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Best Pitches from 2020

Who needs an introduction? This piece is simply about the best pitches from 2020. I looked at a number of factors when making these determinations including run value, whiff%, K%, xwOBA, and hard hit%. I’ll cover the four main pitch types: fourseam fastballs, changeups, sliders, and curveballs. Let’s start with the heater!

Best Fourseam Fastball from 2020 (Minimum 300 thrown) – Walker Buehler 

This one was extremely close between Walker Buehler and Freddy Peralta. So close in fact, that I deferred to run value per 100 pitches thrown. Here is the pertinent data.

Fourseam Fastball - Buehler vs Peralta

Pitcherrun_valuePitchesPitch%Whiff%K%xBAxSLGxwOBA
Buehler-1132353.826.134.30.1370.2160.218
Peralta-1032965.938.639.10.1690.2730.238



While Freddy generated more strikeouts via a better whiff%, Buehler induced more weak contact with a crazy-low xBA and xSLG. The tie-breaker for me was the run value. While extremely close, Buehler just edged out Peralta in this one. Buehler averaged 96.8 mph on his heater and didn’t give up a single home run and allowed just one barrel all season. Peralta on the other hand averaged just 93.0 mph which is insane considering how successful it’s been. He did allow one homer and three barrels, so that information justifies the choice of Buehler over Peralta.

Best Fourseam Fastball from 2020 (Minimum 500 thrown) – Jacob deGrom

Jacob deGOAT of course finished 2020 with the best fastball among starters with at least 500 thrown. He somehow added velocity (1.7 mph to be exact) from a year ago and this marks the fourth straight year he’s been able to improve his average fastball velocity. deGrom manages an insane 42.9% K-rate with his heater which would be a solid rate for a slider. His .186 batting average allowed was easily the best among starters with over 500 FB thrown, second best was Lucas Giolito with a .201 BA against. deGrom features three plus-plus pitches. His slider might be his third-best pitch and it manages a 45% whiff rate. His change earned a 40% K-rate and a .253 xwOBA. Even if deGrom loses a mph off his heater next year, he’s still my top SP for 2021.

 

Best Changeup from 2020 (Minimum 200 thrown) – Devin Williams

Rookie sensation, Devin Williams provided unquestionably the best changeup in 2020. He threw it 227 times, generating a 61.2% K% with a mind-boggling 61.1% whiff rate. It allowed just an 0.032 batting average and ZERO extra-base hits. The expected metrics backed it up as well with a 0.110 xwOBA on just a 9.5% hard-hit rate. I would have loved to see what he could have done across a full 162. He was on pace for 150 strikeouts which would have ranked 55th among ALL pitchers in 2019. 




Best Changeup among starting pitchers (minimum 200 thrown) – Kenta Maeda

Of course, Luis Castillo and Lucas Giolito earn honorable mention but in my opinion, this award goes to Kenta Maeda

Maeda tossed 291 changeups this year and had the highest whiff% (45.6%) and K% (40.9%) among starting pitchers with at least 200 changeups thrown. Yeah, he was awesome but it makes Williams’ numbers above just seem impossible. Either way, Maeda’s change was great in 2020. It’s so successful because it induces so many swings outside the zone In 2020, batters chased 50.5% of the time, a career-high. When hitters actually made contact with the pitch, it was put on the ground over 2/3rds of the time and allowed just one barrel and zero homers all season. An unlikely champ but well deserving. Good luck getting him outside of the top-20 SPs next year.

 

Best Slider in 2020 (Minimum 200 thrown) – Dinelson Lamet

“Dinelson Lamet and his equal opportunity Slider. This pitch does not discriminate based on batter handedness.”


Dinelson Lamet has this one in a runaway. He easily threw the most sliders in 2020 (559 thrown) which was 53.4% of the time. This pitch is straight nasty.  Hitter’s 47.4% whiff rate (5th) and 51.4% K% (1st) is insane considering Lamet only has two pitches. He’s allowed just three home runs against his slider since the start of 2019 with over 1,100 thrown. In 2020, Lamet allowed an xwOBA of just 0.175. This one was easy.

