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Staring Pitchers to Stream Week 6 (8/24-8/30) – Fantasy Baseball

Ok, weekly FreezeStats starting pitcher streamers are back! After a two week hiatus, let’s dive into my top streamers for each day next week (8/24-8/30). All options below are rostered in 25% or fewer of FantasyPros leagues. Without wasting anymore time, let’s get to it!



Alec Mills (CHC) – 25% rostered @DET: Monday, August 24th

The soft throwing lefty got punished his last time outing but still has allowed some of the weakest contact among starting pitchers this year. He’s allowed hard contact (BBE 95+ mph) just 25% of the time and an average exit velocity of only 82.9 mph! Over the last two weeks, the Tigers rank in the bottom third in K%, BB%, and wRC+. With a 51% ground ball rate and all that weak contact induced from Mills, I don’t expect he’ll get into much trouble against a weak Tigers offense. He likely won’t strike out more 3-4 batters but our options are slim on Monday.

 

Jose Quintana (CHC) – 24% rostered @DET: Tuesday – August 25th

The streaming field isn’t deep on Tuesday either. Guys like Adam Wainwright and Sandy Alcantara are good options but are over 25% rostered. I don’t have extremely high hopes for Quintana in his first start off the IL but the matchup is juicy. He’s no longer the pitcher he was a few years ago but I think he can provide positive value in this one with a good shot at a win. Going six innings this week isn’t likely but I’d expect a line similar to this: 5 IP, 5-6 baserunners, 2 ER, 4-5 K. Good enough given the options.

Danny Duffy (KCR) – 19% rostered @STL: Wednesday – August 26th

Duffy is quietly having a very solid 2020 season. He’s struck out nearly 10.5 batters per nine innings and has a career-best 20.8% K-BB%. There are only 20 qualified starters that currently have a WHIP below 1.00 and Duffy in one of them (0.99). I don’t expect his strikeout rate to continue at this pace but could see him settling in around a K per inning. This matchup could not be better for Duffy. The Cardinals offense is ranked 25th in wRC+ (89) over the last two weeks and they have struggled in limited at-bats against left-handed pitching this season. Duffy is my lock of the week.

Chad Kuhl (PIT) – 6% rostered @STL: Thursday – August 27th

I finally get to bring back my 2018 sleeper post with the awful title “Kuhl Story, Bro.” Kuhl’s been stretched out as a starter and has really impressed through 19 innings this year. His 2.84 ERA and 1.00 WHIP are amazing but likely won’t last thanks to an elevated strand rate and low BABIP. That being said, he has a solid repertoire firing 95 mph on his fastball and hurls an 88 mph slider. I don’t like his sinker (he needs to ditch it) but his slider is awesome. He’s allowed just a 34 wRC+ and earned a SwStr% of 21.1% with the pitch. Unfortunately, he’s not a lefty like Duffy but should be able to handle a weak Cardinals lineup next week.

Triston McKenzie (CLE) – 20% rostered @STL: Friday – August 28th

I also looked at Sixto Sánchez but after his debut, he’s rostered in over 25% of leagues. McKenzie was on fire in his debut allowing just two hits, walking one, and striking out 10! I know, I know, it was the Tigers but i was impressed with his command. That was my biggest concern given the lack of innings over the last couple seasons. While I don’t think we can expect similar performances going forward, it’s encouraging that he induced swings outside the zone nearly 40% of the time with a 16.3% SwStr% and a 40% CSW. I’ve already beat up on the Cardinals offense and without having seen McKenzie, I’ll give another edge to the lanky right-hander next week.


Tyler Mahle (CIN) – 5% rostered vs CHC: Saturday – August 29th

Streaming against the Cubs in a hitters park is risky, no doubt! But, the Cubs have cooled off a bit in August with a 98 wRC+ over the last two weeks. Additionally, as a team they have struck out 28.7% of the time over that stretch, highest in the Majors. Mahle’s strikeout rate this year is 28.6% backed by a 12.2% SwStr%, nearly three percent higher than in 2019. He’s been pounding his fastball up in the zone, so home runs could be an issue, but he’s suppressed them so far with just one homer across 13.1 IP. He’s allowed weak contact with an average EV of under 88 mph. This one could blow up in my face but on the flip side, he could also strikeout nine batters across six innings as well.

Alex Young (ARI) – 3% rostered vs SFG: Sunday – August 30th

OK, so the Giants are not who we thought they were at the beginning of the season. They don’t strike out much, they are hitting for power, and have won more games than we’ve expected. That being said, the Giants are actually worse on the road this year in terms of offensive production. As a team, the Giants have just an 80 wRC+ on the road this year. Alex Young has an interesting line this year. His 4.50 ERA is fine and his 1.17 WHIP is great. But, he’s given up three homers per nine innings, a 35% HR/FB rate! That’s not good but also likely to regress. He hasn’t gone 5 innings yet as a starter but has gone four-plus in both starts. Quality Start leagues should look elsewhere, but I’m betting he makes it through five in this one to qualify for the win. He’s not walking guys, so his line is going to come down to homers. If he gives up one or zero, we are golden, otherwise…




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Starting Pitchers to Stream for Week 14 (7/1-7/7)

Welcome back to the FreezeStats weekly stating pitcher streaming article! You know the drill. I choose starting pitchers that are available in at least 75% of FantasyPros consensus leagues to help you win your matchup each week. The talent seems to be falling off a bit which means the fantasy community is really on their game. I’ve been able to uncover a nice blend of high ceiling and high floor streamers and will be picking on the Giants and Marlins next week.

