Every week this year (with a couple of exceptions) I wrote an article on Sunday that went over starting pitchers to stream for the week ahead. The parameters were based on ownership rates per FantasyPros consensus ownership rates. FantasyPros combines Yahoo! and ESPN ownership rates. To be eligible, pitchers had to be available in at least 75% of leagues or owned in 25% or fewer in fantasy leagues. The article was geared towards 12-team leagues because many of the options are owned in deeper formats. I chose anywhere from four to eight starter-qualified pitchers each week and kept track of their statistics from those outings.
This is the second year I kept track of every start but it’s difficult to compare the two years because of the juiced ball. So, to do so I’m going to look at the league-wide statistics for all starting pitchers in 2018 and 2019.
SP Statistics Year to Year
As you can see, ERA took the biggest hit from 2018 to 2019 thanks in large part to the record-breaking number of home runs this season. In addition, the percentage of starts that resulted in a win for the starter also dwindled this year. There are a couple of obvious reasons for this. First, the opener became more prevalent in 2019. Openers only pitched one-to-two innings and therefore, did not qualify for a win. We also saw a dip in the average number of innings per start, again partially related to the opener but also some managers (*cough* Craig Counsel *cough*) pulled their starters before facing a lineup for the third time. So, yearly context is important here. A telling statistic not shown in the table above is the home run rate by starting pitchers. In 2018, it was 1.21 HR/9 and ballooned to 1.44 HR/9 in 2019. We used to look at a pitcher with a home run rate at 1.5 per nine innings and say he’s dealing with a homer problem, now it’s essentially league-average!
Below are my final statistics from both 2018 and 2019 for all the streamers I included in my articles. Also, here is the complete GoogleSheet with all of my streamers and results complete with the link to each article.
2019 Starting Pitcher Streamers - FreezeStats
I apologize for the format of the table, I wanted to include all of the information but tried to make sure it wasn’t 12 columns wide. Given the context of pitching in 2019, I’m content with these results. Ultimately, I put together some poor weeks overall but also finished strong with two fantastic weeks to close 2019. Of course, my ratios took a hit compared to 2018 but when you consider the increases in ratios from 2018 to 2019, the results are more than passable. Overall, I totaled 654 innings pitched across 122 starts. The results of the ERA (3.91) are better than the following starters: Zack Wheeler, Yu Darvish, Michael Pineda, Max Fried, Noah Syndergaard, and Chris Sale among others. The WHIP (1.22) is better than Noah Syndergaard, Mike Minor, Trevor Bauer, Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Blake Snell, and James Paxton among others. That’s all pretty solid but let’s see what this starter would look like if I broke down these results into a typical, healthy, starter for all of 2019. A healthy starter should compile 32 to 33 starts across a full season, so let’s see what our imaginary streaming SP looks like.
Since my streamers averaged 5.36 innings per start, that puts us around 172 innings pitched+/-. That means that with an 8.85 K/9, our theoretical SP would have 169 strikeouts. Then, with a win percentage of 42.62%, that gives our guy 13.6 wins with 32 starts or 14 wins with 33 starts. Finally, the ratios are easy, our streaming SP would have a 3.91 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. Now, let’s comb through the player pool to see what type of pitcher we have here. Most of the pitchers with 14 wins this year have better ratios and/or strikeout rates, so I’m going to focus on ERA, WHIP, and K/9 for comparison sake.
Here are the names I’ve come up with: Anthony DeSclafani, Chris Bassist, Zack Wheeler, and Michael Pineda. Bassitt and Pineda only threw 140-ish innings, so they aren’t perfect comps. DeSclafani threw 166.2 innings but only managed nine wins, so his overall value will be a little lower than our theoretical SP even though they have a similar strikeout total and ratios. Zack Wheeler might end up being the better comp for value purposes. He only earned 11 wins, had a 3.96 ERA, and 1.26 WHIP. Our SP bested him on all three categories, BUT Wheeler struck out 195 batters which are 26 more than our SP. Per the Razzball Player Rater, the value of 26 strikeouts is about $2. The difference between three wins is also about $2.
Since I mentioned the Razzball Player Rater, Zack Wheeler was ranked as the 39th starting pitcher in 2019 with a dollar value of $7.1. For reference sake, Anthony DeSclafani (who had a fine year mind you) earned $5.3 and ranked as the 48th SP. So, instead of paying up for Wheeler, a popular hype pick coming into 2019, you could have streamed all of my recommended pitchers and gotten the value of 3.5-Zack Wheeler’s without spending the draft cash on him. I would bet that Wheeler probably went for around $16-$18 in standard 12-team auction drafts.
This was a fun exercise but obviously, you will never be able to stream all of my recommended starters because of your league and team context. The point of the supersize is it goes to show that you can add value to your team if you stream and stream properly. To close out, I want to highlight some of my most-streamed pitchers from 2019. Pablo Lopez (7 times), Dinelson Lamet (6 times), Griffin Canning (6 times), Tyler Mahle (6 times), Merrill Kelly (5 times), Trevor Richards (5 times), and a bunch of guys three or four times. I somehow was able to stream Mike Soroka twice in week five because his ownership was still below 25%. I also was able to stream Lance Lynn in week 9! He had a hell of a season, I am very surprised to find him there owned in 25% or fewer of leagues.
I hope you enjoyed this weekly article series and if it helped you out, even once, then I’ll take it! Thanks for reading!
Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove / USA Today