Pitching Streamers for Week 3 (August 3-9)
Never has the term “subject to change” been more fitting in Major League Baseball. The season is less than 10 days old as I write this. In that time, we have seen the playoffs expanded, 7-inning doubleheaders given the green light, and of course, over a quarter of teams already having to adjust their 60-game schedules due to COVID-19. Streaming pitchers is always an exercise that requires a lot of flexibility, both in terms of roster configuration and in being able to adapt to news quickly. This season is bringing a whole new meaning to the idea of flexibility. “Set it and forget it” does not apply to fantasy baseball in 2020. There are too many variables that are constantly changing. With that in mind, below are some of the potential pitching streamers for next week.
Keep in mind that these pitchers are mostly scheduled for the latter part of the week. We have already seen outbreaks and positive tests wreak havoc on several franchises. This has an enormous impact on starting rotations as well. As of now, there are quite a few “TBD” listings on the board for next week. We do not know for sure how teams who are off this weekend will deploy their starters once they resume play. I am going by the latest information I have as well as how I expect managers to set their rotations over the next week or so. All of this is, as I mentioned earlier, subject to change. Keep your ears to the ground and do not lock those rosters until the last possible minute.
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Week 3 Pitching Streamers
Pitching streamers are, by nature, not particularly good. If they were consistent starting pitchers, they would not be available in most leagues. By no means do I expect any of these pitchers to twirl a shutout. However, as injuries and postponements continue to pile up, sometimes a warm body is better than taking a zero in a coveted pitching spot. Choose wisely.
David Peterson (Saturday v. Miami, 18 percent rostered in Fantrax leagues)
Let us dive right into the chaos. The Mets are scheduled to host the Marlins next weekend. The keyword in that sentence is “scheduled”. David Peterson took the rotation spot vacated by Marcus Stroman’s injury and acquitted himself well in his first Major League start. Peterson is not overpowering but has good command. He has developed a sinker to go along with a slider and a changeup. I cannot say with any certainty what kind of lineup Miami can put together to oppose Peterson. It may be their regular lineup, or we could be looking at a Quad-A squad. Either way, I believe that the southpaw has the poise to navigate through the lineup two or three times with positive results.
Kendall Graveman (Saturday v. Colorado, 14 percent rostered)
Despite the ugly line in his first outing (4 IP, 6 ER), Kendall Graveman was in the high-90s with his fastball and struck out the side in the first inning against three of the better hitters in the game. Things fell apart against a tough Astros lineup, though he did finish with seven punchouts. I did not hear any banging of trash cans during the game, but who knows what caused Graveman to stumble in Houston. In any event, Graveman is slated to face the Rockies at home next Saturday. The Rockies have gotten off to a good start, but their offense is predictably much more dangerous within the confines of Coors Field. Graveman will likely have to square off against German Marquez, which could reduce his chances of picking up a win. However, he should be able to put forth a quality effort.
Cristian Javier (Wednesday at Arizona, 42 percent rostered)
Cristian Javier made his first MLB start against a deep Dodgers lineup and did not disappoint. The 23-year old struck out eight batters against just one walk, allowing a single run. The strikeouts have been there throughout Javier’s career, which makes him a commodity in fantasy. His control has long been his bugaboo. Arizona was right in the middle of the pack in terms of team walk rate last season. They find themselves in the same general area to begin 2020 as well. If Javier can limit the walks, he can put hitters away with any of his three offerings. Robbie Ray is scheduled to oppose Javier. This year’s version of Ray looks like past installments. I do not like his chances against a patient, almost exclusively right-handed lineup. If Javier can get out of his own way, he has a great chance at a victory on Wednesday.
Homer Bailey (Friday at Kansas City, 38 percent rostered)
Wins are going to be tough to come by in fantasy baseball. Starters that throw more than six innings are a dying breed, and that has been magnified in this shortened season. So make no mistake – I only consider Homer Bailey to be a viable pitching streamer this week because of the matchup. Bailey and the Twins will face Kansas City on Friday. This is a sizable mismatch on paper between these two teams, and I expect Minnesota’s offense to supply Bailey with enough support to grab a win. Bailey will likely not get into the seventh inning. He may not even get into the sixth. Nor should he be counted on to provide more than a handful of strikeouts. However, he does have a pretty good chance of picking up a victory in this contest.
Michael Wacha (Friday v. Miami, 42 percent rostered)
Michael Wacha was once a promising starting pitcher, but his star has fallen in recent years. Though he is still just 29 years old, he should not be relied upon as a mainstay of a rotation, neither in real life nor fantasy. At this stage of his career, he is best utilized in fantasy as a streamer. Lucky for us he has a favorable matchup this week against the Marlins. Wacha was solid in his Mets debut, limiting Boston to one run in five innings. His velocity was good and his changeup was effective. Wacha and Peterson are both scheduled to face Miami again in a couple of weeks, so it may be worth it to hold either or both in anticipation of that matchup. Of course, we have already seen how much can change in a short period, so take that into account.
Vince Velasquez (Wednesday at Miami, 40 percent rostered)
There are several caveats with utilizing Velasquez as a streaming option. First, they have to play. The Phillies and Marlins have been off all week due to the aftermath of the outbreak. It is assumed that both teams will begin their three-game set on Tuesday. However, we know what happens when we make assumptions. The Phillies may choose to alter the order of their starters, so make sure that Velasquez faces Miami and not Atlanta. Miami knocked Velasquez around pretty good in his first start, as the cutter he has been working on did not yield the desired results. However, they are still a much more favorable matchups than the Braves. All in all, this is a bet more against the Marlins than it is for Velasquez. If he can get through the first couple of innings unscathed, he should be in for a solid outing.
Pirates manager Derek Shelton has mentioned his desire to use Steven Brault and Chad Kuhl in tandem. This played out in Brault’s first start when the pair combined for 5 2/3 scoreless innings against Milwaukee. In cases like this, I would prefer the pitcher who is coming into the ballgame second as opposed to the starter. The starter essentially has no chance to win the game because he will not pitch long enough. Grabbing pitchers who piggyback openers can be helpful if you are in a league that limits the number of starts you can have in a given scoring period. Detroit’s lineup is very heavily slanted towards the right-handed batter’s box, which also favors Kuhl.
Zach Davies (Saturday v. Arizona, 47 percent rostered)
Zach Davies has one of the poorest strikeout rates you will see among today’s pitchers. He also does not go very deep into games. That is not a great combination, which is why he is available in most leagues. Davies will face off against the Diamondbacks and Merrill Kelly. Kelly looked fantastic in his 2020 debut, so San Diego will have their hands full. With Davies, you are hoping for five innings with two runs allowed. That is not going to excite anyone, but he usually does a decent job of limiting damage and avoiding blowups. Nowadays that is often good enough when it comes to pitching streamers.
Jordan Lyles (Friday v. Los Angeles Angels, 36 percent rostered)
Jordan Lyles has made the rounds in recent years and is now a member of the Texas Rangers. He has spent most of his career in the National League and has settled in as a backend starter. Lyles has increased his strikeout rate over the last couple of years, but that has come with a subsequent increase in walk rate as well. Manager Chris Woodward opted to skip Lyles’ first turn through the rotation, which should not exactly inspire confidence in fantasy managers. Lyles is scheduled to make his second start of the season next Friday against the Angels. I would not expect him to go too deep into the ballgame. And of course, the Angels have a potent lineup. Still, he is an intriguing streaming option given the lack of serviceable pitchers scheduled to throw this week.
Michael Fulmer (Thursday at St. Louis, 29 percent rostered)
Michael Fulmer is on the mend from Tommy John surgery which kept him out for the entire 2019 season. He had a 2020 debut to forget in his first start of the shortened season. The right-hander served up three home runs in just 2 2/3 innings against the Reds. His velocity was down a couple of ticks from his pre-TJS days, so it will remain to be seen if he can get back to his prior levels. In the meantime, he faces a tough task on Friday when he faces the St. Louis Cardinals. Perhaps a tougher mountain to climb than the Cardinals lineup will be the opposing starter, Jack Flaherty. Flaherty is among the best in the game, so expecting Fulmer to outduel the Cy Young Award candidate is not a wise move. If Detroit bumped Fulmer to the following day against Pittsburgh, he may be worth considering.
Taijuan Walker (Thursday v. Los Angeles Angels, 39 percent rostered)
Taijuan Walker failed to get out of the fourth inning in his 2020 debut, surrendering five runs on seven hits against the Astros. He did look good in his next start this past Friday, so hopefully he can gain some consistency moving forward. Things do not figure to get much easier when Walker faces the Angels on Thursday. Mike Trout is on paternity leave, but I would expect him back for this contest. Anthony Rendon has returned after missing the first four games due to an oblique injury, and Shohei Ohtani should hit in the middle of the lineup. It looks like it may be a tough day at the office for Walker in this one, but Walker has the potential to build on his most recent performance.
