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Week 7 Pitching Streamers (August 31 – September 6)

We have officially hit the halfway point of the truncated 2020 season. If you thought the last five-plus weeks have been chaotic, buckle up. Because of all the games still needing to be made up, the same number of total games will be played over the next 31 days of the season as have been played through the first 36. Things are more chaotic on the pitching streamers front this week than perhaps ever before. As a result of most MLB teams striking for a day to draw attention to issues of social injustice, we cannot say for sure which pitchers are pitching this coming weekend, let alone next week. Even at 10:00 AM on Friday, listed 10 of that day’s starting pitchers as “TBD”.

With a lack of clarity on how teams will utilize their rotations over the next few days, it may be even tougher to come up with viable streaming options. If the potential shuffling around of pitching staffs does not cause fantasy managers enough angst, Major League Baseball’s trade deadline is this coming Monday. Several players including Taijuan Walker are already on the move, and a few more players will likely have new homes by this time next week. A couple of them may even be among the streaming options below. So, as always, keep up with the latest news and notes from around the league. FantraxHQ has you covered for whatever your fantasy needs are, and be sure to follow the team on Twitter to get the latest information possible.

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Week 7 Pitching Streamers

Alex Young (Friday at San Francisco, 28 percent rostered in Fantrax leagues)

I was surprised that more fantasy managers did not pick up Alex Young last week since he was scheduled for two home starts. Young should still be on track to start this Sunday despite Thursday’s postponement. That would make him a solid streaming option next week when he faces the Giants. I do not necessarily like a starter who faces the same offense in consecutive starts, and San Francisco has played well of late. However, I do not expect that hot stretch to continue. They were shut out in both ends of a doubleheader on Thursday before being stymied by Zac Gallen on Friday. The Giants are a bit tougher against lefties, but Young has solid command (19.4 percent K-BB rate) and should be able to keep them at bay. Get it? Because of San Francisco. You’re welcome.

Gio Gonzalez (Friday at Kansas City, 29 percent rostered)

Gio Gonzalez has looked like a competent pitcher once again in his last three outings. Gonzalez has a 2.77 ERA, 3.39 FIP, and 26 percent strikeout rate during that span. I cannot help but feel like this is a trap and that Gio is going to drop a complete bomb as soon as more and more fantasy managers jump aboard the bandwagon. However, I believe we should continue to ride him while he is hot. After all, most pitchers only have five or six starts left this season as it is. It is not like we need him to be great for the next three months. The matchup against Kansas City is neutral. The Royals average just under four runs per game. They go into this weekend with a wRC+ of 105 versus left-handed pitchers, but they also have the fewest plate appearances against lefties in the American League.

Trevor Williams (Saturday v. Cincinnati, 44 percent rostered)

Trevor Williams is another potential trade candidate this weekend during what is likely to be a busy trade deadline for the Pirates. Williams did not do his current club any favors when he gave up eight earnies in his most recent outing. Still, he should have some value, as virtually every team in the hunt can use some reinforcements in the rotation. If Williams remains in Pittsburgh through the week, he should face the Reds next weekend. Before his drubbing in Chicago, Williams had pitched well in 2020. I expect Williams to bounce back and put together a solid effort against the Reds this week. His average start has lasted five innings and provided roughly four strikeouts and three earned runs. That is par for the course when it comes to most streamers, so Williams is a serviceable option in that regard.

Nick Margevicius (Thursday v. Oakland, 16 percent rostered)

Nick Margevicius has strung together four decent starts in a row. Over that span, he has allowed just eight earned runs over 20.2 innings. He has also chipped in a pair of quality starts to boot. Margevicius has good control, which is why he tends to avoid the blowups that plague so many streamers. This week he will take on Oakland. It would be hard to expect a win for Margevicius given the difference in the standings between these two teams. However, he should put together another solid outing. He was a tough-luck loser on Friday night when he allowed two runs in six innings. A similar fate could await him on Thursday. While it is not the holy grail, I imagine most fantasy managers will take that from a streamer who is available in a vast majority of leagues.

