts back to the 4.50-ERA pitcher he’s been the last few years. Josh Jung (28%), who is batting .333/.364/.690 against lefties in 2023, and Ezequiel Duran (.368/.415/.553 vs. lefties) are two widely available names to consider.

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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

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