Week Six Stream Team

Since last week’s Stream Team article, three pitchers with a Matchup Score of 7.5 or higher have taken the mound, and their performances were exemplary.

On Sunday, Dillon Gee (7.75 MS) shutout the Marlins over eight innings with a sub 1.00 WHIP and six strikeouts. On Tuesday, a solo homerun was the only damage against Jonathan Niese (7.5 MS) when he allowed only four hits and one walk while striking out five versus the Phillies. Then, on Wednesday, Nate Eovaldi (8.0 MS) baffled the Braves over seven innings allowing just three hits and a walk in a one run performance. For those of you counting at home, that’s three wins with 16 strikeouts, a 0.82 ERA, and a 0.73 WHIP over 22 innings.

Of course, with streaming it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. If you rolled with Wade Miley (7.0 MS) on Monday versus the Phillies and Jennry Mejia (7.25 MS) on Saturday versus the Marlins, you’d have zero wins, an era of 10.03 and a WHIP of 1.71 over 11.2 ugly innings.

Baseball, as we all know, is a fickle sport.  While writing this column, Adam Wainwright was getting smacked around by the Cubs. Sometimes things just don’t go the way they should, and if you are going to stream pitchers, you’re going to have to take the bad with the good.  The good news is that if you continually play the best matchups, the numbers will eventually work out in your favor.  The even better news is that while streaming effectively can be hard work, this column seeks to make it as easy as possible for you. Every Saturday, in this column, you can find the best streaming matchups available for the upcoming week.  If you’re looking for 2 start pitchers for week 6, click here.

 

WHAT IS A MATCHUP SCORE?

Before getting into my week six recommendations, its worth revisiting what I call Matchup Scores.  My system for evaluating pitchers takes into account a number of important factors, including:

  • The overall quality of the pitcher
  • The effect of the park (with extra weight for how the park treats opposite handed hitters)
  • The opposing team’s handedness splits for wOBA and K% (using active roster data since 2013 as well as team performance in the past 30 days)
  • The likelihood the pitcher earns a win

I then take all of these factors and use a formula that converts each pitcher’s matchup into a single score, which I not-so-creatively call Matchup Score, or MS. The higher a pitcher’s Matchup Score, the better I project that pitcher will perform.

A perfect Matchup Score would be close to 12 (think Clayton Kershaw versus the Marlins), however, anything above 7.5 is considered a very strong streaming opportunity. At the other end of the spectrum, scores of 5.5 and lower carry significant amounts of risk and are best avoided.

The following chart captures how pitchers with different Matchup Scores have fared since I began this column in week four.   

Grouping Starts Wins Winning% IP/Start K/9 ERA WHIP

All recommended pitchers

31 11 35 6.1 7.0 4.15 1.21
7.5+ MS 3 3 100 7.3 6.5 0.82 0.73
6.5+ MS 10 6 60 6.8 7.0 2.91 1.01
6.5 – 7.49 MS 7 3 43 6.6 7.2 3.91 1.15
5.5 – 6.49 MS 21 5 24 5.8 6.9 4.84 1.32

 

 WEEK 6 STREAM TEAM

*To qualify for the Stream Team or as a streaming candidate, pitchers must have an average ownership below 40% in ESPN and Yahoo! Leagues.  Although I occasionally recommend pitchers whose ownership is slightly above this limit, I do not factor these pitchers into my streaming data.

On paper, week six should be a tremendous week for streaming.  The highest Matchup Score prior to this week was Nate Eovaldi’s 8.0 versus Atlanta last week.  There are four pitchers this week who have Matchup Scores of 8.0 or higher.  This week’s Stream Team is again led by the Marlin’s Nate Eovaldi, who has not one, but two Matchup Scores of 8.8.  The Mets also have a heavy role amongst this week’s streaming matchups as Metropolitan pitchers are the best recommended targets on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday.  This week’s Stream Team is as follows:

Monday – Nate Eovaldi vs Mets (8.8 MS, Yahoo! 36%, ESPN 33%)

Tuesday – Bartolo Colon at Marlins (7.6 MS, Yahoo! 38%, ESPN 42%)

Wednesday – Travis Wood at White Sox (7.2 MS, Yahoo! 50%, ESPN 14%)

Thursday – Drew Smyly vs Astros (7.3 MS, Yahoo! 27%, ESPN 53%)

Friday – Jenrry Mejia vs Phillies (6.9 MS, Yahoo! 27%, ESPN 24%)

Saturday – Nate Eovaldi at Padres (8.8 MS, Yahoo! 36%, ESPN 33%)

Sunday – Jonathan Niese vs Phillies (7.9 MS, Yahoo! 16%, ESPN 12%)

 

 

WEEK 6 INDEPTH STREAMER ANALYSIS

Monday’s Options

Nate Eovaldi vs Mets (8.8 MS, Yahoo! 36%, ESPN 32.5%) Eovaldi’s 8.8 MS versus the Mets on Monday and the Padres on Saturday are the two highest Matchup Scores earned since I started this column two weeks ago, and it’s easy to see why. Eovaldi now sports a 35/5 strikeout to walk ratio and has been unhittable for the first month of the season. The Mets, on the other hand, carry a pathetic .277 wOBA and 23.4 K% versus right-handers this season. As I wrote last week and as my colleague Tommy Landseadel wrote two weeks ago, Eovaldi should be owned in all leagues at this point.

