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% 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% of leagues or more is a deep stream option.
Here are Beller’s picks for this weekend.
Matt Shoemaker, Angels (Friday @ A’s)
Shoemaker wasn’t great his last time out, allowing four runs—three earned—on six hits in 5 2/3 innings. The good news was he struck out five and didn’t walk a batter. In his last two starts covering 12 innings, he has 11 strikeouts against just one walk. He faces the same A’s who roughed him up a bit in his last start, but it’s never a bad assignment for a pitcher to take the mound at O.co Coliseum. The A’s have had his number a bit this season, but his strikeout ability makes him a good stream option for owners in shallow leagues. Those in deep leagues should plan on starting him, his up-and-down season notwithstanding.
Taijuan Walker, Mariners (Saturday vs. Astros)
The Walker who entered both 2014 and 2015 as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball has finally shown his face. In his last four starts, Walker has allowed five earned runs on 22 hits in 29 innings. In that same timeframe, he has fanned 27 batters while walking just three. Walker has taken his expected role as Felix Hernandez’ right-hand man, and that’s bad news for the four other teams in of the AL West. One of those teams is the Astros, who will have to face Walker on Saturday. Given his strikeout upside, as well as Houston’s swing-and-miss ways, he may be the very best fantasy pitcher on the slate.
Jesse Hahn, A’s (Saturday vs. Angels)
Hahn has alternated between good and bad starts in his last five trips to the mound. If the pattern follows, he’ll turn in a disappointing effort against the Angels on Saturday, but luckily we’re not beholden to silly superstitions here. Hahn’s extreme ground-ball ways should play well against the Angels’ lineup, which ranks 24th in the majors with a .299 wOBA. You won’t want to keep Hahn around beyond this weekend unless you’re in a very deep league, but he can help those of you trying to chase down rate categories this weekend.
Vincent Velasquez, Astros (Sunday @ Mariners)
Velasquez got knocked around in his last start, surrendering five runs on seven hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Rockies. He did strike out seven batters, however, and now has 12 whiffs in 9 2/3 innings in the majors. The Mariners have the fourth-highest strikeout rate in the majors, trailing only the Cubs, Astros and Padres. What’s more, they strike out even more frequently against right-handed pitchers. Velasquez may not make it through his entire outing unscathed, but he should rack up at least six strikeouts if he can make it through five innings.
Charlie Morton, Pirates (Sunday @ Nationals)
The rich apparently got richer when Morton rejoined the Pittsburgh rotation about a month ago. They already had Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett, making Morton the best No. 4 starter in the majors since coming back from the DL. In five starts, he has compiled a 1.62 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 33 1/3 innings. He doesn’t strike out many hitters, so this isn’t going to last forever, from either a real-life or fantasy perspective, but he’ll always be a strong stream option. That’s certainly the case when he takes the mound against the Nationals on Sunday. Even with Bryce Harper having an MVP-caliber season, the Nationals as a whole have fallen well short of offensive expectations. In 12-team or deeper formats, Morton is one of your best stream picks of the weekend.
J.A. Happ, Mariners (Sunday vs. Astros)
In seemingly every edition of the Weekend Stream, we talk about the Astros and their proclivity to swing and miss. Their offense may be dramatically improved, and even a year ahead of schedule, but they still strike out with the best of them. Only the Cubs whiff more frequently than the Astros, and that makes them a great stream opponent. Happ’s not a huge strikeout pitcher, but he has an 18.3% strikeout rate and 6.96 K/9 this season. So long as he can remain in the game for five or six innings, he should give his owners at least six strikeouts on Sunday.
Carlos Frias, Dodgers (Saturday vs. Giants)
When Frias is at his best, he’s inducing a ton of ground balls with his cutter and changeup. That was the case back on May 19 when he made his first start against the Giants this season. He allowed just one run on seven hits in six innings, striking out three batters. He’s unlikely to help you in the strikeout department over the weekend, but he can take advantage of this San Francisco lineup. If you’re forced to dig deep for some help in your pitching categories this weekend, Frias is ready and available for a spot start in nearly all leagues.