Adbert Alzolay (SP – CHC), 20% owned, @PIT, Monday 7/1
With the injury the Cole Hamels, Alzolay now has a safe spot in the Cubs rotation. He’s got some pretty electric stuff but like many young pitchers has some issues with control. That being said, he does have nine strikeouts in 8.2 innings pitched. That’s over two starts but hasn’t gone five innings in either start. I know it’s a super small sample but his BABIP is currently .000 and his strand rate is 100%. That’s right, any ball that has been put in play has either been an out or a home run against Alzolay. This will change and his high walk rate could come back to bite him next week. The Pirates have been crushing the ball lately with a 123 wRC+ over the last 14 days. I don’t like his chances and I’m STAYING AWAY from Alzolay.

Matt Strahm (SP – SF), 22% Owned, home vs SF Tuesday, 7/2
I really was high on Matt Strahm coming into the season given his success as a reliever last season. He hasn’t quite lived up to my expectations but does carry a 17.4% K-BB rate which a good predictor of in-season success. He’s had two major issues, home runs, and fastball velocity. The good news for Strahm is that his velocity was up about one MPH in his last start and he struck out nine batters. In addition, his strikeout rate is 9.64 K/9 in the month of June. Now, he draws the Giants at home in Petco Park. As a team, the Giants have an 84 wRC+ (100 is average) over the last 30 days and are even worse on the road with a wRC+ of just 78! Home runs should not be an issue and Strahm walks fewer than two batters per nine innings. Easy stream here. 

Danny Duffy (SP – KC), 7% Owned, home vs CLE Wednesday, 7/3
It’s been a while since the Duff man has been fantasy relevant and his 4.43 ERA doesn’t exactly scream pick me up! However, he’s increasing the use of his slider and while the results haven’t been great on his slider, it’s the one pitch that induces swings and misses at an above-average clip. He’s also been bitten by an inflated BABIP with his slider, so it’s been better than FanGraphs Pitch Value indicates. Duffy’s also been better at home with a 4.12 ERA, no surprise there given the expansive confines of Kauffman Stadium. The Indians are much better offensively than they were back in April but are still a well-below-average team on the road with a 92 wRC+. Duffy is a deep league streamer (14 teams and deeper) given his lack of strikeout upside.

BONUS: Dylan Cease (SP – CHW), 5% owned, @DET, Wednesday 7/3
Yup, he’s finally gotten the call for the White Sox. I know it’s his debut and these starts can often go sideways. I’ll take my chances though against the Tigers who are arguably one of the worst teams in the league. As a team, they have a 76 wRC+ and a 26.1% strikeout rate which is tied with the Padres for the highest in the league. Cease has been fantastic at limiting home runs but does have a bit of walk issue. Luckily for Cease, the Tigers walk just 7.3% of the time, which is in the bottom five of the league. Cease gets a cupcake matchup in his debut, now let’s just hope he doesn’t blow it. STREAM

Eric Lauer (SP – SD), 12% Owned, home vs SF, Wednesday, 7/3

EDIT: Cal Quantrill, 5% owned, home vs SF, Wednesday, 7/3
Eric Lauer’s start has been pushed to the 4th against the Dodgers in LA, please don;t start him there. Instead Cal Quantrill has taken his place. Let’s keep picking on the Giants, shall we? I’ve already discussed how bad the Giants are offensively, so we don’t need to go over that again. I know that Lauer isn’t going to wow us with strikeouts but he does have a 4.22 ERA. On the surface, that doesn’t sound great but league-wide ERA for starting pitchers this year is 4.46! Last week, I mentioned Lauer’s struggles in Colorado and how his ERA outside of Coors Field is a steller 2.70. Last time I checked, Petco Park is not Coors Field and the Giants are not the Rockies. Lauer’s best asset is limiting home runs at just 0.95 HR/9. He’s also only given up two earned runs in his last two starts and only two home runs in his last six starts.  Quantril has been working out of the bullpen recently but after last night’s blow-up from Logan Allen, Quantrill could be back to stay. Quantrill has been averaging 95 MPH on his fastball and generates ground balls 50% of the time. His fourseam is his only plus pitch via FanGraphs pitcher value but he’s getting swings outside the zone 34.7% of the time with a 12% SwStr rate. He may struggle with walks but should be just fine limiting home runs against the league’s third worst offense. He should provide solid ratios and good strikeout totals. I’m a little concerned he only last five innings but a W is still in play. STREAM

Anibal Sanchez (SP – WAS), 25% Owned, home vs MIA, Thursday, 7/4
You need to go get Sanchez right now. His ownership is on the rise and he draws the Marlins at home next week. I didn’t realize how good Sanchez has been. He’s seemed like a disappointment but currently has a very usable 3.82 ERA. He’s been fantastic at limiting hard contact (29.4%) and a solid 20% soft contact rate. He looks a lot like he did last year with his cutter usage and inducing swings outside the zone at an above-average clip. Since 5/29, he has a 2.29 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP. Sure, the Marlins are improving but also have a 25.4% strikeout rate over the last 14 days which is 26th in the league. Don’t over think this one, it’s an easy STREAM.