Jonathan Niese at Marlins (8.1 MS, Yahoo! 16%, ESPN 12%) Although Niese’s 8.1 Matchup Score is only good for the second best score on Monday night, it would have been the best score overall the last two weeks. While Niese isn’t a tremendous strikeout pitcher, he does exhibit fantastic control and can always be counted on for a handful of strikeouts. Look for him to dominate Miami’s lineup in what should be a terrific stream starter pitchers’ duel at Marlins Park Monday night.

Other options on Mondayinclude Zach McAllister (6.4 MS, Yahoo! 20%, ESPN 15%) at home against the Twins and Jose Quintana (6.0 MS, Yahoo! 35%, ESPN 7%).   The Twins’ .350 wOBA versus right-handed pitchers this season doesn’t bode well for McAllister, and the Cubs have a surprising .335 wOBA versus southpaws. With the number of very good options available this week, I won’t be streaming McAllister or Quintana, but they are formidable options in deeper formats.

 

Tuesday’s Options

Bartolo Colon at Marlins (7.2 MS, Yahoo! 38%, ESPN 42%) While a rough outing in Colorado ballooned Colon’s ERA to a miserable 5.60, he still maintains a 29/4 strikeout to walk ratio over 36.2 innings. While I like this matchup, there are some concerns hiding in the data. First, the Marlins’ bats have performed far better this season than last (.333 wOBA vs RHP in 2014, up from .279 last season). Second, the Marlins have been terrific at home (.364 wOBA and an 18.9 K% rate, compared to .281 wOBA and a 29.3 K% on the road).

Other options on Tuesday include Henderson Alvarez (6.7 MS, Yahoo! 9%, ESPN 6%), who will face Bartolo Coon and the Mets Tuesday night. Drew Hutchison (6.6 MS, Yahoo! 19%, ESPN 8%) has racked up 38 strikeouts in 33 innings of quality work and faces a Phillies team that is striking out 22% of the time versus right-handers. While Charlie Morton (6.1 MS, Yahoo! 7%, ESPN 1%) struggles mightily against left-handed bats (.383 wOBA since 2011), the Giants don’t have any elite left-handed hitters for him to deal with (Brandon Belt, a switch-hitting Angel Pagan, and a slumping switch-hitting Pablo Sandoval are the worst he’ll have to deal with). One final option is lefty Robbie Ray (6.1 MS, Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%) making his first big league start versus the Astros. Ray maintained a 9.3 K/9 and a 3.26 BB/9 across 58 innings of AA ball last season. He’s only pitched 28.1 innings at the AAA level, all this season, where he’s exhibited terrific control though his K/9 has plummeted. Anyone worth the Astros is worth a flyer, and Ray is no different.

 

Wednesday’s Options

Travis Wood at White Sox (7.2 MS, Yahoo! 50%, ESPN 14%) While the White Sox have looked like a big league club versus righties, they’re still struggling versus left-handed pitching (21.2 K%, .313 wOBA). Further, U.S. Cellular Field isn’t as friendly to right-handed bats as it is to left-handed hitters (.92 Park Factor compared to 1.01, according to Rotogrinders.com). For his part, Wood has been strong, posting a 31/7 strikeout-to-walk ratio, 3.52 ERA, and 1.34 WHIP this season.

Other options on Wednesday include Dan Straily (8.3 MS, Yahoo! 33%, ESPN 68%) and Rick Porcello (7.9 MS, Yahoo! 40%, ESPN 67%). Although neither Straily nor Porcello have ownerships low enough to qualify for the Stream Team, their availability is worth checking. If neither is available, you can continue picking on the Mets by going with Tom Koehler (6.7 MS, Yahoo! 8%, ESPN 3%). Koehler doesn’t get many strikeouts, but the Mets will do their best to help him out in that department. John Danks (6.1 MS, Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 1%) matchup with the Cubs isn’t terrible, but as stated earlier, the Cubs are hitting lefties well this season (.335 wOBA).

