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Two-Start Pitcher Streamers: Week 5

Well after back-to-back weeks with not a lot of great two-start streaming options, we finally have some good starters to choose from in Week 5.

Before we get there, we'll recap the previous two weeks as always. It's a close call for who was the best pickup in Week 3, but if you started Matthew Boyd (1-0, 1.93 ERA, 9 K) or Kyle Gibson (1-0, 0.60 ERA, 9 K) you made the right call from that list. Now as for Week 4's choices, Kohei Arihara looks to be the frontrunner after tossing 5 2/3 scoreless innings with six strikeouts to earn the win over the Angels.

Now looking forward to this week we've got some more solid options available on the waiver wire, as we'll be taking a look at some rookies and some current and former Cardinals starters, and three of those pitchers currently boast strikeout rates over 25%. So let's take a look at who you should target in Week 5.

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Week 5 Streamers — Under 50% Rostered

Trevor Rogers, MIA - 54% rostered

Probable Opponents: @ MIL, @ WSN

Rogers has established himself as the top rookie pitcher early on in the year, so even though he surpasses the 50 percent rostered threshold we should absolutely be looking at him this week. His 35.6 percent strikeout rate and 1.64 ERA both rank 12th among qualified pitchers, and he is coming off his best start of the year in which he struck out eight batters while throwing seven scoreless innings to earn the win against the Orioles. He has been a top-tier strikeout pitcher through his first four starts, averaging almost eight strikeouts per appearance while posting a 39 percent whiff rate, which currently ranks him in the 95th percentile. And the best part is most of his early season success appears to be legitimate according to his expected rates, as he sports a 2.40 xERA (85th percentile), .181 xBA (86th percentile) and .275 xSLG (89th percentile).

So we just got done talking about how good his strikeout numbers have been, and now he'll open Week 5 against the Milwaukee Brewers and their MLB-worst 29 percent strikeout rate. To give some perspective of what kind of performance he could put up against Milwaukee, Rogers had 10 strikeouts against the Mets earlier this year — the same Mets team that has the third-lowest strikeout rate at 21.9 percent. Now anything can happen in baseball, so it's not a guarantee that he'll do better against Milwaukee than he did against New York, but I'm going to predict he sets a new career-high with 14+ strikeouts against the Brewers.

So after the Brewers he'll face off against the Nationals, who currently own the fifth-lowest strikeout rate in the majors at 22.2 percent. This will be Rogers' first career appearance against his division rivals, and it could be a tougher matchup for the rookie. Not only do the Nationals have the fifth-highest batting average in the majors (.253), they have been feasting on left-handed pitching this year as well as they are slashing .294/.353/.444 against southpaws. It'll be a tough start, but Rogers has shown plenty this year that suggests he should be able to keep Washington in check.

There really isn't much more to say about Rogers — he's clearly the best pitcher to chose this week, and managers should seriously consider keeping him on their roster beyond Week 5.

Adam Wainwright, STL - 26% rostered

Probable Opponents: vs PHI, @ PIT

The third-oldest pitcher in the majors, Wainwright keeps on chugging along at age 39. What's really been impressive to me is the fact that he is striking out batters at the best rate of his career to start the year. He boasts a a 26.7 percent strikeout rate currently — 3.3 percent higher than his career-high and 6.3 percent higher than his career average — and he is coming off a 10-strikeout performance against the Nationals. His 28.6 percent whiff rate is the highest mark of his career in the Statcast era, and that is largely helped by the fact that he is getting batters to chase at a career high 31.3 percent rate, and batters are struggling to make contact as his 56.5 percent chase-contact rate is the second-lowest mark of his career.

