Need a Streamer has been slow lately, to say the least. I’ve missed discussing a lot of player news and opportunities to provide good streaming picks. So I’m going to try something new, and maybe it’ll stick. It should be fairly explanatory. I hope it holds readers over until the end of this week, which is probably the busiest week for me in a long time.
Player to add that isn’t Gregory Polanco: A.J. Pollock, ARI OF
He’s on the DL, so you’ve got time to pull the trigger. His batting average isn’t for real, but the 6 homers and 8 steals are nice, and he will more than likely join the small number of players who achieve double-digits in each category in a given year. I would expect a batting average closer to .265, but if you can punt average for counting stats in a deeper league, I would go for it.
Hitter to drop: Jay Bruce, CIN OF
Honorable mention goes to Brandon Phillips, Bruce’s teammate, but it is more fitting that the suggested replacement player can actually replace someone. Bruce is striking out about 5 percentage points more often than last year and almost 8 percentage points more than his career rate. Meanwhile, he is hitting more ground balls than fly balls, whereas about two-thirds of all of Bruce’s batted balls over his career have been put in the air. The sample size is quite large now, and I think there may be something wrong with the slugger. His ratio of home runs to fly balls (HR/FB) is a little bit deflated, but even if it returns to his career average, I still wouldn’t expect him to hit much more than 20 home runs, and that’s a serious problem for a guy who’s value lies solely in his power. Bruce is shaping up to be the next Curtis Granderson, and I have legitimate concerns about his current and future value.
Pitcher to add: Marcus Stroman, TOR
Stroman could quickly rise to the top as Toronto’s ace come 2015 if he lives up to his minor league numbers. So far, he has. I liked Stroman a lot as a prospect, as he averaged 10.6 strikeouts and only 2.4 walks per nine innings. He began the year in the bullpen and suffered a couple of brutal appearances in a row, so his two recent (and excellent) starts have improved his numbers to a still-shaky 5.40 ERA and 1.53 WHIP. But I think he’s a starter by trade, and his 13 strikeouts and two walks over 12 innings as a starter support such a claim. Your window to claim Stroman may stay open for a while, especially if other owners simply look at his misleading ERA and WHIP or, on ESPN, his average points, which stands at an underwhelming 3.3 per appearance. However, if he keeps flashing this kind of quality, you’ll start to run out of time.
Wednesday streamer, other than Stroman: Rubby De La Rosa, BOS
I’ll be honest, I’m not thrilled about him, but everyone has caught on to Tyson Ross (although he’s still only 73-percent owned), so tomorrow’s options are slim. De La Rosa comes with K’s but also BB’s; however, he carries a 13-to-2 K/BB ratio into this start on the road, so perhaps he can continue to keep the command issues under control.
Prospect(s) to watch: Joc Pederson, LAD OF, and Mookie Betts, BOS 2B
Pederson and Betts will likely not be up any time soon, as they’re blocked by some pretty large figures at their respective positions. But given the hype surrounding a couple of 2014’s call-ups in George Springer and, most recently, Gregory Polanco, it’s good to know who the next impact players will be. Pederson is batting .327/.437/.615 with 16 home runs and 14 steals. Are you serious? I think he’s a bit too far to reach a 40/40 season, but 30/30 is probably at this point. It’s unfortunate the Dodgers are letting him rot in the minors beneath a pile of unmovable cash in their impacted outfield. Betts recently moved up to Triple-A Pawtucket; prior to this move, he stole 22 bases in 285 plate appearances while batting .346 with almost twice as many walks as strikeouts. He’s going to be really good, with astounding plate discipline, decent speed and a little bit of pop, too. If you hear Pederson’s and Bett’s names, or the names of their predecessors (Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Dustin Pedroia…), in next month’s trade talks, get ready to prospectively add, add, add.
I’ve been slacking on my streamer picks, so let’s cut straight to the chase.
