The calendar is turning to May, yet the baseball season is still in its early stages and many questions remain unanswered. But the picture is becoming a bit more clear. All of the early season pitching breakouts have been claimed from the free agent pool in most leagues, leaving very few potential difference makers currently available for fantasy owners to trust long-term.
With that in mind, the pitchers highlighted below, owned in less than 50% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues, have significant short-term value with favorable matchups this week, and potential longer-term value if things break right.
STREAMS OF THE WEEK
Play the matchup game and win
Alex Wood – Dodgers
- Ownership: 9% Yahoo, 6% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: vs. SF
Other than Clayton Kershaw, nothing is certain in the Dodgers rotation. For the moment, Alex Wood is in, and he looks to be stretched out enough to provide quality starts as he showed this past week against the Giants – tallying five strikeouts through six shutout innings. The good news for Wood and astute fantasy owners is that he is lined up to face the anemic Giants again, who rank at or near the bottom in offensive production over the first month of the season.
Wood was once a promising prospect whose career has been checkered with injury, but at the moment he appears to be healthy and is throwing with increased velocity. There is no reason to believe he will stay healthy enough to finish the season in the rotation, but take advantage of the upside and likely #3 or #4 starter production for as long as it lasts.
Ariel Miranda – Mariners
- ownership: 3% Yahoo, 2% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: vs. LAA
Miranda is a 28-year-old Cuban who made his MLB debut last season. He lacks consistency and has been a bit homer-prone in his short career, but he has been able to compile a respectable 3.86 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over 15 starts and two relief appearances thanks in part to a low 2.5 BB/9. Miranda’s biggest hurdle has been getting through the lineup the third time around, which will limit his upside if his repertoire doesn’t improve. But he can be useful in deeper leagues, especially this week as Miranda is unlikely to get burned by the long ball facing the punchless Angels at home.
Antonio Senzatela and Tyler Chatwood – Rockies
- Ownership Senzatela: 41% Yahoo, 44% ESPN
- Ownership Chatwood: 11% Yahoo, 7% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: @SD
Both Senzatela and Chatwood suffer from the fate of pitching for the Rockies which limits their overall fantasy value, but both have shown to be very effective away from Coors (Senzatela posting a 2.25 ERA in 2 career starts and Chatwood a 3.20 ERA in parts of 7 seasons). This week they each get to pick on the lowly Padres out in sunny and more pitcher-friendly San Diego. Either one, or both if you need it, are good streaming plays this week.
Two starts are better than one
Scott Feldman – Reds
- Ownership: 9% Yahoo, 8% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: vs. PIT, vs. SF
Scott Feldman is not an All-Star, but he has been able to pitch to an ERA below 4.00 every year since 2013, and has performed steadily (if unremarkably) thus far in 2017 with a 3.25 ERA and 1.34 WHIP – interestingly having the highest swinging strike rate (10%) and highest walk rate (11.5%) of his career. Continued steady production is on tap for Feldman this week as he faces two teams that struggle to score runs.
Trevor Bauer – Indians
- Ownership: 33% Yahoo, 21% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: @DET, @KC
Bauer is a former top prospect who has shown to have high variability from start to start, or even inning to inning, over his 3+ year major league career. This week the stars may be aligned for Bauer and courageous fantasy owners willing to roll the dice on potential upside.
The Royals are currently one of the worst offenses in the majors, and the Tigers are banged up and not overly dangerous. Both teams strike out 22% of the time, while Bauer has a K-rate of 28% through four starts this year. If you can absorb a potential small hit to your ERA and WHIP, take advantage of the high strikeout upside potential from Bauer in his two turns this week.
Could this be a breakout?
Luis Perdoma – Padres
- Ownership: 1% Yahoo, 2% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: vs. COL
Luis Perdomo may be the most under-the-radar pitcher in all of baseball. Consider that he never pitched above A-ball before his debut with the Padres last year and it becomes very interesting to see that he compiled a 4.30 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 81 second half innings, showing great gains after posting a 7.48 ERA and 1.97 WHIP in the first half of the season. Perdomo turns 24 next week and seems to be successfully learning on the job.
His first start this season was lackluster, and then he hit the DL briefly with a minor shoulder issue. He has since come back to throw 11 innings with 4 earned runs and a 10:3 K/BB. He is an extreme groundball pitcher (65%) who has been able to limit hard contact to 25% in 2017. This is a small sample of course, but these are encouraging signs that Perdomo continues to learn, improve, and can useful in deeper leagues right now – possibly mixed leagues before too long.
The Rockies are not as intimidating on the road as they are at Coors, and it might not be a bad idea to see how this upcoming start goes before plugging him into your lineup. Perdomo is definitely a name to watch in the coming days and weeks.
Updates on pitchers profiled last week
Brandon McCarthy and Patrick Corbin, both profiled as top streaming options last week, turned in solid performances as predicted. McCarthy’s ownership has grown to 64% of Yahoo leagues and 60% on ESPN, but Corbin remains widely available at 17% Yahoo, 14% ESPN.
Blake Snell, endorsed as a streamer, was not terrible, but definitely was disappointing in his inability to capitalize on a beleaguered Blue Jay team that had just played 20 innings of a day/night doubleheader the previous day in St. Louis. Snell only gave up 2 earned runs, but piled up a high pitch count lasting only five innings with three measly K’s. Pump the brakes on Snell until he can show consistency in his control.
Jose Berrios was mentioned as possibly the next big call-up, and he sparkled again in his AAA start this week. A spot in the Twins rotation appears to be on the horizon, and if he has indeed figured it out this time around, the window to acquire him will be very short. Act now to beat the rush if you can.
Good luck! Have a great week! Check back every Sunday for your waiver and streamer pitching needs.
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