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Streaming Pitchers To Fill The Void in 2019


To say that the starting pitcher position has been underwhelming to start the year is an understatement. What was hoped to be a strength for many teams has yet to come to fruition. Part of the reason is that starters haven’t been as effective as desired. That frustration will potentially get rectified once the weather heats up and starters get into their rhythm. Another issue at the position, and potentially more devastating for fantasy owners, is injuries. The injury demon has struck man starters over the first month of the season. It has hit all class of pitchers without bias, including upper echelon guys.

In this article, we will cover both a strategy to get through the storm wreaking havoc on your rotation as well as individual starters you can use until your guys return. As Lennon famously sang “You may say that I’m a streamer; well, I’m not the only one.” Ok, he didn’t make streaming famous, but it is a necessary part of playing fantasy baseball. Stagnant rosters remain just that, stagnant. Rotating players in and out also creates the opportunity for you to acquire a player that has more upside and increased chance for success.

Keep in mind that the dates used below are not etched in stone; they will likely change. Ideally, any change to the pitching rotation will still allow the starter to face the opponent identified. Just make sure you confirm before you pick up a player and throw them in your lineup. Let’s start by taking a look at some of the injuries and the best way to overcome them.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Primary Pitching Losses

Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays

Glasnow left the game Friday game and was diagnosed with a mild forearm strain. He will miss the next four to six weeks. The unfortunate truth is that we don't know whether this is indeed a strain issue or a precursor for something else. Hopefully, it is the former as Glasnow was having a great season with a 6-1 record with 55 strikeouts and a 1.86 ERA.

Mike Clevinger, Cleveland Indians

Clevinger injured his back in early April and was ultimately transferred to the 60-day IL. He recently started throwing at 120 feet recently which is good progress, but there is still no timeline for his return. Even in the best case scenario, Clevinger can’t return any earlier than 7 June, which means you’ll need a streaming plan for another month or so.

Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

Kluber had a bone in his forearm fractured when an outgoing ball hit him. Thankfully, he won’t need surgery; rest is the directed medicine. Kluber will wear a cast for three weeks, and then after that, we will wait to see how the bone is healing. With all that said, there is no stated timeline for his return.

Luis Severino, New York Yankees

Severino has been out all season with rotator cuff and lat strain issues. As time passe, hope built that he would be returning soon. The General Manager decided to clarify things and informed the masses, “we won’t see Severino until after the All-Star break.” Ok, sweet. All-Star break. Wait. All-Star break?! The one in July? Yep, that’s the one. You'll need to stream for a while longer, but it is a considerable investment if you're stashing him.

Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates

Taillon hit the IL a few days ago with a right elbow flexor strain. What does that mean for fantasy owners? Well, “no throwing for the next four weeks” means we will need alternatives for the next month at the very least but plan for six weeks.

James Paxton, New York Yankees

Paxton landed on the IL for a sore left knee. This is not unexpected as he always has some calamity occur each year. The GM stated he shouldn’t miss any more than three weeks. Thankfully as Paxton was performing well in his first year in pinstripes.

David Price, Boston Red Sox

Price is suffering from left elbow tendinitis. He pointed out that this injury isn’t as severe as past occurrences so he should only miss a couple of starts.

Definitions:

“No timetable”: This is what is said when they know you don’t want to hear the truth. It is like going to a restaurant and seeing the word ’seasonal’ next to the item. You don’t want to know what it really costs. Just know that in this case, the cost is great because you’ll be without one of your top starters for quite a while. Make alternate plans.

 

Streaming Strategy

Some of this is common sense for some, but I’ll state it anyway. The decision to stream should not be taken lightly. It is a more important decision in Roto than it is in H2H leagues.  In H2H, you can overwhelm your opponent with quantity rather than quantity and ultimately win two to three categories, if not more and then the scoring is reset each week. In Roto, however, the results are factored into your accumulative stats. If you attempt to stream two or three average guys and they get destroyed, your ratios will take a huge hit and could potentially take you the whole season to rebound, if at all.

