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 percent to 70 percent are considered streamers for shallow-league owners. If a pitcher is available in 71 to 89 percent of leagues, he falls in the normal section. Anyone available in 90 percent of leagues or more is a deep stream option.
Here are Beller’s picks for this weekend:
Matt Shoemaker, Angels (Sunday vs. A’s)
All things considered, Shoemaker hasn’t been nearly as bad as his 4.86 ERA suggests. He also has a 3.82 xFIP, 1.17 WHIP and 59 strikeouts in 63 innings, and a turnaround in his overall numbers could be in the offing. He may have even started that his last time out, holding the Rays to two runs on five hits with six strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. The real problem this season has been his lack of ground balls, which has helped lead to a ridiculous 16.3% HR/FB ratio. That too, however, should come back to earth as the season progresses. Oakland’s offense is league average in most advanced metrics. Don’t be afraid to get Shoemaker in there on Sunday.
Mike Bolsinger, Dodgers (Sunday @ Padres)
Bolsinger continues to pitch well for the Dodgers, going seven innings and allowing just two runs on three hits with eight strikeouts in his last start. For the season, he’s 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA, 3.52 xFIP, 1.02 WHIP and 36 strikeouts in 43 1/3 innings. He’s not a guy you’d start in every matchup no matter what, but it’s still surprising that he’s available in every other fantasy league. His stuff should play well in Petco Park on Sunday. He had his best start of the season against the Padres in Los Angeles, allowing just one hit with eight strikeouts in eight frames. Recall, too, that the Padres are sixth in the majors in strikeout rate.
Jimmy Nelson, Brewers (Saturday vs. Nationals)
Nelson got back on track in his last start, tossing six shutout innings against the Pirates, allowing four hits and three walks while striking out seven. It was his first quality start in nearly a month, but he still has respectable numbers across the board. No lineup with Bryce Harper is necessarily an easy matchup, but Nelson provides good strikeout upside against a team that whiffs in 21% of its plate appearances. If you’re chasing down rate categories you may want to look elsewhere, but Nelson is one of your better options if you need help in strikeouts this weekend.
Roenis Elias, Mariners (Sunday @ Astros)
The Astros are always an attractive stream opponent because of how much they strike out. Chances are Elias won’t get out of this game with a totally clean sheet, but you can bet that he’ll fan seven or eight batters if he can stick in the game through six innings. That’s simply the going rate when you face a team that has a 25.1% strikeout rate. No team in the majors has struck out more, both in terms of total strikeouts and as a percentage of its plate appearances. Elias may not be a big strikeout pitcher in general, but you don’t need to be to send most of these Astros back to the dugout with their bat in their hands.
Chris Heston, Giants (Sunday vs. Diamondbacks)
One of my grandpa’s favorite bits of trivia was the identity of the only pitcher in major league history to throw back-to-back no-hitters. Heston will attempt to join Johnny Vander Meer in history when he takes on the Diamondbacks on Sunday. Heston’s no-no against the Mets earlier this week featured three hit batsmen and 11 strikeouts. It has been an up-and-down season for Heston—seven days before the no-hitter, he allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings—but you should take a chance to ride the hot arm, here. Heston has made two starts against the Diamondbacks this year, allowing a total of one run on eight hits with 11 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings.
Marco Estrada, Blue Jays (Sunday @ Red Sox)
Estrada has strung together a few solid outings in a row, allowing eight runs and striking out 13 in his last 20 innings. Those aren’t world-beating numbers, but they are good enough to give a fantasy owner who needs a last-minute spot-starter on Sunday confidence. The Red Sox don’t have a terrible offense, but they aren’t anything to really fear, either. Their .305 wOBA is 18th in the majors, and they rank 26th with a .374 slugging percentage. Estrada’s fly-ball tendencies always make him a home-run risk, but the Red Sox are one of the teams in the majors that could really let him off the hook.
Mike Foltynewicz, Braves (Sunday @ Mets)
Heston has had a fine season, but he’s not suddenly becoming the ace the Mets made him look like earlier this week. You want to get as many arms lined up against this team as possible, and Foltynewicz’s low ownership rate gives the fantasy community an opportunity to exploit one of the league’s worst offenses this weekend. On top of that, Folynewicz has a solid 21.1% strikeout rate, and he’ll doubtlessly be happy to see the Mets after facing the Diamondbacks and Padres in his last two starts. This is based on the matchup more than anything else, but that’s perfectly fine when you’re looking for a spot starter.
Chase Anderson, Diamondbacks (Friday @ Giants)
Anderson makes his third consecutive appearance in the weekend stream, albeit in a different section. His ownership has dropped off a bit, largely because of a misstep against the Brewers two outings ago. He rebounded in his last start, dancing around eight hits to allow just one run in 5 2/3 innings, fanning six in a no-decision against the Mets. The Giants are not an easy matchup by any means, and you may want to steer clear if you’re close in the rate categories, especially since this is a Friday game and you’ll have two more full days of action in head-to-head leagues. If you’re willing to punt rates, however, Anderson has shown enough this season to deploy him in a suboptimal matchup, thanks primarily to a high ground-ball rate.
Jeff Locke, Pirates (Friday vs. Phillies)
This recommendation, as you might expect, is mostly about the matchup. The Phillies are last in the majors in wOBA overall (.283) and last in wOBA (.274), OBP (.278) and slugging (.346) against righties. Locke’s not someone you’ll want to keep on your roster beyond this weekend, even in deep mixed leagues, but if there were ever a matchup to get a cheap pitcher on your roster, this is it. Locke has taken advantage of bad offenses this season, posting strong numbers in starts against the Brewers and Marlins (1.37 ERA, 1.02 WHIP). Meanwhile, in six combined starts against the Cubs, Cardinals, Twins and Padres, he has allowed 26 runs in 29 innings (8.07 ERA).