Tyson Ross, SD @ CIN
Mr. Ross is the real deal, my friends. He’s 10th of all pitchers in batters’ contact on pitches in the zone, sandwiched between the unfamiliar names of Jose Fernandez and Zack Greinke (and the players who precede him include Michael Wacha, Yordano Ventura, Julio Teheran and Max Scherzer). He doesn’t make batters chase pitches at an overwhelming rate, but they make contact on such pitches only half the time, which ranks Ross fourth only to Ervin Santana, Garrett Richards and Masahiro Tanaka. At 7.99 K/9, his K-rate should actually improve. You can really only bash him for his walk rate, but it’s no worse than Gio Gonzalez or Justin Verlander. I don’t care if it’s a road game; Ross should be owned in all leagues at this point.
Drew Hutchison, TOR @ TEX
I’ll be honest with you: I’m not totally sold on this matchup. Hutchison hasn’t been very impressive, but there are simply not many matchups worth exploiting on Friday. I like Hutchison for his strikeouts, and before his last start (during which he walked four), he had only walked five guys across 32-1/3 innings. His control escaped him, but if it comes back, he should be able to control a miserable Texas offense that ranks 26th of 30 teams in extra-base hits.
Bartolo Colon, NYM @ WAS
Again, not crazy about this one, either. But Colon has been incredibly unlucky. The dude is walking fewer than a batter per nine innings (0.9 BB/9), so all the baserunners (and, consequently, earned runs) he has allowed are a largely a function of an elevated batting average on balls in play (BABIP). It’s hard to trust a guy who’s mired in a slump, but the luck should eventually turn in his favor. Who’s to say it won’t be this weekend? I’d take a chance. The Nationals don’t score a ton of runs, either. It’s not the best play, but it’s safer than most.
Travis Wood, CHC vs. MIL
After a hot start, albeit a brief one, Wood has since collapsed in spectacular fashion, sporting a 4.91 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. So why would I ever vouch for this guy? Check out his home-road splits:
The splits are ridiculous. They speak for themselves, although I’ll highlight the ones that are most impressive. With that said, he’s starting at home. Enough said.
Good luck and happy streaming!
I’m sitting in an airport so I’ll make this brief. The San Diego Padres’ Tyson Ross is pitching at home against the absolutely miserable Arizona Diamondbacks. You really couldn’t ask for more. He’s only owned in about 15 percent of ESPN leagues.
Another streamer, who doesn’t count as a “streamer” based on my criteria I’ve laid out, is the man pitching the night before (aka tomorrow, aka Saturday, May 3): Ian Kennedy. He has been excellent this season, with a 3.16 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with 37 strikeouts in 37 innings. Maybe he’s due for some regression — he’ll start allowing a few more hits eventually — but I would bet the house it won’t come against the lowly Diamondbacks. It’s worth noting that Kennedy has only walked eight batters so far this season, making for a 1.9 BB/9 and 4.6 K/BB — both career bests. It’s these adjustments that make Kennedy look like he’s shaping up for an encore of his 2011 performance, a year during which he finished 4th in the National League Cy Young voting.
We’re too deep into the season for me to have a good excuse as to why I haven’t posted any streamer recommendations yet. Sorry! Considering this is the marquee feature after which this website is named, I think it’s high time I give some recommendations, especially now that we’ve got a feel for what guys are made of, veterans and no-namers alike.
The idea is that I only choose pitchers owned in 30 percent or fewer of ESPN leagues. The exercise is pointless if I tell you to stream guys who are 100-percent owned because you can’t pick them up on a whim to stream them into your lineup for the starts the next day.
I keep track of the ongoing stats of streamer starts here, and the streamer for the day will be listed in the right-hand module above the links.
Sat. 4/26: Vidal Nuno, NYY (v. LAA)
Nuno’s first start was ugly, but his second was much better, striking out six in five innings and allowing only three hits (zero runs). I’m not a huge fan of Nuno, but it’s all about the matchup, as the Angels’ Hector Santiago is homer-prone and headed into a very hitter-friendly ballpark. Get past the fact that the Angels spanked the Yankees tonight and you won’t feel so bad.
Sun. 4/27: Ian Kennedy, SD (@ WAS)
A road game in Washington is not as threatening as it may have once seemed. The Nationals are sluggish right now, and Kennedy has been a bright spot on an otherwise lackluster Padres team. He has posted a 3.60 ERA and 1.07 WHIP through five starts with 28 strikeouts in 30 innings. He’s also facing Taylor Jordan, who has been incredibly hittable through his first four starts. Whether or not you think Kennedy is legit, I’m riding the hot hand on this one.
