At this point in the season, most of the pitchers available to be added in the fantasy world have flaws and risk – hence their lower ownership levels.
Every once in a while a potential star emerges. Jose Berrios was highlighted in this space for the past two weeks as a speculative add. Last week, or the week before, was the time to pounce. Now it’s probably too late (but check just in case) as he has delivered two exceptional starts since his call-up. This is just one last warning to add him now if you can.
Without another Berrios imminently on the horizon, let’s turn our attention to the short-term and the current week ahead.
Luck is sometimes defined as “what happens when opportunity meets preparation”. In the fantasy baseball world, streaming pitchers involves a little bit of luck in trying to plug in the right pitcher at the right time. Pitchers will go through hot and cold streaks just as hitters do, and a “hot” pitcher facing a weak offense is opportunity knocking at the door. Create your own luck this week with the following streamer options owned in less than 50% (or so) of Yahoo and ESPN leagues.
NOW AND LATER
Two starts this week is maybe just the beginning of a long relationship
Jerad Eickhoff – Phillies
- Ownership: 57% Yahoo, 23% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: vs. COL, vs. CIN
Eickhoff is a steady, unexciting pitcher. In most seasons, he would be a back-end starter, but in the decimated pitching landscape of 2017, he can be a solid, mid-rotation innings eater to help stabilize your ratios. His ownership percentage has dropped due to a recent stretch of three bad starts in a row, but he came out with a strong 6 inning, 2 ER, 8 K performance in a difficult matchup at Texas this past week.
Don’t let the current year-to-date statistics (4.53 ERA, 1.42 WHIP) deceive you or scare you off. Eickhoff throws a three pitch mix and owns a career 3.61 ERA and 1.18 WHIP since his major league debut in 2015, and tallied three quality starts to begin the season before he hit his rough stretch. Use him this week with two starts at home against Colorado and Cincinnati (the Rockies are especially worse on the road), and keep him rostered, as he will be useful in all but the most difficult matchups going forward.
Mike Foltynewicz – Braves
- Ownership: 13% Yahoo, 12% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: vs. PIT, @SF
Take away one rough start against the Cardinals earlier in the month and look at what Foltynewicz has done in his other 5 starts since April 18: 2.25 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 23 K in 32 innings. “Folty” had a rough start to his major league career in 2014-15, but he may have been rushed to the majors.
Now at 25 years of age, he may be beginning to fulfill the promise of being a first round pick. He will certainly still have a few ups and downs this season, but it is highly probable things are pointing up this week as Foltynewicz has two eye-popping matchups against the bottom-feeder offenses of the NL.
Two useful starts this week, but don’t get too attached
Jose Urena – Marlins
- Ownership: 10% Yahoo, 4% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: @OAK, vs. LAA
Urena had been highly inconsistent from appearance to appearance throughout his major league career that began in 2015, and is therefore still difficult to trust over the long haul. But he has been consistent so far in 2017, pitching to a 1.91 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, including most recently, falling just one out shy of recording three consecutive quality starts after beginning the season with success as a bullpen arm.
He strikes out a surprisingly low number of hitters considering his mid-90’s fastball, but he gets to pitch twice this week so there is an opportunity to double-up on the counting stats. First, Urena gets the very spacious confines in Oakland, and then heads back home to another friendly environment against the below average Angels. In the short-term, Urena should be able to keep the good times rolling through his next two starts at least.
PICKING ON THE WEAK AND WEARY
High-floor pitchers against below sea level opponents
Zack Wheeler – Mets
- Ownership: 36% Yahoo, 31% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: vs. SD
It’s good to see Wheeler back on the mound for the first time since 2014 after recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Mets are certainly not going to push him and will hold him to about 100 or so innings, limiting his upside not only for the season, but for each individual start. The Mets will closely monitor his game-to-game pitch count, making it unlikely Wheeler throws more than 6 innings per game.
However, Wheeler makes for a solid streamer play this week against the Padres, where he is a good bet to provide his third straight quality start and pile up 6-7 K’s against a Padres team that strikes out 24% of the time.
Matt Andriese – Rays
- Ownership: 29% Yahoo, 28% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: vs. LAA
Andriese is about as unexciting as they come, but as one of the more steady options of available pitchers, he deserves consideration as a useful asset this week. His 3.18 ERA will likely push up to the high-3’s by season’s end as his hard contact rate, HR/FB rate, and walk rate are all up from last year, and his .272 BABIP should regress closer to league average as well.
However, although Andriese has a low ceiling, he has a fairly high floor and rarely has an awful start, which makes him somewhat safe as a streamer. This is especially true this week at home against the below average and potentially road weary Angels, who will be 7 games into a 10-game east coast road trip when they step into the batter’s box against Andriese on Thursday.
Good luck! Have a great week! Check back every Sunday for your waiver and streamer pitching needs.
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