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Starting Pitchers to Stream Week 22 – 8/26-9/1

Welcome back to the FreezeStats starting pitcher streaming article. You know the rules. All of the options I discuss below are available in at least 75% of Yahoo/ESPN consensus ownership rates per FantasyPros. Our options are plentiful next week, so let’s attack the weak offensive clubs. There’s a nice mix of high ceiling options with high-floor guys mixed in.

Alex Young (SP – ARI), 19% owned @SFG, Monday, 8/26
The 25-year-old has been serviceable but unspectacular with a 4.04 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, and 6.8 K/9 this year. That strikeout rate is embarrassing in today’s game but there’s a silver lining. His chase rate and swinging-strike rate are both above league-average so he’s due some positive regression there. In addition, his curveball is borderline elite with a 44% K rate and a 20.3% SwStr rate. He draws the Giants in Oracle Park who have a 75 wRC+ and just 48 home runs at home this season. That’s fewer than one home run per game for those of you scoring at home. Young has already faced the Giants twice that resulted in one good and one bad outing. The good one came in San Francisco. I like Young next week against the Giants, but he doesn’t have massive upside. I’ll still STREAM.


Adam Plutko (SP – CLE), 6% owned, @DET, Tuesday, 8/27
Speaking of teams who have struggled offensively at home, I give you the Tigers. They are tied with the Giants for the lowest wRC+ at home and have a 25.5% strikeout rate as a team. They’ve whiffed even more frequently since the trade of Nick Castellanos and, of course, are worse offensively. If you thought Young was boring, Plutko might put you to sleep immediately. He’s striking out fewer than 6.0 per nine innings but sports a scant 3.8% walk rate. He does induce whiff outside the zone at a high clip but doesn’t generate as many whiffs as Young overall. Plutko lacks a putaway pitch. My concern with Plutko is fly balls and home runs. His fly-ball rate is 48% and he’s given up 2.2 homers per nine innings. The Tigers tagged him for three longballs the last time they faced, so given the limited upside, I’m STAYING AWAY here.

Anthony DeSclafani (SP – CIN), 19% owned, @MIA, Wednesday, 8/28
Here we go again, back on the dance floor with Tony Disco. Finally! A guy with a strikeout rate better than one batter per inning. He’s added one mph to his fastball and has the best swinging-strike rate of his career. He’s struggling with home runs this year (who hasn’t) but he gets to face the Marlins in Miami. He’s given up 13 homers in the road but five of them were in two outings at Wrigley. The Marlins are not nearly as good as the Cubs offensively and Marlins Park is much more forgiving for pitchers. The Marlins are in the bottom five in terms of wRC+ and strikeout rate this year. DeSclafani is coming off two straight one-run outings, so I like his chances in this one. I’m STREAMing.


Dinelson Lamet (SP – SDP), 25% owned, @SFG, Thursday, 8/29
I’ll tell you right up front that Dinelson Lamet is my top streaming option next week. He’s right at 25% ownership mark, so in deep leagues, he’s probably gone. In 10 and some 12-team leagues, he should be available and plucked up quickly. Lamet has a robust 12.07 K/9. Yes, you read that right. He has an insane 14.4% SwStr% and a 68.9% contact rate. For reference, that would rank seventh and fourth respectively among qualified starters. There’s absolutely no reason a pitcher with that type of swing and miss skill should be available. His one downfall is his control as his walk rate is a smidge below 10%. But don;t worry, he’s going up against one of the worst offensive teams in the Giants in the most favorable park for pitchers. STREAM STREAM STREAM

Dylan Bundy (SP – BAL), 16% owned, @KCR, Saturday, 8/31
I’ve always had a soft spot for Dylan Bundy because he has a really good slider and solid changeup. His K-BB rate is typically in the mid-to-upper teens, combine that with two plus pitches and I just feel like he should be better. The AL East is a nightmare for pitchers and his home park doesn’t do him any favors. He’s away from Baltimore next week against the Royals who are third from the bottom with an 82 wRC+ as a team. Bundy decreased his obscene home run rate from a year ago and while it’s still above league-average, he’s not giving up as many fly balls. That’s in part due to an increase in his changeup usage that generates grounder over 55% of the time. He just dominated the Royals on 8/20, and I’m back in next week. STREAM

Eric Lauer (SP – SDP), 8% owned, @SFG, Saturday, 8/31
The last three options all have the ability to pile up strikeouts, Lauer on the other hand, not so much. However, he’s been solid at limiting home runs this year at 1.14 HR/9 which, believe it or not, is better than league-average. He throws a ton of strikes, so he’s not likely to be hurt by free passes. Pitching in Oracle Park for this start is ideal for Lauer’s skill set. I discussed how poor the Giants are in Young’s blurb, especially at home. I tweeted this earlier in the week showing how the Giants lack an offensive star. If Kevin Pillar, Evan Longoria, and Mike Yastrzemski are the batters Lauer has to worry about, I’ll take my chances. Buster Posey is a shell of himself and is 16% below-league average offensively. Lauer has a good chance at a quality start and win. I’m Streaming here.


Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.


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Starting Pitchers to Stream – Week 21 (8/19-8/25)

The stretch run is upon us and those who are still in contention need to do whatever it takes to win. I know I’ve been a little spotty with my streaming posts recently, but I want to finish the year strong. I hope this article helps you win your week/league. You know the drill. I choose the best starting pitchers to stream that are available in at least 75% of Yahoo/ESPN Consensus leagues. I discuss seven options next week but only recommend six of them, let’s get to it!

Michael Pineda (SP – MIN), 25% owned home vs CWS, Tuesday 8/20 
Fresh off the IL, Pineda was respectable going five innings giving up three runs (two earned), with six strikeouts, and one walk in that one. That’s prototypical Pineda, giving up some loud contact but limiting free passes. His velocity was just under 93 mph which is actually an improvement from where it was prior to his IL stint. That start was in Texas against the Rangers and he draws the White Sox at home next week. That’s encouraging. He’s handled the White Sox this season giving up just three earned runs over two starts (13 IP). The White Sox strike out a ton (26% on the year) and have hit just 64 home runs away from Guaranteed Rate Field this year. That’s 28th in MLB. The Twins will give plenty of run support and Pineda has a great chance at a win and a QS. STREAM (#2 option)



Adrian Houser (MIL – SP), 6% owned @STL, Wednesday 8/21 
Doogie’s cousin draws the Cardinals in St. Louis next week coming off two great performances against the Rangers and Nationals. He went a season-high seven innings in his most recent start against the Nationals. His fastball has been graded out as a 60 out of 80 and it sits 94-95 mph. It’s been a great pitch for him with a K% of 31.7% and a swinging strike rate (SwStr%) of an impressive 12.1% to back it up. Typically, fourseasm fastballs generate a SwStr% between 7-8%, so yeah, Houser can blow it by hitters. Unfortunately, his secondaries are not good at all. The good news is the Cardinals are ranked 26th in terms of home runs hit at home this year and are a below-average offensive club. I could see Houser struggling the third time through the order but am willing to roll the dice since the Cardinals haven’t seen him since his debut in April. Stream (#4 option)

Aaron Sanchez (HOU – SP), 25% owned, home vs DET, Wednesday 8/21
OK, so maybe we need to lower our expectations on Sanchez since his no-hit debut with the Astros but he’s getting the Tigers at home next week. Houston will provide a ton of run support, so we just need Sanchez to make through the fifth to qualify for a win. The Athletics lit Sanchez up this week but the Astros have made a change to Sanchez’s pitch mix. He’s throwing his curveball more often at the expense of his sinker. That makes sense because his sinker is his worst pitch and his curveball has generated strikeouts at a near-40% clip. That’s great. Now for his opponent, the Tigers. Over the last 30 days, only the White Sox have struck out more frequently and the Tigers are 20% below-league-average offensively as a team over the last month. There’s always a risk because Sanchez is known for his free passes, but this is a pretty sweet set up for Sanchez. I’m STREAMing. (#1 option)

Vince Velasquez (SP – PHI), 14% owned, @MIA, Friday, 8/23
First, the bad. Velasquez has given up two home runs per nine innings pitched (HR/9) and combines it with a nine percent walk rate. That’s a bad combination, no doubt. The good news is his strikeout rate remains strong over 25% and he’s inducing swings outside the zone at a career-high 31.1%. He’s basically become a two-pitch pitcher throwing his fastball and slider over 90% of the time. I don’t love that combination of his ability to go three times through the order, so a quality start is likely out of the question. In fact, he’s started 16 games and has only one quality start this year. He does have a solid 3.21 ERA over his last five starts though. His metrics on his fastball are actually similar to those of Houser who we discussed earlier. VV draws the Marlins in favorable Marlins Park, so he’s a moderate-risk, moderate reward option. Guess what, the Marlins are the worst team over the last 30 days in terms of wRC+ at just 77. STREAM. (#3 option, but lower in QS leagues)



Anthony DeSclafani (SP – CIN), 18% owned, @PIT, Friday, 8/23
Tony Disco is taking us on a hell of a roller coaster ride this year. It’s been tough to pinpoint the successful starts and avoid his blow-ups but he’s sporting the best strikeout rate of his career along with the best velocity of his career. There’s a correlation there. However, the Pirates seem to have his number tagging him for nine earned runs in two games against him. The Pirates also make a ton of contact and have the second-lowest strikeout rate (18.9%) over the last month. Combining DeSclafani’s elevated home run rate with the Pirates high contact approach spells potential disaster. I’m passing on this start, STAY AWAY