Martin Perez (Wednesday at Tampa Bay, 34 percent rostered)
Martin Perez earned his first victory of the 2020 season this past Thursday, but there were, as is usually the case with Perez, some shaky moments. The lefty walked four hitters but was able to escape allowing just two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings. Perez will face fellow left-hander Ryan Yarbrough on Wednesday. Boston’s offense tends to fare better against lefties, so perhaps they can put some runs on the board early and give Perez a cushion. That may be his best bet for a victory. Through the first week of the season, the Rays lead the American League in walk rate. Their patience could spell trouble for Perez, but he does tend to face more hitters than typical pitching streamers, which makes him a viable option.
Jhoulys Chacin (Thursday v. Toronto, 7 percent rostered)
This is a bit of a speculative pick. I have not seen it confirmed that Jhoulys Chacin will get this start. I could be wrong, but I think he will get a turn in the rotation since Mike Foltynewicz was designated for assignment after just one start. If he does get the call, he will face the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto has plenty of powerful bats in their lineup, but they have only scored 25 runs as a team through their first seven games. Chacin struggled to keep the ball in the park last year, but before that, he was effective at limiting hard contact. His veteran savvy could prove tricky for some of Toronto’s talented young hitters.
Matt Andriese (Thursday at Seattle, 10 percent rostered)
Matt Andriese is no lock to start this game either, so follow the breadcrumbs throughout the week. Andriese filled in admirably for Shohei Ohtani on Sunday, as the phenom failed to record an out. Andriese pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings, which earned him a start Friday night against Houston. He proceeded to get shellacked in that game, so that performance may impact Andriese’s standing as a streaming option for this week. The Angels are also likely to utilize six starters, so even if he starts, his assignment may change. As of now, it looks like he will face the Mariners. Seattle has been a better offense than advertised, but fantasy managers should still consider Andriese if they need a fill-in pitcher this week.
Not Even With Your Team
As shaky as most of the pitchers above are, the ones below I cannot recommend outside of deep leagues and under very specific circumstances.
Justin Dunn (Tuesday v. Los Angeles Angels, 37 percent rostered)
Justin Dunn faced the Los Angeles Angels in his first start. It started well for the former New York Mets prospect. Dunn got through three scoreless frames before an error and a walk preceded a three-run homer by Shohei Ohtani. Dunn will look for redemption on Tuesday against the Halos. Mike Trout may be back by then, but his status is unclear as he is currently on paternity leave. Dunn still has to fine-tune his game. He needs to locate his fastball and ease up on his changeup a bit for it to be effective. I would try to steer away from pitchers who are still in developmental mode against a savvy lineup like the ones the Angels possess. I realize, however, that we are in desperate times with the state of starting pitching the way it is.
Kris Bubic (Wednesday v. Chicago Cubs, 21 percent rostered)
Kris Bubic made his Major League debut on Friday night against the Chicago White Sox. Before Friday, Bubic had never pitched above High-A ball. This speaks to the disarray that Kansas City’s pitching depth is in. Despite the lack of experience, Bubic acquitted himself quite nicely in his debut. He pitched four innings and gave up three runs (two earned) against a potent White Sox lineup. Bubic is slated to face another tough test when he takes on the Cubs next week. Given the circumstances, it will be tough to trust Bubic in this matchup. He is also scheduled to oppose Yu Darvish, which may make it extra difficult for him to pick up a victory.
Kolby Allard (Saturday v. Los Angeles Angels, 18 percent rostered)
Kolby Allard is filling in for the injured Corey Kluber in the Texas starting rotation. He will make his first start of the season this Sunday, which will set him up to face the Angels next Saturday. The good news is that Allard will not have to deal with Shohei Ohtani, who should have the day off. However, Allard has not shown enough during his brief Major League career to trust him in fantasy. In 53.1 innings, he has a 6.08 ERA and 1.76 WHIP with a meager 14.1 percent strikeout rate. His saving grace has been his ability to limit home runs (just six allowed), but that will not be enough to make him a worthy streaming option next week.
