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Starting Pitchers to Stream – Week 8 (5/20-5/26)

Every week I cover the best starting pitcher streaming options for the week ahead. I include a blurb as to why I believe each pitcher will be successful in their matchup. The options are pretty slim next week. For the most part, I’m leaning towards more skilled pitchers next week rather than leaning on weak opponents. I discuss six pitchers but only recommend five of them.

All pitchers are owned in under 25% of FantasyPros consensus. Here is the google sheet with all the streaming options and results to date. We are sitting pretty so far through a month and a half.

Gio Gonzalez (SP – MIL) 22% owned, Home vs CIN, Tuesday 5/21
The veteran lefty is back in the National League and has pitched well of late. He’s sporting a 1.69 ERA and a 3.01 FIP. His HR/9 is under 0.5 which won’t last but he’s always been good at suppressing home runs. He’s also throwing his changeup nearly 30% of the time which is a career-high. As a result, he’s getting more swings outside the zone and has a solid 10.8% swinging strike (SwStr%). The Reds are OK against left-handed pitchers ranked 18th in wOBA. I think Gio can neutralize the Reds with his changeup and keep them off balance with a fastball that’s performed well in terms of swings and misses to date. STREAM

Adam Wainwright (SP – STL) 11% Owned, home vs KC, Wednesday, 5/21
Should we trust the 37-year-old Wainwright one last time? The answer is no. The Royals are decent against breaking balls and that’s Waino’s calling card. His massive curveball is not the pitch it used to be. He’s getting swinging strikes on it just 9.2% of the time (14.2% career), 17.9% K rate (38.2% career), and an 86 wRC+ (38-career). That’s not good fam. Without the curve, he just won’t be effective. You can move along because I’m staying away.

Merrill Kelly (SP – ARI), 8% owned, @SD, Wednesday 5/22
The Padres have just a .291 wOBA against righties with a 28% strikeout rate. Kelly has already faced the Padres twice this year with mixed results. Here’s what he’s done against them: 11 IP, seven earned runs, and eight strikeouts. Meh, not great. The good news is the Padres are struggling to make contact of late creeping near a 30% strikeout rate and a walk rate under 6.5%. Look, Kelly isn’t a great pitcher but he’s coming off a seven-inning scoreless outing against the Giants. Maybe he can build off his success against a Padres team that has struggled to score runs of late with just 12 runs in their last five games. I’m STREAMING in deep leagues.

Trevor Richards (SP – MIA), 10% owned, @DET, Thursday 5/23
Richards is a guy who showed up in my research covering starters who have increased their called strikes plus swinging strike rate (CSW%) this year. He’s up over 30% which is nearly 3% above league average. Now, Richards has not been very good this year because he’s been hurt by the free pass and the long ball. The good news for Richards is the Tigers have just a .276 wOBA versus right-handed pitchers and only .279 wOBA at home. Comerica Park is a difficult place to hit home runs as they have hit just 14 long balls at home all season in nearly 800 PA. They also walk under 7% of the time. I expect Richards to deploy his elite changeup around 40% of the time netting five to six strikeouts and limit the overall damage. STREAM in deeper formats.

Griffin Canning (SP – LAA), 16% Owned, Home vs TEX, Friday 5/24
Rookie pitchers are difficult because you never know what you’re going to get and the Rangers are a top 10 offense over the last two weeks. Two starts ago, Canning gave up three homers to the Orioles, then followed it up with a seven-inning scoreless start versus the Royals. Most importantly for Canning, he didn’t walk anyone and got ahead of hitters with a 68% first-pitch strike rate. He’s been better at finding the zone recently, but still has a little work to do. Avoiding lefty Joey Gallo is going to be difficult but Canning has an elite 35% CSW rate. Canning could either get blown up for three homers or dominate with eight strikeouts. That’s the risk of streaming though, and it’s more favorable for Canning in his home park rather than it Globe Life in Arlington. I’ll take the upside with Canning and STREAM.

Tyler Mahle (SP – CIN), 10% owned, @CHC, Saturday, 5/25
Mahle against the red-hot Cubs doesn’t look good on the surface. The Cubs have a .337 wOBA over the last two weeks and have been OK at home this year. This is more about Mahle than it is about the Cubs. He’s carrying a 3.51 ERA (3.55 SIERA) with a 20.7% K-BB rate. His swinging strike rate is below-average but has an impressive 31.4 CSW rate means he’s among the big boys. He’s also been getting ahead of hitters more frequently with a 67.3% first-pitch strike rate up five percent from 2018. Limiting walks and getting called strikes have been the keys to success for Mahle. If his BABIP comes down a bit (.323 currently), he might end up being a must-own in 12-team leagues. I’m STREAMING him this week but watching the wind direction at Wrigley closely. If it’s blowing out, I reserve the right to change my mind.

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Photo courtesy of David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports