Thursday April 16th, 2015

It’s the weekend, meaning it’s your last chance to flip categories in head-to-head leagues. Every week, Michael Beller will provide you with the best pitchers to stream in shallow, normal and deep leagues. Pitchers with availability rates of 50% to 70% are considered streamers for shallow-league owners. If a pitcher is available in 71 to 89% of leagues, he falls in the normal section. Anyone available in 90% of leagues or more is a deep stream option.

Here are Beller’s picks for this weekend.

Shallow

Jesse Hahn, Oakland A’s (Saturday @ Royals)

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Hahn was victimized by bad defense has last time out, a no-decision against the Mariners. He allowed four runs, though just one was earned, on three hits and two walks. The Royals have picked up right where they left off in 2014, but that doesn’t make them a very threatening offense. Hahn’s changeup, which carries a whiff rate near 20% through two starts, makes him a tough matchup for lefties Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas, and switch-hitter Kendrys Morales.

Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals (Saturday vs. Reds)

Martinez is woefully under-owned, even in shallow leagues, and that should start to change with a stream opportunity this weekend. Those in deeper leagues have already caught on, but Martinez is a pitcher who should be universally owned, regardless of league size. The big question with him coming into this year was whether or not he’d be able to develop a changeup that was strong enough to keep lefties honest. I think Joey Votto can vouch that it’s pretty good.

In the very early going here, more than one-quarter of his pitches thrown have been changeups. He limited the Reds to two runs on four hits and two walks in six innings while striking out eight last week. Get him and keep him. He’s for real.

Wei-yin Chen, Baltimore Orioles (Sunday @ Red Sox)

This isn’t a great matchup for Chen; he’ll be taking on a strong, right-handed-dominant lineup in Fenway on Sunday, none of which is good for the lefty. The most important thing to realize, however, is that he takes the ball on Sunday. If you’re a desperate owner trying to chase down any category, Chen is one of the few pitchers who will actually be available for you to stream on the final day of the week. He’s only recommended if you need a boost in counting stats, and a bad ERA can’t hurt you. If you’re holding onto slim leads in the rate categories, and are thinking about trying to squeeze a few strikeouts out of Chen, think twice. If you have nothing to lose, Chen is worth a spot start on Sunday.

Normal

Aaron Harang, Philadelphia Phillies (Saturday @ Nationals)

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Somehow, seemingly well past his “best by” date, Harang keeps on finding a way to keep up a surprising level of success. In 12 1/3 innings this year, he has allowed just one run on six hits while fanning nine batters. The matchup with Washington could be coming at a bad time. The Nationals’ offense is much better than it has shown to this point of the season, and it’s coming off a 10-run game in Boston on Wednesday that suggests it’s finding a rhythm. Still, the only lefty bat in the lineup Harang really has to worry about belongs to Bryce Harper. Perhaps more importantly, there aren’t many stream options for the non-shallow fantasy community on Saturday or Sunday. Harang could represent your last chance to steal a pitching category this weekend.

Tim Hudson, San Francisco Giants (Sunday vs. Diamondbacks)

Even during the prime of his career, Hudson was never a huge strikeout pitcher. Those days are obviously behind him, and Hudson’s missing fewer bats now than ever. He’s still very good at what he has always done, however, using his heavy sinker to induce ground ball after ground ball. On days that his sinker is working, he remains one of the most maddening pitchers to face. The Diamondbacks don’t feature the league’s most intimidating lineup, and Hudson is always going to be more attractive at AT&T Park than he is on the road. He’s on the mound Sunday, meaning he can wrest away a category or two for you on the final day of your matchup.

Deep

Jeremy Guthrie, Kansas City Royals (Friday vs. A’s)

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Guthrie doesn’t really excite anyone, but Oakland features the kind of lineup that shouldn’t bother him too much. In other words, the A’s don’t have very many power hitters. Guthrie has always struggled with the long ball in his career, as was the case in his first start of the season when he allowed a leadoff homer to Kole Calhoun. So long as he can keep his sinker down, he should be able to find success against the A’s, or at least enough to please a fantasy owner in a deep league who decides to stream him on Friday. Don’t expect anything more than that.

Chris Heston, San Francisco Giants (Saturday vs. Diamondbacks)

Two starts into the 2015 season, Heston is making himself a pitcher to know for deep-league owners. The 27-year-old allowed just two unearned runs in six innings in his first start of the year against Arizona, surrendering three hits and striking out five. He then gave up one earned run in seven innings against the mighty Rockies his next time out, albeit at home. Heston relies on a sinker as his primary get-ahead pitch, and has both a slider and curve that he can turn to in any count. He has racked up a total of 19 whiffs on 84 combined sliders and changeups. The Diamondbacks have seen him once this year, but this remains a solid matchup for him, especially in a stream capacity. Here’s a look at both the sinker and curve in action.

Jeremy Hellickson, Arizona Diamondbacks (Sunday @ Giants)

It’s Sunday. It’s a good pitcher’s park. Hellickson forever has upside. That’s basically the formula for buying Hellickson as a streamer this weekend. This Giants’ lineup isn’t terribly threatening at full strength, and it isn’t even there yet. Hunter Pence remains out with a broken forearm, and Brandon Belt is dealing with a mild groin strain. Hellickson has not been good in his first two starts of the season, allowing eight runs, 16 hits and five walks in 11 innings, so understand that getting him in your lineup on Sunday, no matter the matchup, is a roll of the dice.

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