 

Best Slider other than the GOAT Lamet (Minimum 200 thrown) – Dylan Bundy

The Honorable Mention team includes Max Scherzer, Zach Plesac, and Luis Castillo (yes, my guy LC shows up again as he improved his slider in 2020). But, the award goes to comeback pitcher of the year, Dylan Bundy! In his first season out of Baltimore, Bundy found himself in a much better ballpark and a situation where he started throwing his best pitch more frequently. I’ve been a fan of Bundy for a while now,




The point of the Tweet is that his slider was great in 2018 and even better in 2019 by the metrics but based on Pitch Value, did not produce the same results. Trust the metrics! In 2020, Bundy threw 255 sliders and his K% of 50% matches his whiff rate. As great as his slider has been in the past, it still allowed a barrel% of around 5%. This year, he did not allow a single barrel against his slider. That led to an extremely impressive 0.162 xwOBA against. 

 

Best Curveball in 2020 (Minimum 200 thrown) – Tyler Glasnow and Shane Bieber

Tyler Glasnow and Shane Bieber are essentially a virtual tie for the best curveball in 2020.

Curveball - Glasnow vs Bieber

PitcherPitchesBAWhiff%K%xSLGxwOBAHH%
Glasnow3350.1252.866.70.1980.15220
Bieber3250.09551.556.20.160.15535.3

First, let’s start with Tyler Glasnow. Wow, look at that strikeout rate! While his curve misses a ton of bats, it also induces weak contact when hitters actually make contact. The only reason it’s not the clear cut winner over Bieber’s curve is that Glasnow gave up a .277 SLG compared to a .143 SLG for Bieber. I included the xSLG for each pitch and that clearly shows that Glasnow was just a bit unlucky. He gave up three homers off his curve and while two were crushed, the other was hit at 97 mph and went 332 feet. The difference between Glasnow and Bieber’s curve is when Glasnow makes a mistake, it’s hit. Bieber has a deeper arsenal, so it’s more difficult to guess what’s coming. Glasnow has two pitches. Every once in awhile a hitter is going to guess right when Glasnow makes a mistake. The other advantage to Bieber’s curve is he buries it. See the GIF below. When hitters make contact, the average launch angle against his curve is -13 degrees! Those are worm burners. Glasnow’s while solid, is -4 degrees. Sure, Bieber gives up harder contact but if keeps it on the ground, it doesn’t matter.

via Gfycat

Now, let’s look at Shane Bieber’s breaker.

via Gfycat

I hope you enjoyed the GIFs!


AP Photo/John Bazemore)


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Fantasy Baseball – 2019 Starting Pitcher Streamer Results

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

SeasonW/GS (%)IP/GSERAWHIPK/9
201831.2%5.364.191.298.25
201929.8%5.184.541.328.58

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

IPERAWHIPKWQS
653.993.911.226435251
StartsIP/StartK/StartK/9W/StartQS/Start
1225.365.278.8542.62%41.80%




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!

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


Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove / USA Today



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Fantasy Baseball: Starting Pitchers to Stream Week 26 (9/23 – 9/29)

Welcome back to the FreezeStats weekly streaming article. Each week I cover anywhere from five to six starters who are available in at least 75% of Yahoo/ESPN leagues per FantasyPros. This is it! The final week of the Major League Baseball season. With fantasy Championships on the line next week, it’s now or never. No more wasting time, let’s get to the top streaming options to help win you your league!

Top options under 50% Owned 

Obviously, if these guys are available, grab them immediately and start them next week.

