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Two-Start Pitcher Streamers for Fantasy Baseball - Week 5

Some of the names may be the same but each week presents a change in schedule that determines a starter's fantasy value. The trickiest part of playing in weekly leagues is having to weigh talent vs. opportunity in the pitching realm.

With many pitchers now having four or five starts under their belt, we have a better feel for what they'll bring to the table each time out. The same goes for opposing offenses they will face, which also must be accounted for when making start or sit decisions.

As a reminder, each week this fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups column will identify starting pitchers expected to make two starts in the upcoming fantasy baseball week, ahead of the Sunday night waiver wire runs for leagues with weekly transactions. This list will be limited to players under 50% rostered in Yahoo! and divided into three sections based on recommendation levels: solid bets, risky picks, and must-avoids.

Be sure to check all of our preseason fantasy baseball rankings for Roto, Points, H2H, dynasty, best ball, prospects and more:

 

Solid Two-Start Pitcher Streamers

Michael Wacha, Boston Red Sox - 33% rostered

Scheduled starts: vs CWS, @TEX

Like George Jefferson in the 70s, Wacha is movin' on up on the east side (the AL East, specifically). Wacha was rock solid in both outings, allowing a total of one run while earning two wins over the Blue Jays and Angels. A 19% K% is underwhelming but also expected since it falls in line with his 20.6% career mark.

Wacha is on his fourth team in the past four seasons but has taken kindly to Boston thus far. At some point, his shiny ratios will take a hit. It won't come against the Rangers, though. With all the injuries the White Sox are still dealing with (Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, and now Andrew Vaughn on IL), that matchup shouldn't deter you from streaming Wacha.

Jameson Taillon, New York Yankees - 32% rostered

Scheduled starts: vs TOR, @CHW

Taillon draws two "start" designations from our weekly SP start/sit algorithm. He's walked all of two batters across his first 25 innings this season. He's decided to force batters to beat him, throwing a first-pitch strike 67.6% of the time. Toronto presents a tough challenge but he's already faced them twice this year. He allowed two runs on five hits over five frames in his first start of the year and just faced them days ago with even better results, allowing one run and five hits over six innings. Taillon is among the safest streamers you'll find and this week is no different.

Bruce Zimmermann, Baltimore Orioles - 19% rostered

Scheduled starts: vs KC, @DET

Those who paid attention to last week's streamer suggestions should have added Zimmermann already. Whether it's some sort of personal revelation leading to a breakout or the new pitcher-friendly dimensions of Camden Yards, this 27-year-old lefty has been solid throughout all five of his starts in 2022. His worst outing came against the Yankees when he allowed three ER and seven hits in 4.1 innings. He's yielded a total of four ER and 16 hits in his other four starts combined. Unlike many waiver wire starting options, he's actually striking out a batter per innings as well.

There are many peripherals pointing to negative regression soon, such as a .290 xBA, 4.62 xERA, and average exit velocity in the 5th percentile. Zimmermann has improved mainly because he throws his fastball less frequently, but when he does throw is (32.6% of the time) it is still getting pounded. He'll be a sell-while-you-can candidate soon, but not this week. He faces the bottom two offenses in terms of run-scoring this season in Kansas City and Detroit, so the good times should keep rolling just a little longer.

Michael Pineda, Detroit Tigers - 9% rostered

Scheduled starts: vs OAK, vs BAL

The return of Pineda has been written about in previous streamer columns and waiver wire pieces, so let's cut to the chase. He won't strike out hitters like he used to so the best hope is that he limits damage to inferior opponents. That's exactly what he should do this week.

Oakland has only crossed the plate 20 times as a team over the past week and have been shutout three times in the past 10 games. Baltimore is, well, Baltimore. They're bottom-five in runs scored and bottom-10 in average and slugging on the season. Based solely on the schedule, I'd recommend Pineda if the above options (Wacha, Zimmermann) aren't available.

Jose Quintana, Pittsburgh Pirates - 3% rostered

Scheduled starts: vs LAD, vs CIN

Much like Pineda, there's no denying that Quintana has lost some zip on his fastball. To compensate, he's more than doubled his changeup usage since joining the Pirates and it's working! Opponents are batting .179 on his changeup and .167 on his curveball.

The Dodgers seem like a skippable matchup but they are only hitting .226 vs lefties this year and .243 against the change/curveball combo. Cincinnati was already bad enough but now Joey Votto and Nick Senzel are on the COVID list, joining Jonathan India as IL members. If he can get by with a near-quality start early in the week, he could reward streamers with a strong second start.

 

Risky Two-Start Pitcher Streamer Picks

Brad Keller, Kansas City Royals - 31% rostered

Scheduled starts: @TEX, @COL

Here's that regression you ordered, Mr. Keller. The hefty righty has overachieved to a large extent this season. Keller has a .168 BAA due to a .186 BABIP and 81.6% strand rate that is almost nine points above his career norm. It's not because he's seen a spike in strikeouts either - he has just 19 K in 31 IP, which about right.

The only thing keeping Keller out of the bottom section is the fact that the Rangers haven't figured things out yet in terms of hitting. A road trip to Colorado is a good time to keep Keller benched but there's always the chance he keeps his luck up.

Austin Gomber, Colorado Rockies - 9% rostered

Scheduled starts: @SF, vs KC

The Colorado offense in 2022 has been a pleasant surprise, ranking fifth in runs scored. The pitching has done its best to offset that by ranking fifth-worst in team ERA. Gomber has been one of the few bright spots, posting a solid 3.58 ERA backed by a 3.47 SIERA over five starts. He hasn't stood out like Chad Kuhl but is striking out more batters.