Tyler Mahle (SP – CIN), 7% owned, home vs CLE, Sunday 7/7
Mahle at home does carry some risk, especially with the Indians playing better over the last month. However, Mahle has averaged over a strikeout per inning and I want those strikeouts. He’s also been surprisingly better at home this year with just a 2.96 ERA and 31 strikeouts across 27.1 innings. Despite the homer-friendly environment, Mahle must feel more comfortable in the GAB. The Indians obviously will be without the DH, so Mahle should be able to last at least five to six innings. While home runs are an issue for Mahle, he’s inducing more ground balls this year and has a walk rate under six percent which is almost three percent below league-average. It’s very possible he gives up a homer or two but given the low walk rate and good strikeout rate, it shouldn’t hurt him too much. I like Mahle in his last start before the break.  STREAM

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


Photo Source: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

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Starting Pitchers to Stream Week 11 (6/10-6/16)

We followed a great week in week 9 with a poor week in terms of streaming. It’s been up and down over the last few weeks after an incredibly hot start. I’m looking to begin a streaming run starting next week. You know the streaming rules. Only pitchers that are available in 25% or fewer of leagues per FantasyPros Consensus ownership rates are eligible to stream. That include Yahoo, ESPN, and CBS leagues. We have a bunch of pitchers to cover, so let’s get started.

Anibal Sanchez (SP – WAS) 10% owned, @CHW, Monday 6/10
Something has happened with Sanchez recently and I like it! It’s his cutter. He’s thrown it over 30% of the time over the last two starts and managed 14 strikeouts in just 11.1 innings pitched. He’s also only allowed one earned run in those two starts. I’m not fully back in on trusting Sanchez but the White Sox aren’t the most intimidating team in the league. They are a league-average team at home and are susceptible to the strikeout (over 26% in the last 14 days). I’m not expecting Sanchez to go more than six innings but could provide good strikeout numbers and solid ratios as long as he sticks with the cutter. STREAM.

Dakota Hudson (SP – STL) 10% owned @MIA, Tuesday 6/11
Hudson has gone at least six innings in each of his last five outings. He also has been a lot better over the last month with a 2.64 ERA and has only given up two earned runs in his last two starts. Unfortunately, Hudson doesn’t have much strikeout upside (under 7 K/9) but should have a great shot at pitching into the seventh inning. The Marlins have been better over the last two weeks but still, lack power. At home this year, the Marlins have the second lowest wOBA at .269. Only the Giants are worse. Given the favorable park and matchup, Hudson is a great quality start/ratios play next week. STREAM.

Cal Quantrill (SP – SD) 1% owned @SF, Tuesday 6/11
I’m actually really excited about this start for Quantrill. I think we are finally going to see a great start and drop his season numbers. He gets a dream matchup against the league’s worst offense in the best park for pitchers. The Giants have managed a pathetic .260 wOBA at home this season and have hit just 18 home runs at Oracle Park in over 950 plate appearances! Quantrill has successfully been able to induce swings and misses evidenced by a 13.7% swinging strike rate (SwStr%) which is 2.5% higher than the league average. He also gets swings outside the zone at a high clip thanks to a very good changeup and slider. His only major issue is his control. He doesn’t throw enough strikes. The good news is the Giants have a below-league-average walk rate as a team at eight percent. I like Quantrill next week in SF, I’m Streaming.

Tyler Mahle (SP – CIN) 11% Owned home vs TEX, Friday 6/14
The Rangers are without their most valuable hitter this year in Joey Gallo. The rest of the Rangers lineup has been below-league-average with a 94 wRC+ and have hit just five home runs over the last week. Great America Ballpark is a launching pad, so I have to be careful here. Mahle has been great against right-handed batters with a .279 wOBA and 1.09 WHIP. He does struggle against lefties, so an injured Gallo is an even biggest boost for Mahle. The Rangers still have several lefty bats but some of their better hitters to date (Andrus, Pence, and Forsythe) are right-handed. Without the DH, the Rangers are likely to lose either Choo or Guzman who are both left-handed. I’m talking myself into Mahle but I trust his 19.9% K-BB and 32%CSW rates. I’m STREAMING in 12-team and deeper leagues.

Pablo Lopez (SP – MIA) 12% owned Home vs PIT, Saturday 6/15 and Trevor Richards (SP – MIA) 12% Owned vs PIT 6/14 Friday
Two Marlins pitchers! What a bonus! Lopez loves his home games but he had his first successful road start this week in Milwaukee of all places. He shut out the Brewers in six innings getting seven strikeouts. Well, he’s back at home where he carries his 1.84 ERA with him against the Pirates. The Pirates have been pretty solid offensively but have just a 16.8% strikeout minus walk rate (K-BB%) on the road (league-average 14.2%). This is less about the matchup and more about the quality of Lopez. He was bombed for 10 runs against the Mets over a month ago that really inflated his numbers. I know you can’t just take those stats away but let’s do it for fun! He would have a 3.26 ERA with a 1.01 WHIP without that start against the Mets. That’s how good he’s been over his remaining 11 starts. I’m not only STREAMing him, but I own him in a couple of places. To touch on Richards, his surface numbers are better than his metrics but he is getting above-average swings and misses and has only given up three earned runs in his last four starts. His changeup has been dominant with just a .228 wOBA against. I’m streaming but trust Lopez just a little more if I had to choose between the two.
Note: The Pirates best hitter, Josh Bell finally hasn’t homered since 5/29 where he’s hitting just .242 with a .302 wOBA.