Jeff Samardzija (SP – SFG) 43% home vs COL

Homer Bailey (SP – OAK) 30% owned, @LAA Wednesday, 9/25


Anthony DeSclafani (SP – CIN) 41% Owned @PIT

Top options under 25% Owned 

Dylan Bundy (SP – BAL) RHP 18% Owned, @TOR, Monday 9/23
Some positives for Bundy include an increased ground ball rate and a decrease in his home run rate. Those, of course, are related. This year, his HR/FB% is two percent lower away from Camden Yards. That’s the good. Now, the not so good. The Baby Jays have been better of late but are still near the top of the league in terms of strikeouts. With Bo Bichette banged up, the Jays aren’t all that scary. This matchup will come down to home runs. If Bundy can limit them, I believe he’ll be an asset to your team, otherwise, he’s going to tie you to the WHIPping Post. Either way, he’ll pile up the strikeouts. I’m streaming here for strikeouts and upside in 12-team and deeper leagues.

Dinelson Lamet (SP – SDP) RHP 20% Owned, home vs LAD, Tuesday 9/24
Speaking of strikeouts and upside. Lamet is definitely a higher ceiling option than Bundy. His floor is about the same given the strength of his opponent. But wait! The Dodgers have struggled of late since they have clinched the division with just an 81 wRC+ in the last two weeks. Lamet has been a strikeout machine since his return from the IL. His 12.57 K/9 would rank third among qualified starters behind just Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer. So yeah, he’s been pretty damn good. He struck out 14 Brewers in his last outing and hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs in any of his 13 starts. The Dodgers are dangerous, no doubt, but I’ll take the hot hand in Lamet. STREAM  For Ss& Gs, I like Lamet in his final scheduled outing in Arizona on Sunday as well. There’s a high likelihood that the Padres cut his final start short or worse, skip him altogether but he’s worth a stream there as well if it happens. The Diamondbacks have been the worst team offensively for the last 14 days with a paltry 57 wRC+.


Anthony Kay (SP – TOR) LHP 3% Owned, home vs BAL, Tuesday 9/24
The Orioles have been decent lately but still slight below-average in terms of wRC+. However, on the road, they are in the bottom five in the league with a sub-80 wRC+ and a near-25% strikeout rate. Kay has a good fastball and a decent curveball which should be enough to limit the damage from Baltimore hitters. In limited MLB action, Kay has induced groundballs over 50% of the time and an impressive sot contact rate of 25%. He’s yet to allow a home run and based on his low strand rate and elevated BABIP, he’s due some positive luck. I don’t necessarily expect his homerless streak to continue but I think he’ll limit baserunners against a team that doesn’t walk much. Ultimately, I’d expect about five innings with two earned runs are fewer with a handful of strikeouts. It’s slim pickings next week and this will have to do. I’ll STREAM here.

Tyler Beede (SP – SFG) RHP, 5% Owned, home vs COL, Thursday 9/26
Beede just got torched by the Braves this week. Prior to the outing, he was coming off of two scoreless starts against the Marlins and the Dodgers in LA. He draws the Road Rockies which is very different than the team he faced in Colorado back in early-August when he gave up five earned runs. Only the Marlins have been worse than the Rockies away from home this season. With a 73 wRC+ and 26.6% strikeout rate as a team away from the thin air, Beede has a nice setup. Combine that with the fact that Beede has a solid (if unspectacular) 4.02 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP at home in Oracle Park. Beede has a good 95 mph fastball that has performed much better in the second half. He’s managed double-digit swinging strike rates in each of his last three starts. I like Beede to close out the season on a high note. STREAM

Reynaldo Lopez (SP – CHW) RHP, 19% Owned, home vs DET, Friday 9/27
Here’s the ultimate gamble. Do you want to leave your fantasy championship in the hands of Reynaldo Lopez? The first thing I want to look at is how he’s performed against the Tigers this year.  He has two good and one bad start against Detroit this year. It adds up to this: 

1 W  17.1 IP  4.15 ERA 1.21 WHIP  25 K 30.6% K-BB

The last two numbers jump out at me. He’s clearly been able to miss bats and has limited walks. That’s kind of the Tigers M.O. this year. They are young, aggressive, and just flat out bad. Lopez’s success has been tied to his velocity. He’s much better when he averages 97 mph on his fastball. In his last game, he averaged under 97 mph but five of the previous six outings, he averaged over 97 mph. This is a gamble, there’s no doubt. But, and this is a big Kardashian sized butt, he has the potential to throw a championship-winning gem. If he’s averaging 97+ mph with command, he’s going to strike out 10 batters. Of course, the floor is low, but if you’re looking for an edge, STREAM Rey-Lo.


