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.
• Josh Tomlin, Cleveland Indians -- Congratulations, Josh Tomlin -- you have hit the matchup lottery this weekend! Tomlin is slated to start on Saturday in Seattle, and not only is Safeco Field a great place to pitch, it houses a truly dreadful offense. The Mariners are slashing .242/.300/.378 with a .300 wOBA and 88 weighted runs created plus this year. They also have a 21.4-percent strikeout rate that is the 11th highest in the league. That, right there, is matchup gold.
In addition, Tomlin has done enough to earn his status as a stream-worthy pitcher in even lesser circumstances. The 29-year-old righty has performed at slightly above a replacement level this year, posting a 4.39 ERA, 4.24 FIP, 1.27 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings. Add it all up, and Tomlin has 0.4 fWAR on the season. He has struggled lately, allowing 10 runs in 9 1/3 innings to the Angels and Tigers in his last two starts, but of course, the Mariners do not feature an offense that comes anywhere near measuring up to the Angels or Tigers. Tomlin has been plenty good enough this season to trust as a stream pitcher in a matchup with the Mariners. If you can only grab one extra pitcher this weekend, make Tomlin the guy.
• Blake Treinen, Washington Nationals -- Treinen was quite good during his brief tenure in the Nationals’ rotation, taking the place of Gio Gonzalez while the lefty was injured. He made four starts, and allowed six earned runs on 21 hits in 21 2/3 innings. The Nationals sent him back to Triple-A Syracuse when Gonzalez came off the DL, but he’ll be making a brief appearance in the majors this weekend, and could help fantasy owners while he’s back in The Show.
The Nationals are in Chicago this weekend, and play a scheduled day-night doubleheader against the Cubs on Saturday. The odd scheduling forced the Nats to call up Treinen to make a spot start against one of the worst offenses in the majors. The Cubs are hitting just .231/.293/.372 with a .294 wOBA and 80 wRC+. The Cubs also strike out with the best of them, posting a 23.2-percent K-rate that is the third highest in the majors. Basically, Treinen can help you regardless of what stats you’re chasing this week. As a pitcher, if you can neutralize Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, you can easily shut down this offense. That makes Treinen a solid bet this weekend.
• Kyle Gibson, Minnesota Twins -- Here's the bad part about Gibson -- he isn’t going to give you a ton of strikeouts, and he walks far too many batters. In 85 innings this year, Gibson has just 47 strikeouts against 27 free passes. What he does do well is keep the ball in the park and limit hard contact. Gibson has surrendered just five home runs this year, and has a 1.21 WHIP despite walking nearly three batters per nine innings. He has allowed just a 16.3-percent line-drive rate this season, which ranks sixth in the league, tied with Jered Weaver. As such, his 3.92 ERA is backed up by a 3.75 FIP.
Gibson has a tough matchup this weekend, taking the ball on Sunday in Texas. However, he’s also the best pitcher who’s likely to be available in your league. Given that we’re talking about pitchers on the periphery, both Treinen and Tomlin make better options if you need just one guy to stream. Still, Gibson has his virtues. If you need someone Sunday, consider the guy who has been the second-best pitcher in Minnesota this year.