One basic strategy is to stream starters you find in favorable matchups. In this method, you can be more selective and start only the ones with increased opportunity for success. Another option is to use elite middle relievers to pad your ratios, accumulate strikeouts, and get the occasional save or win. Then you can take a little more risk with your starters, and if by chance they don’t perform as hoped, then the damage won’t be as bad. The combination of both strategies is the ideal option. Pad your stats with excellent ratios and then start pitchers in the best scenarios.

 

Situations to Target

You cannot be cavalier with your choices. Select starting pitchers with the best scenario to succeed. One consideration is using a guy when he is facing an average or weaker offense in a neutral or more pitcher-friendly environment. These locations include Oracle Park (SF Giants), Oakland Coliseum (Oakland Athletics), Marlins Park (Miami Marlins), Safeco Field (Mariners), and Tropicana Field (Rays).

Another consideration is to find a starter that is facing one of the worst teams in the league.

  • San Francisco Giants
  • Miami Marlins
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • San Diego Padres
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Toronto Blue Jays

These are the eighth-worst run-scoring teams in the majors. Seven of these teams are in the bottom 10 in homers as well, with the Padres being the lone exception; they rank eighth overall. These teams are also in the bottom 12 of batting average.

 

Situations to Avoid

Do not willingly start a guy when it’s too risky, particularly when a guy is facing a potent offense. Therefore, avoid games against high-scoring teams like the Phillies, Brewers, Astros, Red Sox, and Cardinals. Also, if at all possible, do your best to avoid some of the top homer-friendly venues in the league. This would include Great American Ballpark (Reds), Coors Field* (Rockies), Globe Life Park (Rangers), Citizens Bank Park (Phillies).

*Coors Field is an extremely hitter-friendly environment due to the elevation factor. I would not stream any starting pitcher at Coors. That should be a hard and fast rule.

 

Pitchers to Stream

Martin Perez (SP, MIN) — 44% Owned

Perez has appeared in eight games this season, starting five of them and has a 5-0 record. In 41 innings he has a 2.82 ERA to go with 39 strikeouts. Perez has reinvented himself, throwing a cutter for the first time in his career. Not only that, but he’s using it more than any other pitch (35%) and getting strikeouts 27% of the time with it. Perez also benefits from having an offense that ranks in the top half in most categories, especially homers (tied for fourth with 60). In his next 10 starts, he gets to face the Tigers (5/12), Angels (5/22), and Indians (6/6).

Mike Soroka (SP, ATL) — 71% Owned

Soroka’s season started slowly as a shoulder injury hampered him. However, he has separated himself from all the other Braves’ pitching options to take control of a rotation spot. Soroka is unlikely to relinquish it anytime soon. Through 23.2 innings, he’s maintained a 1.14 ERA and a clean 1.01 WHIP. Impressively enough, Soroka’s success stem from a 19% K-BB%, and a dramatically improved ground-ball rate to 59%, a 15% increase from 2018.

The way he has performed recently, Soroka is working his way towards being a little more matchup proof. However, if you want to be selective, he has quite a few solid options. To start, Soroka gets to travel to San Fran to face the Giants (5/20) before hosting the Tigers (6/1). The next best options are against the Pirates (6/6, 6/11). Further down the road, he has juicy starts against the Marlins (7/7) and Padres (7/12). Somehow, Soroka is still available in nearly 30% of leagues. Make sure yours is not one of them.

Yonny Chirinos (SP/RP, TB) — 49% Owned

The Rays are using Chirinos in a couple of different ways. Four times this season, he has started games while three other times the team used the opener strategy ahead of him. The result has been a 4-1 record with a 3.52 ERA. Forecasting for a pitcher like Chirinos is a little more complicated than most pitchers because of the way the team throws him out there. The simple suggestion is to keep an eye out for the Rays every fifth game and grab him ahead of time if you like the projected matchup.

Luke Weaver (SP, ARI) – 57% Owned

Weaver has some juicy matchups and benefits from being in the same division as one of the worst teams in the league, the Giants. In his next 11 starts, he’s templated to face them four times, two of which will be 5/19 and 5/24. Another one of his solid options is the Blue Jays (6/8), but be careful as the team will be traveling from California to Toronto to play these games. Also, keep in mind that the Rogers Centre is quite hitter-friendly. After that road trip, he’ll get to face the Giants again (6/23, 6/28).

