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 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!
Mitch Keller (SP – PIT) RHP, 8% owned, home vs SEA, Tuesday 9/17
Keller is a pitcher that has been extremely unlucky in his short time in the big leagues. His 8.29 ERA and 1.87 WHIP are fueled by an inflated .477 BABIP and a low 53.5% strand rate. Here’s the weirdest stat of all, hitters somehow have managed a .569 BABIP against Keller’s fastball. Umm, that won’t last. Check this out though, he has an impressive 3.61 FIP and a 21.6% K-BB rate! Both would rank in the top 20 for qualified starting pitchers. His fastball averaged 95.5 mph and his slider has a crazy-high 27.3% swinging-strike rate (SwStr%). Both his slider and curve net strikeout rates north of 30%. He draws the Mariners at home who have struck out 28.5% of the time over the last two weeks, the league’s second highest rate over that span. They’ll be without the DH, so I’d expect their offense to struggle even more than their 88 wRC+ indicates. I’m STREAMING Keller next week.
Homer Bailey (SP – OAK) RHP, 22% owned, home vs KC, Wednesday 9/18
We are all familiar with Homer Bailey. He was a first-round pick way back in 2004 by the Cincinnati Reds. After a few successful seasons in the early-2010s, he’s been essentially useless in terms of fantasy. But, this year, his strikeout rate is up over 20% for the first time since 2016. That’s largely due to an increase in his splitter usage. Typically, the unpredictability of a splitter will wreak havoc on walk rates but he’s still sitting at a solid eight percent which is just below league average. He also hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in any of his last six starts that includes two outings against the Yankees and one versus the Astros. He’ll be facing off against the Royals at home, so the degree of difficulty is relatively low. On the road, the Royals have a 83 wRC+ which is the fifth-lowest among all teams away from their home park. Bailey is always a risk to blow up in your face but given his recent success, I’m inclined to ride out this stretch, because we are, after all in mid-September. STREAM
Sandy Alcantara (SP – MIA) RHP, 25% owned, @ARI, Wednesday 9/18
Alcantara should be owned in more than 50% of leagues, but fortunately, he’s right at the maximum threshold for next week. His season-long numbers are not all that impressive but he’s been nearly lights out since the start of August. Over that stretch, he’s managed a 2.59 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and a 22% strikeout rate. Finally, he’s actually striking batters out! He’s increased his fastball/sinker velocity over the last month, not by much but 0.5-1.0 mph is quite a bit when you consider he was already averaging over 95 mph. In addition, he’s throwing his sinker more often which not only generates more groundballs but also more whiffs which is rare for a sinker. His secondaries aren’t great but his changeup is useful, so he’s still throwing a plus-pitch nearly 75% of the time. That should be enough to handle the Diamondbacks who have slipped after making a playoff push. They have a 77 wRC+ over the last two weeks and their hopes of sneaking into the wild card are just about gone. I’m STREAMING here.
Mike Leake (SP – ARI) RHP, 21% owned, home vs MIA, Wednesday 9/18
Leake is not the sexiest option but he’s a guy that can go deep into games. He’s averaging 6.14 innings per start in a season where very few starters can even make it to the sixth inning. He has three quality starts in his last four outings and draws a weak Marlins offense at home. Over the last two weeks, the Marlins have an 82 wRC+ which ranks 22nd in MLB. They have been even worse on the road. In fact, they are last in the league with a 68 wRC+ away from Marlins Park. That’s 32% below league-average. Leake’s not going to pile up strikeouts but he is utilizing his cutter and slider more often recently. He has two straight starts with double-digit swinging strike rates. Yes, he is going up against Sandy Alcantara who I just highlighted, so a win might not be as easy as it seems. I do think he can provide solid ratios and a quality start. If you’re looking for a win and strikeouts, he’s probably not your guy. In QS leagues, I’m STREAMING
Merril Kelly (SP – ARI) RHP, 22% owned, @SDP, Friday 9/20
I preached about Kelly’s increased fastball velocity last week and he draws an easier opponent next week in the Padres. The Padres have hit just 11 home runs over the last two weeks and typically struggle to score runs at home. Only the Tigers and Giants have fewer runs scored at home this season. They also struggle to make contact with a strikeout rate north of 24%. Kelly dominated the Padres a couple of weeks ago striking out nine batters across seven shutout innings. After averaging 91.6 mph on his fastball this season, he’s up to 93.2 mph over his last four starts. His strikeout rate has gone from pedestrian 18.9% prior to August 28th and is way up at 24.5% since. That’s huge because he still possesses a solid curveball which is his best secondary offering that generates a K-BB rate of 32%. I’m riding the hot hand and hoping he maintains his increased velocity because he’s more of an SP4 than a streamer when he’s throwing 93.5+. STREAM
Dylan Cease (SP – CHW) RHP, 10% owned, @DET, Friday 9/20
Any way you slice it, the Tigers offense (and entire team, really)is awful. At home, they rank dead-last offensively with a 75 wRC+ and have the third-highest K:BB ratio over the last two weeks. That’s not good. Cease is wild though. He’s a rookie with great stuff but hasn’t been able to command all his pitches, especially his fastball. However, he hasn’t given up much hard contact, just 29.7% per FanGraphs. The Tigers are the perfect team for Cease to square up against. A patient team could really give him fits but the Tigers are young, inexperienced, and aggressive. Cease, while struggling to find the zone has induced swings outside the zone over 35% of the time in two of his last three starts. He’s also generated swinging strike rate over 11% in his last five outings. There’s risk that he could hurt your ratios but he’s struck out nine or more batters twice in his brief stint in the Majors thus far. The upside is six innings with 10 strikeouts and decent ratios. Will you roll the dice? I will, especially if I need a boost in strikeouts. STREAM
Ivan Nova (SP – CHW) RHP, 17% owned, @DET, Saturday 9/21
If Cease and Keller are the upside plays next week, Nova is a floor option similar to Leake. The difference between the two is the probability of a win. Nova has a much better chance for a win as he is scheduled to go up against Edwin Jackson. You know, the guy with a 9.76 ERA on the season. I’ve already harped on how bad the Tigers are offensively, it’s like they are fielding a Triple-A team. The last time Nova faced the Tigers was August 7th. He went eight shutout innings giving up just five hits. Since the All-Star break, Nova has eight outings where he’s given up three runs or less and in seven of those he gave up two earned runs of less. He won’t stike out more than 4-5 batters but should help with your ratios at the end of the week. In his last two starts, his veloicty has been up over 93 mph, something he’s only done a handful of times this year. I like the chances for Nova to reach six or seven innings giving up two or fewer runs in this one. STREAM
Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Republic