Mon. 4/28: Tyson Ross, SD (@ SF)
I made a bold prediction about Ross before the season started, so it’s no surprise I’m on board for this matchup against a team that, aside from its decent run total, can’t hit a lick, batting only .234 as a team this season. Ross has shaken off his command problems from his first two starts and has struck out 28 in 31-1/3 innings.
Tue. 4/29: Corey Kluber, CLE (@ LAA)
This isn’t about me loving Kluber as much as it is there just aren’t many options today, with a lot of guys owned in a lot of leagues. It helps, however, that in his last start he allowed no earned runs on four hits with 11 strikeouts and no walks. That’s the Kluber I know and love.
Wed. 4/30: Nathan Eovaldi, MIA (v. ATL)
The Braves aren’t a miserable offense, although they certainly can be when they go cold. Eovaldi appears to have shored up his command problems by walking only four batters over his first five starts while striking out 30 in 31-1/3 innings, waltzing to a 2.87 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Honestly, the Marlins aren’t terrible, especially with how Giancarlo Stanton is hitting and some dynamism from the young Christian Yelich. Take a chance! It’s not always about the win column; Eovaldi should be able to help in ratios and K’s, too (a win would be nice, however).
Update, 10:45 p.m.: I overlooked it when I wrote this piece, but Drew Hutchison of Toronto is pitching in Kansas City on Wednesday. He has struck out nine in each of his last two starts, and whatever problems he was having at the onset of the season have vanished, at least temporarily. If he has another monster game, I can assure you he will be a hot addition on May 1. He faces a flailing Royals team led by the eternally mediocre Bruce Chen; if the game were in Toronto instead of one the road, I would actually endorse him over Eovaldi.
Thu. 5/1: Josh Beckett, LAD (@ MIN)
He probably will be owned in more than 30 percent of leagues by next week, but whatever. He doesn’t look like vintage Beckett, but he looks good enough to roll out there on a slow day. Also, I didn’t want to have to pick Nuno again.
Man, I don’t like picking streamers this far in advance, especially if offenses start to get hot or go cold, but that’s just the way it goes. I’m going to have to suck it up and deal with the consequences. I can only hope they’re all good consequences.
Thanks for reading! Enjoy some streaming success!
SEPT. 26 MARQUEE STREAM: Zach McAllister (CLE) @ MIN
McAllister (11.6 percent ESPN ownership) has dominated the hapless Twins, notching a 2.03 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 12 K in 13 1/3 innings (two starts) this year, and the Indians are busy demonstrating why they deserve to be in the playoffs. I’d take just about anyone against a gutted Minnesota lineup, and McAllister’s ownership of the Twins is more than encouraging.
Go ahead and deploy the Baltimore Orioles’ Miguel Gonzalez (10.1 percent) at home versus Toronto, too. The Orioles are eliminated from playoff contention, but the Blue Jays are helpless at this point. Gonzalez has a 2.96 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 18 K against the Jays in four starts and, at this stage in the season, there’s no reason to believe the trend will reverse.
SEPT. 27 MARQUEE STREAM: Corey Kluber (CLE) @ MIN
Is it a coincidence I picked Indians in back-to-back spot starts? Does the pope wear a funny hat? I’m a huge fan of Kluber (12.1 percent), maybe a bit irrationally, but I don’t care. He has given up four earned runs only once in his last 10 starts coupled with 8.2 strikeouts per nine. Full disclosure: he hasn’t reached the sixth inning in his last four starts. Full disclosure: I don’t care — it’s the Twins!
Also take a gander at the San Diego Padres’ Burch Smith (1.7 percent). He has been solid in his first three starts — 2.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and a very impressive 23 K in 18 innings — but he walks a lot of batters. That said, 1) he’s limiting the hits, 2) nobody on the Giants but Hunter Pence cares to hit, and 3) when’s the last time Ryan Vogelsong looked sharp? Exactly. Anyway, the kid’s good.
