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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

Starting Pitchers to Stream for Week 13 (6/24-6/30)

I’m a little late with this streaming post today, so I’ll spare you the introduction. The good news is, I have a plethora of streaming options for next week, seven to be exact! Remember, all of these options are available in at least 75% of FantasyPros Consensus leagues. Here we go!

C.C. Sabathia (SP – NYY)  13% owned, home vs TOR, Monday 6/24
The Blue Jays are typically a nice option to stream against. As a team, they have a strikeout rate of nearly 26% over the last two weeks. They also have to travel to New York (albeit from Boston) so typically teams are a little sluggish following a traveling day. Meanwhile, the Yankees are currently at home for their current series against the Astros, so no traveling. Both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have returned, so run support should be plentiful. Sabathia has also been great at home this season with a 2.18 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. Also, as a left-handed pitcher, he negates the short porch in right field by limiting LHB to a .152 BA and a .211 wOBA. The Blue Jays will likely stack righties against CC but I’ll take my chances. I expect two to three earned runs, five to six strikeouts and a great chance at a QS/W. STREAM but stay away from his 6/30 start in Boston.

Adam Plutko (SP – CLE), 5% owned Home vs KC, Monday 6/24
This is a matchup play for sure but Plutko has limited walks to just under one per nine innings this season. The Royals are without one of their most dangerous hitters in Adalberto Mondesi who hit the IL this past week. Hunter Dozier has returned, but overall, the Royals lineup lacks elite power bats. Over the last 14 days, the Royals have just a 79 wRC+ well below league-average of 100. In addition to limiting walks, Putko has managed to give up six earned runs over his last three starts (2 in each start) and has boosted his strikeout rate in his last two outings. He’s been fantastic at getting ahead of hitters which he’s done 69% of the time and that’s allowed him to induce swings outside the zone over 35% of the time. Plutko’s issues are with home runs, and it’s been ugly at just under three home runs per nine innings. However, four of them came against the Rays in one start. A quick peek at BaseballSavant shows me he’s been unlucky. His xwOBA is just .318 compared to his .340 wOBA and his eight barrels against should have yielded five to six home runs rather than the nine HR he’s given up. I think Plutko is able to limit damage to just one home run in this outing which should provide positive results. STREAM

Chris Bassitt (SP – OAK), 23% owned, @STL, Tuesday 6/25
The 30-year-old veteran right-hander has managed a very respectable 3.64 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP on the season. There’s nothing special I can see in regards to his pitch mix but he’s improved his average fourseam velocity by 1.2 MPH from last year. By increasing his velocity, he’s been able to effectively pitch up in the zone with a 40% strikeout rate and a 22.2% infield fly ball rate on his fourseamer. It has really complimented his cutter that he throws low and out of the zone. The Cardinals are not the offensive juggernaut I thought they would be after acquiring Paul Goldschmidt. They have managed just a 92 wRC+ (100 is league-average) this season. Normally I don’t love OAK pitchers away from home but Busch Stadium actually scored lower on the HR/BRL home run park factors. Bassitt’s also carrying an 8.81 K/9 so facing the pitcher’s spot a couple of times could yield at least a strikeout per inning. I’m streaming here.

Dylan Bundy (SP – BAL), 19% owned, home vs SD, Wednesday 6/26
On the surface, Bundy looks similar to last season’s disaster and his 17% K-BB rate this year (17.3% in 2018) proves this point. However, Bundy’s BABIP against is down .033 at .283 which is closer to his career .294 mark. He’s also decreased hard contact against which is down almost seven percent. While his home run rate is only down a slight margin, Bundy’s luck has normalized a little bit. His changeup which I thought had some very bad luck last year is now a plus pitch by FanGraphs pitch value. Paired with his slider and Bundy has a nice one-two punch. Over the last month, Bundy has a 3.86 ERA with a 10.44 K/9. The Padres have been better of late but still carry a high strikeout rate as a team. This is the ultimate high-risk/high-reward play. I’m feeling lucky with Bundy pitching better and the Padres traveling across the country. STREAM

Anibal Sanchez (SP – WAS), 24% owned, @DET, Friday 6/28
Streaming against the Tigers has been a consistent theme for me this year. For Ss and Gs, let’s look at the Tigers numbers at home this season: 35 games, 22 HR, 25% strikeout rate, 6.5% walk rate, 70 wRC+. The 70 wRC+ for the Tigers is tied with the Giants as the worst home rate in the league. Home runs go to die in centerfield at Comerica, so Sanchez should be safe. In regards to Sanchez, one number intrigues me, 27% cutters. That’s how often he’s throwing the pitch this year but it’s up to over 30% in his last four starts where he’s sporting a 1.54 ERA. As a result, his usage of his fastball (his worst pitch) continues to diminish. Sanchez is a nice play for decent ratios and a win. I’m Streaming.

Eric Lauer (SP – SD), 13% owned, Home vs STL, Friday 6/28
Lauer’s not the most exciting option but he’s been effective outside of his two blow ups at Coors Field. Subtracting these two starts from his season ERA, we get 3.11 for an ERA outside of Coors Field. Next week’s game is not at Coors Field. If you don’t love that math, Lauer has a very rock-solid 2.70 ERA at Petco. Lauer has also increased the usage of his curveball which is his best pitch. I’ve already discussed the Cardinals and their below-average offensive performance to date, so Lauer seems like a nice option. I’d love to pair Lauer’s safe floor with Bundy’s high but volatile ceiling next week. Stream.

Dakota Hudson (SP – STL), 25% owned @SD, Saturday 6/29
Hudson has looked great over his last seven starts and now owns a 3.36 ERA on the season. He won’t pile up strikeouts but has somehow managed to induce ground balls nearly 62% of the time when everyone is trying to elevate. He pairs a 94 MPH power sinker with a cutter which is where he can generate whiffs. Manny Machado and the Padres are heating up but Hudson hasn’t given up more than three earned runs since April 15th! He’s totaled eight straight quality starts. He might tie you to the WHIPping Post but should limit runs and has great shot at a win. Of course, he’s a must stream in QS leagues. Either way, I’m streaming.

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