Chase Anderson (SP – MIL) 16% owned @SF, Sunday 6/16
Let’s go back to the Bay area, shall we? First the good with Anderson, he’s throwing 93.7 MPH (up from 92.9 MPH last year), getting swings outside the zone at a 35.5% clip and has resulted in a very solid 12% swinging strike rate (SwStr%). Now the bad, a 1.72 HR/9 and an 82.9% strand rate that is sure to regress. Anderson was bitten by the longball at home against the Marlins of all teams this past week but also was plagued with a .400 BABIP. He was on fire though with a 20.9% SwStr rate and was inducing swings outside the zone nearly 50% of the time! Talk about unlucky. Next week, he gets the Giants who are starved for power as I discussed previously and Oracle Park is a pitcher’s dream. In addition, prior to this week’s start against the Marlins, Anderson had given up just one home run in his last six starts. I don’t expect Anderson to go deep in this one, but he’s a great bet to strikeout more than a batter per inning and limiting the damage against the league’s worst offense. STREAM

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



Photo Source: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

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Starting Pitchers to Stream Week 10 (6/3-6/9)

I can’t believe we are into our third month of the 2019 season and more than one-third of the way through the season. Low-owned talented streaming options have most likely been scooped up in your leagues but the good news is, more pitchers are coming with the Super-Two deadline passing (soon) and as injuries begin to mount. We got back on track last week, so let’s take a look at the season numbers to date.

IP ERA WHIP K W QS
Season Totals 241.66 3.35 1.11 238 23 22

Here’s the link to the running Google Sheet. Those are really solid ratios and right around a strikeout per inning. We have 45 starters streamed to date, so nearly 50% of them have been either a win or a quality start (or both). Not bad at all! Let’s get to next week’s streaming options for week 10 (6/3-6/9) owned in 25% of FantasyPros Consensus leagues.

Jered Eickhoff (SP – PHI), 21% owned, @SD, Tuesday 6/4
Monday is a very short slate with only four games, so our options are limited. Eickhoff is down to 21% owned after fantasy players were running to the waiver wire to acquire his services after his first two dominant starts. He gets San Diego in Petco and he has not been good recently thanks to the long ball. The Padres can hit plenty homers but they have just a .300 wOBA with a 27% strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers this year. Eickhoff’s only negative pitch per FanGraphs Pitch value is his fastball and he’s throwing it under 40% of the time. As long as he sticks with his slider and curve 60% of the time, I think he will handle the Padres. I’m Streaming here.

Chase Anderson (SP – MIL) 10% owned, Home vs MIA, Wednesday 6/5
Are we back in on Chase Anderson after a solid start in Pittsburgh? Well, he’s only walked one batter in his last two starts and faced a season-high 23 batters last time out. His velocity is back up over 93.5 MPH like it was back in 2017, the last time he had success. He’s also utilizing his changeup more and is rocking a career-best 11% swinging strike rate (SwStr%) and a 29.6% CSW%. He gets the Marlins at home who have a .273 wOBA over the last month but have been a little better over the last two weeks (.309 wOBA). They still don’t have much power, so I like Anderson as a streamer for the second straight week.

Tyler Mahle (SP – CIN) 12% owned, @STL, Thursday 6/6
I know what you’re thinking, how does Mahle have a 26.2% K% with a sub-10% SwStr rate? Well, he’s thrown a ton of strikes and freezes hitters. His CSW rate is an elite 32.2%! For comparison sake, Justin Verlander has a 32.7% CSW rate. He struck out eight batters in his last start against a tough Nationals team. He gets the Cardinals in Busch Stadium which is great for Mahle compared to his home park. The Cardinals have just a .296 wOBA the last two weeks are just aren’t clicking offensively. He’s curbed the walks bigtime this year with a 66.4% F-Strike rate and I think his home run issue will be suppressed in St Louis. Mahle is a STREAM for me.

Jakob Junis (SP – KC), 9% owned, Home vs CHW, Sunday 6/9
Junis has gone at least six innings and struck out at least six batters in his last three outings. His last two were quality starts and against the Rangers and Yankees. Not exactly easy opponents. It’s no surprise he pumped his elite slider over 50% of the time in both those starts. His slider has yielded just a .234 wOBA this season, so his recipe makes sense. He draws the White Sox at home next Sunday who are in the bottom five in terms of wOBA (.294) and strikeout rate (27.1%) over the last two weeks. The fact that this one is at home should keep his home run issue at bay. Let’s go STREAMING!

Devin Smeltzer (SP – MIN), 8% owned, @DET, Sunday 6/9
Smeltzer’s Major League debut was impressive, to say the least. He went six scoreless innings while striking out seven batters and walking no one. His CSW rate was 36.2% which is among the best in the league. He throws a fourseam, changeup, and curve but doesn’t throw hard. He’s going to get swings and misses from the change and curve but I don’t expect a strikeout rate over 9.0 K/9. That being said, the Tigers have been one of the worst teams in the league and have a .289 wOBA over the last 14 days. Comerica Park is one of the better pitcher’s parks for home runs and the Tigers don’t have much power, to begin with. The Twins should provide plenty of run support, so I expect Smeltzer to earn a W with very solid ratios and four-five strikeouts. STREAM

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


Photo Courtesy of David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

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Starting Pitchers to Stream – Week 8 (5/20-5/26)

Every week I cover the best starting pitcher streaming options for the week ahead. I include a blurb as to why I believe each pitcher will be successful in their matchup. The options are pretty slim next week. For the most part, I’m leaning towards more skilled pitchers next week rather than leaning on weak opponents. I discuss six pitchers but only recommend five of them.

All pitchers are owned in under 25% of FantasyPros consensus. Here is the google sheet with all the streaming options and results to date. We are sitting pretty so far through a month and a half.

