Week 9 Pitching Streamers (September 14 – 20)
Only two weeks are remaining in the MLB season and fantasy baseball championships are bound to go down to the wire in many leagues. Starters will have a maximum of three starts remaining between now and the end of the season. That means that all bets are off when it comes to both start/sit decisions and roster moves. There are no undroppable players at this point in the year. If you want to maximize innings and thus the potential for both wins and strikeouts, grabbing pitching streamers may be the way to go. If you seek to protect ratios, you might be a bit pickier about which pitchers you use. Either way, you will likely have some tough decisions to make over the next week or so.
Our frantic sprint to the finish line will face at least one more COVID-19 hurdle. The Giants had a positive test on Friday night, which has caused at least two of their games against the San Diego Padres to get postponed. I originally had two Giants (Tyler Anderson and Trevor Cahill) as well as an additional Seattle Mariner (Ljay Newsome, who was scheduled to face the Giants on Tuesday) among my streaming candidates. But with the uncertainty surrounding the Giants, I removed them. We do not know when their next game will be, and we do not know who has tested positive. The Padres have no potential streamers, as all of their starters are rostered in well over half of Fantrax leagues. There are still plenty of options below to choose from, so pick the ones that fit your team’s specific categorical needs.
Week 9 Pitching Streamers
Jaime Barria (Friday v. Texas, 13 percent rostered in Fantrax leagues)
Jaime Barria heads the list of streaming options for the penultimate week of the 2020 season. Barria has been a pleasant surprise for the Los Angeles Angels this season. After sporting an ugly 6.42 ERA in 2019, his ERA this season is a full three runs fewer through four starts in 2020. While it is a minuscule sample size, his Statcast metrics seem to point the picture of a legitimate breakout candidate.
As if that were not enough to convince you that Barria should be rostered in way more than 13 percent of leagues, his upcoming opponent is the Texas Rangers. Texas has the worst record in the American League and has arguably the worst offense in all of baseball. Their 64 wRC+ on the season is only outdone by their 62 wRC+ in September. There is not much to dislike about the way Barria is pitching or his upcoming matchup. Grab him off the waiver wire and start him with confidence this week.
Brady Singer (TBD, 45 percent rostered)
Brady Singer showed his incredible upside when he finally got to face a new lineup for once. He nearly no-hit the Cleveland Indians on Thursday, tossing eight shutout frames. The impressive rookie will look to build on that performance, though there remains a question as to who his next opponent may be. It will either be Detroit or Milwaukee. The Brewers have been the better offense of late, so it would probably be more advantageous for Singer to face the Tigers. I can understand managers wanting a bit more clarity on his opponent before pulling the trigger. But if he pitches as he did on Thursday, however, the opponent will be inconsequential. Enjoy the last week that Brady Singer can qualify as a streamer. By this time next week, he will be rostered in a majority of leagues.
Brett Anderson (Friday v. Kansas City, 33 percent rostered)
Brett Anderson has allowed four runs in each of his last two starts while striking out a combined four hitters in that span. These are not exactly the type of performances that garner priority waiver claims and large FAAB bids. Still, he sits at 0.4 WAR with a 3:1 K: BB ratio on the year, so he has some positive attributes. The Kansas City Royals could provide Anderson a bit of a reprieve for his recent struggles. Kansas City has hit a bit of a wall offensively in recent weeks and will be without slugger Jorge Soler for this contest. Anderson will not approach anything close to some of the dominant performances we have seen from Brewers starters in the past few days. But he will have a decent chance for a win, which bumps up his stock a bit this week.
John Means (Friday v. Tampa Bay, 48 percent rostered)
John Means has not been able to build on his strong 2019 campaign, but he has shown some signs of life lately. He picked up his first win of the season on Tuesday by limiting the Mets to one run over six strong innings of work. The Orioles have a pair of doubleheaders in the next few days, but it looks like Means will face Tampa Bay on Friday night. The Rays have the American League’s best record, but their offense is trending in the wrong direction of late. Their .188 team batting average during September is the worst in the AL, and they have had issues against left-handed pitching at different points in the year. Earning a victory or quality start in this game may be difficult, but Means is a good streaming option this week.