Anthony DeSclafani (SP, CIN) — 47% Owned

Desclafani is a rising quality starting pitcher and has performed quite well to start the year with a 3.65 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 37 innings. He's drastically improved his strikeout rate (28%) this year, in part to a curveball that is generating a 44% strikeout rate. He does need to improve upon his walks (9%) to become more than just a streamer. Over the next two months, there are only a handful of starts that you can confidently run him out there. The first one is against the Indians (6/11). If he’s still performing well, you could consider starting him against the Nationals (5/31), if they’re still running a weakened lineup out there. Also, the Angels (6/26) can be a consideration as well.

Brandon Woodruff (SP/RP, MIL) — 46% Owned

Woodruff is showing that the 42 innings of quality pitching in 2018 were no fluke. In the same amount of innings this year, he’s done even better. Despite a 4.25 ERA, he does have a 3.32 xFIP and a 30% strikeout rate that makes owners salivate. There are no priority rankings on this list, but if there were, Woodruff would be near the top. His schedule is so juicy; I’d find a BBQ bib and leave it one for the next 11 weeks. Woodruff will see Pittsburgh four times over the next couple of months. He also lines up to face the Marlins (6/4), Giants (6/14, 7/14), Padres (6/19), Diamondbacks (7/19), and Reds (7/24).

Jake Odorizzi (SP, MIN) — 62% Owned

Like Martin Perez, Odorizzi is drinking some rejuvenation juice that allows him to get 43Ks in 42 innings with a skimpy 2.32 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. He's becoming a little more reliable as of late, but you still want to have a bit more certainty when streaming. The best matchups are against the White Sox (5/25), Indians (6/4) and Tigers (6/9).

Matt Strahm (SP/RP, SD) — 56% Owned

Strahm was a preseason favorite by many to start the season. His record (1-2) doesn't do him any justice, but he is definitely an option for this list. He is carrying a 3.00 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 39 innings. If there were concerns, it would be the loss in velocity (3mph off fastball) and the reduced swinging strike rate (9.8%). This is precisely why we would use him in the most optimal of circumstances. Strahm’s schedule is littered with favorable starts. He gets to face the Blue Jays (5/25), Marlins (5/31), Giants (6/11), Pirates (6/21), and Orioles (6/26). If you want some additional juiciness, he also gets to face the Giants (7/1) and Marlins (7/16) a second time over the next couple months.

Zach Eflin (SP, PHI) — 60% Owned

Eflin has been decent against weaker competition. This is the only time you should start him as his 1.24 HR/9 can get him in trouble. Even his strikeout rate isn't impressive (18.2%), he still has a 2.47 ERA through eight starts. Also, the Phillies offense should give him an opportunity for a win or two. Over the next couple of months, Eflin will start games against Padres(6/5), Diamondbacks, Nationals, and Marlins (6/30). He’s been doing well, so you might even start him against the Mets (6/25, 7/5).

Ross Stripling (SP/RP, LAD) — 62% Owned

Stripling doesn’t currently have a spot in the rotation, but he made the list as someone for you to keep an eye on. The Dodger starters are known to have injury histories and need a break from time to time. If that happens, Stripling could be called upon and be a serviceable streamer. Just remember to put him in during the most favorable of situations.

Wade Miley (SP, HOU) — 23% Owned

Miley is bringing a 3.18 ERA to your roster but he won't help too much with the strikeouts (16%). With a great defense behind him and a potent offense for support, Miley stands a very good chance of acquiring a few wins for your team. He gets an opportunity against the Tigers (5/14), Orioles (6/8), Blue Jays (6/15), and Pirates (6/25).

John Means (SP/RP, BAL) — 18% Owned

Use Means only in the best of scenarios as he is very risky. Thankfully, he has six favorable matchups in the next 10, facing the worst-hitting teams we identified above. The question now becomes whether he can maintain his meteoric rise to success. Additionally, for him to get a win, he could have to do most of the work himself as the Orioles offense, itself, ranks in the bottom of runs scored. The best matchups are when he takes on the Tigers (5/27), Giants (6/1), Blue Jays (6/11, 7/6), and the Padres (6/26).

