Fantasy baseball Pitcher Streaming Options: Chen, Rienzo
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.
• Wei-Yin Chen, Baltimore Orioles -- Chen has been decent this year, though his recent results suggest otherwise. He has been shelled by the Brewers and Indians in his last two starts, allowing a total of 10 runs on 15 hits in 11 2/3 innings. Luckily for him, he isn't facing the Brewers or the Indians when he takes the mound on Sunday. Rather, he'll stare down the Houston Astros. And that's why Chen is a worthy stream pitcher this weekend.
Despite George Springer's recent heroics, the Astros remain a poor offensive team. They're hitting .239/.311/.390, and even that is inflated by what Springer has done the last two weeks. He's the only regular with an OPS better than .800, and only he and Jose Altuve are north of .750. So long as Chen can challenge someone other than Springer to beat him -- a feat that has been easier said than done in the month of May -- he should have a good day at Minute Maid Park. The Astros also have a 22.5-percent strikeout rate, and while Chen doesn't miss many bats, you don't need to be Nolan Ryan 2.0 to fan the likes of Chris Carter and Jason Castro.
• Andre Rienzo, White Sox -- Rienzo has gotten nice results out of middling performances this year, going 4-1 with a 3.95 ERA in eight appearances, seven of which were starts, covering 41 innings. He has been fortunate, posting a double-digit walk rate and a .238 BABIP despite a line-drive rate pushing 20 percent. So why does he make the Weekend Stream? Most pitchers do when they're facing the Padres, as Rienzo will do on Saturday.
The Padres have become a favorite target for the stream-happy owners among us, and it's easy to see why. As a team, they're hitting .226/.280/.358. Their batting average and OBP rank dead last in the majors, while the slugging percentage ranks 28th, ahead of only the Mets and Royals. San Diego is also last in wOBA at .284 and tied for 28th with 80 weighted runs created plus. Outside of Seth Smith, no Padre with enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title has an OPS above .700. That's about as punchless as a team can get.
Rienzo doesn't get many strikeouts, but that doesn't matter much here. Even though the game is at U.S. Cellular Field and the weather is heating up, the Padres are a team that is ripe for exploiting.
• Jacob deGrom, Mets -- Continuing this week's trend of average pitchers with great matchups, deGrom has been solid for the Mets in his three starts since getting the call from Triple-A Las Vegas. He gave up one run in seven innings against the Yankees, yielded three runs in six innings in a loss to the Dodgers and shut out the Pirates over 6 2/3 innings. He doesn't strike out many batters and doesn't come with a top-prospect pedigree. What he does bring is a matchup with the Phillies, who were recently no-hit by Josh Beckett. That should tell you much of what you need to know about the current state of the Phillies.
However, there is more to tell. Philadelphia is hitting .245/.315./379 as a team, which isn't completely odious in the reality of the 2014 season but still isn't very good. The Phillies' .306 wOBA ranks 23rd, and their 90 wRC+ ranks 22nd. They also strike out 20.9 percent of the time, which ranks just inside the top half of the league's offenses. You can look at their team-wide offensive stats in a number of ways, but they all say the same thing: At best, this offense is a touch below league-average.
Since all three of the stream recommendations for this weekend are based on matchups, I'd target deGrom after both Chen and Rienzo. The Mets rookie takes the ball Saturday in Philadelphia.