Gio Gonzalez (SP – MIL) 22% owned, Home vs CIN, Tuesday 5/21
The veteran lefty is back in the National League and has pitched well of late. He’s sporting a 1.69 ERA and a 3.01 FIP. His HR/9 is under 0.5 which won’t last but he’s always been good at suppressing home runs. He’s also throwing his changeup nearly 30% of the time which is a career-high. As a result, he’s getting more swings outside the zone and has a solid 10.8% swinging strike (SwStr%). The Reds are OK against left-handed pitchers ranked 18th in wOBA. I think Gio can neutralize the Reds with his changeup and keep them off balance with a fastball that’s performed well in terms of swings and misses to date. STREAM

Adam Wainwright (SP – STL) 11% Owned, home vs KC, Wednesday, 5/21
Should we trust the 37-year-old Wainwright one last time? The answer is no. The Royals are decent against breaking balls and that’s Waino’s calling card. His massive curveball is not the pitch it used to be. He’s getting swinging strikes on it just 9.2% of the time (14.2% career), 17.9% K rate (38.2% career), and an 86 wRC+ (38-career). That’s not good fam. Without the curve, he just won’t be effective. You can move along because I’m staying away.

Merrill Kelly (SP – ARI), 8% owned, @SD, Wednesday 5/22
The Padres have just a .291 wOBA against righties with a 28% strikeout rate. Kelly has already faced the Padres twice this year with mixed results. Here’s what he’s done against them: 11 IP, seven earned runs, and eight strikeouts. Meh, not great. The good news is the Padres are struggling to make contact of late creeping near a 30% strikeout rate and a walk rate under 6.5%. Look, Kelly isn’t a great pitcher but he’s coming off a seven-inning scoreless outing against the Giants. Maybe he can build off his success against a Padres team that has struggled to score runs of late with just 12 runs in their last five games. I’m STREAMING in deep leagues.

Trevor Richards (SP – MIA), 10% owned, @DET, Thursday 5/23
Richards is a guy who showed up in my research covering starters who have increased their called strikes plus swinging strike rate (CSW%) this year. He’s up over 30% which is nearly 3% above league average. Now, Richards has not been very good this year because he’s been hurt by the free pass and the long ball. The good news for Richards is the Tigers have just a .276 wOBA versus right-handed pitchers and only .279 wOBA at home. Comerica Park is a difficult place to hit home runs as they have hit just 14 long balls at home all season in nearly 800 PA. They also walk under 7% of the time. I expect Richards to deploy his elite changeup around 40% of the time netting five to six strikeouts and limit the overall damage. STREAM in deeper formats.

Griffin Canning (SP – LAA), 16% Owned, Home vs TEX, Friday 5/24
Rookie pitchers are difficult because you never know what you’re going to get and the Rangers are a top 10 offense over the last two weeks. Two starts ago, Canning gave up three homers to the Orioles, then followed it up with a seven-inning scoreless start versus the Royals. Most importantly for Canning, he didn’t walk anyone and got ahead of hitters with a 68% first-pitch strike rate. He’s been better at finding the zone recently, but still has a little work to do. Avoiding lefty Joey Gallo is going to be difficult but Canning has an elite 35% CSW rate. Canning could either get blown up for three homers or dominate with eight strikeouts. That’s the risk of streaming though, and it’s more favorable for Canning in his home park rather than it Globe Life in Arlington. I’ll take the upside with Canning and STREAM.

Tyler Mahle (SP – CIN), 10% owned, @CHC, Saturday, 5/25
Mahle against the red-hot Cubs doesn’t look good on the surface. The Cubs have a .337 wOBA over the last two weeks and have been OK at home this year. This is more about Mahle than it is about the Cubs. He’s carrying a 3.51 ERA (3.55 SIERA) with a 20.7% K-BB rate. His swinging strike rate is below-average but has an impressive 31.4 CSW rate means he’s among the big boys. He’s also been getting ahead of hitters more frequently with a 67.3% first-pitch strike rate up five percent from 2018. Limiting walks and getting called strikes have been the keys to success for Mahle. If his BABIP comes down a bit (.323 currently), he might end up being a must-own in 12-team leagues. I’m STREAMING him this week but watching the wind direction at Wrigley closely. If it’s blowing out, I reserve the right to change my mind.

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


Photo courtesy of David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

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Evaluating Starting Pitchers Using CSW (2018-2019)

The Called-Strikes Plus Swinging Strike rate (CSW) metric developed by Nick Pollack and Alex Fast at Pitcher List is one that takes the next step in analyzing pitchers. We all love K-BB% and that’s a great metric that shows a pitcher’s ability to get batters out without putting the ball in play or vice-versa. The metric takes chance out of the equation such as fielder’s defense, weather conditions, etc. and really shows a pitcher’s skill. Swinging strike rate (SwStr%) also does a great job of showing how good a pitcher is at getting swings and misses. The missing piece is called strikes because not all pitches are created equal. A slider, on average, has a higher swinging strike rate by between 8-9% than a fourseam fastball. A pitcher who can effectively throw a slider 40% of the time will likely have a better SwStr% than a pitcher who relies heavily on his fastball and curveball and doesn’t throw a slider. CSW% accounts for these types of pitchers creating an even playing field.

I’ve looked at starting pitchers who have either increased or decreased their CSW% by at least 2% from the previous year. The minimum qualifiers are at least 1,250 pitches thrown in 2018 and at least 300 pitches thrown this season. Here’s the complete list.

player_nameCSW% Delta
Lucas Giolito5.4
Blake Snell5.1
Derek Holland5
Martin Perez4.8
Matthew Boyd4.8
Carlos Rodon4.7
Caleb Smith4.5
Jake Odorizzi4.4
Stephen Strasburg4.1
Mike Minor4
Felix Hernandez3.9
Luis Castillo3.7
Drew Pomeranz3.7
Tyler Glasnow3.4
Luke Weaver3.2
Tyler Mahle3.2
Kyle Gibson3
Jose Quintana2.9
Eduardo Rodriguez2.7
Lance Lynn2.6
Reynaldo Lopez2.5
Cole Hamels2.4
Trevor Richards2.2
Jake Arrieta2.1
Clayton Kershaw1.9
Dereck Rodriguez-2.3
Joey Lucchesi-2.3
Robbie Ray-2.4
Brad Keller-2.5
J.A. Happ-2.5
Jhoulys Chacin-2.6
Mike Fiers-2.6
Wei-Yin Chen-2.6
Trevor Cahill-2.7
Justin Verlander-2.8
Yonny Chirinos-2.8
Tyler Skaggs-2.9
Zack Godley-3.4
Sean Newcomb-3.4
Dan Straily-4.1
CC Sabathia-4.2
Antonio Senzatela-4.6
Mike Foltynewicz-4.6
Jason Vargas-4.7
Clay Buchholz-4.9
Vince Velasquez-5.2
Nick Pivetta-5.6

Here is the link to the Google Sheet. The first tab shows the pitcher’s CSW% rates form both 2018 and 2019. League average CSW% is 28.7%. You can read more here on the metric. I won’t touch on every pitcher on the list, but feel free to comment and ask me what I think about them going forward.

Risers

I snuck Clayton Kershaw in there even though he’s increased his CSW% by only 1.9% and not the 2% threshold, whoops. It’s enough for me to feel confident that the former best pitcher in baseball will at the very least be productive going forward. His fastball velocity is sitting at a career-low 90.5 MPH but he’s only throwing it 40% of the time. Home runs will be an issue and his strikeout rate won’t be elite, but should still be solid. I’d treat him as a top 15-20 SP going forward.

Lucas Giolito looks like he’s taking the next step in his career. His CSW% was a below-average 26.3% in 2018 and has shot up to a very solid 31.7% this year, nearly elite. The changes seem legitimate too! He’s increased his velocity by over 1.0 MPH on his fastball, completely stopped throwing his sinker, and increased the usage of his changeup. His sinker generated swinging strikes under 5% of the time in 2018, meanwhile, his changeup averages a SwStr% of over 17% and is up to 18.6% this year. He still struggles with control and command and his walk rate remains just over 10%, so he’s not all the way there. That being said, he should be owned in all leagues going forward.

So, Blake Snell is better than he was last year? Well, that’s kind of unfair. Snell won’t repeat his ERA from last season because the ERA-estimators pegged him for an additional 1.10-1.40 runs to his actual ERA. Snell has moved into the top five for starting pitchers for me rest-of-season and maybe top 3.

Luis Castillo is an ace. Not much more to say here. He already was a very good strikeout pitcher last year but has taken his skills to the next level. Unfortunately, I was a year early on Castillo but still fortunate to own him in two places this year.

Luke Weaver is back to where he was in the second half of 2017. He’s throwing his cutter more this year (14.5%) at the expense of his fastball but it isn’t much of an improvement though. It’s his changeup and curveball that have been taken to the next level. The BABIP against his changeup is sub-.200, so that’s bound to come up. I still like Weaver and believe in the improvements, but I do expect some regression in Weaver’s numbers going forward.

Matt Boyd and Caleb Smith are two guys who have both shown some skills before but never could sustain success. Boyd’s issues were more with his fastball and Smith couldn’t stay healthy last year. Both are here to stay, so get used to both of them being inside the top-25 starting pitchers going forward.

Stephen Strasburg no longer throws 97+ MPH but he’s still got a nasty changeup. He’s also throwing more sinkers which has increased his groundball rate. Normally, I would not be a fan of this type of pitch change but it hasn’t hurt his strikeout rate one bit. In fact, his SwStr% is at a career-high 15.6% with a CSW at 34.6% to back it up! If he stays healthy, he’s a top 5-7 option but injuries always seem to find him, so beware.

Ugh, it really sucks that we lost Tyler Glasnow and Carlos Rodon to injuries. Glasnow will likely return this year but we can’t rule out Tommy John Surgery and Rodon has elected to go under the knife. RIP until late-2020 and likely 2021. Both showed great improvements in CSW%, and are still very young, so keep the faith.

Tyler Mahle and Mike Minor both went from having below-average CSW rates to over 30% this year. I absolutely hate their home parks and as the heat rises so could their home run rates. The difference is that Mahle already carries an elevated HR/FB% at over 18% but Minor is sitting at just 10%. Minor also is a fly ball pitcher where Mahle is getting ground balls over 44% of the time. I don’t want to necessarily compare the two but I guess I am. Minor’s HR rate will likely increase and because of his home park, owners will likely need to sit him against tough opponents in Arlington. I feel the same about Mahle though in GAB. If I had to pick one, I’d lean Mahle for the strikeout upside. Either way, both should be owned but will require some maintenance.

Fallers

At the bottom of the list, we have a couple of Phillies. Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez. Obviously the popular sleeper, Nick Pivetta is back in Triple-A and VV hit the IL. I don’t want to touch either of them at any point this year, so just stay away.

I’m worried about Mike Foltyneiwicz. I’m willing to give him a little more time because he’s spent some time on the IL, but he was due for some strikeout regression after posting a 30.1% CSW rate last season. Now, he’s just over 25%, which is teetering on poor. There’s a lot of loud contact and fly balls coming off bats against Folty, but you have to hold in 12-team and deeper leagues as you likely spent a top 100-125 pick on him.

Don’t worry about Justin Verlander. He went from a 34% CSW rate to 31.2%. He probably won’t continue to be the number one SP all season but I’d still bet he finishes inside the top five or six. I think Robbie Ray is just fine as well. You know who his is at this point. He will still pile up the strikeouts, give you a decent ERA with an elevated WHIP. Ray is frustrating but has value.

Other than Verlander, Ray, and Tyler Skaggs, I essentially want no part of this group of pitchers except maybe Yonny Chirinos is deeper formats. He’s shown the ability to go as deep as seven innings in a couple of starts and should provide opportunities for wins when an opener is used in front of him. He’s due for some regression with his .205 BABIP but he doesn’t hurt himself with walks either. He needs to get his slider working in order to raise his CSW rate because his splitter is nasty. Skaggs is still intriguing to me. His velocity is down a hair but he’s ditched the sinker in favor of his curve and change. He’s just not getting ahead of hitters as much as he typically does. His first pitch strike rate is down 5% this year. If he rights that ship, his strikeout rate should improve and his ratios with start to drop.

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


Photo credit: Chicago Tribune

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Starting Pitchers to Stream – Week 6 (5/6-5/12)

Every week I cover starting pitcher streaming options who are owned in 25% or fewer of leagues based on FantasyPros Consensus ownerships rates. Let’s take a look at the options for week 6 (5/6-5/12).

Martin Perez (SP – MIN) 6% owned, @TOR, Monday, 5/6  and Saturday, 5/11 Home vs DET
I stayed away from Perez last week because he faced off against the Astros. He proceeded to twirl eight brilliant shutout innings with seven strikeouts. I’m definitely on board with both starts next week. Perez has only given one earned run over his last two outings. It’s amazing what throwing 95+ MPH will do for a starter like Perez. I prefer the start at home against the Tigers and you’ll see, I’m picking on them next week. As a team, the Tigers have only hit 21 home runs all season and strike out about 27% of the time. I like Perez to pile up a K per inning and a quality start with a good chance for a win. Believe it or not, the Blue Jays haven’t been much better offensively. Despite the call-up of Vlad Jr., the Blue Jays have been in a rut losing their last four games. The Blue Jays also strikeout at a well-above-average clip, so while this road start is a little risky, I’m still rolling with Perez twice next week. STREAM

Tyler Mahle (SP – CIN) 5% owned, @OAK, Tuesday, 5/7
Mahle is becoming a favorite streamer of mine. Sure, he’s got a 4.09 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP but it comes with a cool 9.0 K/9 and sub-2.0 BB/9. He is susceptible to the long ball but is also carrying an unlucky .344 BABIP. While his home park is the most favorable for homers, Oakland’s ballpark is ranked 22nd in terms of home run park factors using Barrels. Add in the fact that the Athletics are ranked 24th in wOBA at home and we’ve got a winning matchup here. I don’t think his arsenal is built to last longterm, but he’s coming off his best start of the season in New York, so I’m back in. STREAM

Griffin Canning (SP – LA) 23% owned, @DET Tuesday 5/7
Here we go, picking on the Tigers again. Canning flashed impressive stuff in his debut even if the numbers didn’t back it up. He touches 95 MPH on his fastball with a plus slider and was able to strike out six Blue Jays in just over four innings. He managed to get called strikes plus swinging strikes on 34% of his pitches, a very solid rate. I think the Angels let him go a little deeper but reaching 6+ innings might be a stretch. So, he’s a little less valuable in QS leagues. The Tigers are not good as I already mentioned but they are even worse at home with just an 87 wRC+ (100 is average) and have hit just seven, yes 7 home runs at home all year, LOL. STREAM

Jeff Samardijza (SP – SF) 17% owned, Home vs CIN Friday, 5/10
Daddy Shark do do dododo. He’s back! He’s pitching today (Sunday) against the Reds but it’s in Great American Smallpark. Remember the home run park factors link above, here it is again. I don’t care what happens in the Sunday start, it’s like going from pitching on the moon to pitching in Antarctica. The Reds are the worst team offensively on the road this year hitting just .252. Scratch that, that’s their OBP, they are batting .197 with a .252 wOBA on the road. Yup, that’s bad. As far as Shark, he’s not great but he’s traded his heavy sinker usage for a cutter. That’s good because the career batting average against his sinker is over .300. Meanwhile, the cutter has allowed just two hits on 110 thrown this year. Another STREAM here.

Jake Odorizzi (SP – MIN) 17% owned, Home vs DET Friday 5/10
Jake is probably my second favorite option next week (Perez is my favorite). And, here we are again picking on the Tigers. I won’t go into them at all. Odorizzi’s just been straight nasty recently. He hasn’t given up a run in his last two starts while striking out 15. In all honesty, he’s had just one poor start out of his first seven outings. He’s been very good rocking a 2.78 ERA. His 12.6% swinging strike rate (SwStr%) backs up his near-10K/9. I’d run to the wire and grab him now before he gets scooped up. STREAM

Pablo Lopez (SP – MIA) 6% Owned, @ NYM Friday 5/10
P-Lo is my boy. Do you trust his current 4.78 ERA or his 2.99 FIP? I tend to lean towards his FIP. Maybe not that good but Lopez is more of a mid-3s ERA pitcher. He’s maintained his increased velocity and it’s improved the results against the fastball. An increase of 4% on his K rate and 2.6% on his swinging strike rate on the fastball has made his secondaries more valuable. Especially the changeup that has generated a disgusting 27.2% SwStr%. The Mets are a tough team and this matchup is not in pitcher-friendly Miami. But wait, they’ve managed just a .284 wOBA in the past 14 days with a near-26% strikeout rate. I think Lopez can manage more than a K per inning with good ratios. I’ll recommend a STREAM but only in 14-team & deeper leagues.