 

Thursday’s Options

Drew Smyly vs Astros (7.3 MS, Yahoo! 27%, ESPN 53%) While the daily fantasy community loves to throw out the fact that the Astros are better against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching, we can’t forget that they are still atrocious versus southpaws (22.3 K%, .285 wOBA this season;24.2 K%, .303 wOBA since 2013). Smyly can rack up strike outs and has good command. He’s an obvious start if he’s available in your league.

Other options on Thursday include Ian Kennedy (7.6 MS, Yahoo! 62%, ESPN 34%). Like Porcello and Straily, Kennedy no longer qualifies as a stream start candidate as his ownership is on the rise (as it rightly should be), but his matchup at home against the Marlins is a good one. If he’s available in your league, he should be your top option on Thursday. Josh Beckett (6.5 MS, Yahoo! 27%, ESPN 38%) faces a Giants team that has been horrible this season against right-handed pitching (24.1 K%, .304 wOBA). Jacob Turner (6.0 MS, Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%) may have missed the chance to face the Mets earlier in the week, but the Padres at PETCO Park is certainly a nice consolation prize. Turner struggled in his lone start of the season, but the Padres .263 wOBA versus RHP should allow him to straighten things out.

 

Friday’s Options

Jenrry Mejia vs Phillies (6.9 MS, Yahoo! 37%, ESPN 60%) While Mejia will make a Friday start for the Stream Team, he makes me as nervous as any other pitcher I’ve recommended. Mejia has a 4.8 BB/9 over 28.1 innings this season, and you simply can’t trust a pitcher who is walking almost five batters per game. That said, Mejia’s swinging strike percentage and strikeout rates remain at elite levels, and a matchup with a swing and miss Phillies team that strikes out 22% of the time versus right-handed pitching could lead to a dominant stat line. In H2H leagues where you are close in ratios, I’d avoid Mejia, but everywhere else, the upside outweighs the risk.

Other options to consider on Friday include Jason Vargas (7.6 MS, Yahoo!37%, ESPN 60%). Vargas is another pitcher who doesn’t qualify for the Stream Team based on his ownership numbers, but if he’s available in your league he has a great matchup versus his former team in Seattle. Wei-Yin Chen (6.5 MS, Yahoo! 5%, ESPN 1%) is worth the risk at home versus the Astros. Corey Kluber (6.2 MS, Yahoo! 53%, ESPN 13%) will face the Rays at Tropicana Field. This is a fairly neutral matchup for Kluber and is worth a shot if you need an arm late in the week. While I expect the upstart Colin McHugh (5.1 MS, Yahoo! 28%, ESPN 36%), to be heavily started thanks to his magical performance over his first two starts (0.59 ERA, 0.52 WHIP, 19/3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 15.1 innings), I don’t recommend streaming him, as he carries a low Matchup Score of 5.1 into hitter friendly Camden Yards.

 

Saturday’s Options

Nate Eovaldi at Padres (8.8 MS, Yahoo! 36%, ESPN 33%) I suppose I can just go ahead and admit my mancrush on Eovaldi at this point. I’ve been streaming this kid since the first week of the season, and he’s been magical thus far. But before you go all-in on Eovaldi, it’s worth reminding you that by the end of week six, Eovaldi will have faced the Braves and Padres twice, and the Mets, Mariners, Phillies, and Rockies (in Miami) once. This isn’t exactly hitters’ row that he’s been dominating. At the same time, Eovaldi does pitch in the N.L. East, so he should have plenty of great matchups this season. If the Marlins’ scheduled starts hold steady over the next two weeks, Eovaldi is in line to face the Giants, Phillies, and Nationals in his next three starts. What’s not to love?

Dillon Gee vs Phillies (8.4 MS, Yahoo! 35%, ESPN 40%) Streaming Gee versus the Phillies is an obvious move. What’s not so obvious is why the fantasy community flocks to pitchers like Aaron Harang and Mark Buehrle while ignoring pitchers like Dillon Gee and Jonathan Niese. Is Gee a guarantee to maintain the 2.88 and 1.01 WHIP he’s managed to this point in the season? Of course not. But the 2.74 ERA and 1.08 WHIP he managed in the second half last season suggest it’s possible. He certainly has more upside than Aaron Harang   Add Gee for this start and keep him on your roster until you see how his season continues to unfold.

Other option on Friday night include Kyle Kendrick (6.9 MS, Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 1%), whodraws a favorable matchup with the Mets. Miguel Gonzalez (6.8 MS, Yahoo! 5%, ESPN 1%), who faces the Astros should also be considered. I didn’t expect to play Tyler Skaggs (6.4 MS, Yahoo! 26%, ESPN 20%) versus the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, but the Jays struggle versus left-handed pitchers (.297 wOBA since 2013, .314 wOBA and 21.5 K% in 2014) and Skaggs induces enough groundballs to potentially neutralize the Rogers Centre’s park effect. His Matchup Score of 6.4 isn’t terrific, but it’s better than I would have expected. Wade Miley (6.3 MS, Yahoo! 21%, ESPN 16%) and Jose Quintana (6.2 MS, Yahoo! 35%, ESPN 7%) will square off at U.S. Cellular Field Saturday. This isn’t a terrific matchup for either pitcher, but both could help if you are in a bind in a weekly league.