Zach Eflin (SP – PHI) RHP, 25% Owned, home vs MIA
Well, look who’s back. My preseason sleeper has not had the best season but at the end of the day looks like a decent value for a pitcher taken well after pick 300. Over the last month, since he earned his rotation spot back, he’s smokin’ with a 1.57 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. The key to his success is a 57% ground ball rate. He’s throwing his sinker more often and it’s actually been successful. It doesn’t get strikeouts but generates worm burners almost 64% of the time. I like Eflin against a weak Marlins club who have only hit 10 homers over the last two weeks. I think Eflin is the perfect play at the end of your week who should provide solid ratios and a 50+% chance for a win. After rolling with Bundy, and Lopez, I need a safer option. STREAM

Here’s the link to my googlesheet covering the entire list of streamers for the 2019 season. I’ll have a recap in the next few weeks to figure out where I can improve for next year.

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


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Starting Pitchers to Stream Week 23 (9/2 – 9/8)

Welcome back to the FreezeStats weekly streaming article. Each week I cover anywhere from five to six starters who are available in at least 75% of Yahoo/ESPN leagues per FantasyPros. With playoffs and fantasy Championships on the horizon, I’ve stepped it up a notch. I’m covering seven streaming options for you next week. The options are plentiful but also carry some very nice upside. Let’s get to it!

Mike Montgomery (SP – KC) 14% Owned home vs DET, Tuesday 9/3
The Tigers have been running out a Triple-A club over the last couple of weeks. As a team, they are striking out over 30% of the time with just a scant 4.2% walk rate! That’s insane. They are making every pitcher look like Jacob deGrom. Mongomery’s ratios on the season are not pretty but he’s been bounced in and out of the Cubs rotation and has since been moved to the Royals. He’s been a little more comfortable in the AL Central and he’s increased the usage of his cutter. That’s good because his cutter may be his best pitch with an 89 wRC+ with above-average chase and swinging strike rates. He’s also been very good in Kauffman Stadium giving up just six earned runs in four starts there since coming over to the AL. Oh, and he demolished the Tigers last time out punching out 14 batters. Montgomery is not currently lined up for two starts next week if the Royals go forward with a six-man rotation but if he does, he would also draw the Marlins in Miami. I’d love that two-step and would start him for both if that’s how the Royals play it. STREAM.


Mitch Keller (SP – PIT), 7% Owned home vs MIA, Tuesday 9/3
Yes, Keller was blown up for eight earned runs in Philly earlier this week. No, I’m not all that concerned that it will carry into next week’s start. Forget about his inflated ERA, Keller’s FIP is a solid 3.92. He’s dealing with an extremely unlucky .479 BABIP and a 53.6% strand rate. Both are not sustainable. His 19% K-BB rate and 12% swinging strike rate mirror an SP3, not a streamer. Keller averages almost 96 mph on his fastball and his slider has been crazy in terms of whiffs. It has a 28.3% SwStr% and a 43% chase rate. He draws the Marlins next week, a far inferior offensive club to the Phillies and will be at home in PNC Park. They have a 26.6% strikeout rate and an 88 wRC+ over the last two weeks. As a team, the Marlins are rank last in the league in terms of production against right-handed pitchers with a 75 wRC+. You bet I’m STREAMING Keller next week.

Trevor Williams (SP – PIT), 14% Owned home vs MIA, Wednesday 9/4
Am I picking on the Marlins? You bet I am. I know they have been better of late but as I mentioned above, they strike out a ton and don’t draw many free passes. Williams has had a rough season but appears to be back on track. He’s only given up three earned runs in his last two outings and they were all allowed in Coors. This year of the home run has not been kind to Williams but he is showing some ability to generate more whiffs. His chase rate and SwStr% are up this year while contact against has gone down. I think Williams can limit damage and net a quality start with a high probability of a win. He may even find his way to manage a strikeout per inning given the swing happy Marlins who have a 28.3% K rate over the last two weeks. I’m STREAMing.

