This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
Nine games await Saturday evening's main slate, where there's a shocking lack of big-name arms to choose from.
Zac Gallen ($9,600) is the surprising first name atop the pitching options, and the matchup and form justify that status. He was worth 55 FanDuel points (FDP) three starts ago against San Diego, allowing just one hit and one run over seven innings, fanning eight. He's had just two starts under 20 FDP and only four more under 30, and the Padres' 26.4 percent K rate and .302 wOBA add to the appeal.
Jose Berrios ($9,400) follows, and is the obvious name of the slate, and is rounding back into good form, going for 43 or more FDP in three of his last four. The Royals don't strike out often, especially against Berrios, who has fanned only seven across 14.0 innings to date. But he's allowed only five runs and 12 hits in that span, and has a very stable floor.
Sean Manaea ($9,200) and Max Fried ($8,600) round out the perceived upper tier. Manaea has been absolutely brilliant in three starts since returning from injury, allowing only one run and six hits over 18.0 innings. He's had a 30 FDP floor, and faces a Rangers lineup that fans 25.8 percent of the time while posting just an 81 wRC+ against lefties. Fried has a similarly juicy matchup against the Giants, who own an 87 wRC+ and 23.3 percent whiff rate against southpaws, but his recent stretch is full of peaks and valleys. In his last five starts, he's posted 15, 52, 58, 15 and -3 FDP. He's a GPP only option.
There are selling points for most of the middle-tier of arms Saturday, but all come with risk. Hyun-Jin Ryu is coming off of his best start in a month, but has been up and down against the Rockies, allowing 13 runs and 24 hits across 20.1 innings, fanning only 15. Houston will be heavily favored over the Angels' depleted lineup, but Wade Miley ($7,500) has lost double-digit points in two of his last three, and cannot be considered for cash lineups as such. Johnny Cueto ($7,800) has been sound in his return from injury, but unlike Manaea, he can't be assumed for more than five innings yet.
Finally, bottom-priced Cal Quantrill ($5,500) is well worth a GPP dart throw with you loading up offensively around him. He's been worth five total FDP in his last four starts, but averaged 33.6 FDP over seven prior starts.
Houston bats seemingly lead the way here against Angels' lefty Patrick Sandoval ($5,700), who has actually been far more vulnerable to same-handed bats, allowing a .428 wOBA and 1.031 OPS. That puts Yordan Alvarez ($4,500) at the forefront, but righty Jose Altuve ($4,400) is the normal play when a lefty is on the bump. Carlos Correa ($3,800) went yard twice Friday and looks like the bargain play despite the RvR splits from Sandoval.
Dodger bats figure to be popular as well despite conflicting pitching accounts, with FanDuel listing Kyle Freeland ($6,200) as coming back from injury, who would be limited to a few innings, though most other outlets have Chi Chi Gonzalez (unlisted) as the starter. Gonzalez allowed 21 runs across 16.0 August innings but has settled in to surrender only four across 16.1 frames in September. Nevertheless, Cody Bellinger ($4,500) is a cash game anchor, while injuries and lineup construction can have us finding value in the likes of Gavin Lux ($3,300), Chris Taylor ($2,800), and/or Matt Beaty ($2,700).
Baltimore-Seattle again has a double-digit run total after disappointing Friday night. The Mariners trot out prospect Justus Sheffield ($7,300), who has allowed a moderate 11 runs over his last 19.2 frames. Still, he's allowing a .386 wOBA to righties, putting Trey Mancini ($4,100) firmly on all radars, while Hanser Alberto ($2,800) and Renato Nunez ($2,900) offer great savings. Baltimore counters with Asher Wojciehowski ($6,500), who has a 6.00 xFIP at home and is being crushed by lefties, allowing a .387 wOBA and .927 OPS. Kyle Seager ($3,400) and Daniel Vogelbach ($3,400) are the obvious choices, but Shed Long ($3,300) atop the lineup or Omar Narvaez ($2,900) may offer more return on investment.
Twins vs. Glenn Sparkman (Royals)
This may belong in chalk section, as I don't see away to not build a Twin-centric lineup here. Sparkman has an 8.57 ERA and 6.61 xFIP on the road, allowing a .412 wOBA and 1.006 OPS to lefties and .427 wOBA and 1.029 OPS to righties. Further, he's allowed four homers, 16 hits and 12 runs over 16.2 innings against Minnesota to date. Cruz is coming out of his late-season funk, homering twice Thursday while driving in 11 runs in his last eight games. Polanco has been stable with limited upside of late, but also is 5-of-12 with a 1.167 OPS against Sparkman. The third piece is interchangeable, though Max Kepler ($3,600) would be preferred if he returns to action. Assuming he doesn't, Garver's spot atop the lineup works well at this price.
Braves vs. Johnny Cueto (Giants)
With the Braves' clinching Friday, we obviously have to pay attention to any potential regulars resting, and/or celebratory hangovers. But assuming they are all systems go, we should be buying this lineup regardless of the pitching matchup. Acuna is known to be streaky, and is clearly warming up with homers in consecutive nights and multiple walks to boot. Albies has multi-hit games in six of his last 11 games and owns a .391 wOBA in September. The third piece is an opportunity to save some money. I'm siding with Markakis, who was robbed of a double Friday and had hit safely in every game prior since being activated. But Matt Joyce ($2,400) is a safe bet to play and continues to overachieve, while Brian McCann ($2,100) homered Friday and is 5-of-13 with three homers off Cueto in his career, though not as likely to start in consecutive games.
Brewers vs. James Marvel (Pirates)
Marvel's splits aren't worth hashing out as he's thrown limited innings, but overall, he's allowed nine runs and 13 hits over nine innings. Hiura is the Brewers' most pure hitter with Christian Yelich out, and gives an anchor to Moustakas' .351 wOBA and .275 ISO. Thames is too cheap to ignore against an opposite-handed arm, even with modest numbers against righties that include a .358 wOBA and .258 ISO.