Josh Fleming (Wednesday v. Washington, 40 percent rostered)
Josh Fleming won each of his first three Major League starts. That is an impressive feat in a normal season. But in 2020 when starters are pitching fewer innings per start than ever before, it is practically an anomaly. Fleming’s streak came to an end on Thursday, but he still pitched well by streaming standards. He will look to begin a new streak on Wednesday against Washington. The World Series champions are on the outside looking in on the playoffs despite the expanded format. However, their offense has not been the problem. In fact, Trea Turner and Juan Soto have been among the most dangerous duos to start a season in Major League history:
Still, two hitters does not a team make. Washington’s pitching has been abysmal, and that includes Fleming’s likely opponent, Austin Voth. Voth has been downright awful. Don’t worry – I will address him momentarily. Fleming may not provide pristine ratios in this matchup. But then again, few streamers do that anyway. What he does offer is a higher win probability than possibly every other streamer on the board. That makes him a pretty solid streamer in this matchup.
Kris Bubic (Friday at Milwaukee, 25 percent rostered)
Kris Bubic earned his first Major League victory on Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The rookie allowed just one run while striking out six in five innings. Bubic has now had at least six K’s in four of seven starts. That gives him a bit more upside than your standard streaming candidate. On the flip side, his win potential is limited pitching for the bottom-feeding Royals. Six in one half, half a dozen in the other, I suppose. The 23-year old will take on the Milwaukee Brewers in his next start. Milwaukee has started to get it going, so this may not be the best time to battle the Brew Crew. But Bubic has earned a modicum of trust based on his effectiveness over the last two weeks.
Austin Gomber (Wednesday at Milwaukee, 5 percent rostered)
The St. Louis Cardinals have had plenty of doubleheaders lately, as they continue their mad dash to try to make up for nearly three weeks of lost time. They have used Austin Gomber as a starter in two separate doubleheaders already this month, and I expect them to use him in the same capacity during Wednesday’s twin-bill against Milwaukee. Gomber will most likely only pitch three or four innings, but he has been effective thus far in the role. He has not allowed an earned run while striking out 11 in his last two starts. He has allowed his fair share of baserunners (10 in 5.2 IP), so there has been a fair share of luck in keeping runs off the scoreboard. Still, he is getting strikeouts and putting up zeros. As long as he continues to do so, he is worthy of streaming consideration.
Tejay Antone (Friday v. Chicago White Sox, 22 percent rostered)
The Cincinnati Reds have used Tejay Antone in the bullpen and as a spot starter this season. Antone has been an above-average option in both scenarios. He will get another spot start this coming Saturday, which could line him up to face the White Sox on Friday. There is no guarantee Antone will pitch, and we know that Chicago can mash. But The White Sox have been a bit more vulnerable of late (108 wRC+ in September versus 122 in July/August) and against right-handers (109 wRC+ versus 152 against lefties), so perhaps there is something for us to hang our hats on here. Antone has struck out a third of batters faced thus far this season. His strikeout rate dwarfs those of the traditional streamer. Because of that, fantasy managers will need to consider using Antone despite the difficult matchup.
Nick Margevicius (Monday v. Oakland, 24 percent rostered)
Nick Margevicius was lit up for seven runs in San Francisco on Wednesday after tossing quality starts in two of his previous three outings. His is a cautionary tale. I warned last week that the Giants were a good offense against left-handed pitchers, but I certainly did not expect a 7-spot. This week he should take on an Oakland offense which has been below average offensively against lefties. That seems odd considering their everyday lineup, but it is true. They also have the league’s highest strikeout rate against southpaws, which certainly does not help their cause. Margevicius does have 18 strikeouts in his last three starts, so there is some potential for fantasy teams hurting in that department. It is difficult to feel too confident after he screwed the pooch on Wednesday, but Margevicius does have some upside in this matchup.
Trevor Rogers (Wednesday v. Boston, 34 percent rostered)
Last Sunday, Trevor Rogers struck out 10 Tampa Bay Rays in just his third career start. That raised some eyebrows, mine included. On Friday, he struck out five of the first seven batters he faced over two scoreless innings. Admittedly, the tone of this blurb looked different after the second inning on Friday night. After that, things went south in a hurry. Rogers retired just three hitters after that, allowing nine runs (eight earned) on nine hits, including two homers. Rogers can miss bats, but he has now allowed five longballs over his last nine innings of work. Boston is in the middle of the pack in slugging, and they do fan quite a bit, at 24.1 percent. If you are chasing strikeouts, Rogers might be worth the risk, especially when you consider that most streamers have plenty of warts themselves.