Jakob Junis (SP – KC), 17% Owned home vs DET, Wednesday 9/4
Have you noticed the theme of this streaming article? Yup, I am certainly targeting the worst offensive clubs. I’ve already gone over how bad the Tigers have been recently, so let’s see how Junis stacks up. His slider is the key to his success and he’s throwing it 44% of the time, an increase of almost five percent from last year. The results have been good with a 13.1 Pitch Value and a 61 wRC+ against his slider. He’s been able to throw it for strikes occasionally with a 43% zone rate. Unfortunately, his fastball and sinker are not good at all. He’s like a really, really poor-man’s Patrick Corbin. Normally, I wouldn’t love streaming him but given the lack of talent on the Tigers roster, I’m feeling some significant strikeout upside here. He’s handled the Tigers well this season with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. He has a great chance at striking out more than a batter per inning and a QS. Getting through the sixth innings has not been a problem as he’s gone at least six innings in nine of his last 10 starts. STREAM.


Pablo Lopez (SP – MIA), 8% Owned home vs KC, Friday 9/6
The Nationals just pasted Lopez for six earned runs in just three innings but the Nationals are scorching hot right now. Besides, it was only Pablo’s second start after a lengthy IL stint. He’ll be back in Miami against the DH-less Royals next week. Over the last two weeks, the Royals are ranked 28th with a 68 wRC+ as a team (100 is league-average). Now, over Lopez. You may not be all that familiar with him but I’ve been a big fan all season. He has a plus changeup, a plus fastball and mixes in a curveball. I love his change, it’s nasty with a 47.6% chase rate and a 60% ground ball rate. Hitters struggle to do any damage against it if they are swinging at it outside of the zone and either whiff or put it on the ground. The Royals are getting Adalberto Mondesi back, so that’s a concern but the lineup isn’t deep, especially without a DH. I’ll stream here.

Dinelson Lamet (SP – SD), 25% Owned home vs COL, Friday 9/6
Why is Dinelson Lamet is available in 75% of leagues? You guys, he has a 31.7% strikeout rate. He’s striking out almost 1/3rd of the batters he faces. That’s good fam. Despite facing the Red Sox and the Phillies in Philadelphia, he’s compiled 40 strikeouts across 28.1 innings in his last five starts with a respectable 3.54 ERA. That’s largely thanks to one of the best sliders in the game with a 50% strikeout rate against it this year. He draws the road Rockies and as we know, the Rockies are a completely different team away from Coors. They are 29th in MLB with a 72 wRC+ away from Coors Field and have a 26.6% strikeout rate as a team. Lamet is lined up to have a field day against them and I could see double-digit strikeouts for him next week. At a minimum, he should provide 6-7 strikeouts with nice ratios and a chance at a win. STREAM.

Dustin May (SP – LAD), 21% Owned home vs SF, Sunday 9/8
The Rookie has been fairly impressive in the second half for the Dodgers. Ross Stripling is scheduled to return, so it’s not a guarantee that May will make this start. That being said, the Dodgers are running away with the division, so some of their studs (Ryu, Buehler, and Kershaw) could see extended rest or even have one of their starts skipped opening up opportunities for the likes of May and others. The Giants are not the pushover they were through the first half of the season but are still in the bottom 10 in terms of wRC+ over the last two weeks. They have been aggressive as a team in the second half, so walks shouldn’t be an issue for May. He’s limited walks in his small sample, so hopefully, he can push six innings for the first time in his big-league career. He hasn’t flashed big strikeout upside but he throws hard (95-96 mph) and has a very good cutter. I like him more in standard leagues and I wouldn’t bank on a quality start but given the Dodgers’ offensive upside, he has a great chance to snag a win. I’ll STREAM in deeper leagues but since he’s scheduled for Sunday, only use him if you need a win.


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


Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove / USA Today

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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.


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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.