Asher Wojciechowski (Wednesday v. New York Yankees, 15 percent rostered)
Baltimore is another team whose schedule has been impacted by the pandemic. The Orioles and Yankees got a jump start on next week’s three-game set by playing twice this week in Camden Yards. That means the teams will play one game between Monday and Thursday of the coming week. I do not expect Brandon Hyde to alter his rotation, which would leave Wojciechowski in line to face New York in back-to-back starts. That is something I try to avoid as a fantasy manager, as is facing the Yankees lineup. They tagged Wojciechowski for three home runs in just five innings on Wednesday, so it is hard to have any confidence in the right-hander bouncing back under the same conditions in his next start. That includes facing Gerrit Cole, who is scheduled on the hill for the Yankees.
Brett Anderson (Friday v. Cincinnati, 21 percent rostered)
Brett Anderson was originally scheduled to face Chicago on Thursday. But with Friday’s start against St. Louis postponed, he should now be on track to pitch against the Reds on Friday night. I like Anderson’s chances against Cincinnati slightly better than versus the White Sox. Anderson struggles mightily against right-handed batters, and the ChiSox can field a lineup of exclusively right-handed hitters. Cincinnati will keep at least a couple of lefties in the lineup, so there may be at least a little bit of hope. I am not expecting much, however, and would prefer to leave Anderson on the wire for at least another week.
Matt Hall (Saturday v. Toronto, 4 percent rostered)
Matt Hall is another pitcher who is more “opener” than a typical starting pitcher. Hall lasted just 2.2 innings in his first Major League start last week. The former Detroit Tiger allowed three runs on three hits in the outing. He walked two, which has been a problem throughout his young career. Hall now owns a career walk rate of 11.4 percent over 34 innings. As of now, he is scheduled to face Toronto next weekend. The Blue Jays have struggled a bit against left-handed pitchers so far this season. However, I just do not see Hall lasting long enough in this outing to warrant fantasy consideration in this matchup.
Kyle Freeland (Wednesday v. San Francisco, 46 percent rostered)
Logan Webb (Wednesday at Colorado, 25 percent rostered)
Drew Smyly (Thursday at Colorado, 25 percent rostered)
I am going to lump all three of these pitchers because under no circumstances should you ever stream a pitcher at Coors Field. This seems pretty obvious but you would be surprised how desperate some managers get trying to fortify their team’s win and strikeout totals. None of these pitchers strike out enough hitters to make it worth it, and wins are a bigger crapshoot than ever. The damage likely to be inflicted on ratios by all three of these pitchers makes it a cost-prohibitive move to rely on any of them in this setting.
No Thank You, Team Edition
These are options grouped together by team because their assignments for the upcoming week are still a bit hazy. Regardless of how they line up, I want nothing to do with them.
Elieser Hernandez (TBD, 23 percent rostered)
Robert Dugger (TBD, 4 percent rostered)
The Miami Marlins will only have one two-start pitcher this coming week. I am guessing they will go with Sandy Alcantara on Tuesday, but I have not seen that for sure. If Alcantara gets the nod, the only real streaming options they have would be Elieser Hernandez and Robert Dugger. Hernandez is by far the more intriguing of the two. However, he has yet to pitch this season. Miami faces the Mets and Phillies this week. Both offenses will present a challenge to the young Miami pitchers. I would generally try to avoid Marlins pitchers altogether this week, as I tend to shy away from hurlers coming off long layoffs. It would not surprise me to see their pitching as a whole struggle. I also expect some short outings by the starters as Don Mattingly will want to use as many bullpen arms as possible to get them up to speed.
Alex Cobb (at Washington, 37 percent rostered)
Wade LeBlanc (at Washington, 8 percent rostered)
Tommy Milone (at Washington, 4 percent rostered)
Because Baltimore only plays four games this week, one of these pitchers will not make a start. I think that Milone is the one to sit. That may be determined by how the trio fares this weekend. Cobb has been serviceable in his first two starts of 2020, so he likely will see another shot. LeBlanc earned a victory in his season opener, while Milone got knocked around on Opening Day. Regardless of which two pitchers get the nod, I will likely be staying away. The Nationals have struggled offensively so far, so there may be temptation here to pile on. But Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick should both be back by next weekend, which will make Washington’s lineup much more formidable. I would look elsewhere for streamers this week.
Kansas City’s rotation is already a mess. Kyle Zimmer and Ronald Bolanos are both being used as starters, but are not fully stretched out nor efficient enough to be relied on. They each lasted just two innings in their respective first starts of the season. Neither one can be trusted to go more than four or five innings anytime soon. The matchups are no walk in the park either. Minnesota and Chicago both boast patient and powerful lineups. There is no justifiable reason to use either Royals pitcher this week.
Like Mick’s pitching streamers? The you should also check out next week’s Two-Start Pitchers!
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