Martin Perez (Saturday v. New York Yankees, 45 percent rostered)
If this column had a poster child, it would be Martin Perez. He is always on the cusp of being rostered by too many teams to be considered a streamer, yet he always manages to stay under the threshold. It also feels like he has never had a two-start week. (I looked. If he starts Sunday as planned, it will be his second such week.) Perez has been about as consistent a pitching streamer as you will find. He has finished five innings in seven of nine starts and allowed two earned runs or less in five of nine. His swinging-strike rate remains in the single digits, but Perez is among the league leaders in inducing soft contact. Credit his cutter, which he will surely u
Jose Urena (Thursday v. Boston, 21 percent rostered)
Jose Urena was one of the Marlins who contracted COVID-19 in July, which kept him out of action for the majority of the season. He finally debuted this past Monday, allowing three runs in five innings against Atlanta. Urena is a seasoned vet compared to a lot of names you will find among streaming options. Urena has had a very low strikeout rate throughout his career, but if he can pitch an inning or two longer than a typical streamer, he can still strike out as many hitters in each start as a pitcher with better stuff. That makes him attractive for fantasy managers who are simply looking to compile innings at this point in the year. He also possesses the ability to limit free passes and home runs. You can certainly do worse than to use Urena for his start on Thursday.se against a Yankees lineup that features several power-hitting righties. The matchup is not ideal, but Perez has earned trust at this point.
Jakob Junis (Tuesday at Detroit, 34 percent rostered)
Jakob Junis’ rough 2020 continued this past Tuesday when he allowed season-highs in hits (7), earned runs (5), and home runs (3) in his start against the Cleveland Indians. Junis enters the final two weeks of the year with an unseemly 5.57 ERA. He will hope to turn his fortunes around against Detroit this week. The Tigers have trailed off a bit in the last week or so. Their .306 wOBA in September ranks 20th in the Majors, while their K: BB ratio is the worst in all of baseball. It may be hard for many managers to get behind Junis this week, but the matchup is one Junis can navigate. Before his last start, Junis had allowed exactly two earned runs in each of his previous four starts. Managers can hope for that type of outing on Tuesday.
Vince Velasquez (Saturday at Toronto, 29 percent rostered)
The Philadelphia Phillies have reinserted Vince Velasquez into the starting rotation, in part because of several doubleheaders the team has to play to make for time lost earlier in the season. Velasquez did not disappoint in Tuesday’s twin-bill, striking out nine in five innings against Boston. He will pitch in Sunday’s doubleheader before pitching in a third consecutive double-dip next weekend in Toronto. Doubleheaders can be advantageous for pitchers because teams tend to sit a hitter or two. Managers also usually do not require starters to go as long into games. That may limit the potential for a win, but it allows a pitcher like Velasquez to empty the tank a little bit. Velasquez’ strikeout potential adds to his appeal, but he did allow four runs (including two home runs) last time he pitched at Sahlen Field.
Josh Tomlin (Wednesday at Baltimore, 14 percent rostered)
Josh Tomlin was unable to build upon his performance from last week. I know I sound like a broken record, but pitchers have had a hard time when facing the same offense in consecutive starts. Tomlin has made five starts in the last four weeks but has only faced two different teams. He will get to pitch against a new opponent when Atlanta travels to Baltimore this week. Tomlin forces batters to put the ball in play. His low strikeout rate is mitigated by his impressive walk rate. The Orioles sport a BABIP north of .300, so Tomlin could be in for a long night. Or a short one, as it were. Expect four innings pitched with a couple of strikeouts, with a couple (and hopefully no more than that) earned runs allowed.
Ryan Weber (Friday v. New York Yankees, 4 percent rostered)
Since Boston reinserted Ryan Weber into the rotation at the beginning of the month, Weber has been much more effective. Of course, that’s not saying much considering how bad he was early on. Still, to his credit, he has been serviceable in his last two starts. Weber has allowed four runs on nine hits in nine innings. That feels like a streamer special in 2020. He did pitch out of the bullpen this past Thursday, so it possible that Boston uses him as a piggyback option for the remainder of the season. That actually may be a better role for fantasy managers chasing wins. Either way, Weber should be a reasonably effective pitcher going forward as long as you do not have unrealistic expectations.
