These pitchers taking the mound this weekend could provide a helping hand to fantasy baseball owners.
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% to 70% are considered streamers for shallow-league owners. If a pitcher is available in 71% to 89% 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, Los Angeles Angels (Saturday @ Yankees)
Shoemaker has had his struggles this year, but he still has a 22.6% strikeout rate and a total of 53 whiffs in 56 2/3 innings. He’s surrendering way too many homers, but his xFIP of 3.90, which is more than a run lower than his ERA, suggests that his HR/FB ratio should normalize as the season progresses. The Yankees aren’t necessarily an easy matchup, and they do make a lot of contact, but Shoemaker is better than both his numbers and his ownership rate reflect. If he’s available in your league, he’s likely the best stream option of the weekend.
Drew Hutchison, Toronto Blue Jays (Saturday vs. Astros)
Any time the Astros appear as an opponent in the Weekend Stream, you can bet that we’ll be touting the pitcher’s ability to get some strikeouts. Even with Hutchison’s decreased strikeout rate this season, that’s exactly the case here. Hutchison’s falling K-rate is undoubtedly a concern. After fanning 23.4% of the batters he faced last year, he’s down to 19.9% this season. Still, this Astros team strikes out in nearly one-quarter of its plate appearances. Five of their regulars—George Springer, Evan Gattis, Colby Rasmus, Chris Carter and Jake Marisnick—have strikeout rates between 24.5% and 36.5%. Hutchison has the stuff for a big game on Saturday, even if he gives up a few runs.
Jesse Chavez, Oakland Athletics (Saturday @ Red Sox)
Chavez keeps on getting the job done, and yet his ownership rate remains below 50%. He was great his last time out, shutting out the Yankees for eight innings, while allowing seven hits and striking out six batters. It was his second straight start in which he tossed eight shutout innings, with the first coming against the mighty Tigers. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are in an offensive funk and are in last place in the AL East. They rank 21st in the league in wOBA and 25th in runs. There’s plenty of time for them to turn it around this season, but right now the Red Sox are a bad team. Chavez can help you this weekend, and in many formats is worth keeping around after his outing in Boston.
Chase Anderson, Arizona Diamondbacks (Friday vs. Mets)
Anderson struggled in his last start, allowing six runs on 10 hits to the Brewers in five innings. The Cardinals got to him for 10 hits in his previous start, as well, but they managed to push just two runs across the plate. Even though he has been quite hittable in his last two starts, he’s worth a look when he takes on the Mets on Friday. The Mets are still just half a game behind the Nationals in the NL East, but they’re doing it almost entirely with pitching. The offense ranks 27th in the league in wOBA and ninth in strikeout rate. The Mets are even worse against righties, ranking 29th with a .287 wOBA. Anderson can rebound against this team.
J.A. Happ, Seattle Mariners (Friday vs. Rays)
Happ has teased the fantasy community plenty of times in the past. We’ve all seen him put together a few strong weeks, only to disappoint for the balance of the season. He’s in another one of those strong runs now, posting a 3.70 ERA, 3.92 xFIP and 1.27 WHIP through 58 1/3 innings this year. You shouldn’t be buying him for the full season, unless you’re in a very deep league. You should be buying him, however, as a stream play this weekend. The Rays have a .308 wOBA for the season, but it’s just .299 against righties. Happ’s not a big strikeout pitcher, but this is a team he can exploit.
Jaime Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals (Saturday @ Dodgers)
If this were a waiver wire column, Garcia would be one of the few names to still be included. That’s primarily what makes him a good stream option this weekend. The Dodgers lead the league in wOBA by a wide margin (.344 to the Blue Jays’ .333), OBP (.339) and slugging percentage (.452). Garcia, however, is a pitcher worth owning in deeper leagues. He has made three starts since returning from the DL, and has a 2.70 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 20 innings. He has been plagued by injury each of the last two seasons, but has been mostly good when healthy, compiling a combined 3.82 ERA, 3.76 FIP and 1.19 WHIP in 99 innings between 2013 and 2014. If there’s any silver lining for his matchup this weekend, it’s that the Dodgers aren’t nearly as good against lefties, with their team wOBA dropping all the way to .302.
Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs (Sunday @ Nationals)
Hendricks is quietly putting together a solid season at the backend of the Cubs rotation. Through 10 starts and 58 2/3 innings, he has a 3.99 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 1.18 WHIP and 48 strikeouts. After back-to-back dominant outings against the Padres and Nationals (16 innings, one run, 11 strikeouts), one mistake cost him against the Marlins, resulting in a three-run double by Marcell Ozuna. This Nationals team may have just seen Hendricks, but if you need to stream a pitcher on Sunday, your options are few and far between. Given what Hendricks has accomplished to this point of the season, he’s likely your best bet.
Charlie Morton, Pittsburgh Pirates (Friday @ Braves)
Morton has been very good since returning from the DL late last month. He has made two starts, completing seven innings in both and allowing just three earned runs on 11 hits. The strikeouts have yet to appear, but he did manage a K/9 last year that was a touch better than seven. The Braves’ offense has been a bit better than expected, but they’re still just 23rd in wOBA. Basically, if you can keep Freddie Freeman from doing damage, you can find a way to handle the Braves. Morton’s worth a spot start this weekend, and if he pitches well he can be rostered in deeper leagues.
Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds (Friday vs. Padres)
The 25-year-old Iglesias has flashed an ability to miss bats in an incredibly small sample of 24 2/3 innings this year. He has 25 strikeouts on the season, thanks primarily to a slider that he throws about one-fifth of the time, and has a whiff rate of 21.2%. For all of A.J. Preller’s offensive upgrades during the offseason, the Padres are still having trouble making consistent contact. Only the Cubs, Astros and Brewers have sturck out in a larger percentage of their plate appearances than have the Padres. Notably, Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, Will Middlebrooks and Cory Spangenberg all have strikeout rate of at least 21.5%. If you’re in a deep league and need strikeouts, consider streaming Iglesias this weekend.