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Fantasy Baseball: Starting Pitchers to Stream Week 25 (9/16 – 9/22)

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

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Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Republic

Starting Pitchers to Stream 6/25 – 7/1 – SuperNova

This week, I’ve got four streaming options. I really like all of them. It’s a good mix of high upside and solid floor pitchers available in 75% of leagues per FantasyPros.com. Since I usually get this out Sunday morning, I’ll move this along and get right into the options for all the weekly moves leagues out there. These daily moves league players can come check in throughout the week.

Seth Lugo (NYM) 24% Home vs PIT, Monday 6/25
Lugo gets to face a middle of the road offense at home. He wasn’t good his last two times out but one of those starts was a Coors and both were on the road. Lugo is a much better pitcher this year, his K rate is up, both walk rate and contact are down. He’s also much better at home. By much better, I mean a 0.90 ERA with 29 Ks and only 2 walks with a .186 BA against. Um ok! Yes please. STREAM!

Freddy Peralta (MIL) 24% Home vs KC, Tuesday 6/26
The Royals don’t really strike out very much. They also don’t walk much and are ranked in the bottom five offensively against right-handed pitchers. Peralta’s strength is his strikeout rate thanks to a funky delivery. His weakness is his control. I’ll take Peralta over the aggressive but weak Royals and expect about a strikeout per inning. I believe Peralta can go 6 IP with a good shot at a win against the DH-less Royals. STREAM

Ivan Nova (PIT) 14% Road vs NYM, Wednesday 6/27
While Nova was busy striking out 8 batters against the Diamondbacks, the Mets were bust sucking. Nova has given up a total of 2 ER in his last 3 starts while piling up an un-Nova like 19 Ks. The Mets as a team have a .302 wOBA with a 23% K rate. This one is a no-brainer. Nova could go the distance but I’ll be conservative and say he goes 7 innings of 2 run ball with 5-6 strikeouts. STREAM

Mike Montgomery (CHC) 22% Home vs MIN, Saturday 6/30
How is Montgomery not over 25% owned? Please do me a favor and pick him up now then come back and finish reading the write-up. The Twins are just ok with average to below-average offensive production. Montgomery has only given up more than 1 ER in once in his last 6 starts. The biggest threat to MM in Eddie Rosario who should be somewhat neutralized as a left-handed batter. A start at home without the DH for the Twins gives Montgomery the edge. There won’t be 8-10 K upside but he’s a good bet for 6 IP and a handful of Ks with a good shot at a win. STREAM

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Week 4 SP Streaming Options 4/23 – 4/29

Ended up with some solid streams last week with a final line of:

2 Wins 2.92 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 28 K in 31 1/3 innings

Let’s keep it going this week.

Trevor Cahill (OAK) 1% 4/23 on the road v TEX
I would have preferred that this one was is Oakland but Rangers are a big swing and miss team and haven’t hit their stride yet offensively.  Cahill looked good in his first start and his fastball velocity was over 93 mph along with an increased curveball usage (which is his best pitch). Maybe he can capture some early season success similar to last year. STREAM

Matt Boyd (DET) 6% 4/25 road  v PIT
The fact that this is on the road doesn’t bother me. PNC Park is a fine pitchers park and Boyd should face the pitcher at least twice instead of the DH. However, Boyd is a lefty and many of the Pirates best hitters are right handed or switch hitters. Boyd sports a 5.1 K/9, a 98% left on base percentage, and a .132 BABIP. I’m betting on shit going sideways in this one. STAY AWAY

Chad Kuhl (PIT) 3% 4/24 at home v DET
My love/hate relationship continues with Kuhl. He throws 96 mph with a very good slider. Except he’s throwing that slider less. Hmmm, that’s odd. He’s been hurt by a .371 BABIP but he also isn’t getting many whiffs or hitters to chase. I can’t recommend Kuhl against the Tigers. They aren’t scary but have some professional hitters that I believe will get to Kuhl knocking him out early in this one. STAY AWAY

Ivan Nova (PIT) 25% 4/26 home v DET
Seems like I’m picking on the Tigers this week. They have been heating up recently, so it might not be the cake walk most think. However, Nova has been solid over his last several starts going at least 6 innings with 3 runs or less in his last three while striking out an uncharacteristic 18 batters in just over 19 innings. His ground ball tendencies should hold up against the mostly weak hitting Tigers. The fact that the best hitters on the Tigers are right handed lies in Nova’s favor. STREAM