 

Sunday’s Options

Jonathan Niese vs Phillies (7.9 MS, Yahoo! 16%, ESPN 12%) Niese rounds off a heavy dose of Mets streaming targets in week six, as he’s the sixth recommended pitcher in seven days (Zack Wheeler would have been a recommendation on Wednesday, but his ownership is too high to qualify). While I like this matchup, it’s worth noting that the Phillies have been mashing left-handed pitching this season (.351 wOBA). Of course, it’s also worth noting that Niese dominated the Phillies on April 29.

Other options on Sunday include Jeremy Guthrie (6.4 MS, Yahoo! 6%, ESPN 4%), whowill face a Mariners team that has an enormous 25.3 K% and a miniscule .285 wOBA versus right-handed pitching this season. Henderson Alvarez (MS 6.2, Yahoo 9%, ESPN 6%) is a potential two start streamer this weekend with a second start scheduled at PETCO Park. Alvarez’ opponent, Robbie Erlin (MS 5.6, Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 1%) has turned in arguably the worst start of any Stream Team recommendation so far this season, but he’s been serviceable overall and squeaks in above the 5.5 MS cut-off as a possible starter versus the Marlins Sunday.

 

4 thoughts on “Week Six Stream Team”

  1. Rob, when filtering the wOBA and K% splits against opponents, when should you rely just on this year (2014) stats and not include last year (2013) stats?

    1. That’s a tough question J, so you’re going to get a longer response than you probably bargained for.

      I don’t know the exact point of stabilization for wOBA, but I’d expect it to be around 400 plate appearances based on the stabilization points for slugging, OBP, and AVG. Simply comparing 2014 and 2013 wOBA team stats tells you that this year’s data isn’t close to stabilizing, as the variance in the 2014 stats is crazy.

      I begin factoring this year’s wOBA stats into my Matchup Scores because I think it makes sense to avoid team’s that are hot and target teams that are slumping, and I think wOBA in the past 30 days is a good indicator of this. That said, I think you’ll want rely more heavily on data that includes 2013 stats until at least August or so. (In my formula for MS, I currently value the data since 2013 twice as much as I value the data from the past 30 days.)

      I mentioned in a previous article that Fangraphs’ team stats page now allows you to sort stats over several seasons based on a team’s active rosters. That means if you look at the Mariners’ wOBA stats since 2013, Robinson Cano’s stats are included from 2013 count for the Mariners even though he played for the Yankees at the time. I think its imperative that you use this active roster data when looking at team stats since 2013. Even still, there are some flaws in it. For example, we expect Cano’s wOBA to be lower playing half of his games at Safeco rather than Yankee stadium, so the Mariners wOBA active roster data since 2013 would be slightly inflated. This is a flaw, but it’s not a major problem.

      The data since 2013 does run into some major problems when elite hitters such as Chris Davis land on the DL, or when a rookie such as Jose Abreu is having a huge offensive impact on his team’s performance. In these cases, the 2013 data isn’t as useful. The Orioles wOBA without Chris Davis would obviously be much lower, and the White Sox data that fails to capture Abreu’s impact should be significantly higher. While Davis should return from his injury before we have a decent sample to work with, in cases such as that of the White Sox, it will make sense to start giving more credence to the 2014 data before we do the same for other teams.

      Hopefully that helps explain my thoughts on wOBA.

      Fortunately, K% is a little easier to deal with. An offensive player’s strikeout rate stabilizes around 60 plate appearances, so if you wanted to, you could probably shift over to 2014 data at this point. When calculating MS, I value the data since 2013 and the data over the past 30 days equally. The only factor I can think of that would really impact whether one is more predictive than the other would be the same dilemma I just discussed with regards to wOBA — injuries and prospects change things, so try to choose whichever data set best captures the current lineup of the team you are analyzing.

  2. Confused by your table. In your grouping column, did you mean for the bottom row to be <5.5? Otherwise, the 2 middle rows cover the same MS (6.5-7.49). Great predictive ability so far, it's similar to what I've been doing but more formalized. An article I'll be checking every week!

  3. Hey Jeff, I’m glad you’re enjoying the articles. As for your question, the middle two rows both cover pitchers with Matchup Scores from 6.5-7.49, but the 6.5+ row also includes pitchers who have Matchup Scores above 7.5. This is why the 6.5+ stats are better than the 6.5-7.49 stats.

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