Michael Fulmer (Friday v. Cleveland, 22 percent rostered)
It looked like Michael Fulmer had turned a bit of a corner heading into this week. He was coming off a scoreless start (albeit only three innings) in which he struck out six batters against Milwaukee. However, he followed that up by allowing four runs in just 2.1 innings against Minnesota, all while failing to record a single punchout. The streaming life is not for the faint of heart, my friends. Fulmer should face Cleveland next Friday. Fulmer has opposed the Tribe on two occasions this year, and he did not pitch well in either game. Cleveland has gotten to Fulmer for eight runs in just 5.2 innings while smacking three homers against the right-hander. It will be difficult for fantasy managers to overlook that history, so I cannot blame those who will leave Fulmer on the wire for another week.
Steven Brault (Wednesday at Cincinnati, 10 percent rostered)
Steven Brault has lost three of his last four starts. His primary issue has been a lack of command. Brault has walked 10 hitters spanning just 14.2 over those four starts. The Reds have the National League’s highest walk rate, though they are considerably less patient against left-handed pitching. Brault keeps the ball on the ground, which will serve him well when pitching at Great American Ballpark. Given Cincinnati’s recent offensive woes, including an MLB-worst .187 batting average in September, Brault should be considered a decent streamer considering the matchup. Brault’s last start against the Reds (4.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 K) feels like a reasonable baseline for fantasy managers to expect from him next time out.
Trevor Williams (Thursday v. St. Louis, 39 percent rostered)
Trevor Williams has had six strikeouts in each of his last two starts, but the positives start and end there. Williams has given up eight earned runs and four home runs in 10 innings in that span, which followed an eight-run, three-homer the start before against the Chicago White Sox. He will now take on a Cardinals offense that has been a bit inconsistent during September. They have scored three runs or fewer in half of their games this month, but they have also scored 12 and 16 runs in a game since the calendar turned. For me, finding the right streamers is often just as much about how that pitcher is pitching than the matchup itself. If Williams rights himself in his Saturday start in Kansas City, I would be much more willing to recommend him against St. Louis on Thursday.
Erick Fedde (Friday at Miami, 11 percent rostered)
The Washington Nationals have two off days this upcoming week, but also have two doubleheaders next weekend. I believe Erick Fedde will pitch in one end of Friday’s doubleheader against Miami. Fedde allowed just two runs in five innings while striking out five Atlanta Braves on Friday night. The strikeouts were a pleasant surprise from Fedde, who still sports a single-digit strikeout rate despite Friday’s effort. Fedde is the ultimate JAG (Just A Guy). His 5.06 ERA is better than his expected metrics indicate, and he owns a -0.4 WAR on the year. He has gone at least five innings in four of his last five starts. Fantasy managers who just need innings should be able to rely on Fedde, but he provides little more than that, so plan accordingly.
Adbert Alzolay (Wednesday v. Cleveland, 19 percent rostered)
Adbert Alzolay has been up and down of late, in terms of both his performance and the Cubs recalling and optioning him between their alternate training site and their Major League roster. Alzolay has struggled mightily with command in his two most recent outings. He has walked seven batters in just 6.1 innings. That will not endear him to manager David Ross, and the Cubs may skip Alzolay on Wednesday and opt for Jon Lester on four days’ rest. If Alzolay does get the assignment, he will be a middling streaming option this week. Cleveland has not been able to get their offense going this season. However, they do have the league’s sixth-highest walk rate, so Alzolay must do a better job of spotting his four-seam fastball. His 53.7 first-pitch strike percentage thus far in 2020 is not going to cut it.
Not Even with Your Team
Jordan Lyles (Thursday at Houston, 29 percent rostered)
Texas has used Jordan Lyles as a piggyback option to Luis Garcia in two of his last three appearances. Lyles may not start on Thursday against Houston, but I believe he will get the bulk of work. If you are thinking about using Lyles, you are looking for length and little else. Lyles has averaged just over five innings over his last eight appearances, but he has allowed at least three earned runs in every single one of them. If you can live with the ratio damage and are just trying to accumulate innings, he can be serviceable. However, if you are in a dogfight where a blowup is going to cost you, then you should find a safer option.
Chad Kuhl (Friday v. St. Louis, 29 percent rostered)
On the season, Chad Kuhl has excellent numbers for a pitcher with perpetual streaming status. At least, on the surface. His 3.38 ERA looks good until you notice his 6.96 xERA. His .209 batting average against seems great until you see his .212 BABIP and .289 xBA (expected batting average). It appears the cracks are beginning to show, and Kuhl is playing a dangerous game with his fantasy managers’ ratios. Like his teammate Steven Brault, Kuhl has struggled lately, particularly with his command. Kuhl has a poor 10:13 K: BB ratio over his last four starts spanning 18 innings. The Cardinals are one of just four teams in baseball with a top-10 walk rate and a top-10 strikeout rate. That could spell trouble for a pitcher with Kuhl’s recent track record and underlying peripherals. I would avoid him this week if possible.
