Your Field of Streams ring leader, Will Emerson, is on hiatus, but neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night will keep….. wait, that’s the postal theme. Anyway, the point is your top streaming options will always be here for you; we’ll just make a call to the pen this week to spell our regular starter.
I think Will times his impromptu vacations around the success of his streamers, because last week he had a number of games that were – let’s just say less than desirable and leave it at that. Maybe you were lucky and missed last week’s edition. Here’s a look at how last week’s streaming options played out; just to throw a little salt on the wounds.
|What have you|
Yup, those are some ugly starts – sans two. Let’s hit the reset button and see if I can turn things around and start the week off right.
Ubaldo Jimenez (@ Rays) – A mixed bag safely describes the start of the season for Jimenez. His ERA (3.71) is in the stream zone, and an inflated BABIP confirms what the xFIP points out – his ERA should be a little lower. Of course it’s hard to ignore a BB/9 of 4.24, a 22.2 HR/FB ratio, and a 26.7% line drive rate. Combine that with his track record and a career WHIP that would make Yovani Gallardo jealous and there are reasons to be skeptical. On a positive note: Jimenez is striking batters out at a record pace this season (10.59 K/9), he has become very efficient at inducing ground balls the past two years, and despite a high HR/FB ratio his FB% is only 20%.
If you’re not sold on Jimenez, the Rays are ranked 28th in runs scored, 29th in OBP, and 27th in runs scored and RBIs. I’m not sure I would trust Jimenez against a stronger offensive team, but against the Rays – let’s just say you should get a minimum of a quality start.
18.4% owned in ESPN, 20% owned in Yahoo!
Ross Stripling (vs Marlins) – His underlying numbers are hard to decipher. Stripling has a 2.65 ERA, but an xFIP and SIERA of 3.80 and 4.20 respectively. A .229 BABIP screams luck and impending regression, and a 3.71 BB/9 doesn’t inspire confidence. On the other hand, Stripling does have a hard hit rate below league average (20.8), a 53.3% ground ball rate, and a FB% under 30. Add on a strand rate (66.7) that should come up and counter some of that BABIP gain and I can’t help but wonder if he’ll be the type of pitcher that outperforms his xFIP.
He handled the Giants nicely and put up respectable numbers against the Diamondbacks – the Marlins don’t compare to either of these teams offensively. While Miami is in the top 10 for batting average and OBP, they are second to last in home runs and 25th in runs scored and RBIs; they’re making a lot of noise with little follow through. Stripling should eventually regress, but I don’t see that happening until he starts his second trip through the league. Until then, start/stream him with confidence.
20.9% owned in ESPN, 26% owned in Yahoo!
Drew Pomeranz (@ Giants) – Who would have thought that Pomeranz would be the staff ace through the first month of the season? His strikeout rate saw an increase last season thanks in part to the addition of a knuckle curve, and his K/9 this season stands at 12.74. The strikeouts combined with a high GB% and super low LD% (10.5) has contributed to early success.
There are a few red flags though. First and foremost is a BB/9 of 4.58; a low H/9 is a good thing, but it is not low enough to counter walking a batter every other inning. Hopefully this comes down a point closer to his career average, which would still be high, but at least manageable. Next is a 42% fly ball rate. So far he has been lucky in giving up only one home run (6.3% HR/9), but a few untimely walks combined with an unlucky fly ball night could be a nightmare.
That’s what makes this stream interesting yet dangerous. The Giants are in the top 10 for walks, OBP and home runs, and they are next to last in strikeouts. Against lefties though they are only average in OBP and home runs, and they list at the other end of the spectrum in strikeouts, ranking as one of the worst teams. Since Pomeranz just shut down Pittsburgh and pitched well in Colorado, I’m gonna side with the pitcher here.
21.3% owned in ESPN, 41% owned in Yahoo!
Bartolo Colon (vs Reds) – Colon must be drinking from the same well as David Ortiz; either that or the AARP gods are working overtime this year. So far everything is going right for him. The K/9 is above 8.0, BB/9 is below 1.0, xFIP and SIERA line up nicely with his ERA, and his FB% (26.4) is at a career low. The Reds are in the bottom third for batting average, OBP and home runs. They are one of the best teams when it comes to strikeouts, but they are allergic to walks so they’re going to have to rely on strong contact to win this one. Considering Colon is putting up a career low contact rate (81.3%) and Joey Votto is in a major slump right now, all odds favor Colon in this one.