SEPT. 24 MARQUEE STREAM: Tyson Ross (SD) vs. ARI
Ross, owned in only 10.2 percent of ESPN leagues after his dismal outing in Philadelphia (2/3 IP, 6 ER), returned to form in his next start, allowing only three hits and striking out seven across seven innings. I get why he’s not owned in more leagues — he’s 3-8 in 14 starts, which will turn away just about any fantasy owner — but let that bias help you. Ross has a 3.42 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 8.5 K/9. Know who that trumps in all three categories? Derek Holland, Jorge De La Rosa, Kyle Lohse, Ricky Nolasco, Justin Verlander, Chris Tillman… and that’s just the beginning. Look, if you chase wins, then you’re going to live and die by that sword. But wins are hard to predict, and it’s safe to say Ross has gotten unlucky based on how well he has pitched and how the team for which he plays isn’t that bad at 72-83, good for third in the NL West (ahead of the Giants, no less). So, whatever. If you ignore him in this last week, you ignore him. But remember the name Tyson Ross as the final rounds of next year’s draft approach.
If I don’t go Ross, I may gamble on the St. Louis Cardinals’ Michael Wacha at home versus the Nationals. If you’re looking for strikeouts, Wacha (22.9 percent ESPN ownership) has ’em. People have been on and off the Wacha bandwagon after alternating good and bad starts, the most recent of which ended after 4-2/3 innings and 12 hits at Colorado. But he still struck out seven, and he still has a 3.21 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, and he still has massive upside. He’s not today’s best option, but I’d take him over Jason Vargas, Dan Straily or Doug Fister.
SEPT. 25 MARQUEE STREAM: Danny Salazar (CLE) vs. CHW
He’s 1-3 through nine starts, but it’s only by design. Salazar (14.2 percent ESPN ownership) had his pitch count lifted and he’s ready to humiliate more White Sox — last time he faced them, he struck out nine of them. Through 3-2/3 innings. THAT’S NINE STRIKEOUTS IN 11 TOTAL OUTS, PEOPLE. By the way, his line for the season stands at 3.09 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 11.0 K/9 (with a 4.0 K/BB). If you need more proof as to why he’s so great, you can search for the love poems I’ve written him in the archives. (Disclaimer: There aren’t any Danny Salazar love poems in the archives. Yet.)
- MARQUEE STREAM for tonight: The Kansas City Royals have called up starting pitcher Yordano Ventura, who racked up a 3.14 ERA and 1.28 WHIP over 134-2/3 innings in Triple-A. He struck out well more than a batter per inning but also walked too many guys. Control may always be an issue, considering Ventura’s fastball frequently exceeds 100 mph, but the strikeout potential is there as well as a possible win if he’s not held to a strict pitch count.
- For Monday, Sept. 23: Chicago White Sox rookie pitcher Erik Johnson finally had the kind of outing I’ve been waiting for: 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 8 K. Johnson doesn’t have the same strikeout potential as Ventura, but he has been a remarkably better pitcher, notching a 1.57 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 8.9 K/9 in 57-1/3 innings in Triple-A — in line with his career minor-league line of 2.24 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 8.4 K/9. I may consider slotting him next Monday against the Blue Jays; if I don’t, I’m certainly watching his start to see how he fares as I consider dynasty options.
- For Saturday, Sept. 21: San Diego Padres pitcher Burch Smith hurled a gem in Atlanta on Sunday, striking out 10 across seven innings and allowing only three hits. He has 17 strikeouts through two starts (12 IP) with a 1.08 WHIP since his recall (although he has allowed six walks). He has a ghastly 6.57 ERA and 1.67 WHIP because of a horrendous string of outings when he debuted, but if you look past it, you have a rookie pitcher with strikeout potential and good control who appears to have turned a corner.
- For Thursday, Sept. 19: Don’t quit on Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ricky Nolasco — and if you’re in a league where an owner has abandoned ship like I am, throw down a waiver claim. I acknowledged Nolasco’s quietly-good season on one of my league’s message boards and how a move to L.A. could greatly impact his value (I wish I had this blog at the time to back it up). He plays Arizona and San Francisco his next two starts, although I understand if you’re hesitant to start him against the Giants, who caused owners to jump ship in the first place.