He'll be facing off against a pair of low-scoring teams in Week 5, as both the Phillies and Pirates are averaging 3.89 runs per game and are tied with the Rangers for the eighth-lowest scoring offense in the majors. Given Wainwright's increased strikeout rate this year, the Phillies should be a particularly nice matchup for him as their 27.3 percent strikeout rate is tied for sixth-highest in the MLB. That being said, the Pirates also have an elevated strikeout rate early on at 25 percent. Another factor to take into account with Wainwright is that he has pitched slightly better at home (2.87 ERA, 1.164 WHIP, 20.9 K%) than on the road (3.99 ERA, 1.299 WHIP, 19.8 K%) throughout his career. So it's likely that his start against Philadelphia should end up being the better outing of the two, although I anticipate he'll be putting up nearly identical numbers in both starts.

Wainwright has gotten off to a hot start this year, but it's hard to say if he'll be able to keep up this level of performance throughout the course of a full season. He's definitely the second-best pitcher on this week's list, and if Rogers is already rostered in your league then you should look to grab Wainwright for Week 5.

 

Week 5 Streamers — Under 25% Rostered

Taylor Widener, ARI - 13% rostered

Probable Opponents: vs SDP, vs COL

I just wrote about Widener earlier this week as a hot prospect to watch, and just in the few days since writing about him he's seen his rostered percentage increase from nine percent to 13 percent. He hasn't been striking out a lot of guys early on (15.7 K%) but that hasn't stopped him from getting results. He's recorded two quality starts this month, and on Thursday he struck out a season-high seven batters while allowing four runs over 5 1/3 innings against the Reds.

In Week 5 he'll get a rematch against the Padres and he'll make his first career start against the Rockies. Widener blanked the Padres for six innings while striking out five in his first start this year, and in 3 1/3 innings of relief against Colorado in 2020, he posted a 2.70 ERA with three strikeouts. He'll also get a boost against the Rockies thanks to their struggles against right-handed pitching early on this year, as they are slashing .209/.262/.385 with a 25.9 percent strikeout rate against righties. He should be able to keep the ERA down this week, and could have a solid performance in strikeouts against San Diego and Colorado.

Carlos Martinez, STL - 10% rostered

Probable Opponents: vs PHI, @ PIT

Martinez is probably the riskiest play this week and doesn't have quite as much upside as Michael Wacha will, but I think we could see him bounce back from his early struggles and provide decent numbers as a two-start streamer. He'll have the same benefits as Wainwright does going up against the Phillies and Pirates, and he'll also get a slight boost as he has pitched well against the Pirates throughout his career with a 3.59 ERA and 20.8 percent strikeout rate in 32 starts.

And like Wainwright, Martinez has pitched better at home (3.49 ERA, 1.289 WHIP, 22.8 K%) than on the road (3.65 ERA, 1.297 WHIP, 23.3 K%). He recorded his best start since 2018 in his latest outing, allowing just one run on four hits and one walk while striking out three in six innings against the Nationals. I don't expect him to put up monster numbers in Week 5, but I think he'll be better than many people are expecting.

Michael Wacha, TBR - 8% rostered

Probable Opponents: vs OAK, vs HOU

And last but not least is a guy that I was high on this spring but has proven to be inconsistent to start the year. His strikeout numbers have been good so far, with his current 25.3 percent strikeout rate being his best mark since his debut season in 2013. His 25.9 percent whiff rate this year is his highest mark in the Statcast Era and ranks in the 60th percentile in the Majors. He's just been inconsistent early on, having allowed eight runs — seven earned — over his first two starts, and then watching his strikeout totals from his four games this year go from six to five to nine to just one in his last start against the Royals.

In Week 5, he'll face off against a pair of AL West teams, including an Astros squad that owns an 18.7 percent strikeout rate and is the only team in the Majors with a sub-20 percent strikeout rate. That being said, Houston has hit significantly worse this year against right-handed pitching (.217/.283/.366, 20 K%) than against lefties (.292/.360/.455, 16.3 K%). Oakland has also had similar struggles against right-handers, slashing .215/.317/.383 with a 25.4 percent strikeout rate. Out of the three guys in the under-25 percent rostered category, I think Wacha will have the highest ceiling in Week 5 just based on his strikeout potential, but I also have him pegged as having the lowest floor. If you're looking for strikeouts and strikeouts alone, Wacha is the guy to look for if Rogers and Wainwright are already gone.



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