It’s the first weekend of the 2016 season, which means the Weekend Stream is back. Every Friday, we’ll provide you attractive stream options for leagues of all shapes and sizes. No matter what category—or categories—you’re chasing, we’ll have a name that could potentially swing it in your favor.
All of the pitchers we 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%, while 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.
Joe Ross, Nationals (Saturday vs. Marlins)
It’s little surprise that Ross remains available in just about half of all fantasy leagues during the opening week of the season, since he’s a fifth starter with all of 76 2/3 innings under his belt. Still, this could very well be the only week he qualifies for the Weekend Stream. The younger brother of San Diego pitcher Tyson Ross has legitimate breakout potential after fanning 69 batters and posting a 3.64 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in his short stint with the Nationals last season. At the very least, he’s well worth a short-term add for a shallow leaguer going up against the Marlins on Saturday. He could prove himself worthy of keeping around, even in 10-team leagues.
Ian Kennedy, Royals (Saturday vs. Twins)
Kennedy is the opposite of Ross—his name brand has driven him to such a high ownership rate. While Ross will certainly see his ownership rate climb this year, Kennedy’s could very well fall to new depths. The fact remains, though, that Kennedy has big-time strikeout ability, which will always make him a streamable pitcher. While he had 4.28 ERA and 1.30 WHIP last year, he whiffed 174 batters in 168 1/3 innings. If you’re looking for strikeouts this weekend, and aren’t concerned with rates, Kennedy is your guy. He’s going up against a Twins offense that is dangerous with the longball, but has some high K-rate players, like Brian Dozier, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton.
Chris Tillman, Orioles (Friday vs. Rays)
Somehow, this guy is still the No. 1 pitcher on a major league team. Perhaps that’s why Orioles fans are concerned about their chances in the AL East. Tillman may not have anywhere near ace stuff, but he’s a decent stream play this weekend. The Rays had a solid first series swinging the bats against the Blue Jays, but this isn’t exactly an intimidating offense. Tillman threw two clean innings with five strikeouts before a rain delay cut short his first start of the season. Tillman pitched to 3.71 and 3.34 ERAs in his first two seasons as a starter before blowing up last season, with his ERA reaching an ugly 4.99. He’s going to have his moments this season, and the key for a fantasy owner is picking the right spots. Friday could very well be one of those.
Jerad Eickhoff, Phillies (Friday @ Mets)
Think of Eickhoff as a Joe Ross with not quite as high a ceiling. Eickhoff, too, impressed in a small sample last year, putting up a 2.65 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 51 innings with the Phillies last year. It’s not likely to be a hugely successful season in Philadelphia, but Eickhoff is one of the players who should have Phillies fans excited. There’s no doubt that the matchup with the Mets is a tough one, but you can’t simply target good matchups when you’re looking for a pitcher to stream. You have to work with what’s available, and Eickhoff’s strikeout upside makes him someone worth considering on Friday.
Anthony DeSclafani, Reds (Sunday vs. Pirates)
DeSclafani opened the season on the DL with an oblique injury, but he’s expected to take the ball on Sunday. He threw 25 pitches in a simulated game on Wednesday, and reported no ill effects with regard to his side. DeSclafani had a solid rookie season, compiling a 4.05 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.35 WHIP and 151 strikeouts in 184 2/3 innings in 2015. Pittsburgh got off to a great start this season and is always going to present a tough matchup to opposing pitchers, but DeSclafani is one of the few attractive stream options on Sunday, given that a lot of aces are set up to make their second starts of the season to wrap up opening week. If you find yourself desperate for an arm on Sunday, cast your gaze toward Cincinnati.
Cody Anderson, Indians (Saturday @ White Sox)
Anderson made 15 strong starts for Cleveland last year, racking up a 3.05 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 91 1/3 innings. With numbers like that, you’d expect him to have a much higher ownership rate. Of course, any pitcher who strikes out 4.3 batters per nine innings isn’t going to be all that attractive, and that’s also the pitcher Anderson was last season. Anderson’s limited strikeout upside guarantees that he’s going to be on the waiver wire in most leagues for the balance of the season. He also has the ground-ball rate that will make him a regular member of the Weekend Stream. The weather in Chicago is expected to be relatively miserable on Friday, with the very real chance that this game is postponed. If they do play, however, it will be an advantage for the pitchers.
Nathan Karns, Mariners (Saturday vs. A’s)
For some pitchers, like Anderson, it’s easy to explain their low ownership rates. For others, like Karns, it’s much more challenging. Yes, he barely won a spot in the Seattle rotation, but he’s in there now, so you can forget about that. He made 26 starts with the Rays last year and struck out 145 batters in 147 innings. That strikeout ability alone makes him an intriguing pitcher in more than just a spot-start capacity. When he draws a punchless team like the A’s, he’s an easy guy to get behind for a streaming chance. Those of you in medium and shallow leagues could also kick the tires on Karns if you’re looking for strikeouts this weekend.