He's a fairly average pitcher with two fairly average matchups in the coming week. You could do better but he should be able to get you by in deeper leagues if needed. That fear of getting Gombered might never go away, though.

Elieser Hernandez, Miami Marlins - 7% rostered

Scheduled starts: @ARI, vs MIL

Without a good showing this week, Hernandez could be on his way to the bullpen while the team calls up Edward Cabrera. The young flamethrower is knocking on the door at Triple-A, so keep an eye out if Hernandez struggles. He missed much of last season due to a quad strain and hasn't looked good ever since his return. That includes five lackluster starts this year in which he's given up seven home runs.

Traveling to Arizona might bring a sigh of relief, as Chase Field has the third-lowest HR Park Factor in 2022 and fifth-lowest run factor. Then there's a trip to Milwaukee, which is not only the hottest-hitting club at the moment, but boasts the highest HR factor by far at 3.6 for the young season. Hernandez should be trustworthy enough for his first bout with the D-Backs but should be benched later in the week unless absolutely needed for a few Ks or the hope for a W.

Kyle Bradish, Baltimore Orioles - 2% rostered

Scheduled starts: @STL, @DET

Casting aside any disappointment that it wasn't Grayson Rodriguez getting the call to join the O's rotation, let's focus on Bradish after two MLB appearances.

Start #1 vs. Boston - 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 2 K
Start #2 vs. Minnesota - 4 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K

It's not uncommon to see a rookie hurler give uneven performances, so it's a gamble from here on out. Bradish definitely has strikeout stuff and he comes into the majors more polished than many rookies at the age of 25 after having played college ball at New Mexico State from 2016-2018.

As mentioned above with Bruce Zimmermann, the Detroit matchup is a streamer's dream. A road test in St. Louis presents more risk although they have the third-lowest team average over the past seven days and have yet to really get things going. Bradish should be fine for most H2H leagues this week but the jury is still out on his long-term value.

Humberto Castellanos, Arizona Diamondbacks- 0% rostered

Scheduled starts: vs MIA, vs CHC

If you look at his most recent start, Castellanos held the Marlins scoreless over five and 2/3 innings pitched. Even better, he gets to face them again on Monday before taking on the Cubs later in the week. If you look before that last outing, you'll see a very unappealing fantasy player who registered an 8-6 K-BB rate across all of April. He only amassed 14 innings because he joined the rotation late but the strikeout stuff has never really been there.

The one thing Castellanos does well is to limit hard contact. His .281 xwoBACON is among the best in the league and he is yet to give up a barrel. There is a hard cap on his upside but two favorable matchups make him viable since he's also unlikely to get rocked.

 

Stay Away from these Two-Start Pitchers

Zach Plesac, Cleveland Guardians - 48% rostered

Scheduled starts: @CWS, @MIN 

Plesac has "earned" his way onto this list because he's been dropped in many leagues recently to get below the 50% rostered mark. He did so by being absolutely terrible the last two outings. That has led to this:

Plesac was looking good in his first three starts, allowing a total of three runs to score. But there were problems under the hood that aren't being resolved, namely a high hard-hit rate and low whiff rate. It's hard to believe Plesac held a 27.7% K% two seasons ago; not only did that number decline significantly last year, it has somehow dropped further to half of that! He is striking out 13.9% of batters faced, so without immaculate ratios, he deserves no consideration.

Whether he is simply going through a bad spell or has an undiagnosed injury, Plesac should be avoided for the time being.

Dylan Bundy, Minnesota Twins - 42% rostered

Scheduled starts: vs HOU, vs CLE

Bundy was scheduled to make two starts this coming week but was placed on the COVID-IL on Friday. There is a good chance he misses his first outing and doesn't squeeze in two starts after all.

Taylor Hearn, Texas Rangers - 1% rostered

Scheduled starts: vs KC, vs BOS

It was a nice first outing for Hearn but it's been all downhill since. Hearn is among the lowest-ranking pitchers in xwOBA, exit velocity, barrel rate, xERA, and more. He's got a plus fastball but no other pitch is really working for him. That has led to a lot of hard-hit liners turning into base hits. The schedule is incidental here - Hearn has a lot to figure out before he can be remotely trusted.

Vladimir Gutierrez, Cincinnati Reds - 2% rostered

Scheduled starts: vs MIL, @PIT 

Let's see, a pitcher with some of the worst stats around facing the hottest offense in the majors... I'll have to pass.

You were warned strongly to avoid Gutierrez last week, so hopefully you listened. He coughed up seven earned runs to the Brew Crew and now faces them again. Hard as it is to say, he can't even be trusted against Pittsburgh. Gutierrez and his 8.86 ERA, 2.02 WHIP may not be in the rotation much longer.

Patrick Corbin, Washington Nationals - 9% rostered

Scheduled starts: vs NYM, vs HOU

It's safe to say the wheels have completely come off by now. When you earn a score of 10 for both starts in Jon Anderson's SP Start/Sit guide, you know it's time to hang it up.

Corbin has been abysmal, pitching to a 7.16 ERA and 1.81 WHIP. His earned run average must have taken a swig of Fizzy Lifting Drink back in 2018 because it continues to rise each year with no end in sight. He will continue to fall under the label "do not stream even if desperate."

Bryse Wilson, Pittsburgh Pirates - 0% rostered

Scheduled starts: vs LAD, vs CIN

On the positive side, Wilson hasn't allowed an earned run in each of his last two appearances. On the downside, he hasn't pitched more than 4.1 IP in an appearance this year. He's been used as a follower in his last two outings, so it's hard to even qualify him as a starter. With the Pirates' recent game cancellation, they may need him to fill in at the top again but fantasy managers shouldn't pay him much mind.



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