If the last few months have taught us anything, it is that we must be ready to change plans at a moment’s notice. We spent months planning out draft strategies and creating value formulas and projections, only for Juan Soto and Clayton Kershaw to hit the Injured List hours before the start of the season. I suppose it is just 2020 being 2020. I guess it would have been worse if this had happened on Friday night. Just call me Mister Brightside. In any event, despite it being a short season, we all know how crazy the next two months are going to be. Players are going to hit the IL, leaving us all in the lurch. Streaming pitchers will be a necessary evil throughout the 2020 season. With that in mind, here are some of my favorite pitching streamers for the next seven days.
Since the season started towards the end of the week, most high-end starters will be pitching in the middle of next week. That means that a lot of pitchers who would normally be considered streamers may be pitching twice during this upcoming week. This article, as well as subsequent ones that I write in this space, will only include pitchers making one start each week. If you are seeking information on starters who pitch twice, Chris Clegg does an excellent weekly piece on two-start pitchers that you can access here. A few of the pitchers on this list have the proverbial “probable” tag, so make sure to keep up with the latest news and notes from around the league throughout the weekend.
What?! Your league is not planning on using Fantrax? Inconceivable! Check out everything Fantrax has to offer and I’m sure you’ll come around to our way of thinking.
Week 2 Pitching Streamers
Daniel Mengden (Tuesday v. Colorado, 8 percent rostered in Fantrax leagues)
Daniel Mengden is a low strikeout hurler who usually tops out around five innings per start. That is par for the course with many of the starting pitching streamers you will see from week to week. Mengden will face Colorado on Tuesday, which is a solid matchup. The Rockies are notoriously weaker offensively on the road, and Antonio Senzatela is not exactly an opposing pitcher to fear on the other side. If Mengden can get through the first couple of innings, he has a good chance of picking up a victory in this game. He also has two starts the following week, which could be a nice bonus.
Tyler Chatwood (Thursday v. Pittsburgh, 36 percent rostered)
Tyler Chatwood pitched primarily out of the bullpen for Chicago last year and had arguably his best season. So naturally, he will start the 2020 season in the rotation. I kid, Cubs fans. I realize you cannot have Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish pitch 30 times each. It remains to be seen if Chatwood’s numbers will dip as a starter, but he did have a 22.8 percent strikeout rate and a 3.96 xFIP last year, so there is reason for optimism. Chatwood will have a favorable matchup when he and the Cubs host the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday. He may not go more than five innings, but he is a decent bet for a win given in this game.
Vince Velazquez (Friday v. Toronto, 47 percent rostered)
Vince Velazquez has not lived up to the hype after he burst onto the scene in 2016. When he faces the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, he may be opposing phenom Nate Pearson in his Major League debut. Velazquez has posted slightly better numbers in even years, so perhaps that is a good sign for 2020. He has maintained solid strikeout rates throughout his career, and he should rack up a decent amount against Toronto. A win is not out of the question either, regardless of whether Pearson pitches.
Ivan Nova (Thursday v. Kansas City, 18 percent rostered)
Ivan Nova’s paltry 14.1 percent strikeout rate makes him one of my more uninspiring pitching streamers. But he continues to plug away every fifth day and go five or six innings. There are certainly worse matchups than a home date with the Kansas City Royals. I would not expect Nova to be favored on many occasions this year, so get it while you can. He will also line up for two starts the following week, though you may be playing with fire there.
Martin Perez (Thursday v. New York Mets, 37 percent rostered)
Martin Perez has a career ERA of 4.72 and a career 5.80 strikeouts per nine innings. Thus, he remains on the waiver wire in most leagues. He will face the New York Mets and Steven Matz in his second start of the 2020 season. Perez has had much greater success against left-handed hitters throughout his career, and the Mets have a fair amount of lefthanders in their lineup. Perez is a safe bet for a five-inning, three-run performance. That may be enough for a victory if the Red Sox can get to Matz.
Drew Smyly (Friday v. Texas, 24 percent rostered)
Drew Smyly gave up 32 home runs last year. That sounds like a lot until you realize he only threw 114 innings. Juiced ball aside, that is a ridiculous number. Smyly will attempt to curb his gopheritis by pitching half his games in San Francisco. He is expected to serve as the team’s fourth starter but pitched in relief on Opening Day. That may have been a de facto bullpen session, though Gabe Kapler is notorious for tinkering with his pitching staff. A matchup with Lance Lynn may not lead to a win, but Smyly should rack up plenty of strikeouts against the Rangers if he can keep the ball in the yard.
