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Streaming Away

Last Minute Gambles

by Brad Johnson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Welcome back to Streaming Away, a twice weekly column serving all your fantasy streaming needs. I'll be using DFS techniques to help you select players for your normal fantasy leagues. With careful execution, you'll be one step closer to a fantasy championship. As always, the column will run on Sundays and Wednesdays to better prepare you for the thin Monday and Thursday schedules.


For more info about how and why to stream, check out the first edition of Streaming Away.


Editor’s Note: Win a FREE trip to the World Series plus cash prizes!



Monday, September 25


We're down to the final Monday of the 2017 season. It's a 12 game slate including a doubleheader between the Mets and Braves. That's a good place to focus on hitters if you need offensive counting stats. Keep an eye on the weather report in Denver. There is rain in the forecast.


Pitchers to Use


Five pitchers are streamable tomorrow. Two stand out as the best of the bunch. Unfortunately, they face one another at Yankee Stadium. CC Sabathia hasn't been a fantasy monster for ages, but he's been rather steady this season. The southpaw has excelled at inducing soft contact while posting roughly league average rates in strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP. His best category is wins, and it's the stat where he's most likely to help tomorrow. He's opposed by a mediocre Royals offense. They ranked 22nd against southpaws.


By comparison, Jake Junis is a high risk, modest reward version of Sabathia. The righty is a slider specialist. When he's on, he'll rack up about a strikeout per inning while stifling his opponents. He's not immune to short or ineffective outings. A visit to Yankees Stadium against a potent offense does not help the outlook for Junis. A few mistakes with his below average fastball could ruin your ratios.


A.J. Cole may be the next best choice. He's visiting the Philadelphia. Cole's velocity has spiked to 93 mph this season. The 25-year-old righty has a 4.43 ERA, although ERA estimators aren't a fan of his work (5.38 FIP, 5.38 xFIP). Cole's command can be inconsistent, adding a lot of variance to any expectations. The Phillies offense has improved with the arrivals of Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams plus the returns of Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr. This is no longer an automatically exploitable unit. I'd avoid Cole unless forced to use him.


Tyler Chatwood is pitching well in his free agent audition. The righty has a 1.83 ERA in 19.2 innings since returning to the rotation earlier this month. Chatwood has a track record of pitching well when away from Coors Field. Unfortunately, he tends to struggle at home. I'd bet on the Marlins mashing. However, as long as he can last five innings, he'll probably supply an easy win. We'll talk about his opponent in a moment.


Your final target is Rafael Montero. The wild righty is a random number generator. Although he's capable of shutting down an opponent over seven innings, it's much more likely that he's chased before the end of the fifth frame. He's working the second game of the doubleheader. Look to Montero if you need to complete a couple Hail Mary passes this week. He's well positioned for a victory.


Pitchers to Abuse


As always, we have plenty of pitchers to exploit. Three of them will be working the doubleheader – Lucas Sims, Max Fried, and Seth Lugo. Sims featured swing-and-miss stuff in the minors, but that was mostly because he leans on his breaking balls. Major league hitters have proven far more challenging to retire for Sims. He has a luck neutral 5.14 ERA. Fried has a classic prospect profile, complete with throwing too many hittable fastballs. Unlike Sims, there's some upside to be seen here in the form of a 62 percent ground ball rate. Last season, Lugo looked like a right-handed Rich Hill. This year, he's made far too many mistakes in the strike zone. His velocity is down too.


On the opposite side of Chatwood is Odrisamer Despaigne. The righty is often described as a junk baller even though he mostly relies upon mixing three very different fastballs. He's almost ceased using his curve ball. Elevation negatively affects fastball movement. I fully expect five runs over three innings.


Brett Anderson briefly appeared to be getting back on track. Over his last two outings, his command has deserted him, culminating in a 1.1 inning, eight-run meltdown against the Royals. The same Royals who rank 22nd against southpaws. While there's a chance the oft-injured lefty may rebound against the Red Sox, I wouldn't take a chance on it.


Other pitchers to abuse include four of the usual suspects – James Shields versus Ricky Nolasco at Guaranteed Rate Park, Daniel Gossett against the Mariners, and Travis Wood opposite the Dodgers.


Hitters: Power


Coors Field is always a good place to start for hitters. You may have missed your chance to jump back on the Justin Bour bandwagon. He's up to 50 percent owned after homering in each of his last four games. Derek Dietrich and Brian Anderson are sharing third base. Anderson has hit too many ground balls, making Dietrich the better target against Chatwood.


The doubleheader offers an array of modest power hitters. The Mets have Asdrubal Cabrera, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, and Amed Rosario available. Surprisingly, Cabrera has been the hottest of the options. He's hitting for decent power over the last month. Smith has performed decently in September - .256/.318/.474 with four home runs in 85 plate appearances. Nimmo offers less power than Smith with a much higher OBP. He bats cleanup. Rosario has the most physical talent of the bunch, but his plate discipline (27.6 percent strikeout rate, 2.1 percent walk rate) clearly shows that he's overmatched. The best Braves to use are Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson. Neither prospect is a true power threat.


Enrique Hernandez usually has a prominent lineup role against left-handed pitchers like Wood. Hernandez has impressive splits this season, including a .264/.361/.583 line against southpaws. With the platoon advantage, 24 of his 38 hits have gone for extra bases. He's eligible all over the diamond. If you happen to need a catcher, try Austin Barnes.


Jon Lester has struggled recently. It's enough for me to consider using right-handed Cardinals like Stephen Piscotty and especially Jose Martinez. The latter slugger has emerged as a late career breakout stud. He's been batting cleanup while splitting time with Matt Carpenter. Piscotty generally hits down in the order despite a well-rounded skill set.


If Cole flops for the Nationals – a distinctly possible scenario – at least one of Nick Williams or Aaron Altherr will probably be involved in the action. Williams' aggression may serve as a shortcoming against an inconsistent pitcher like Cole. Altherr is better at working the count, and he's somehow owned in fewer leagues than Williams.


Other power targets include Mitch Haniger, Yoan Moncada, Luis Valbuena, C.J. Cron, and an entire Athletics stack – Matt Joyce, Matt Chapman, Mark Canha, Chad Pinder, and Jed Lowrie.


Hitters: Speed


We're blessed with more than the usual assortment of stolen base threats. Delino DeShields is the obvious top play if you simply must have a stolen base. He's opposite fly ball pitcher Collin McHugh. The Astros are possibly the worst team at catching stolen base attempts. It's a good matchup for DeShields. Shin-Soo Choo may feel frisky too.


Brandon Phillips is far less likely to run. However, I like him more than DeShields as a well-rounded jack-of-all-trades. Phillips has 11 home runs and 11 stolen bases. He's set to face James Shields (2.13 HR/9) at tiny Guaranteed Rate Park. The White Sox are neck and neck with the Astros for worst at controlling base runners. Chicago's bullpen is also quite bad. In general, it's a great day to use Angels.


Jose Reyes is probably the only widely available guy involved in the doubleheader who is likely to run. Since mid-August, he's batting .340/.426/.570 with five home runs and nine stolen bases in 116 plate appearances. Both Atlanta pitchers are likely to struggle, and their bullpen is no great shakes either.


Tim Anderson and Yolmer Sanchez have a nice matchup against Nolasco. Unfortunately, the Angels are quite good at preventing steals. Anderson has been running a lot lately – eight steals in his last 72 plate appearances. He may opt to press his luck.

Brad Johnson

You can read more from Brad Johnson on NBC Sports Edge, FanGraphs, and RotoFanatic. Find him on Patreon and Twitter @BaseballATeam.