Fantasy baseball Pitcher Streaming Options: Jackson, Matsuzaka
Streaming is a time-tested approach prized by fantasy owners of all stripes. Categories in head-to-head leagues can often come down to the thinnest of margins, making the weekend a crucial time to think about streaming pitchers. Below are this weekend's best options -- all owned in 30 percent or less in either Yahoo!, CBSSports or ESPN leagues as of Thursday night.
• Edwin Jackson, Chicago Cubs -- You know what you're getting into when you stream Jackson. He has allowed four or more runs in five starts this season, including two of his last four. He somehow found away to surrender eight runs to the Padres in San Diego. You're rolling the dice with your rates any time you plug Jackson into your active roster.
At the same time, Jackson racks up strikeouts at a pretty impressive clip. He has a 22.5-percent strikeout rate this year, fanning 73 batters in 74 2/3 innings. He has four starts with at least nine strikeouts, all of which have come since May 6. He'll take the ball for the Cubs on Saturday against the Phillies, a team that has struggled as a whole this season. They're hitting just .241/.307/.371 with a .300 wOBA and 86 weighted runs created plus as a team. What's more, they're 21.6-percent strikeout rate is the 11th highest in the majors. Jackson can take advantage of a team like this, even in hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park. If you're chasing strikeouts this weekend, Jackson is likely the best option among pitchers likely to be available in your league.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka, New York Mets -- The fantasy community can be forgiven for not realizing that the immortal Matsuzaka has actually been pretty solid in mostly relief duty for the Mets this season. In 19 appearances covering 39 2/3 innings, he has a 2.95 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.24 WHIP and 39 strikeouts. He has made three starts, allowing a total of seven runs on 10 hits and nine walks, striking out 13 in 16 1.3 innings in those three outings. These aren't stats that should send owners running to the waiver wire, but they are respectable compared with what the Mets realistically expected to get out of him this year.
Matsuzaka has a chance to do a whole lot better than respectably when he takes the mound for his next start. He gets the ball Sunday against the Padres who, as has been documented here many times, feature easily the worst offense in baseball. Through Wednesday's action, they're hitting .216/.275/.344 with a .276 wOBA and 75 wRC+. Each one of those ranks dead last, by far, in the majors. They've been shut out three times in the last week, and have a total of 14 runs in nine games in June. Matsuzaka isn't going to stick around your team beyond this weekend, but he can certainly exploit this great matchup.
• Jarred Cosart, Houston Astros -- Cosart's inclusion in the Weekend Stream is driven largely by his opponent. He has been decent this year, with both his FIP and xFIP outpacing his 4.19 ERA. He isn't a major source of strikeouts, having fanned 56 batters in 73 innings, but he has whiffed eight in each of his last two starts, and at least six in three of his last four. He gets into trouble by walking too many batters -- he has issued 33 free passes this season -- but he typically doesn't compound it with home runs.
However, as stated above, this is more about his opponent than anything else. Cosart starts on Saturday against the Rays, a team that has compiled a .242/.316/.363 line this year. They have a .302 wOBA and 94 wRC+. Those aren't league-worst numbers, but they don't exactly scream of the 1927 Yankees, either. If you're looking for some last-minute help this weekend, Cosart can provide a dose. Both Jackson and Matsuzaka, though, are preferable.