Thursday April 23rd, 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

Carlos Martinez, Cardinals (Friday @ Brewers)

I’m going to keep putting Martinez in this column until his ownership rates climb to where they should be—75%, at the very least. In a pair of starts this season, both against the Reds, Martinez has allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out 12 batters in 12 innings. And luckily for Martinez, he draws the Brewers this weekend, a team in complete disarray. There was a chance Milwaukee would struggle offensively even at full strength, and now it's without Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy, who are probably the team's two best hitters. Ryan Braun’s bat, meanwhile, is completely emasculated and Aramis Ramirez is one of four players in the majors with a negative weighted runs created plus (wRC+). The only player left to worry about in the Brewers' lineup is Adam Lind. Martinez should have a fine outing on Friday, and if you manage to pick him up, make sure you keep him around.

Anthony DeSclafani, Reds (Saturday vs. Cubs)

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​DeSclafani has been one of the surprises in the early going this season, posting a 0.86 ERA, 2.88 FIP and 0.62 WHIP in 21 innings. He’s living mostly on three pitches, with his slider and sinker complementing a four-seam fastball that sits right around 93 miles per hour. He struck out nearly a batter per inning in 59 1/3 frames with the Marlins at Triple A last season, but has just 42 strikeouts in 54 career major league innings. It’s hard to fathom why his ownership rates rival Martinez’s, given the obvious gulf in stuff, but DeSclafani’s sparkling rates do look pretty on a fantasy owner’s roster. While his performance is a bit of a mirage to this point, DeSclafani can be a worthwhile streamer this weekend. He shut out the Cubs for seven innings the first time he faced them, allowing two hits and two walks while fanning five batters.

Alfredo Simon, Tigers (Saturday vs. Indians)

Simon is doing exactly for the Tigers what he did for the Reds last season: getting out to a hot start. But understand that there isn’t a ton of strikeout upside here. Simon has whiffed just 12 batters in 20 2/3 innings this year and had a 15.5% strikeout rate last season. Ultimately, that’s going to hamstring his fantasy value. He’s really no more than a stream pitcher in all but deep leagues, but he can always be an asset in a spot-start capacity, especially if you’re trying to chase down wins.

There’s no denying that Simon has pitched well this year, allowing a total of four runs in his 20 2/3 frames. Three of those were to the Indians in his first start of the season, but he’s worth trusting on Saturday. Detroit’s offense is hitting everything in sight, making Simon an ideal stream pitcher if you’re facing a deficit in the wins category.

Normal

Aaron Harang, Phillies (Friday vs. Braves)

Harang is 3-for-3 in quality starts this season and has at least six strikeouts in two of his three outings. Against all odds, the soon-to-be–37-year-old keeps finding ways to retain a modicum of fantasy value. That should be on display Friday against the Braves. They rank anywhere from 11th to 17th in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, weighted on-base average (wOBA) and wRC+ this season, and they’ll be able to throw a number of lefthanded bats at Harang, but don’t mistake this for a strong offense. At the very worst, this is a neutral matchup for Harang.

Josh Collmenter, Diamondbacks (Friday vs. Pirates)

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​Collmenter has had a few rocky outings this year, but he was masterful in his last start, tossing a complete-game shutout against the Giants. This is a recommendation you’ll have to weigh more carefully than most of the others, however. Collmenter isn’t going to strike out very many batters, so he doesn’t really bring any value in that category. Pittsburgh has struggled with the bats this year, but no lineup that includes Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Josh Harrison in three of the first five spots could be termed bad. Add lefthanded bats Neil Walker, Gregory Polanco and Pedro Alvarez to the mix, and you get a tough matchup for Collmenter. Having said that, streamers can’t always be choosers. Collmenter isn’t at the top of my list for streamable pitchers on Friday, but if you’re digging a bit, he could potentially be of some help.

Brandon Morrow, Padres (Sunday vs. Dodgers)

We can excuse Morrow for allowing five runs in six innings in Coors Field earlier this week, especially when you drill down into the details of that game. Morrow didn’t exactly get knocked around, surrendering six hits and a walk, but the Rockies managed to string those hits together in a few different innings to make each of them count. This weekend, he’s back at home in the much cozier confines of Petco Park. The Dodgers lead the league in wOBA, with Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson all swinging hot bats. The matchup may not be ideal, but Morrow is taking the ball Sunday, meaning he represents one of your last chances to steal away some categories. Even against a great offensive team, he brings a ton of strikeout upside to the table. He also has the added value of being a guy you can keep around for longer than just a weekend.

Deep

Travis Wood, Cubs (Sunday @ Reds)

Wood has been a bit of a mixed bag during his career, but we’ve seen enough from him to know that he can be an effective fantasy pitcher, especially in the right situation. He has just that opportunity against the Reds on Sunday. Wood shut out the Reds for seven innings one week ago, allowing just five total base runners and fanning seven batters. Two of the team’s most dangerous hitters, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, are lefties, and Wood has allowed a .209/.283/.331 slash line with the platoon advantage in his career. Wood is a fly-ball heavy pitcher, and that can get you into trouble at the Great American Ball Park, but this is a good fit to deploy him for a spot start.

Brett Anderson, Dodgers (Sunday @ Padres)

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Numerous arm injuries have essentially wiped out Anderson’s strikeout ability. His fastball now sits in the low-90s, and his slider just doesn’t have the same tilt that it once did. What he does still do at a high level is induce ground balls, and that alone makes him a decent stream option this weekend in San Diego. That last bit of information helps as well, with almost any pitcher being worth a look, especially for a spot start, while pitching in Petco. San Diego’s lineup is loaded with righthanded pop, and that is a trouble spot for Anderson, but this is a risk worth taking for an owner who needs, say, six innings and a potential win on Sunday.

Hector Santiago, Angels (Sunday vs. Rangers)

Santiago is off to a great start this season, having allowed just five runs and 13 hits in 18 1/3 innings, racking up 17 strikeouts. One of his best starts of the year came against these very same Rangers, when he surrendered one run and whiffed five in seven innings. We know that he’s not going to be this good all year, but this Rangers offense is exploitable. It ranks fifth-worst in the majors with a .631 OPS and is in the bottom-sixth of the league in wOBA and wRC+. Santiago hasn’t completely changed his stripes, and you don’t want to roster him all season, but this is a good place to get him active.

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