Streaming is a time-tested approach prized by fantasy owners of all stripes. Categories in head-to-head leagues can often come down to the thinnest of margins, making the weekend a crucial time to think about streaming pitchers. Below are this weekend's best options -- all owned in 30 percent or less in either Yahoo!, CBSSports or ESPN leagues as of Thursday night.
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• Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox -- I'm still surprised that a pitcher like Quintana, who, in 57 career starts has amassed a 3.65 ERA and 3.99 FIP, and increased his strikeout percentage to 19.7 percent from 14.3 percent in one year, isn't more widely owned in mixed leagues. In two starts this year covering 13 innings, Quintana has allowed four earned runs on 10 hits while striking out 12. His five walks are on the high side, but we can chalk that up to a small sample size for the time being.
Pitchers don't increase their strikeout rate by five whole percentage points in one year simply because of luck. The southpaw Quintana has always been effective against lefties, but he greatly improved his performance against righties last year, holding them to a .240/.296/.392 slash line and posting 117 strikeouts in 146.2 innings. That performance had to be a large factor in his earning a long-term extension from the White Sox, and it should be enough for him to earn the tust of fantasy owners. Quintana takes the ball for the White Sox on Sunday against the Indians. You will note that a handful of their best players -- Jason Kipnis, Nick Swisher, Michael Brantley -- are lefties. Regardless of what you're chasing this weekend, Quintana is a great stream option.
• Jason Vargas, Kansas City Royals -- It's time to pick on the Twins again, this time with Vargas, who starts for the Royals on Sunday. He's not your best bet if you need strikeouts this weekend, but those of you looking for a cheap win or a boost in the rate categories should give Vargas some attention. He has surrendered just two earned runs, nine hits and two walks in 15 innings this year, which covers starts against the Tigers and Rays. Needless to say, the Twins are not the Tigers or Rays, Chris Colabello not withstanding. Vargas isn't a guy you'll want to keep on your roster beyond this weekend -- until his next stream-worthy opportunity -- but he's a great plug-and-play for the last day of the week in head-to-head leagues.
• Drew Hutchison, Toronto Blue Jays -- Hutchison is Vargas' mirror image this weekend, one of the fantasy community's best strikeout-heavy stream options. The 23-year-old righty racked up big strikeout numbers in the minors and has whiffed nearly eight batters per nine innings in 13 major league starts. He has only thrown 8.2 innings this year, but has 10 strikeouts. Of course, he has also allowed six runs on nine hits and six walks. He is not your guy if you're trying to make a push in the rate categories, and given that he's taking on the Orioles in Baltimore on Saturday, you should be able to do better if you're looking for another win or two. However, the Orioles are a big swing-and-miss team with guys like Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Nelson Cruz and J.J. Hardy in the everyday lineup. Hutchsion's strikeout stuff should play quite well in Baltimore. Give him a whirl if you need strikeouts this weekend.
• Martin Perez, Texas Rangers -- Perez has had some hard luck this season, allowing six earned runs in 12 innings despite a 2.33 FIP. He has yet to allow a home run and has walked just three, but he has surrendered 15 hits, resulting in a .429 BABIP. Obviously it's way too early to even start drawing any conclusions based on batted-ball rates, but Perez's peripheral numbers all suggest he has pitched better this season than his ERA indicates. But let's forget that for a second and note that he takes the bump for the Rangers on Sunday against the Astros, a matchup that could make even the lowliest of starters worth streaming. Perez can help you this weekend, regardless of what categories you're chasing down.