As week 9 starts to close, we look at the Saturday pitching matchups to see any glaring trends leading us to pick someone up, bench someone, or stream a free agent. The starters are being assessed in three tiers based on Yahoo ownership percentage. The top tier is over 80 % owned, the middle tier is 50%-80% owned, and the bottom tier is under 50%.
Sit or Start: Fantasy Baseball Pitchers for Saturday
Top Tier Pitchers to Start
We start with the staples. These guys are over 80 percent owned in Yahoo fantasy baseball leagues and are most likely starting on fantasy rosters whenever they pitch.
Gerrit Cole (99% owned) @ Dodgers
Spencer Strider (99 % owned) @ Diamondbacks
Christian Javier (99 % owned) vs. Angels
Yu Darvish (97 % owned) vs. Cubs
Dylan Cease (96% owned) vs. Tigers
Sonny Gray (93% owned) vs. Guardians
You should start all of these guys as usual. Although Yu Darvish and Dylan Cease have been struggling, both have favorable matchups at home against lackluster offenses. In fact, there are some very one-sided pitcher matchups here, like Cole vs. Michael Grove and Strider vs. Rhyne Nelson. This isn’t the day to pull the plug on either guy.
Middle Tier Pitchers to Start
Next, we look at the pitchers owned in 50 to 80 percent of leagues. These guys are still a factor in most leagues despite not being no-brainer starts every week.
Eury Perez (65 % owned) vs. A’s
We weren’t expected to see baseball’s top pitching prospect, Eury Perez’s big league debut as early as we are, but in his first four starts, he is showing he is ready. He is 2-1, allowing 6 runs in 19 innings and coming off a scoreless performance. Of course, there is also the apparent factor that he is going up against Oakland at home, who, despite taking 2 out of 3 in Atlanta, is still the worst team in baseball. Perez will also likely be able to put up a good amount of strikeouts, given he has 13 in 9.2 innings at home, and Oakland strikes out a lot.
Alex Cobb (75% owned) vs. Orioles
If you were thinking of benching Alex Cobb after his 7 run disasters vs. the Brewers the other day, don’t. Cobb is a guy with drastically different ERA splits, and those are stats I love to go by when assessing fantasy matchups. His splits are as favorable as they can be on Saturday as is back at home, where he has been fantastic this season with a 1.80 ERA at Oracle Park. Just looking at ERA splits should give you confidence here. His home/away ERA is 1.80 vs. 4.22, and his night/day is 2.08 vs. 3.98. Cobb has also had great success against lefties this year, and while not lefty dependent, the Orioles do have some critical left-handers in their lineups like Gunnar Henderson and Adam Frazier, plus newly signed Aaron Hicks, who any Yankee fan can tell you that even when was at his best could never hit lefties despite being a switch hitter (.222 career average)
Middle Tier Pitchers, But Proceed With Caution
Andrew Heaney (69%) vs. Mariners
Heaney has been an enigma throughout his career, but the consensus is when he is on, he is incredible. Still, he is very susceptible to letting up home runs, leading to him being wildly inconsistent. From a statistical standpoint, this situation is horrible for Heaney pitching in Arlington on Saturday night. He is the opposite of Alex Cobb. He has struggled mightily at home (5.34 ERA) and has thrived on the road (1.82 ERA) this season and, unlike Cobb, performs much better during the day. That being said, with Heaney, you always have the strikeout upside, and the Mariners are about a league-average offense that strikes out at a clip good for third worst in the MLB. He also has the luxury of one of the best offenses in the league to provide him some run support and margin for error, which could be considered in leagues where wins and losses count as categories.
McKenzie Gore (52% owned)
I love Mckenzie Gore in Fantasy this year because he has been solid in the runs allowed department and excellent in the strikeouts department. The Phillies always strike out, particularly as of late, so there is a lot of potential to rack up the K’s with Gore. Everything else about this matchup stinks for Gore, though. He has not pitched very well at home this season and has had trouble with lefties. This might be an issue given Phillies have some of the top power-hitting lefties in baseball with Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber, as well as three other regular starters the bat lefty (Brandon Marsh, Bryson Stott, and Kody Clemens).
Middle Tier Pitchers, But Weaker Starts
There is not much to say about it. Both guys are very meh going into these matchups, both performance-wise and situationally. Smyly is in a less favorable situation than his opponent Yu Darvish but has been quite good throughout the year until the last start. Montgomery has a better matchup in Pittsburgh, so I can understand starting, but it has been so lackluster all year that there is no way I could get excited about it.
Middle Tier Pitchers to Sit
Patrick Sandoval (68% owned) @ Astros
Sandoval caught a tough break when Framber Valdez’s start got pushed to Friday, thus making Christian Javier the Saturday starter for the Astros. This makes the already difficult task of beating the Astros even more difficult. Sandoval has been a serviceable starter for the Angels this year but beating the Astros in Houston and outperforming Javier is too harsh of a task. He also has minimal strikeout upside, having a minuscule 5.86 k/9, making him even less valuable for fantasy purposes.
Jose Berrios (72% owned) @ Mets
This might be the most surprising decision in this write-up due to how well Berrios has pitched, but this has everything to do with the Mets. Berrios is riding high, coming off a scoreless performance in Minnesota and allowing only one run in Tampa in his previous start. He struggled with his command, though, walking 5 batters against the Twins. For the season, however, he has primarily been another guy who performs much better at home and during the day, like Alex Cobb, but he is in the opposite situation here. However, my most significant reason for sitting with Berrios would be the Mets’ offense. They have turned Citifield into a substantial home-field advantage, winning eight straight. They have been producing a lot of runs as of late, scoring 4 or more runs in six of their last seven, but more importantly, they have only struck out 79 times in the previous two weeks, the least of any team in the league. Berrios won’t be able to get by this squad if he has the command he did in his last start, as Minnesota has the most strikeouts in the league.
Lower Tier Pitchers
Here we look at the players rostered in less than 50 percent of the leagues to see if there are any worthwhile streaming options. If you need a streamer, check these guys out.
Lower Tier Pitchers to Start
Graham Ashcraft (21% owned) vs. Brewers