It's never too early to stream, my friends -- not even during the first weekend of the season. Every Friday in this space, we'll present the best pitchers to stream for the weekend. By definition, streamable pitchers need to be readily available. For our purposes, we'll only consider pitchers owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo, ESPN or CBS leagues as stream possibilities.
Chasing down strikeouts or wins? Need to take a shot at lowering your ERA or WHIP? The following guys are your best bets to find help.
• Tyler Skaggs, Los Angeles Angels -- Skaggs takes the ball for the first time this season on Saturday with the Angels in Houston. The assignment is one of the best a pitcher can hope for. The Astros may have gotten off to a nice start this year with their series win against the Yankees, but this isn't a lineup that's going to intimidate too many hurlers. Skaggs has high-strikeout potential, despite a fastball that sits in the high-80s-to-low-90s. In 104 innings with Triple-A Reno in the Diamondbacks' organization last year, he had a 9.26 K/9 average. He threw 38 2/3 innings in the big leagues, fanning 36 batters. Skaggs features a filthy curveball that could be among the best in the game. He's widely available, and could end up as more than just a stream guy, especially in deeper mixed leagues.
• Wily Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers -- Peralta is nearly the polar opposite of Skaggs. When he's at his best, it's usually thanks to his fastball, which clocks in at 94.6 mph on average. Unlike Skaggs, however, he did not post big strikeout numbers last year. He made 32 starts for the Brewers and whiffed 129 batters in 183 1/3 innings. Still, heat like that almost always pushes a starter's strikeout numbers higher, especially when you consider that Peralta is still a month away from his 25th birthday. He'll have his work cut out for him in his first start of the season Saturday with the Brewers in Boston, so he may not be an advisable stream pitcher if you're looking for help in the rate categories. However, if you're trying to make a move in strikeouts, Peralta brings decent upside to the table.
• Erasmo Ramirez, Seattle Mariners -- Ramirez looked great in his first start of the year, allowing two earned runs on six hits across seven innings, striking out six and walking nary a batter in a win over the Angels. He compiled a 4.98 ERA last season, though his xFIP was more than a half-run better. (xFIP stands for Expected Fielding Independent Pitching, which is essentially ERA but only for outcomes the pitcher can control -- home runs, walks, strikeouts, hit by pitches -- while adjusting the home run rate to league average.) The 23-year-old had a great spring, posting a 1.14 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 20 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings. While spring stats don't matter for most players, they do carry some weight for youngsters who could be on the verge of jumping a level. Ramirez fits that bill. He makes his second start this season on Sunday in Oakland.
• Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians -- Every season, a few teams emerge as patsies -- offenses that owners should take advantage of by streaming the pitchers lucky enough to face their paper-thin lineups. It's early, but the Twins, Cleveland's opponent this weekend, could very well be one of those teams. That makes Carrasco a worthy stream pitcher when he takes the mound on Saturday. Carrasco actually has strikeout stuff, headlined by a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, but he has never really put it together after once being a top prospect in the Phillies' organization. Carrasco also features a changeup that induced a 20.7-percent swinging-strike rate last year. If he could manage to stay healthy and in a rotation for an entire season, he could be a guy worthy of owning outright in deep mixed leagues. At the very least, he's certainly worth grabbing for his weekend start against the potentially lowly Twins.