Robbie Erlin (Wednesday at Boston, 4 percent rostered)

Atlanta claimed Robbie Erlin off waivers nearly three weeks ago. Since then, he has made two spot starts for the Braves and has been effective. Erlin has allowed just two runs and three hits over eight innings of work. He should be in line to start Wednesday’s game in Boston against the Red Sox. It is not a favorable matchup per se, but Boston’s lineup is also not what it has been in years past. There is also the possibility that they trade one or two offensive pieces for some much needed organizational depth. Erlin should be opposing streaming favorite Martin Perez, which is not an imposing matchup either. I think Robbie Erlin could put together a better performance this week than most would expect.

Alex Cobb (Friday v. New York Yankees, 48 percent rostered)

Alex Cobb bounced back to a degree last week against Boston. He went five innings and allowed two runs on six hits. Cobb has been a pleasant surprise this season, heading into the weekend with a 3.73 ERA and 1.18 WHIP through six starts. A matchup with the New York Yankees is not an inviting one on the surface. However, the Bronx Bombers will likely be without Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and D.J. LeMahieu for Friday’s contest. This game is also part of a doubleheader, which could further limit New York’s offensive options. Cobb is not likely to set the world on fire and has two strikeouts or less in three of his last five starts. However, like Robbie Erlin, I would expect Cobb to put up better numbers in this start than most people would anticipate beforehand.

Martin Perez (Wednesday at Atlanta, 49 percent rostered)

This could be the last time Martin Perez appears on my weekly list of pitching streamers. I have cherished our time together. Perez had his best start of the season last weekend in Baltimore but was lit up this past Friday night in a home outing against the Washington Nationals. Perez should face the Atlanta Braves in the finale of their three-game set. The Braves have been awful against left-handed pitching all season, which could benefit Perez. Atlanta has just a .263 wOBA and a 63 wRC+ against southpaws heading into this weekend’s action. The recent return of Ronald Acuna will help Atlanta, but this is still a lineup that Perez should be able to work around. Despite the poor effort on Friday night, Perez has allowed two runs or less in four of his last six starts and is a fine streaming option this week.

Taylor Clarke (Saturday at San Francisco, 6 percent rostered)

Taylor Clarke made an impromptu start in place of Merrill Kelly on Monday night. Clarke pitched well, allowing just one earned run in four innings. He should get a chance at sticking in the rotation now that Kelly is out for the year, but that is no sure thing. It looks like Arizona is skipping his spot in the starting rotation this weekend due to Thursday’s postponement. The next time they will need a fifth starter is next Saturday, so Clarke is the most likely candidate to get the ball, although Madison Bumgarner could return by then as well. If Clarke does get the call, he should be good for four or five decent innings. Clarke will need to improve on his 14.3 percent walk rate to last long enough to be in line for a quality start or potential victory.

Ljay Newsome (Tuesday v. Oakland, 6 percent rostered)

Ljay Newsome recently became the one thousandth (ok, perhaps a slight exaggeration on my part) pitcher to make his Major League debut this season. Newsome’s calling card throughout the Minors was his impeccable control. He walked just 62 batters in over 500 Minor League innings. Thus far, at least, Newsome has carried that over to the Majors. He has yet to walk a batter through seven frames. Newsome will face the Oakland A’s in his second career start on Tuesday. Oakland is above average offensively and does not have drastic splits against right-handed pitching despite most of their “name brand” hitters batting from the right side. If Newsome can stay out of trouble and avoid walking hitters, he should put forth a solid effort in this game. Just do not expect more than four or five innings.

Tyler Anderson (Friday v. Arizona, 13 percent rostered)

My theory of trying to avoid a pitcher facing the same opponent in consecutive starts seemed to apply to Tyler Anderson recently. After dominating Arizona with a complete game in which he allowed no earned runs and just three baserunners, Tyler Anderson could not make it through five innings on Friday night, as the Diamondbacks pummeled him for seven runs and nine hits. Well, guess what? He is in line to face them again next week! Ah, the 2020 schedule. It is anybody’s guess as to what will happen in the rubber match. Anderson has pitched much better at home this season, which could swing the pendulum in his favor. Anderson carries risks in this one. Then again, so do most pitching streamers. I would not avoid using Anderson just because of his most recent outing.

