2020 Fantasy Baseball: Week 2 Streamers

Last week’s recommended guys may have set the bar a little high:

PITCHER MATCHUP IP HITS EARNED RUNS WALKS STRIKEOUTS WIN
Nathan Eovaldi vs BAL 6 5 1 1 4 1
Garrett Richards vs ARZ 5 1 0 3 6 0
Matt Shoemaker vs TBR 6 3 1 2 4 0
TOTALS N/A 17 9 2 6 14 1

And then there was Griffin Canning getting pushed back to today (say word) and Martin Perez getting knocked around (thankfully I was inclined to stay away). Here’s the overall streamer performance with 5×5 categories:

Starts Innings Wins Strikeouts ERA WHIP
3 17 1 14 1.06 0.88

Okay, I included the number of starts and innings, that way you get a sense of how much punch these streamers are packing with their strikeouts. And no, we aren’t mining for saves, so I’m not wasting a column on that drivel.

With no further ado, let’s remind ourselves of the criteria and then take a look at Monday through Wednesday–that’s about as far ahead as I care to look right now. If I go any further I think I may miss some viable guys who aren’t yet listed as starters. So expect a Week 2, Part 2 effort on Thursday morning.

Streamer criteria is as follows:

Offense being targeted is bottom third of the league in K-rate, ISO, wOBA, and wRC+ against the streamer’s handedness.

Streamer is better than the 2019 MLB average for starting pitchers in K-rate (22.3%), walk rate (7.7%), ground ball rate (42.7%), and HR/FB rate (15.5%).

Game is being played at a site that is NOT upper third in HR park factor (via ESPN 2019 MLB Park Factors).

Gotcha with that last piece of criteria. Look, I need to trim the fat somehow. I may as well have a guy pitching in good digs. I’ll hold to each piece of criteria as much as possible, but I reserve the right to use common sense and veto any play at any time. Also, I view the above as a guide. I think any one pitcher meeting every set of criteria will be rare. But at least we have something to aim for, eh?

Lastly, my self-imposed criteria is 50% owned or below. That’s the goal. I’m not afraid to help folks in 12-team leagues. This week reads like a 15-team special, though. Most of these guys listed (even the honorable mentions) are pretty widely available.

Also lastly–this is probably the last week I’ll operate based on 2019 numbers. Starting in Week 3 we’ll roll with some variation of the above criteria that pertains to the previous two weeks and see what jumps out at us.

Monday, July 27th

Pablo Lopez
Stream this up-and-coming strikeout artist at home against the Baltimore Orioles.

RHP Pablo Lopez vs. Baltimore Orioles (8% owned)

Lopez’s 2019 numbers fit the criteria in ground ball rate (47.6%), walk rate (5.8%), and HR/FB rate (14.6%). He just missed in strikeout rate, at 20.3%.

His opponent, the Orioles, ranked 12th in K-rate (22.8%), 21st in ISO (.173), 24th in wOBA (.307), and 21st in wRC+ (88). So meeting every criteria except for strikeout rate. Despite scoring seven runs on back-to-back days against Boston, this does not read like a dangerous offense. In fact, the Red Sox rotation is the scary thing. Anyway, Lopez was death to righties in 2019, allowing a slash of .217/.272/.353. It was lefties who torched him, slashing .303/.365/.514. Luckily for us, the Orioles can boast only two such “dangerous” bats, in Anthony Santander (switch-hitter) and Rio Ruiz. Sure, both of them homered on Sunday, but that has nothing to do with Monday. The rest of that lineup is either right-handed or named Chris Davis/D.J. Stewart. It’s a great day to stream Lopez at home, people. Also, he’s entering the year with a new toy:

Hopefully that strikeout rate creeps up a little in 2020.

Honorable mentions for Monday: Griffin Canning at OAK, Dylan Cease at CLE

Tuesday, July 28th

Merrill Kelly at Texas Rangers (5% owned)

Kelly met criteria in walk rate (7.3%) and HR/FB rate (14.8%) last year. He did not do so in ground ball rate (42.0%) or strikeout rate (20.3%). However, he’s a guy you could’ve read about over at SP Streamer ages ago, if you were smart. I’ll summarize for you: Kelly beefed up his velocity late last season, from 90-92 MPH to an average of 93.6 MPH. Over those six turns with the additional heat, he managed a 26.7% strikeout rate and a 2.68 ERA. And I know he was working around 93 MPH in Spring Training 1.0, so it’s possible the added velo keeps this train keeps rolling in 2020.

As for his opponent, in 2019 the Rangers ranked 26th in strikeout rate (25.4%) against righties. Only the Mariners, White Sox, Padres, and Tigers were worse. The Rangers also ranked 18th in ISO (.180), 15th in wOBA (.319), and 19th in wRC+ (89). So not bottom third of the league, but still pretty middling overall and with a super-friendly strikeout rate. I actually had to cut bait with Kelly on my TGFBI roster for this week, and I’m super-bummed over it. But sometimes you gotta think long-term. Probably a mistake. I hope you play him.

Honorable mentions for Tuesday: Carlos Rodon @ CLE, Josh Lindblom @ PIT

Wednesday, July 29th

Danny Duffy at Detroit Tigers (8% owned)

Duffy nearly made the list last week, and after a decent turn in Week 1 (4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 SO) he gets the nod over Nathan Eovaldi. The Mets were actually middling or a little better in my self-imposed thresholds last year, plus it’s likely Jacob deGrom opposing Eovaldi on Wednesday. Maybe the flamethrower keeps the magic going, but I wouldn’t be chasing anything against deGrom. Anyway, Duffy’s matchup is just what we want…

The Tigers were tied with the the Rays for the stone worst strikeout rate against southpaws last year, at 25.7%. They also ranked 26th in ISO (.145), 26th in wOBA (.302), and 25th in wRC+ (85). In short, they met every piece of criteria against lefties. They did (somewhat) notably add C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop in the offseason, so those numbers against lefties should improve this year. But we are still talking about a cellar-dweller of an offense, folks. You can talk yourself into it all you like, but I’m not buyin’.

As for Duffy, last year’s HR/FB rate (13.0%) met criteria, and that was it. The K-rate (20.7%) and walk rate (8.3%) were middling, and the ground ball rate (36.0%) was low because the dude is a fly ball pitcher. So this would be one of those moments when I use my veto, given that the Detroit environs are where barreled balls go to die–and given the high strikeout rate the Tigers displayed in this split a year ago. And for what it’s worth, only four teams hit fewer fly balls against lefties than Detroit last year, as the Tigers checked in with a measly 32.8% fly ball rate.

Lastly, Duffy increased the use of his changeup in the second half last year, and you can read about it in greater detail by heading back over to SPStreamer. Let’s just say the strikeout rate increased to a tolerable 23.2% rate, while his walk rate fell to 7.3%. If he keeps that up, he’ll be meeting 3/4 of the streaming criteria, folks. This matchup definitely warrants a deep league look.

Honorable mentions for Wednesday: Johnny Cueto vs. SDP, Nathan Eovaldi at NYM

That’s it for the first half of the week. And there could be more options at our disposal as starting pitchers are named. For instance, maybe we’ll see more Wednesday options pop up in the Padres/Giants matchup or the Mariners/Angels matchup.

I’ll circle back around to streamers come Thursday with a look at the remainder of the week. Until then, may the BABIP be ever in your favor.

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