Jordan Lyles (SP/RP, PIT) — 36% Owned

Admittedly, I’m not a huge Lyles fan; however, if you’re desperate, you’re looking at all the options, this Pirates starter included. His schedule doesn’t leave any gray area and no room for guessing. The only times you would start him is against the Padres (5/16, 6/22) and the Marlins (6/15).

Spencer Turnbull (SP, DET) — 38% Owned

Being apart of the Tigers, Turnbull is smack dab in the middle of the worst division in baseball. As such, he’ll get to square off against other weak teams. Half of his next 10 games are favorable matchups. The best of the bunch would be games against the Marlins (5/21) and Indians (6/16).

Trevor Williams (SP, PIT) — 48% Owned

Williams is often overlooked as just a boring starter. That is precisely the type of pitcher you need to get you through the tough times. You won't get many strikeouts (17%), but his 3.14FIP provides h0pe that he can succeed in the best of matchups. Over his next dozen starts, the two primary ones that stand out are against the Marlins (6/14) and Padres (6/21).

Steven Matz (SP, NYM) — 49% Owned

It may seem odd to recommend a guy as a streamer who is currently on the Injured List. Yes, Matz is presently beset with a forearm injury, but it wasn't seen to be severe so he is expected to miss only one start. Thus far he's had a much-improved start to the year with a 3-2 record and a 3.86 ERA. Matz doesn’t provide an elite strikeout rate (21.8%), but he’s improved his walk rate (6.1%). Combined with the right matchups, he is a very serviceable option. There are a couple of great series against the Giants and Tigers that hopefully, he can take advantage of so keep your eye on the wire.

Other starters to consider: Jerad Eickhoff (PHI) — 55% Owned; Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS) — 71% Owned; Kyle Gibson (MIN) — 25% Owned; Chris Bassitt (OAK) — 40% Owned; Lucas Giolito (CWS) — 31% Owned

 

Calendar (sorted)

5/16 - Lyles @SD
5/19 - Weaver vs SF
5/20 - Soroka @SF
5/21 - Turnbull vs MIA
5/22 - Perez @LAA
5/24 - Weaver @SF
5/25 - Strahm @TOR
5/27 - Means vs DET
5/31 - Strahm vs Marlins; Desclafani vs WSH
6/1 - Means vs SF; Soroka vs DET
6/4 - Woodruff vs MIA
6/5 - Eflin @SD
6/6 - Soroka @PIT; Perez @CLE
6/8 - Weaver @TOR
6/9 - Woodruff vs PIT
6/11 - Strahm @SF; Desclafani @ CLE; Means vs TOR; Soroka vs PIT
6/14 - Williams @MIA; Woodruff @SF
6/15 - Lyles @MIA
6/16 - Turnbull vs CLE
6/19 - Woodruff @SD
6/21 - Strahm @PIT; Williams vs SD
6/22 - Lyles vs SD
6/23 - Weaver vs SF
6/25 - Miley vs PIT; Eflin vs NYM
6/26 - Strahm @BAL; Desclafani @ LAA; Means vs SD
6/28 - Weaver @SF
6/30 - Eflin @MIA; Woodruff vs PIT
7/1 - Strahm vs SF
7/2 - Turnbull @CHW
7/5 - Eflin @NYM; Woodruff @PIT
7/6 - Means @TOR
7/7 - Soroka vs MIA
7/12 - Soroka @SD
7/14 - Woodruff vs SF
7/16 - Strahm @MIA

 

Final Note

Find the strategy that you're confident in, whether it is streaming starters or mixing them with elite relievers. Then identify the starter you have the most confidence in considering your league, team, and standings. All these pitchers are not created equal. Just because one might have success does not mean that another one will.

The point is to identify guys that have been doing decently well and starting them in their most favorable of matchups to keep you afloat until your elite starter returns. Don't play in fear. Regardless of the outcome of the streamers you play, as long as your process is correct, you'll be successful in the end.

No Fear, Just Fantasy!

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