Kolby Allard (Wednesday at Houston, 23 percent rostered)

I was not in favor of using Kolby Allard as a streamer this week, but he pitched well against Oakland. He gave up just one hit and two earned runs in 5.1 innings in a loss on Wednesday. He was undone by four walks, which is uncharacteristic for the former first-round draft pick. Allard should face Houston in his next outing. Ironically, his only other four-walk outing in his brief career came in Houston last September. The Astros have been good offensively this season, though they are down a bit from the success they have had in recent years. In that game last September, Allard allowed two runs in five innings while allowing eight baserunners. That seems to be a general baseline for many streamers, and I am sure many fantasy managers would take that given the current state of starting pitching.

JT Brubaker (Thursday v. Chicago Cubs, 7 percent rostered)

JT Brubaker had his best start of the season in his last outing. Brubaker allowed two runs in four innings against Milwaukee. While those numbers are not exactly the stuff of legends, that is not too shabby in the streaming world in 2020. Brubaker has attempted to alter his arsenal lately due to left-handed batters teeing off on him. He has scrapped his changeup in recent weeks and featured his sinking fastball more, along with a few more curves. A date with the Cubs will be a good barometer to see if the changes have helped. Chicago should be able to place six lefties in the lineup against Brubaker. If he can escape this start unscathed, it may be an indicator that his recent changes have helped and could propel him to fantasy relevancy over the season’s final month.

Tommy Milone (Friday v. New York Yankees, 25 percent rostered)

Take it from me – Tommy Milone is not the kind of pitcher you want to watch pitch if he is on your roster. I know this because I picked him up on my TGFBI team last weekend, and every time he junked an 85 MPH fastball towards home plate on Tuesday, I was sure it was going to end up over the left-field wall. That happened twice in the second inning, and I had to stop watching. But guess what? I checked the game an hour later to find out that Milone made it through 5.1 innings against Tampa Bay with just two earned runs allowed. It is not always (or ever) pretty, but Milone continues to get the job done. As is the case with teammate Alex Cobb, this may be a better spot than it appears on the surface. Just try not to watch.

Justin Dunn (Saturday v. Texas, 33 percent rostered)

Fantasy managers are currently rostering Justin Dunn in a third of leagues, which is significantly more than teammates Nick Margevicius and Ljay Newsome. But Dunn has been the worst pitcher of the three through half a season. Dunn has name recognition but hasn’t put it together on the hill quite yet. Dunn has an unsightly 5.57 ERA, but that is better than his xERA, FIP, and xFIP. The main difference to this point between Dunn and his teammates is control. Dunn has walked 12.9 percent of batters, which leads to big innings. The good news for those who roster Dunn is that he has a much better matchup this week than his fellow Mariners. Dunn will host Texas, which is one of the least patient offensive clubs in the league. This could be a get right spot for Dunn if he can avoid the control issues that have hampered him to this point in the year.

Daniel Ponce de Leon (Wednesday at Cincinnati, 22 percent rostered)

I keep expecting more fantasy managers to gravitate towards Daniel Ponce de Leon, but it hasn’t happened yet. So far, the masses have not missed out by leaving him on the wire. Despite carrying high strikeout potential, Ponce de Leon has struggled of late. He failed to get out of the first inning on Friday, allowing four runs while recording just two outs. He walked four in that outing, and that has been his bugaboo this season. Ponce de Leon has now walked 14 batters in 12.2 innings. That is not going to get it done. Cincinnati takes a fair amount of walks, so Ponce de Leon will have his work cut out for him on Wednesday. I am not in love with the matchup, though there is more upside here than there is with your typical pitching streamer.

Josh Tomlin (Friday at Washington, 14 percent rostered)

Last week, I warned against trusting Josh Tomlin and getting sucked into his hot start to the season. Home runs have plagued him throughout his career, and he was facing the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. As it turned out, he ended up getting two starts, which does not make him a streamer. But he did allow three long balls in just three innings at Philadelphia. This week, he should be facing the Nationals on the road. Washington has been better offensively of late, but they need someone besides Juan Soto and Trea Turner to pick up the slack. If Tomlin can navigate the top of the Nationals order, he may have some success in this game. His August 18 outing against Washington (4 IP, 2 ER, 2 K) should provide a solid baseline for what a tolerable Tomlin start would look like.