Anthony DeSclafani (SP – CIN), 19% Owned @ SF Saturday 5/11
Talk about picking on weak opponents this week! Tony Disco gets to pitch in the confines of Oracle Park where fly balls go to die. He’s been an extreme fly ball pitcher this year which has hurt him at home but should be just fine away from the GAB. The Giants have hit just .207 with eight home runs at home this year. You read that right, Christian Yelich has more HR at home than the Giants! Meanwhile, DeSclafani is striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings and should easily be able to net a quality start in this one. STREAM.

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



Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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Starting Pitchers to Stream Week 5 (4/29-5/5) – Fantasy Baseball

It was a great week of streaming last week and while Odorizzi hasn’t gone yet as of this writing, we are looking at a near perfect week. This is rare and not likely to happen all that often, so I figured I’d mention it. So far on the season, here are the results compared to the MLB average for starting pitchers: 4.36 ERA, 1.29 WHIP with a 8.64 K/9 (MLB AVG)

IP ERA WHIP K W QS
Season Totals 90.99 3.26 1.06 90 10 10

That’s a lot better than a number of aces thus far on the season. Here’s the link to the streaming google sheet if you want to keep track. Let’s keep it rolling. Next week there are a bunch of options early in the week, so grab them now!

Mike Soroka (SP – ATL), 25% owned home vs SD, Monday 4/29 and @MIA Sunday 5/5 (Two-Start Week!)
Soroka should be owned in more than 25% of leagues. My guess is the Braves have such great pitching prospect depth and they’ve shuffled in several different arms to start the season. So fantasy owners are just streaming them as they come and go. So far, Soroka has only had two starts but he’s getting more than a strikeout per inning and a 55% ground ball rate. That’s a winning combo in the current home run environment. San Diego is an improved team thanks to Machado and Tatis Jr. but they can whiff quite a bit. Believe it or not, Suntrust Park actually is less friendly to home Runs than Petco, so that’s another point in Soroka’s favor. Also, I want to mention and give credit to Nick Pollack and Alex Fast and some of the PitcherList staff for creating and discussing the new pitching metric Called Strikes Plus Whiffs (CSW). Soroka is rocking a 32.4% CSW, which is fantastic. I will be referring to this article and metric going forward. Do I even need to mention the Miami start? Grab him immediately for both starts, because he won’t be on the wire for long. Easy double stream here for probably the last time with Soroka.

Vince Velasquez (SP – PHI), 21% owned home vs DET, Tuesday 4/30
This one is risky. I would prefer if this start was in Detroit because Comerica is one of the worst offensive parks for home runs. Citizens Bank in Philly, on the other hand, can be a launching pad. The good news is their 25.9% strikeout rate as a team is sixth worst in the league. VV has some negative regression coming but he’s walking fewer batters this year which has helped him limit the damage. His fastball velocity is up nearly one MPH, so I while there is some risk in this start, I’d be willing to roll with him given the strikeout upside and the probability of a win. Stream

Jakob Junis (SP – KC), 13% Owned home vs TB, Tuesday 4/30
Don’t get me wrong, the Rays can hit but they also strike out a bunch. Kauffman Stadium is not a great place to hit which is a point in Junis’ favor. He’s also added a little velocity to his fastball and throwing his slider over 43% of the time. Junis has also been better at home this season and his slider I mentioned is nasty. He’s getting strikeouts over 42% of the time on that pitch. Junis is rocking a 31.8% CSW which is a very good rate. I like the way Junis has been pitching early this season and think he can handle the Rays at home with a good chance at a QS and solid K numbers. Stream.

Griffin Canning (SP – LAA), 1% owned home vs TOR, Tuesday 4/30
Who is this Griffindor Canning? He is not from the Harry Potter series, he’s a prospect with the Angels and a highly touted one. He brings a mid-90 plus fastball, a plus slider and mixes in a change and curve. I was a lot more confident in Canning’s outing against the Blue Jays prior to the Vald Jr call up, but I think I’m still in. He has solid strikeout upside although I’m not as bullish in quality starts leagues because, with any young starter, a pitch limit will likely be in place. I would expect five-plus innings with around a K per inning and decent ratios. I’d stream him in moderate to deep leagues.

Tyler Mahle (SP – CIN), 7% owned @NYM, Thursday 5/2
I was disappointed at Mahle’s outing on Saturday against the Cardinals where he gave up five earned runs in five innings. That’s not good but all of the damage came off the bat of one of the hottest hitters in Marcell Ozuna. Mahle’s BABIP sits over .350 and all other metrics look legit, so I’d expect that BABIP to come down and Mahle can be a high-3s ERA type pitcher with just under a strikeout per inning. The Mets are right around league-average in terms of wOBA and it looks like red-hot rookie Pete Alonso is starting to cool off. (Right on cue, Alonso goes yard right after I wrote this.) I feel that Mahle can bounceback. He’s not my favorite stream this week, but he’s a decent option in deep leagues. 

Pablo Lopez (SP – MIA), 6% Owned Home vs ATL, Sunday 5/5
What is happening here? Why is Lopez still available in 94% of FantasyPros leagues? I told you stream him last week and hopefully, you did. Lopez currently has a 21.4% K-BB% (16th in MLB) with a solid 11.9% swinging strike rate to back it up. He’s been slightly unlucky in terms of BABIP (.329) and strand rate (64.1%). He’s only allowed two earned runs in his last two starts with 12 strikeouts. Atlanta is tough, there’s no doubt but Lopez is rocking a 27.9% K-BB rate and a 1.46 FIP in his starts in Miami. He won’t get any run support but should give you good ratios, strikeouts, and a chance at a QS. Stream

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