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What you need to know for Saturday's MLB Games
By Mike Sheets
After an abbreviated five-game slate on Friday, we're back with a full schedule again on Saturday. With more streaming options beginning to emerge, Zach Eflin (11% rostered in ESPN league) stands out as one of the top streaming targets of the weekend. Signed to a three-year deal by the Tampa Bay Rays over the offseason, Eflin gets the nod against a Detroit Tigers offense that ranked worst in baseball against right-handed pitching in 2022 (74 wRC+) and didn't bring in any reinforcements this year. The Rays have a good track record of extracting the most out of their pitchers' repertoires, and we should get a good glimpse of that with Eflin on Saturday.
Thankfully, Opening Day gave us a little more clarity on some of the cloudy closer situations around the majors. David Robertson (51% rostered) nailed down the New York Mets win against the Miami Marlins on Opening Day. Reynaldo Lopez (3%) got the ninth-inning nod for the Chicago White Sox and closed out the 3-2 win over the Houston Astros. And although neither Michael Fulmer (4%) nor A.J. Minter (32%) picked up saves, their usage suggests that they are first in the pecking order for saves going forward (Fulmer secured the Chicago Cubs' 4-0 victory, and Minter was warming up for a save opportunity before the Atlanta Braves opened up a five-run lead over the Washington Nationals in the ninth).
It's very possible that Brendan Donovan (23%) didn't get the attention he deserved on draft day. In addition to batting leadoff for a loaded St. Louis Cardinals lineup against right-handed pitching, he also carries eligibility at three different positions (2B, 3B, OF), giving you tons of roster flexibility. More important, though, is that Donovan reportedly retooled his swing over the offseason to unlock more power. After hitting just five home runs in 126 games last season, he clubbed four homers in 19 games this spring, and he smashed another dinger on Opening Day. Whether this new approach pays long-term dividends remains to be season, but the early results are very promising. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Donovan's rostered percentage spike in the coming weeks.
Shortly before the New York Mets took the field on Opening Day, the team announced that Justin Verlander was heading to the injured list with a low-grade teres major strain. With the three-time Cy Young winner sidelined, Tylor Megill (1%) will draw the start for the Mets on Saturday against the Miami Marlins. Megill struggled this spring, particularly with his control (13 walks in 17 IP), so he doesn't have much appeal in ESPN's new standard format right now. However, Megill has shown an ability to miss bats, so a favorable matchup against the Marlins, a team that ranked bottom-five in K% last year at 24%, puts him in the streamer conversation in deeper leagues.
With Jordan Lyles, one of Saturday's lowest-ranked hurlers, toeing the rubber for the Kansas City Royals, the Minnesota Twins have some widely available lefty hitters -- Max Kepler (6%), Trevor Larnach (2%), Nick Gordon (5%) -- worth some consideration. Lyles surrendered a .365 wOBA to lefty swingers last season, including 15 homers in 77 frames. Kepler hit leadoff on Opening Day, with Larnach occupying the cleanup spot, so they should get plenty of chances to get their licks in against Lyles on Saturday.
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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.
Max Kepler (MIN, RF -- 6%) at Jordan Lyles
Adam Duvall (BOS, CF -- 15%) vs. Dean Kremer
Trent Grisham (SD, CF -- 5%) vs. Jose Urena
Enrique Hernandez (BOS, CF -- 11%) vs. Kremer
Christian Arroyo (BOS, 2B -- 1%) vs. Kremer
Miguel Vargas (LAD, 1B -- 27%) vs. Madison Bumgarner
Marcell Ozuna (ATL, LF -- 10%) at Josiah Gray
Matt Carpenter (SD, DH -- 2%) vs. Urena
Wilmer Flores (SF, 2B -- 24%) at Clarke Schmidt
Michael Conforto (SF, RF -- 14%) at Schmidt
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Saturday
Jordan Walker (STL, 3B -- 53%) vs. Kevin Gausman
Corbin Carroll (ARI, LF -- 91%) at Clayton Kershaw
Adolis Garcia (TEX, RF -- 83%) vs. Zack Wheeler
Gunnar Henderson (BAL, 3B -- 90%) at Chris Sale
Andres Gimenez (CLE, 2B -- 83%) at Logan Gilbert
Tommy Edman (STL, 2B -- 96%) vs. Gausman
Matt Chapman (TOR, 3B -- 83%) at Jack Flaherty
Christian Yelich (MIL, LF -- 90%) at Justin Steele
Oneil Cruz (PIT, SS -- 93%) at Nick Lodolo
Ian Happ (CHC, LF -- 60%) vs. Brandon Woodruff