Tyler Anderson (COL) 3% 4/27 road v Mia
I’m not a fan of Tyler Anderson but a road start against the Marlins changes that. Anderson pitched well at home against the Cubs on Saturday, maybe he can carry it into this start. He’s inducing a lot of swings and misses which appears to be more smoke and mirrors. This one is risky especially if his control is bad. With warmer weather, I think his control will be better, I’m rolling with one. STREAM

Zack Wheeler (NYM) 22% 4/28 road v SD
The Mets have moved Harvey to the bullpen meaning Wheeler has a shot at staying in the rotation for the time being. Wheeler’s velocity looks good in his first 2 starts. He’s dropped the sinker and his slider is still a good pitch. I like his chances against a young inexperienced Padres team. STREAM

Week 1 Pitchers to Stream (4/2 – 4/8)

Every week I’ll post somewhere between three and five streaming options that are available in at least 75% of leagues using FantasyPros Yahoo/ESPN consensus ownership. I will keep track of the statistics for all my streaming picks to see how well I fared. It’s also fun, so there’s that. I’m calling 4/2 through 4/8 Week 1 since it’s the first full week of games.

4/3: Matt Boyd (DET) Home against the Kansas City Royals (2% owned)
Boyd did have a great 2017 but there was a lot of luck that did not go his way including a .330 BABIP and a 68.7% LOB. He has improved on his SwStr rates and induces a lot of popups and soft contact. Pitching at home, a decent pitcher’s park against one of the worst lineups, I’ll take a chance. I want to see what new pitching coach Chris Bosio can do with some of the Tiger’s pitchers (Norris being another intriguing name). Boyd is left handed and the most dangerous hitters the Royals poses are left handed, so if Boyd can neutralize them, he should have a shot at a quality start and a win. STREAM

4/3: Marco Gonzalez (SEA) Away against the S.F. Giants (4% owned)
High risk, pick here. Coming off Tommy John surgery, so I doubt he goes deep in this one. The Giants don’t strikeout much and are very patient, so they will see a lot of pitches. The park is good, but this one may blow up in your face. It’s a low risk, low reward on this one. The best you can hope for is five to six innings, 2-3 ER, and 4-5 strikeouts. STAY AWAY

4/3: Seth Lugo (NYM) Home against the Philadelphia Phillies (1% owned)
At first, Lugo was my favorite of the group owned under 5%. However, the Phillies roll out a ton of lefties and switch hitters. The good news is, he doesn’t have huge L/R splits and he’s at home where he dominates with a 2.54 career ERA at Citi Field.  Citi Field is known as a great pitcher’s park and Lugo has talent. Unfortunately he’s either been injured or hasn’t been given a chance, maybe this is his shot. STREAM

4/3: Jack Flaherty (STL) Away against the Milwaukee Brewers (12% Owned)
Flaherty may have the best stuff of the group under 255 owned but also is faced with an incredibly tough matchup. I believe he has the highest strikeout upside but could get bombed for 5 ER in 2 innings. Right now, the new Brewers are mashing led by Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, both hitting over .500 to start the season. They have great depth and can throw out a lineup mostly comprised of lefties which could give Flaherty headaches. This one might be too scary to stream. STAY AWAY

4/4: Ivan Nova (PIT) at Home against the Twins (13% owned)
Wow, Nova walked three batters in his first start! He walked three or more batters only three times in 31 starts in 2017. I don’t expect that to happen again, but also don’t expect a lot of Ks either. The Twins do have a few dangerous left handed batters with Logan Morrison, Eddie Rosario, Joe Mauer, and Max Kepler. That’s not exactly a murders row and if Nova keeps the walks down to a minimum a solo homer or two shouldn’t kill him. Expect a quality start with 3-4 strikeouts and a chance for a win. STREAM

4/5 Jordan Zimmermann (DET) Away against the Chicago White Sox  (5% owned)
Zimmerman went six innings and gave up four earned runs in his first start, but it wasn’t all bad. He struck out eight and only walked one batter without allowing a home run. He mostly induced weak contact on his balls in play and now gets to face one of the worst teams offensively at home. I still don’t trust him long term, and the White Sox have been swinging hot bats early. I expect them to cool down a bit and there’s a lot of strikeout potential with the Sox lineup. Roll Zimm out for one more. STREAM.

4/7 Reynaldo Lopez (CWS) Home against the Detroit Tigers (8% owned)
Lopez was slinging it in Spring Training with velocity reading around 97 and 98 mph. His results weren’t great but he’s got a great fastball and a decent change up. The Tigers aren’t exactly scaring anyone this year and while I’d hold off on keeping Lopez, he’s a nice stream this week. At some point, Lopez should tap into his strikeout potential, but for now he just needs to throw strikes and continue to induce weak contact. This one is risky, but if you need a pitcher late in the week this is your guy. STREAM.