18% owned in ESPN, 22% owned in Yahoo!
Ricky Nolasco (vs Cleveland) – Nolasco isn’t as old as Colon, but he is dialing back the clock this season. So far his BB% (1.33), HR/9 (0.44), BAA (.224), GB% (53.3) and LD% (13.3) are at the lowest point in his career, and the hard hit and strand rate rank second among his career totals. I have zero faith that this good fortune will continue, but I have no reservation in taking advantage of a hot start – regardless of the player and/or track record. This game is in Minnesota, and if you’re going to stream a pitcher you’re unsure of, there are fewer parks I would rather do it in. The Indians have struggled early on to get on base and score runs, and I don’t see that dramatically changing this week.
It feels wrong recommending Nolasco as a safe stream, but I’m gonna do it anyway.
4.7% owned in ESPN, 3% owned in Yahoo!
Steven Wright (vs Atlanta) – So far he has held the Blue Jays to three runs over 12.2 innings and blanked the Astros on Friday, holding them to one unearned run over 6.2 innings. Wright does have a higher hard hit rate than one would like and his LD% is a little high, but the ground ball and fly ball rates are both solid. Walks in general are not an issue, and his strikeout rate is close to 8.0. All in all, he has all the makings for a solid stream.
There is that little matter of his xFIP and SIERA being over 4.0 and an 85.4% strand rate – his ERA should regress going forward. For now though, the only things you need to focus on is that Wright is hot… and the Braves are not. They can’t hit for average; they can’t hit for power, and they can’t score runs. And as bad as their season totals are, they are even worse on the road. There are not that many pitchers that I would not stream with confidence against Atlanta right now – or in the foreseeable future.
3.6% owned in ESPN, 4% owned in Yahoo!
Kyle Gibson (vs Cleveland) – When it comes to Gibson you can’t look at his season totals; they are enough to frighten anyone away. Instead you need to focus on his home numbers only. This season he has 2.13 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP, and a .200 BAA in Minnesota. Last season his ERA and WHIP at home was 3.55 and 1.28, both of which are streamer worthy numbers. Regardless of where he pitches, his GB% is close to 60. While he does give up a few more fly balls at home, the FB% is under 30 and his home park helps negate some of the damage.
One noteworthy issue Gibson has this year is walks, surprising since he seemed to have them under control the past two seasons. Luckily the Indians rank in the bottom third of the league for walks and OBP, and home runs as well. They are also only average in scoring runs and hitting for average. Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli have heated up a little recently, but they are a combined 2-18 against Gibson and neither has had much success at Target Field. Am I sold on this one? Not really, but the odds of a quality start are stronger in Minnesota.
5% owned in ESPN, 20% owned in Yahoo!
Clay Buchholz (vs Atlanta) – I am fully aware Buchholz is sporting a 5.74 ERA and 1.60 WHIP, but just because his season totals are a wreck does not mean that Buchholz is not a favorable streaming option this week. His pitch selection and usage is the same as last season. His velocity is only slightly off from last year (less than one MPH), but that should return as he gets some more innings under his belt. The contact% is in line with last season, but the O-Swing% is down as batters are chasing less.
The problems lie within his batted ball profile. Both the hard hit rate and LD% are good, but both his GB% and FB% are equal at 38.8%, both career lows and highs. Both of these should trend back towards career levels as the season goes on. Until then, the high fly ball rate shouldn’t matter much since Buchholz is facing the Braves and they have only hit three home runs this season. They also have the worst batting average in the league, so even a mediocre pitcher should be able to put up a quality start.
Buchholz seemed to get back on track in his last start against the Blue Jays so maybe this is the start of something. If you don’t have faith in him, have faith that the Braves offense is bad on go with that.
18.9% owned in ESPN, 42% owned in Yahoo!
The rest of the streaming options for Thursday are highly questionable. I’ve got a gut feeling about Tyler Chatwood, but not enough to recommend him here. I considered Chris Bassitt, that was until the Blue Jays destroyed him and dashed any confidence I had in this start. Baltimore’s starter for Thursday is still in question, but the game is against the White Sox so keep an eye out here. Realistically there are enough good streaming options early in the week and over the weekend that I might avoid streaming this day – other than Buchholz against Atlanta of course.
As Will would say, “That’s all I got for ya. Go on, get outta here, go stream!”
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