Jason Vargas (SP – PHI), 18% Owned @MIA, Sunday 8/25 
I’ve already discussed how bad the Marlins have been at this year in VV’s blurb but let’s dig a little deeper. They also have the second-lowest walk rate (5.6%) and the third-highest strikeout rate (25.5%) over that stretch. Vargas has found success with a suppressed BABIP thanks to a near-20% infield fly ball rate (IFFB%). That and his 78 mph changeup. The Marlins are familiar with Vargas for his time with the Mets. He hasn’t fared well against them but he receives a defensive upgrade with the Phillies. Don’t expect a ton of strikeouts but he’s a good play for a win and decent ratios. I’d STREAM him if you want to keep your ratios in check and need a W at the end of the week. (#6 option)

BONUS STREAM

Dinelson Lamet (SP – SD), 24% Owned, home vs BOS, Friday 8/23 
It sounds like a terrible matchup as the Red Sox are one of the best offensive teams in the league. Even still, they’ve taken a step back compared to their 2018 Championship Team. They still have a 106 wRC+ on the road but guess what? They are on the road in an NL park, so that means no DH. They drop to just a 73 wRC+ in NL Parks this season. Lamet has been on fire since coming off the IL with a 31% strikeout rate. All of his metrics point to an ERA below 4.00 (he’s at 3.95) so given the current environment, that’s pretty fantastic. His fastball averages 96 mph but it’s been hit around a bit. His slider has been the dominant pitch and he’s throwing it 45% of the time. It has a strikeout rate of 52%, backed by a 24.2% SwStr rate. Walks could be an issue but I’m going to give the edge to Lamet since the Red Sox are not familiar with his stuff. I’m STREAMING but understand the blow-up potential here. (#5 option)


Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.


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Starting Pitchers to Stream – Week 19 (8/5-8/11)

Welcome back to the FreezeStats weekly article where I cover starting pitcher streaming options for the week ahead. I apologize for missing last week, I was out of town and didn’t have a chance to get out a quality product. You know the rules here. The pitchers I cover are available in at least 75% of FantasyPros Yahoo/ESPN Consensus leagues. I’m doing things a little differently this time. I am covering seven pitchers but only suggesting five of them. I discuss why I’m passing on the other two next week despite the favorable matchup. Let’s dig in!

Griffin Canning (SP – LAA), 19% owned, @CIN, Monday 8/5
Normally I try to shy away from pitchers going in Great American Ballpark given the way the balls fly out at alarming rates. For reference, the Reds have home run per fly ball rate (HR/FB%) of 16.5% at home this year which is about 1.5% higher than league-average. But, they have just a 95 wRC+ in Cincy and just lost one of their best hitters in Yasiel Puig. This is a below-average offensive club and Canning carries a 1.20 WHIP, 25.1% strikeout rate, and 7.7% walk rate. All of those metrics are quite a bit better league-average. Canning has been very good at inducing swings and misses in his rookie campaign and coming off a scoreless outing against the Tigers. More importantly, he’s only walked three batters in his three starts. Add in the fact that he won’t have to face a DH and I think he’ll be good for more than a strikeout per inning and a good chance at a win. STREAM


Note: Canning just hit the IL & will miss this start. Let’s find a replacement.

Vince Velasquez (SP – PHI), 9% Owned, @SF, Saturday 8/10
VV has been a bit of a roll lately and is even making assists from left field. While he hasn’t gone six innings in any of his recent starts, he’s struck out seven, nine, and six batters in his last three outings. He’s relying heavily on his fastball which is good and bad. His velocity is up a tick from last year and his 12.7% swinging strike rate on the pitch is among the best in the league. The issue is home runs. With a 24% HR/FB rate, it’s earned a negative pitch value. So this is a very boom or bust play. Since I’m a gambling man (not really) but this start is in Pitcher friendly Oracle Park, so I’ll take my chances. If his control is bad, this could go sideways but he could also throw 5-6 shutout innings with nine strikeouts. Let’s STREAM.


