Field of Streams: 2016 Primer

Field of Streams logoWelcome back folks! As you all assuredly know, the 2016 MLB season is right around the corner, and that, of course means the return of the critically acclaimed (if you consider my mom a critic…I know I sure do) Field of Streams, here at Fantasy Assembly. I’ll pause while you settle down. Done? Good. Let’s get on with the show, as it were.

There are no regular season games yet, and even in the first few days streaming should be pretty light. So what is a stream aficionado like moi, supposed to do? I am going to provide you, my loyal and beloved readers, some early season streamers with the potential to end the season heavily rostered! Control yourselves, folks, I know this is exciting, and you’re welcome. Anyways, enough of this jabber-jawing; let’s get to the main course…

Rich Hill (5.7% owned in ESPN, 8% owned in Yahoo!)

I covered Hill several weeks ago in my Believe it or Not article, and my opinion has not changed since.  You can read that in your spare time while I chug on down the rest of the list.

Anthony DeSclafani: Reds (27.8% owned in ESPN, 40% owned in Yahoo!)

Maybe not as bold as it could be since that Yahoo! ownership number is closing in on 50%. Nevertheless, he currently qualifies as a streamer which is good enough for me. I take a pretty lax approach when drafting closers (just stay with me, it’ll come together…sort of) and take the approach that anyone who is currently getting the save opportunities has at least some value, no matter the talent level of the team.

In that vein, Tony D is projected at the top of the Reds rotation entering the season. Now as sad as that may seem, that at least provides some immediate value. Sure DeSclafani posted an ERA over four last season, but the 3.67 FIP shows some promise, and Tony D actually finished his 2015 campaign on something of a sneakily high note. His ERA was not ace-like by any means, but he was striking out a little over a batter an inning, walking less than two batters per nine, and had a ridiculously high BABIP, so that ERA is probably due to some bad luck. Also during the final month of the season we saw Anthony with a 2.27 FIP, which is not too shabby.

DeSclafani changed how he mixed his pitches and induces a good number of grounders, which in turn added to those nice K and BB rates. If those changes continue, DeSclafani may not be an available streamer for too long.

Nate Karns: Mariners (14.2% owned in ESPN, 9% owned in Yahoo!)

This one may be a bit bolder than the aforementioned Anthony DeSclafani, since Karns is not atop of a rotation. Fact of the matter is, Karns projects at the bottom of his team’s rotation, so predicting him being owned in more than half of the fantasy leagues out there by season’s end, is a bit bold.

Okay, so what is causing me to thrust forth such bold statements? First off, yes I said “thrust forth” and secondly, the strikeouts. Karns struck out almost a batter an inning in 2015. That’s good – darned good (Karned good? No?), for a starter. Now while I do love me some strikeouts, I have come to terms with the fact they are not the end all be all of pitching…I guess.

There are other things, like an above average ground ball rate, and according to Eno Sarris over at Fangraphs:

“He added almost two inches of drop, ostensibly just from getting comfortable with it and throwing it more often. That’s a meaningful thing for the right-hander, since he’s always had a great rising fastball and power curve as his strengths.” 

Control and health have been issues for Karns, but if he reels those in, I think Karns could be a pleasant surprise this season and will find himself fairly widely owned by season’s end.

Matt Moore: Rays (25.9% owned in ESPN, 48% owned in Yahoo!)

Annnnddd, back to the not so bold predictions. To be honest, I am a  little surprised at the 48%, since the immediate return from Tommy John surgery last season did not go so well. Moore posted an ERA of over five in his return last season. Motion and arm slots were changed which could be part of the reason his change-up was not as effective. I know, I know, where are the reasons to expect fantasy goodness from Double-M in 2016.

Well,  the velocity is back, and I like (hope?) the K/9 to sneak up towards 8.0 in 2016. Moore also finished 2015 strongly with four consecutive quality starts, allowing just four earned runs, 20 hits and seven walks over those last 26.2 innings. Moore also struck out 23 in that time frame, so the strikeouts could be decent enough in 2016.

Building on that, and as much as I don’t like to look at Spring numbers, Moore has looked sharp in March, from those who have seen him in action. The changeup and control are questions marks, for sure, but right now it looks like Moore is building his way back to fantasy relevance, and I for one am buying in.

*****

Well, that’s all I have for you this week (I gotta leave you wanting more, right?), but I’ll have a few more streamers to discuss next week. Hey, before you know it, we’ll be up and streaming pitchers in real game action where the statistics count again! Huzzah!

 

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