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Streaming Away: Thurs July 20

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.


Thursday, July 20


The July trade market is heating up. Yesterday, we were witness to two important trades. Rather than fully break down those swaps, let's discuss their relevance to this column. From a streaming perspective, not much has changed. The Tigers will use Alex Presley more frequently, but he offers almost no fantasy value.


The swap between the White Sox and Yankees is of greater import – mostly because Yoan Moncada was called up as a result. Those of us who have stashed Tommy Kahnle for months are probably the most disappointed. Now it's a race to the wire for Anthony Swarzak and Tyler Clippard.


Thin Thursday features nine games and supposedly pristine weather. It's an unusual pool of pitchers in that most of them are actually quite decent. In fact, I've tabbed only three of them as exploitable.


Pitchers to Use


Luis Castillo is quickly gaining the attention of fantasy owners. A 98 mph fastball will do that, especially when complemented by a quality changeup and slider. I do have some concerns with his low usage of the breaking ball. It signals a possible discomfort with the pitch. Hitters have sat on the fastball, leading to a .308 average and .662 slugging percentage against the pitch. They've done nothing to either offspeed offering. Tomorrow, he'll face the upgraded Diamondbacks lineup at tiny Great American Ballpark. Although Castillo should owned in most leagues, I recommend using discretion when deciding whether or not to start him tomorrow.


Mike Foltynewicz at Brandon McCarthy offers a pair of streamable starters. McCarthy is 54 percent owned. He may not be available. He's also the better of the two pitchers, combining decent stuff, plus command, and a mind for pitching strategy. To this point, he's posted a 3.38 ERA with 6.64 K/9 and 2.61 BB/9 while avoiding the home runs that have plagued so many other pitchers.


Foltynewicz has the tougher end of the matchup. The Dodgers offense can go wild against the best of pitchers. The Braves righty has emerged as one of their most reliable arms. He's posted a 3.84 ERA with 7.96 K/9, 3.11 BB/9 and seven wins. That's basically fantasy average in this dumpster fire known as the 2017 season. Fantasy owners haven't suffered through pitching this bad since the heart of the steroid era. Even then, there were more workhorses to ride.


Jhoulys Chacin is on a roll. The righty has posted a 2.68 ERA since the start of June. Alas, regression will eventually rear its ugly head – he's pitched to a 4.60 FIP over the same period with otherwise mediocre peripherals. Even when considering said mediocrity, he's easily usable at AT&T Park against the Giants.


How's this for a rousing recommendation? Seth Lugo will probably keep the Mets in the game versus the Cardinals. On the way, he'll have a shot at a quality start and a win. The upside is minimal – expecting anything more than six innings, five strikeouts, and two runs allowed is a recipe for disappointment. More likely, you'll get those six frames with four strikeouts and three runs. That's... a bland quality start.


Pitchers to Abuse


Most days, the sheer volume of exploitable pitchers can be intimidating. Tomorrow, Wade Miley is the one guy you'll want to target aggressively. The southpaw has allowed a .315/.403/.494 line to right-handed hitters. Since mid-May, opponents have plated 51 runs in 56.2 innings to go with 6.51 K/9 and 5.08 BB/9. As long as you avoid any left-handed Rangers, you should benefit.


Francisco Liriano is having a terrible season, but most of his woes can be pinned upon a high walk rate and a low strand rate. If those regress even for one game, he could turn in a strong outing. The Red Sox are a tough opponent though. Liriano is set to battle Doug Fister. The sinker baller has experienced a slight uptick in his velocity, but it hasn't helped him prevent runs or home runs. Unfortunately, there aren't many good Blue Jays on the wire.


Hitters: Power


When there are few exploitable pitchers, there are also fewer streamable hitters. Mike Napoli stands out as a must-play versus Miley. Since shaking off an early season slump, he's slashing .237/.316/.577 in 177 plate appearances with 16 of his 20 home runs. When in the lineup, he bats fourth, fifth, or sixth. He'll certainly play in place of Joey Gallo. Try Carlos Gomez too if he's available.


A couple Cardinals, namely Tommy Pham and Paul DeJong, are of interest as power threats. Pham has reached a tipping point. Fantasy owners finally believe the hot streak is more than a hot streak. I have some doubts about his long term production. For now, keep using him until he slumps. DeJong is more widely available. He's also more flawed at the plate, posting a meager 2.6 percent walk rate compared to a 30.5 percent strikeout rate. He's followed the typical breakout formula this season, hitting mostly hard fly balls and line drives. The result is a .295/.312/.577 line with 10 home runs in 154 plate appearances. He's playing regularly at shortstop too.


Orlando Arcia is generating some post hype buzz. Over his last 100 plate appearances, he's slashing .347/.380/.558 with five home runs and four steals. The Brewers shortstop regularly bats eighth, but continued success could see him move up in the order. There are some red flags including a .373 BABIP and 21.7 percent HR/FB ratio during his hot streak. Normalize those and he'd be much less exciting.


Chris Young will have the platoon advantage against Liriano, although the southpaw's plus changeup has a way of neutralizing right-handed hitters. Lucas Duda likes facing fastball pitchers, although he prefers preying on pitches low in the zone. Lance Lynn succeeds by working both up and down in the strike zone. Trey Mancini and Matt Adams are fall back options.


Hitters: Speed


One guy stands above the others on the stolen base front. Like Napoli, Delino DeShields plays any time the Rangers face a lefty. Either Nomar Mazara or Shin-Soo Choo will take the day off. DeShields is a frisky runner who isn't timid against southpaws. He's also been patient versus lefties this season, elevating his chances to reach base.


Keon Broxton is sitting on 46 percent ownership. The streaky slugger does everything except reach base at a high clip. The result is extreme volatility. Use him on the right days, and he'll carry your team. Play him on the wrong ones, and he'll hand you a truck full of sombreros (i.e. he'll strike out a lot). Broxton is visiting his old Pittsburgh stomping grounds.


If you really need a steal and don't have much to work with Denard Span has shown some wheels recently while hitting for a high average. You could do worse than a matchup against Chacin.

Brad Johnson

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