Kolby Allard (Friday v. Los Angeles Angels, 24 percent rostered)
There is little in between when it comes to Kolby Allard and his recent performances. He has given up two or fewer runs in four of his seven starts this season, pitching to a 2.11 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in those games. In his other three starts, his ERA is 22.09. Yes, you read that correctly. His WHIP is also 3.40. Kolby Allard is the proverbial box of chocolates, only if half of the box was laced with a diarrhetic. Allard should be in line to face the Angels on Friday night. The Angels have been subpar against southpaws this season. Then again, the Seattle Mariners have arguably the sport’s worse offense against lefties, and they accounted for two of Allard’s said disaster starts. I cannot recommend starting a pitcher who has Allard’s level of blowup potential.
Robbie Erlin (Tuesday at Baltimore, 4 percent rostered)
The Braves are likely to give Robbie Erlin another shot in the rotation after they placed Tommy Milone on the Injured List. However, even if Erlin gets the call, fantasy managers cannot trust him given his struggles. In his last four starts, Erlin has tallied just 13.2 innings while giving up 16 earned runs and allowing 24 baserunners. He has also managed just 10 strikeouts in that timeframe. This week, Erlin takes on a Baltimore team that is improbably still in the playoff hunt with two weeks remaining. Despite the loss of Anthony Santander, the Orioles offense continues to thrive. They have a wOBA of .380 and a 141 wRC+ in September. Even in a favorable matchup, I would have a hard time recommending Erlin as a streamer. But considering Baltimore’s offensive prowess, Erlin is an easy sit for me this week.
David Peterson (Saturday at Atlanta, 48 percent rostered)
It appears the clock may be approaching midnight for young David Peterson. He entered the week with an ERA just over 3.00. But a date with the Phillies on Monday proved costly for Peterson and his fantasy managers. Peterson lasted just two innings while allowing five runs, in part due to four walks and a hit batsman. After facing the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo this weekend (not an easy task), Peterson will get the scorching hot Atlanta Braves next weekend. The Braves have scored 94 runs in 11 September games. Even if you remove their recent National League record 29-run outburst, they are still averaging 6.5 runs for the month. There aren’t too many pitchers I would be willing to throw against Atlanta the way they are swinging the bats. And David Peterson is not on that list.
Austin Voth (Wednesday v. Tampa Bay, 26 percent rostered)
To say Austin Voth has pitched poorly this season would be a massive understatement. His season-long numbers (7.99 ERA, 1.68 WHIP) get worse when you remove his first two starts of the season. Things have gone downhill in a hurry for the 28-year old. Granted, he has faced the Braves three times, which is problematic for most pitchers. But his underlying metrics are not exactly encouraging, either.
Based on their Statcast pages, I hereby declare that Austin Voth shall be known henceforth as Bizarro Barria. Besides, Barria pitches for the Angels, while Voth’s 6.66 xERA is, well… If Voth has a future in the Majors beyond 2020, it will likely be in the bullpen. His xFIP is a reasonable 4.28 the first time through the order, but after that, it doubles. Start Austin Voth at your own peril. I honestly cannot believe he is still rostered in a quarter of leagues at this point. Cut bait already.
Ryan Castellani (Friday v. Los Angeles Dodgers, 11 percent rostered)
A pitcher with an ERA that currently sits at 5.34, with an even higher xFIP and xERA, facing the best team in the sport at Coors Field. What could possibly go wrong? If you are considering starting Ryan Castellan this week, just send me some cash instead. We’ll both feel better.
Kyle Wright (Saturday at New York Mets, 41 percent rostered)
I cannot lie – I did a double-take when I saw that Kyle Wright was still rostered in 41 percent of leagues. This past Tuesday was the first time Wright had seen a Major League mound in nearly four weeks. And he wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire early in the season. He enters the weekend with an ERA over 8.00 and a WHIP over 2.00. Much like teammates Josh Tomlin and Robbie Erlin, Wright has a more difficult matchup than it may seem. The Mets’ offense is absolutely humming right now. They have scored 80 runs in 10 September games, and they head into the weekend with a 158 wRC+ and .405 wOBA this month. Not only should fantasy managers not start Wright this week, but they should also outright drop him in almost all leagues. 41 percent? Seriously?
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