Eric Fedde (Friday at Atlanta, 15 percent rostered)

Eric Fedde should start the other game in Friday’s twin bill against Atlanta. Fedde has six strikeouts in 22.2 innings this season. Yes, you read that correctly. Fedde pitches to contact, but he excels at reducing flyballs. Fedde’s sinker (his primary pitch) averages 22 inches of drop, which puts him near the top of the league. That causes hitters to pound the ball into the ground. Opponents have a 3.4-degree launch angle against Fedde this year. Basically, he turns every hitter into Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. As is the case with Vladito, opponents hit the ball hard, so there is potential for Fedde to get knocked around a bit. But so far, he has been adept at limiting the damage. He may not be the most aesthetically pleasing streamer, but managers should not blindly avoid Fedde simply because he does not strike hitters out.

Derek Holland (Wednesday v. Chicago Cubs, 10 percent rostered)

Derek Holland has been inconsistent, to say the least of late. In his last three starts, he has allowed nine, one, and eight runs. Welcome to the wonderful world of streaming pitchers. Despite the yo-yo act, Holland is among a quartet of Pirates starters as streaming options this week, though he may not even be a Buc come Wednesday. Pittsburgh will likely trade anyone they can before Monday’s trade deadline. If he does remain in Pittsburgh past Monday afternoon, I am fine using him this week. Unlike their crosstown rivals, the Cubs have not done much against left-handers this season. They enter this weekend’s play with just a .298 wOBA and 85 wRC+ against lefties. The veteran can navigate through the lineup if he has his good stuff that day.

Steven Brault (Friday v. Cincinnati, 11 percent rostered)

At the beginning of the season, Steven Brault and Chad Kuhl were used in tandem, because the two had primarily only pitched in relief. Fast forward a month, and Kuhl is arguably the team’s best starter, not that that is saying much. Brault has had his ups and downs. His biggest “up” is that he keeps the ball down. Brault has yet to allow a home run this season and has induced a 54.8 percent ground ball rate. On the flip side, he has walked 11 while striking out just nine in those 15 innings. Those ratios will not fly for long. The Reds have the fifth-highest walk rate in baseball, so Brault could get himself in some trouble here. However, his floor is a bit higher than, say, Holland’s. Therefore, I would not mind streaming Brault this week.

Anibal Sanchez (Thursday at Philadelphia, 40 percent rostered)

Fantasy managers began the purge of Anibal Sanchez last week, only for him to toss a gem against Miami on Sunday. The veteran allowed just one run and five hits over seven solid innings of work. Miami has been a pretty good offense this year, so that start is not as easy to dismiss as some might think. Now, he will have to repeat the feat in Philadelphia. That is a tough task and a better test of whether or not Sanchez found something last time out. I would pay close attention to see how Sanchez fares this weekend in Boston. If he can build upon his last start, I would not take issue with using him against the Phillies. However, if he struggles in Beantown, I would avoid throwing him at Citizens Bank Park, which perennially ranks among the most homer-friendly parks in all of baseball.

Zack Godley (Saturday v. Toronto, 8 percent rostered)

Zack Godley has spent the 2020 season alternating solid starts with blowups. If the trend continues, Godley should be in for a rough outing against the Blue Jays next weekend. I would not avoid him simply because of what is a random trend. However, I would have to think long and hard about using him this week. When you are streaming pitchers, you are mostly just hoping to find someone who will not do too much damage. When Zack Godley has been bad this year, he has downright atrocious. That is a dangerous game of chicken for fantasy managers to play. If you can absorb the potential ratio hit and are simply compiling innings and chasing strikeouts, Godley is a good bet. However, if a blowup will significantly damage your ERA and WHIP, you should avoid Godley this week.

Brandon Bielak (Wednesday v. Texas, 37 percent rostered)

Brandon Bielak has a favorable matchup this week against the Texas Rangers. They have the worst OPS and wOBA in the American League, and the lowest batting average and wRC+ in all of baseball. That may tempt fantasy managers to start Bielak this week. However, the problem is that Bielak has been awful in each of his last two starts. The rookie has lasted just two innings combined while allowing 10 earned runs, including serving up four homers. Those kinds of starts can sink a fantasy team, especially in a shortened season with limited innings to soften the blow. With just four weeks to go, the name of the game should be to try to protect ratios whenever possible. Starting Brandon Bielak this week is most likely not the way to go about doing that.


