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Two-Start Pitcher Streamers for Week 6

It's almost midnight on Thursday night as I finish rewriting this column after a power surge caused me to lose almost all of my work, but I'm happy as a clam after watching a Nicky Delmonico walk-off homer for my White Sox.

You know who else is happy as a clam? Owners who picked up Mike Minor for Week 4, as he was the clear winner from that week's column after going 1-1 with 17 strikeouts and a 3.46 ERA against Oakland and Seattle. Luke Weaver did well too (1-0, 12 strikeouts, 3.38 ERA) and Sonny Gray provided strikeouts but not much else (0-1, 14 strikeouts, 5.23 ERA). As for Spencer Turnbull and Erik Swanson...the less said the better. In Week 5, Adam Wainwright is leading the way so far after allowing two runs over 6 1/3 innings with five strikeouts to get the win over Washington.

Before another power surge hits and I lose everything for the second time, let's look at who you should pick up in Week 6.

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Week 6 Streamers - Under 50% Owned

Vince Velasquez, PHI - 34% owned

Probable opponents: @ STL, @ KC

Velasquez is coming off his worst start of the season against one of the worst offenses in baseball in Detroit. He allowed three runs over 3 2/3 innings to earn his first loss of the season, but he continued to rack up the Ks as seven of the 11 outs he recorded came by way of strikeout. Prior to his outing against Detroit, Velasquez had gone at least five innings while allowing two or fewer runs over his first four starts, and he has now posted three consecutive starts with at least six strikeouts.

This week Velasquez will get a couple of road starts, beginning in St. Louis where the Cardinals have been averaging 4.3 runs per game with a .259 average over their last two series against Cincinnati and Washington. The Cardinals have been living off the singles though, as they own a .350 slugging percentage with only 14 of their 51 hits over the last two series going for extra bases. Meanwhile, Kansas City is hitting .242 with a .379 slugging percentage over their last two series against the Angels and Rays while averaging 4.8 runs per game.

The slate this week for Velasquez isn't ideal, but it's not a terrible schedule for him either. While they are fairly close, career splits show that Velasquez tends to pitch slightly better on the road. On top of that he should have a solid opportunity for strikeouts, as the Cardinals have averaged 8.3 strikeouts per game over their last two series while the Royals have averaged 7.2 per game. In a week that doesn't hold many great two-start streaming options, owners should consider rolling the dice on Velasquez.

Griffin Canning, LAA - 28% owned

Probable opponents: @ DET, @ BAL

I will fully admit that it might be a little too aggressive to have Canning on this list after he just made his major league debut this week. Prior to the start of the year, I didn't think there would be any way we'd see him up before the All-Star Break. All that being said, it's just too hard to pass up these starts against Detroit and Baltimore.

In his debut against Toronto, Canning allowed three runs over 4 1/3 innings while striking out six. That was against a Blue Jays squad that had gone 4-2 over the previous six games while averaging 4.5 runs and 8.8 strikeouts per game. Compare that to Detroit, which has gone 1-5 over their last six games while averaging 4.2 runs per game. Baltimore has also gone 1-5 over their last six games and they're averaging just 3.0 runs per game. Here's the kicker though: the Tigers and Orioles are striking out like crazy in that span. Detroit is averaging 12.3 strikeouts per game, while Baltimore is "only" averaging 10.3 per game.

I don't blame you if you're hesitant on going with a guy who hasn't even thrown five full innings in the majors. Canning could be the guy who wins the week for you, but he could also be the guy that blows up all of your numbers. You're not going to get much better of a slate for him though, and based on his 9.9 K/9 in the minors last year and his 9.6 K/9 over three starts at Triple-A this season, he's worth looking at as a high-risk, high-reward pitcher in Week 6.


Week 6 Streamers - Under 25% Owned

Jake Junis, KC - 11% owned

Probable opponents: @ HOU, vs PHI

Junis hasn't had a great season to date, but coming off back-to-back wins (albeit both coming against Tampa Bay) he could end up being a sneaky streaming option in Week 6. Junis has recorded at least six strikeouts in four of his seven starts this year, and he has thrown at least five innings in all but one of his outings. He'll start off the week in Houston, where the Astros have been in a bit of a slump over their last two series — hitting .222 while averaging 3.6 runs and 8.7 strikeouts per game. Junis will then take on the Phillies, who are averaging 5.0 runs per game over their last two series...against Miami and Detroit. Against some better pitching in New York and Colorado, the Phillies were averaging 3.0 runs and 9.9 strikeouts per game across those two series. 

Junis isn't going to put up amazing numbers this week, but he could provide just enough of a bump to make a difference in your team's final score. If Canning and Velasquez are already claimed in your league and you are a gambling man/woman, Junis could be a sneaky play this week.

Merrill Kelly, ARI - 11% owned

Probable opponents: @ TB, vs ATL

Kelly has been a little up-and-down this season, but overall he's been putting up good numbers. He's coming off back-to-back wins against the Yankees and the Pirates, and he has recorded at least five strikeouts in four of his last five outings. Now in Week 6 he's projected to start against Tampa Bay (nice) and Atlanta (not-so-nice). The Rays are hitting .213 while averaging 7.4 strikeouts per game over their last two series, but the Braves are hitting .260 while averaging 4.7 runs per game over their last two series. While that might be cause for some concern, it's worth pointing out that the Yankees are averaging 5.4 runs per game and hitting .287 over their last two series, and Kelly just held them to one run over 5 1/3 innings in his last start.

If you go with Kelly in Week 6, you're hoping his start against Atlanta will go similar to his outing against New York. Kelly shouldn't have too much trouble against Tampa Bay, and if things go well in Atlanta he could be a nice option in deeper leagues.

Felix Hernandez, SEA - 11% owned

Probable opponents: @ NYY, @ BOS

The ERA hasn't been great for Hernandez in 2019, but otherwise, he's been pitching fairly well. He's had four starts in a row with at least six innings pitched, and he's coming off back-to-back eight-strikeout performances. Now he'll be taking on the Yankees and the Red Sox this week. As I pointed out with Kelly, the Yankees have been heating up over their last two series, and the Red Sox have done the same by averaging 4.8 runs per game while hitting .252 in their last two series. So maybe I'm crazy but I actually think it's possible Hernandez could be a decent play this week. Small sample size obviously, but Hernandez's 8.3 K/9 this season is his highest mark since 2015. And along with that, Hernandez tends to pitch well against Boston and New York — both in 2018 as well as throughout his career. 

This might be the biggest stretch of a pick for this week's column. Even bigger than the guy who just made his major league debut this week. But I think Hernandez is the "home run swing" pick for Week 6— all or nothing. No guts, no glory. Hopefully, by this time next week, I'll be writing about how I made such a great pick in Hernandez. If not, well I guess I'll just razz on the Red Sox some more.

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