Welp, we lost Pablo Lopez last week. Although, that could’ve been a gift in disguise, as the Orioles (5-3) continue to hang onto second place in the AL East, ahead of the Blue Jays, Rays, and Red Sox. Also, I shouldn’t have included Steven Matz last week, who was over my self-imposed 50% owned threshold. I don’t know what I was thinking.
Anyway, here’s the total streaming production thus far:
Pretty flipping epic, and we can probably only go down from here. I mean, if I were able to stream every season with a sub-3.00 ERA, I’d never draft any starting pitcher. But let’s try to keep the good times rolling, anyway.
I’m not holding to a specific formula for these plays. But in general I want a neutral or pitcher-friendly site, a healthy ground ball rate, and at least an average strikeout rate from the streamer. As for the opposing team, I’m hoping they are generally bottom third or worse in most hitting metrics. Sometimes we take the good with the bad–i.e. a powerful team that strikes out a lot. But we ARE streaming, so there are bound to be fleas now and again.
Monday, August 3
Alec Mills (13% owned) vs. Kansas City Royals
Danny Duffy was in consideration for me after a strong (for streaming) turn last week, but the Cubs have been a powerful bunch in 2020 despite their affinity for striking out. Mills on the other side of the bump, though…that’s our guy. Full disclosure, I totally missed Mills’ first start of the year at Cincinnati. And based on the low ownership rate, some of you all did, too. Anyway, he went six innings for the win, tallying three strikeouts and allowing a pair of runs. That’s in line with how he fared in 2019 as the Cubs’ swingman, when he tallied a 2.75 ERA, 48.9% ground ball rate, and 27.6% strikeout rate. He was also better than average with a 7.2% walk rate. His only “blemish” with regard to my general criteria was a higher-than-average 17.2% HR/FB rate (average was 15.5%). Again, we are streaming, so I’ll take a little bit of bad.
The Royals strike out 24.8% of the time against righties, ranking 20th in the league. A .179 ISO (13th), .293 wOBA (21st), and 87 wRC+ (22nd) aren’t too threatening, either. As for Mills, he’s got an awesome slow curve (65 MPH) and can be effective with the changeup and slider. It’s his fastball he needs to sort out, but he had more success with his sinker last year and was honing a two-seamer over the COVID-19 quarantine. But he’s been great at keeping hitters off balance in recent memory, including last year’s 2.75 ERA, his strong showing in Spring Training 1.0, and his solid first turn against the Reds:
Good luck with that, Kansas City! Mills has what I like–lots of grounders and enough strikeout stuff to make a dent. Just make sure to check the wind at Wrigley, which can often be a deal-breaker. At the time of this writing, it appears the wind is blowing IN, not out.
Tuesday, August 4
Adam Wainwright (32% owned) at Detroit Tigers
Waino had a solid debut, spinning six innings of one-run ball against the lowly Pirates while collecting five strikeouts with a win. The Tigers have some pop, their .186 ISO ranking 10th against RHP thus far. But the 30.6% strikeout rate (30th) is the worst, and the Tigers are bottom third of the league in team wOBA (20th) and wRC+ (21st).
Waino has never been a high-strikeout guy, but the whiff tendencies of the Tigers offsets that, and Wainwright has always had healthy ground ball rates (career 48.3%). And even with the bouncy ball of 2019, his 15.0% HR/FB rate was a hair better than league average. This is the very definition of a streamer, people.
Honorable mentions: Tyler Mahle vs. CLE, Brady Singer at CHC
Wednesday, August 5
Cristian Javier (33% owned) at Arizona Diamondbacks
I think it’s his turn on Wednesday, but if the day moves around we’ll adjust accordingly. There’s clearly room in Houston’s rotation, with Jose Urquidy (COVID-19) not back for at least two more weeks and Justin Verlander (forearm strain) shelved indefinitely. The 23-year-old stomped on the vaunted Dodgers in his MLB debut, spinning 5.2 innings of one-run ball–along with a whopping nine strikeouts against only one walk. The D-backs are far less threatening. They are 10th in strikeout rate against RHP at only a 21.8% rate, but that’s the only positive thus far. As a unit, Arizona has a .087 ISO (28th), .251 wOBA (28th), and 57 wRC+ (28th) against righties thus far. Basically, they’ve been better than the Pirates…and that’s about it.
I don’t know much about Javier, honestly–but he moved through three minor league levels in 2019 and never had a strikeout rate below 33.3% at any stop. He did have double-digit walk rates at each stop, but Arizona’s 9.6% walk rate against RHP is middling, ranking 13th in the league. But that’s our “flea” for Javier, that and the lack of an MLB track record. The Diamonbacks were blanked by the Dodgers last night, for what it’s worth. So they’re entering into a week and they haven’t broken out of their slump yet. Javier is a strong play.
Honorable mention: Kyle Gibson at OAK
Outlook for the rest of the week
Spencer Turnbull at STL, Michael Wacha vs. MIA, Griffin Canning at TEX, and Yusei Kikuchi vs. COL are all guys who stick out with a quick glance. But this early in the week I don’t want to write up anything for Thursday onward–not with the dark cloud of COVID-19 always lurking. So circle the proverbial wagons back around come Thursday morning, and we’ll take a look at what sticks out for the second half of the week. Happy streaming out there, ladies and gentlemen.