Not Even with Your Team

Chris Mazza (Thursday v. Toronto, 1 percent rostered)

Boston called up Chris Mazza last week to start versus the Yankees, but this week’s start was postponed due to the protests. I still expect him to toe the rubber on Thursday against Toronto, though that is no certainty. In his only start, he went three innings and gave up four runs on eight hits. That is a microscopic sample size, but it also does not exactly inspire confidence either. Mazza is not going to put up many punchouts, but he does generally keep the ball on the ground. That will be a necessity against Toronto. The Blue Jays are fourth in all of baseball in home runs. There are certainly safer streamers out there considering the matchup and Mazza’s uncertain role in Boston’s rotation. Because of that, I would prefer to leave Mazza on the wire this week.

Ryan Castellani (Saturday at Los Angeles Dodgers, 16 percent rostered)

Ryan Castellani has looked good in both of his starts away from Coors Field and pitched well in one of two at home. The former second-round pick has curbed some of the control problems that have plagued him over the last two years in the minors. However, his 48.2 percent hard-hit rate allowed puts him in just the 7th percentile of baseball. The Dodgers have the second-best hard-hit rate in baseball behind only the Detroit Tigers. (Yes, those Tigers.) They also have the best wRC+ against right-handed pitching and the fourth-highest wRC+ at home. Castellani could continue to defy the odds, but I am not hopeful for his chances in this matchup. Considering his next two starts should be at home, fantasy managers should just leave Castellani on the waiver wire for the time being.

Logan Webb (Wednesday at Colorado, 44 percent rostered)

Logan Webb scuffled a bit in his start, allowing five runs in 3.2 innings against the Dodgers. He now must go to Coors Field and face the Rockies. Webb pitched well there earlier this month. He earned his first victory of the season when he allowed one earned run in five innings on August 5. However, asking him to repeat that feat here is asking for trouble. Webb keeps the ball on the ground, which is generally a recipe for success. But he does not miss a ton of bats, as evidenced by his 9.1 percent swinging-strike rate and his 39.5 percent hard-hit rate. Even if the Rockies don’t slug home runs against Webb, the potential is there for death by a thousand cuts, especially in that ballpark. There are much safer streaming options than Webb this week.

Austin Voth (Friday at Atlanta, 35 percent rostered)

Austin Voth was a popular deep sleeper in fantasy this season, and his first two starts were a glimpse into his potential. Since then, however, it has not panned out. Voth has been tagged for 14 runs and 21 hits in just 11.2 innings over his last three starts. I would not expect much more from Voth next weekend when he takes on the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta has a 117 wRC+ against right-handers, and a 119 wRC+ at home. They also have a top-three BABIP in both splits, while Voth has allowed an ugly 42.5 percent hard-hit rate. There is not a whole lot to inspire confidence this week when it comes to considering Voth as a potential streamer. Fantasy managers should let Voth ride the pine until further notice.

Kris Bubic (Friday v. Chicago White Sox, 24 percent rostered)

Kris Bubic had a start to forget on Sunday against the Twins. The rookie gave up four runs and nine hits in just 3.1 innings and failed to record a strikeout. It was his second consecutive outing versus the Twins, which is something I try to avoid whenever possible. Next week, Bubic will have the double whammy of facing the same opponent in two straight games and having that opponent be the Chicago White Sox. Chicago has demolished left-handed pitching to the tune of a .418 wOBA and a 170 (!) wRC+ before Friday’s action. The White Sox are loaded and will be facing Bubic for the third time by the time Friday rolls around. There are just too many red flags here for me to consider using Bubic as a streamer in this matchup.

Tarik Skubal (Friday at Minnesota, 46 percent rostered)

Detroit’s doubleheader scheduled for Friday was rained out, which will push Tarik Skubal’s turn in the rotation back a day. He should still be on pace to start next weekend in Minnesota. While the future is bright for the highly touted prospect, he has not enjoyed a good start to his MLB career. Skubal has lasted just 4.1 innings through his first two big-league starts while giving up five runs on 10 hits. The 23-year old will face the Twins in back-to-back starts, and he has yet to complete three innings. That is not a combination we should be optimistic about. I do not have him anywhere at the moment. If I did, I would keep him on the bench until he shows me something on a Major League mound.

For more pitching help, check out Chris Clegg’s Two-Start Pitchers for the coming week.

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