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, September 19
Eleven games are on the docket for this Thursday. Many head-to-head leagues are playing their championship week, so let's talk about last minute decision making. On the hitting front, pursue category victories like you would any other week. Make sure you're using guys who will play. A Daniel Murphy could ruin your season with his frequent rest.
Pitching is more complicated. By now, you have an idea of where you stand for the volume-based (wins and strikeouts) and rate-based (ERA and WHIP) stats. Usually, you'll be prioritizing one or the other by focusing on quality or quantity. After tonight, it will be the perfect time to consider pivoting strategies. If you were counting on Clayton Kershaw and Zack Godley to kick off a strong week, you may need to stream some iffy pitchers while chasing the volume stats. Likewise, owners helped by Aaron Nola and Trevor Williams' ratios may want to reconsider using Mark Leiter tomorrow.
Pitchers to Use
Three pitchers meet my typical standards for streaming. Since it's crunch time, I'll offer some thoughts on a couple fringier options too. The best of the bunch is Tyler Anderson – assuming he's at full strength. It's certainly a good sign that he's tossed 10 scoreless innings since returning from the disabled list. However, he only averaged 90.2 mph in his most recent start – two full tics below his usual velocity. The good news is that his 90 mph sinker was good enough to shut down the Padres. And he gets a rematch tonight at Petco Park.
On the opposite side of the Rockies is Clayton Richard. The left-handed worm-burner keeps his team in the game while posting semi-frequent quality starts. He doesn't aid in any specific category, but he can provide helpful volume and a chance at a win.
In terms of fantasy production, R.A. Dickey is almost an exact clone of Richard. Expect the same unimpressive rates with a non-zero chance for victory. The knuckleballer is hosting the Nationals at homer happy SunTrust Park.
If you're forced to scrape the barrel, try Parker Bridwell. I keep waiting for him to regress. The right-hander allows a ton of hard contact, and he fails to induce strikeouts. He looks like a 5.00 ERA pitcher to me despite his current 3.71 ERA. However, with the exception of a couple outings against the Athletics, he's sailed through every appearance. He has a tough challenge against the Indians.
Mark Leiter has shown a couple positive traits – namely 8.51 K/9 and a low hard contact rate. I have my doubts about his ability to continue avoiding hard contact. It hasn't helped him either – he has a 4.93 ERA with 1.79 HR/9. A pairing versus the Dodgers is far from ideal.
Pitchers to Abuse
In addition to Bridwell and Leiter, the first place I'd look for hitters is in Baltimore. Matt Andriese is visiting Gabriel Ynoa. Andriese only recently returned from a long stint on the disabled list. He struggles mightily when facing hitters for a second or third time. Either the Rays cut his outing short, or he'll start coughing up runs around the third or fourth inning.
Ynoa is a fly ball pitcher who has allowed a 40.5 percent hard contact rate through his first 23.2 innings. Unless he can fix that issue, he's doomed to fail. Lefties have hit well against him in a tiny sample. Most of the Rays best hitters are left-handed.
Another great place to look for bats is Detroit. Adalberto Mejia is drawing a start for the Twins opposite Jordan Zimmermann. Mejia has decent stuff, but his command isn't sufficient to fully leverage it in the majors. If and when he sharpens things up, he'll become a decent fantasy asset. Zimmermann can't do anything right – he's extremely hittable.
The Cardinals have a few useful hitters under 50 percent owned. They should enjoy a game against Homer Bailey at Great American Ballpark. Bailey is slightly homer prone (pun intended). He can't keep hitters off the bases either.
Don't be fooled into liking Carson Fulmer just because he has a prospect pedigree. He was hammered at Triple-A to the tune of a 5.79 ERA (6.86 K/9, 4.64 BB/9). In the majors, he's managed a 4.50 ERA with 8.50 K/9 and 4.50 BB/9 in 18 innings. Expect the strikeout rate to decline. He'll allow more hits too – he can't post a .191 BABIP forever.
As mentioned in the “pitchers to abuse” section, there are a couple particularly enticing matchups. The first features a quartet of left-handed Rays at Camden Yards. Although Corey Dickerson and Logan Morrison remain over 50 percent owned, I've seen them on the waiver wire in some of my deep leagues. Their second half slumps have owners digging for hot alternatives. If they're available, bet on a home run tomorrow. If you need a little bit of everything, Kevin Kiermaier is your man. He's capable of hitting a home run or stealing a base. Lucas Duda is best saved for deep leagues where the previous three are not available.
Across the aisle, consider Seth Smith or Austin Hays. Smith is having a typical season as a platoon hitter. He's played less often in recent weeks due to the arrival of Hays. One of the Orioles top prospects, Hays is the type of guy who could go on a homer binge before scouting reports catch up to him. Beware, the 22-year-old skipped Triple-A and only spent half a season in Double-A.
The top two Cardinals to target are Stephen Piscotty and cleanup hitter Jose Martinez. Piscotty has hit well since returning from a brief stint in the minors - .284/.377/.448 in 77 plate appearances. Martinez is the better play. He's emerged as a true middle of the order threat. He'll be a popular “sleeper” entering next season – the kind who is frequently picked too early. In his breakout campaign, Martinez has shown skills similar to those of J.D. Martinez. So long as he plays every day, he should be owned in all leagues.
Other options for power include Max Kepler against Zimmermann, Steve Pearce opposite Jason Vargas, and C.J. Cron versus Danny Salazar. If you need a catcher, James McCann has the platoon advantage. He's hitting .316/.387/.600 versus southpaws.
Once again, it's a shallow pool for speed. A few Twins are threats to run, namely Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario, and – if he starts – Ehire Adrianza. Buxton and Rosario is over 50 percent owned. They have a strong matchup against McCann. He rarely catches base thieves. Bear in mind, Polanco and Rosario rarely run.
Delino DeShields matchup against James Paxton could turn into a big 'ol goose egg. Paxton looked shaky in his latest return from injury. Another bad outing could put DeShields on base multiple times. Excluding pinch running opportunities, he steals about once every 15 plate appearances.
Manuel Margot never really got going this season. The Padres leadoff man had a roughly league average season at the plate while popping 12 home runs and 15 steals. Those in keeper leagues should remain patient – a 15/30 type performance is just around the corner. For those in need of instant gratification, he could reach base and run against Anderson.