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Two-Start Pitcher Streamers for Week 4

We're four weeks into the season and the search for good pitching in Boston continues. Being a White Sox fan, I know I don't have much room to speak about bad pitching, but you have to look at the silver linings every now and then. Silver linings like how Chicago only has the fourth-worst ERA in the league compared to Boston's second-worst ranking.

Now that I have cemented my persona non grata status within the state of Massachusetts, let's look at how a couple of last week's two-start pitchers have done so far. Brandon Woodruff had a solid outing this week, allowing just two runs and falling one out short of a quality start. He did, however, earn the win while striking out six. Mike Minor put together a seven-strikeout, complete-game shutout against the Angels, but his start came one day later than expected and he wound up being a one-start pitcher for Week 3. Looking back at the final outcome of Week 2's list, the best performances came from Carlos Rodon (1-1, six earned runs, 14 strikeouts) and Derek Holland (1-1, five earned runs, 15 strikeouts).

Now that we've recapped the last two weeks, let's start getting ready for Week 4.

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Week 4 Streamers - Under 50% Owned

Sonny Gray, CIN - 45% owned

Probable opponents: vs ATL, @ STL

Let's get one thing straight about Gray right off the bat: he has had some awful luck to start this season. Gray is 0-3 right now despite owning a 2.79 ERA, 0.931 WHIP and a 10.2 K/9. The most earned runs that Gray has allowed in a start so far is three — that coming in his most recent start against the Dodgers. You want to know how much run support Gray has gotten? Zero. Technically the Reds scored once while he was still in the game, but he was already out after taking a hit to his leg in the top of the inning, he just hadn't been officially replaced on the mound yet. Nitpicking aside, Gray has been pitching well this year and shouldn't be 0-3.

One can argue that Gray has been doing well against poor offenses, which is somewhat true. Gray has made two starts against Pittsburgh (3.69 runs per game, .235 team average) and one start against Miami (MLB-worst 2.53 runs per game, .216 team average). Now Gray will be facing Atlanta and St. Louis this week — the ninth and tenth-highest scoring teams in the majors. What should give owners some confidence in Gray this week is his last outing against the Dodgers. Los Angeles is second in the league averaging 6.1 runs per game while leading MLB with a .277 team average. Pitching against the Dodgers on Wednesday, Gray recorded a quality start with three runs allowed over six innings while striking out a season-high nine. Gray took the loss though because — once again — the Reds were unable to score while he was on the mound.

Atlanta poses a difficult match-up for Gray, but he could provide some nice value with his start against St. Louis as the Cardinals currently are tied for sixth-most batting strikeouts in the league with 174. Gray should be a nice streaming option in most leagues for Week 4, with a boost in his value in leagues that count quality starts instead of wins.

Mike Minor, TEX - 42% owned

Probable opponents: @ OAK, @ SEA

Let's try this again. Last week Minor made this list with what looked like a couple of good starts projected for him. Well he definitely delivered against the Angels, but that start came a day later than originally projected so owners only got the benefit of one outing from him. Whoops. Cut to one week later, and his ownership has jumped from 13 percent to 42 percent and he is back on this list. Over his last three starts, Minor has posted a minuscule 0.78 ERA with a 22.6 percent strikeout rate while opponents are batting just .167 against him.

One of the points in favor of Minor last week was that both of his starts would have been at home, with last year's splits showing he pitched better at home than on the road. This week Minor gets two road starts, including a start against current MLB-leader Seattle which has averaged 6.29 runs per game this season. Despite that, owners should still look to pick up Minor. Oakland will most likely end up being his most difficult start this week, as they have heated up to average six runs per game while hitting .262 over their last six games. Meanwhile, Seattle is in the midst of a six-game losing streak in which they're averaging 2.5 runs per game while hitting .175. On top of all this, both Seattle and Oakland are averaging at least 7.5 strikeouts per game in this span.

Oakland will likely be Minor's toughest start since his first start of the year against Chicago. But in spite of that he should be a strong play in most leagues this week. In fact, if Minor pitches well against Oakland, owners might want to consider keeping him around for a while instead of just dropping him back on waivers. Like I said last week, ride this hot streak while it lasts.


Week 4 Streamers - Under 25% Owned

Luke Weaver, ARI - 24% owned

Probable opponents: @ PIT, vs CHC

Weaver was saddled with the loss in his last week against San Diego despite recording his first quality start of 2019. Over 6 1/3 innings, Weaver allowed just two runs while striking out a season-high eight. How did he follow that up? Well on Thursday night Weaver earned win No. 1 of 2019 with five shutout innings against Atlanta while striking out nine. That's five shutout innings against a Braves team that had been averaging 5.8 runs per game over their previous eight games. So after posting a 6.75 ERA in his first two starts, Weaver has a 1.59 ERA over his last two starts to bring his season mark down to 3.92.

Looking to build off these last two starts, Weaver will take the mound against Pittsburgh in his next start. Despite holding a 5-3 record over their last eight games, the Pirates have struggled on offense with a .220 average while scoring 3.1 runs per game. Meanwhile, it's a similar story with the following start for Weaver, as he faces a Cubs team that — while 5-2 over their last seven games — have averaged 4.4 runs per game while hitting .237. Weaver should be a high-risk, high-reward play this week, as he could either put up another pair of low-scoring, high-strikeout outings, or he could end up being a slump-buster for Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Spencer Turnbull, DET - 4% owned

Probable opponents: @ BOS, @ CHW

If you decide to go with Turnbull in Week 4, don't expect to get any wins out of him. Turnbull is receiving no help from his team on offense, as the Tigers' 2.65 runs per game is the worst average in the American League, and their .203 team average is third-worst in the majors. If you're in a quality start league however, you might want to look at Turnbull as he has recorded quality starts in two of his four outings this year. In his last start on Wednesday, Turnbull allowed one unearned run over six innings while striking out five against Pittsburgh.

Sorry for yet another dig Boston fans, but who would have ever thought that we'd be looking at a pitcher owned in four percent of leagues as a viable streaming option against the defending World Series champs? Over their last seven games, Boston is averaging just 3.7 runs per game while batting .214 with a .646 OPS. Meanwhile, the White Sox are averaging four runs per game while hitting .242 over their last seven games. Turnbull might not end up with the top performance out of this week's list, but he should still provide above-average value and he is available in nearly every league. In particular, look to add Turnbull in quality start leagues.

Erik Swanson, SEA - 1% owned

Probable opponents: @ SDP, vs TEX

OK, Swanson may end up being the riskiest play this week. He just made his first career start on Wednesday, and while he took the loss against Cleveland he finished with one run allowed over six innings for a quality start. Swanson also struck out five in that start, to move his strikeout rate to 29 percent over two appearances this season. Looking at his work in the minors, Swanson seems like he could be a good boost in the strikeout department, as he posted a 10.3 K/9 over 121 2/3 innings in the minors in 2018, and in one start at Triple-A this season he tossed five shutout innings while striking out eight. 

In his second career start, Swanson is projected to take on the Padres who are currently hitting .220 while averaging 3.6 runs per game over their last seven games. San Diego is currently 13th in the majors in team strikeouts, and Swanson could get a slight boost pitching at Petco Park. He'll face a tougher challenge going toe-to-toe with Minor and the Rangers in his second start of the week. Texas is hitting .266 while averaging 6.4 runs per game amidst a seven-game stretch that has seen the team post a 5-2 record. If you're looking for another high-risk, high-reward pitcher this week and Weaver has already been picked up, then Swanson might be the guy for you.

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