Every week in the Weekend Stream, we’ll give you pitchers to add for spot starts who can help you chase down a category or two in head-to-head leagues. All of the pitchers I offer will fall under one of three headings. If a pitcher is a stream candidate in “shallow” leagues, it means he has an ownership rate between 35% and 50%. “Medium” translates to pitchers with ownership rates between 21% and 34%, and those under the “deep” heading are owned in 20% of leagues or less.
An endorsement for a pitcher in a shallow or medium league would also apply to the leagues beneath it, but those of you in deep leagues shouldn’t hold out hope that a pitcher with an ownership rate of 40% will be available.
Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks (Friday vs. Marlins)
Corbin has pitched his way onto the Weekend Stream, and for someone in his shoes, that’s a bad thing. He was a popular late-round target back in March after a successful return from Tommy John surgery in the second half of last season, but he hasn’t been able to find the touch for most of this year, posting a 4.73 ERA, 4.79 FIP and 1.36 WHIP with 52 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings. He has shown some positive signs recently, however, notching quality starts in four of his last six trips to the mound, and he had arguably his best start of the season his last time out, holding the Cubs to two runs on five hits with five strikeouts and no walks in seven innings to earn a win over the best team in baseball.
Kevin Gausman, Orioles (Friday @ Blue Jays)
The calculus on streaming Gausman is bit different this week because of his matchup with the Jays in Toronto. He’s usually one of the easier pitchers for a shallow-league owner to spot start over the weekend, largely because he should be owned in a lot more of those leagues. Even if you did already own him, however, you might be benching him in this start. Really, this comes down to where you stand in your weekly matchup. Gausman has proven himself capable of handling a lineup like Toronto’s, but that doesn’t mean he will do so every time. If you’re in a rate battle and your ERA is below, say, 3.50, you probably don’t want to stream Gausman. If it’s above that, however, the slimmer risk of him raising it is outweighed by the potential benefits he brings to the table.
Tyler Chatwood, Rockies (Saturday vs. Padres)
Chatwood is a bit like Gausman, in that he should probably be owned in a few more medium-sized leagues than he is heading into the weekend. Unlike Gausman, however, he has an excellent matchup. Yes, he’ll be taking the mound at Coors Field, but the Padres do more than necessary to counterbalance that. Like pretty much every Rockies pitcher from time immemorial, Chatwood has better numbers on the road: He has a 5.30 ERA and 1.51 WHIP at Coors and a 0.65 ERA and 0.84 WHIP everywhere else. Still, this is the Padres, a team Chatwood shut out for eight innings with seven strikeouts—albeit in San Diego—in his previous start against them.
Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox (Saturday @ Twins)
The Red Sox unquestionably have some issues to work out in their rotation, but getting Rodriguez back was a huge step in the right direction. He got roughed up in his last outing, but that was against the Blue Jays. This weekend it’s the Twins, a team that ranks 23rd in weighted on-base average and sixth in strikeout rate. Rodriguez impressed in his rookie season, and his first two starts suggest he is over the knee injury that landed him on the disabled list for all of April and most of May. He’s one of this weekend’s best streaming options.
Anthony DeSclafani, Reds (Friday vs. A’s)
DeSclafani is set to come off the DL on Friday and make his season debut against Oakland after missing the first two months of the year with an oblique injury he suffered in spring training. He was an effective backend fantasy starter in deeper leagues last year, finishing the season with a 4.05 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.35 WHIP and 151 strikeouts in 184 2/3 innings. He also gets a friendly matchup in his return to the mound, which is something you’ll definitely welcome in a stream pitcher. The A’s are one of five teams in the majors with a wOBA worse than .300; the other four are the Yankees, Padres, Phillies and Braves—a who’s who of offenses fantasy owners target for spot starters. DeSclafani can be more than that, but he’s definitely worth adding for at least one turn.
Jon Gray, Rockies (Friday vs. Padres)
This is a little different than the Chatwood recommendation from earlier for a few reasons. First, Gray has a ton of strikeout upside: He has fanned 61 batters in 52 1/3 innings this year and has three starts with at least 10 strikeouts. Second, Gray has actually had some success at Coors Field this year: After allowing 11 runs in his first 8 2/3 innings at home, he has surrendered five in his last 12 and earned quality starts in wins over the Mets and Reds. Third, Gray is the kind of guy who can stick on a roster in all formats. The two starts in which he struggled at Coors were his first two of the season, but since then, he has a 4.12 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings. In two outings against the Padres this year, Gray has allowed four runs and struck out 23 batters in 13 innings.
Dan Straily, Reds (Saturday vs. A’s)
Straily made this space last week, then went out and tossed a gem against the Nationals, holding the NL East’s first-place team to two runs on two hits in seven innings. He picked up a no-decision in the game but lowered his ERA to 3.34 and WHIP to 1.13 in the process. He should absolutely be owned in all deeper formats, and this might be your last chance to get him for free. He has an excellent matchup with the A’s this weekend, a team whose futility I highlighted earlier. If Straily turns in another strong performance, he’ll be owned across the board in leagues with at least 14 teams.
Danny Duffy, Royals (Sunday @ White Sox)
I focused on Duffy in this week’s Pitching Report, noting the changes he has made—specifically pitching from the stretch with no one on base—to find success as a starter this year. He went out on Monday night and largely shut down the mighty Orioles, holding them to two runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out nine and walking none. He had a shutout through six innings but then ran out of steam in the seventh and gave up solo homers to Mark Trumbo and Matt Wieters. Duffy is still getting stretched out after starting the year in the bullpen, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to see an offense like Baltimore’s finally get to him. The bigger takeaway was how dominant he was for the first six frames. Don’t be surprised when Duffy climbs all the way up the Weekend Stream categories before graduating from it entirely.
Jon Niese, Pirates (Sunday vs. Cardinals)
Niese is the deep-league version of Gausman this week. Remember, I recommended Gausman as a streamer for shallow-league owners whose rate categories this week are already decided. The same goes for Niese against the Cardinals. He has thrown the ball exceptionally well over the last month or so, picking up six straight quality starts, and has a 2.15 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 24 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings in that span. Maybe it just took a little longer for the Ray Searage magic to wash over him, but whatever it is, Niese has protected his spot in the Pittsburgh rotation with Jameson Taillon now in the majors and Tyler Glasnow likely not far behind. The Cardinals, second in the league in wOBA, present a brutal matchup, but Niese is a fine spot starter if you’re not trying to protect a slim lead in your rate categories.