Brady Singer (Thursday at Detroit, 40 percent rostered)
Kansas City fast-tracked Singer to the big leagues after just 16 starts in Double-A last season despite Singer likely projecting to be an average starter at the next level. The former first-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft will face the Detroit Tigers in his second MLB start. Detroit hitters struck out more times last year than any team in history and drew the second-fewest walks in baseball in 2019. They will be among the worst teams in baseball this season. The Royals are no world beaters themselves, which is why I rank Nova slightly higher. However, this could be a game where both starting pitchers are viable options given your needs.
Taijuan Walker (Friday v. Oakland, 44 percent rostered)
Taijuan Walker was a top prospect before injuries derailed his career in recent years. Walker has thrown just 14 Major League innings over the last two seasons. The Mariners will utilize a six-man rotation, which should lighten the load a bit for Walker as he tries to make it through the year unscathed. Walker will face a tough Oakland lineup on Friday night, but right-handed pitchers tend to have a bit more success against the A’s. Fantasy managers should not expect a long outing from Walker, but he could provide a solid five-inning effort.
Jose Urena (Friday v. Washington, 20 percent rostered in Fantrax leagues)
It was not that long ago that Jose Urena was considered a good enough starter to get the nod on Opening Day. Urena is barely an above replacement pitcher (2.8 career WAR) but could put forth a decent effort against Washington. Juan Soto will still be on the Injured List, and the Nationals lineup will be a bit less imposing than usual. Urena will face Patrick Corbin, so a win will likely be difficult to come by. However, he could have a quality start if your league is into that sort of thing.
Justin Dunn (Wednesday v. Los Angeles Angels, 34 percent rostered)
Justin Dunn put up solid strikeout numbers during his Minor League career. I would like to see Seattle utilize him in their bullpen, but he is in the rotation for now. Therefore, he is in the streaming conversation. Dunn will face the Angels on Wednesday, which is not ideal, especially since both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani are scheduled to be in the lineup. However, if you are hurting for starters, you could do worse. He will also likely get two home starts the following week, so you may want to grab him a week early and see how he performs against the Angels.
Tommy Milone (Wednesday v. Miami, 5 percent rostered)
Tommy Milone got the Opening Day assignment for Baltimore because John Means hit the IL. Milone lasted just three innings in Boston on Friday night and will hope to fare better against the Marlins. Miami has a better lineup than they are given credit for, so this is no slam dunk. However, this might be the only time Milone is favored in a start all season long. Wins are going to be tough to come by this year, so I would not blame anyone for streaming Milone this week.
Alex Cobb (Thursday v. Miami, 14 percent owned)
If you like Tommy Milone, you’ll love Alex Cobb! Cobb only made three starts last year, so beware of a small sample size alert. However, he was arguably the worst pitcher in baseball over those three starts. In 12.1 innings, he allowed more home runs (9) than the number of hitters he struck out (8). This recommendation is solely a matchup play based on a home date with the Marlins. I cannot imagine ever including him in a future streamers article. If he were facing anyone else, he would be in the section below. Buyer beware.
Not Even With Your Team
These are potential pitching streamers you would have to be beyond desperate or in a deeper league to want to start next week. Unless you are in one of my leagues. Then, by all means, pick these guys up and start them.
Framber Valdez (Tuesday v. Los Angeles Dodgers, 14 percent rostered)
A pitcher with a 14.1 percent walk rate in his career against the Zen-like patience of the Dodger lineup? And he faces Walker Buehler? Pass.
Kyle Freeland (Saturday v. San Diego, 32 percent rostered)
Kyle Freeland pitched 47.2 innings at home last season and gave up 16 homers. That is a rate even worse than Smyly’s. I do not trust Freeland against San Diego’s balanced lineup, particularly at Coors.
Trevor Williams (Thursday at Chicago Cubs, 41 percent rostered)
Trevor Williams is 2-5 with a 7.62 career ERA at Wrigley Field. He may not be going up against Hendricks or Darvish, but Williams cannot be trusted to get a win or prevent ratio damage.
Do you plan on using pitching streamers more or less than in previous seasons? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Fantrax was one of the fastest-growing fantasy sites of 2019 and we’re not letting our foot off the pedal now! With multi-team trades, designated commissioner/league managers, and drag/drop easy click methods, Fantrax is sure to excite the serious fantasy sports fan – sign up now for a free year at Fantrax.com.