Dylan Cease (SP – CHW), 10% owned, @DET, Tuesday 8/6
Cease faced the Tigers in his Major League debut last month where he gave up three earned runs over five innings with six punchouts. That game was at home in hitter-friendly Guaranteed Rate Field. Next week, he’ll be in Comerica Park which suppresses home runs. In addition, the Tigers lost one of their best hitters in Nick Castellanos. Even with Nicky C, the Tigers have a wOBA of just .276 at home with a strikeout rate of 25.8%. They also walk about 2% below the league-average rate which should offset Cease‘s control. Cease averages over 96 MPH on his fastball and has registered positive Pitch Values per FanGraphs on all three secondary offerings. Cease needs to command his fastball better but I feel like he can dominate the Tigers and grab his second career win. STREAM

Danny Duffy (SP – KC), 11% owned, @DET, Thursday 8/8
I’ve already bashed the Tigers who will probably end up being the number one team I will stream against going forward, so I’ll keep the negative comments to a minimum. Some other interesting statistics regarding the Tigers at home include a .229 batting average and 34 home runs hit in 49 games in Comerica Park. That’s simply not good. Let’s turn out focus to Duffy. He’s had mixed results versus the Tigers this year but has yet to give up a long ball against them and has 10 strikeouts across nine innings. Duffy has backed off his slider recently and his strikeout rate has dipped as a result. I think he needs to bring it back but there’s no guarantee he will be utilizing it. Maybe he’s lost the feel for it, I don’t know. I’m not all that interested to find out if he can get the feel back. Besides, despite how poor the Tigers have been the last couple seasons, Duffy has still struggled against them. I’m passing here and Staying away.

Cal Quantrill (SP – SD), 11% owned, Home vs COL, Friday, 8/9
It will be interesting to see if the Padres start this game with an opener as they did against the Cubs a couple of weeks ago. Quantrill flourished in that start but also has gone at least 5.1 IP in his last four outings. So at a minimum, he should qualify for a win in this one. Over those last three outings, prior to yesterday’s start against the Dodgers, he’s killing it with a 0.53 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP. He’s also throwing his slider more frequently, which has been his most successful pitch. I don’t think he’s going to pile up the strikeouts but the Rockies have been absolutely brutal on the road this year, so I think his ratios will be fine. How bad have the Rockies been away from Coors this year? They are ranked 29th in both wOBA and wRC+ and rank dead last in strikeout rate at 27.6%. It’s almost like facing the Tigers. I’m Streaming here.


Drew Smyly (SP – PHI), 4% owned, @SF, Friday, 8/9
Did Philidelphia figure something out with Smyly or is his success related to the weak opponents in the Giants and Pirates? Well, let’s check his pitch mix. Here’s something, his cutter usage has jumped from just over 10% to nearly 30% in his two outings with the Phillies. He’s also throwing a few more curveballs and his fastball is way down to 38%.  The problem for Smyly is that his cutter has been crushed this year. What’s happened in his last couple starts, he’s inducing more swings out of the zone on the pitch and getting a ton of ground balls. I don’t actually think the cutter is any better, but he’s faced some poor opponents as I mentioned earlier. Now, the lack of familiarity may have helped in Smyly’s success but this will be the second time the Giants have seen him. I’m not buying into Smyly’s recent success given the poor performance of his cutter. The Giants have been much better since the break with a .322 wOBA good for 15th in Major League Baseball. I’m sitting this one out.

Jakob Junis (SP – KC), 14% owned, @DET, Sunday, 8/11
Unlike his teammate Duffy, Junis has been successful against the Tigers over the last couple seasons. He has a career 2.62 ERA against Detriot which is just about where his ERA is since the start of 2018. The Tigers have managed just a .258 wOBA against him and it’s mostly due to his devastating slider. Junis is essentially a two-pitch pitcher but the slider has basically been thrown 50% of the time. I doubt he gets through the lineup three times but should be just fine in leagues that don’t count quality starts. Expect something like 5+ innings with six strikeouts with two runs or fewer. That’s playable in deeper formats, so let’s STREAM

Chris Bassitt (SP – OAK), 23% owned, @CHW, Sunday, 8/11
I’m a little bit perplexed to find that Bassitt is only owned in 23% of Yahoo/ESPN leagues. His ERA is 3.84 on a year when the average ERA for a starting pitcher is 4.50! That’s insane. That’s nearly 0.25 over last season which means, his adjusted ERA (compared to 2018) is about 3.60. In addition, his WHIP is just 1.17 compared to league-average 1.30. Maybe his strikeout rate is extremely low? Nope, 8.58 K/9 which is a hair above league-average. I’m not really finding an issue here. His BABIP is low but he also induces infield flys (IFFB%) at 15%, so a lower BABIP is partially justified. He draws the White Sox and while it’s not at home (unfortunately), the White Sox are weak offensively and just lost Yoan Moncada. Even within their hitter-friendly environment in Chicago, they have a 90 wRC+ and strikeout over 25% of the time. I’m definitely streaming Bassitt.

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.



Photo credit: Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knghts