Need pitching help this weekend? SI’s fantasy baseball expert is here to suggest Matt Moore, Brandon Finnegan and a few other pitchers to help owners out this weekend.
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Every week in the Weekend Stream, we’ll give you pitches to add for spot starts who can help you chase down a category or two in head-to-head leagues. 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.
Matt Moore, Rays (Sunday vs. White Sox)
Moore’s checkered injury history is the only reason he was so widely available after draft season. Once he gets a few starts under his belt, proving his arm is as sound as it could be, he’ll be scooped up and held onto in most leagues. For now, however, you can still find him on the wire in about three of every five leagues, making him a great stream candidate against the White Sox. They’re off to a nice start this year, but they’ve mainly been doing that with pitching. The White Sox are just 21st in the majors in wOBA, though they have been very good against lefties in 27 total plate appearances. Still, Moore’s talent wins out here. He’s the best streamable pitcher this weekend.
Anibal Sanchez, Tigers (Sunday @ Astros)
Sanchez has made two starts this season, allowing four runs on eight hits and six walks with seven strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings. Sanchez is nowhere near the pitcher he used to be and his average fastball velocity is down to about 91 mph this year, but he can still miss bats, especially with the changeup. The Astros were one of the most strikeout-friendly teams last year, and that hasn’t changed in 2016. Their 27.7% strikeout rate is the third highest in the majors through two weeks, behind just the Twins (29.7%) and Indians (28.3%). Sanchez is likely to give up some runs against Houston, but he could easily give you a strikeout per inning.
Brandon Finnegan, Reds (Saturday @ Cardinals)
It has just been two starts, but it looks like Finnegan will hold onto his slot in the Cincinnati rotation. The centerpiece of the Reds’ return from Kansas City for Johnny Cueto last July, Finnegan has allowed four runs while striking out 14 batters in 12 2/3 innings this season. You may not have been all that impressed when he shut out the Phillies for six innings with nine strikeouts, but everyone took notice when he had a no-hitter going against the Cubs for 6 2/3 innings. Like Moore, Finnegan may not make too many more appearances in the Weekend Stream. He’s simply too good to remain on waiver wires for the balance of the season. He has significant strikeout upside in every start, though do note that the Cardinals have been swinging the bats well as a team over the last week.
Jeremy Hellickson, Phillies (Friday vs. Nationals)
Is this the year for Hellickson? He has made two starts thus far, surrendering a total two earned runs on six hits in 11 2/3 innings, striking out 11 and walking just one. Hellickson has seen the Reds and Mets in his two starts, and while the latter has been arguably the worst offensive team in baseball through two weeks, the former has been a pleasant surprise, ranking 12th in wOBA. Washington is in the middle of the pack, and Bryce Harper looms as a dangerous threat, but Hellickson’s surge to start the season should have the eye of any owner looking for a stream candidate this weekend. Remember, spot starters are never perfect. If they were, they wouldn’t be spot starters.
Nick Tropeano, Angels (Sunday @ Twins)
Tropeano worked around six hits and three walks (one intentional) in five innings in his first start of the year, keeping the A’s scoreless despite all those baserunners thanks in large part to six strikeouts. Tropeano is primarily a fastball-slider-changeup pitcher, though he will mix in an occasional slider. More important than his repertoire, however, is his matchup. The Twins have been a mess offensively this year, hitting .210/.287/.313 with the highest strikeout rate in the league. Until and unless they correct that, they’re going to be right alongside the Padres as the best teams to target when streaming pitchers. Tropeano is worth a look in shallower leagues this weekend, as well, because the matchup is so beneficial.
Josh Tomlin, Indians (Saturday vs. Mets)
This is purely a matchup play. Tomlin will be making his first start of the season on Saturday thanks to a mix of a light early-season schedule and three rainouts that Cleveland has had to endure. Tomlin was limited by an injury last season, but when he was healthy he pitched rather well. In 65 2/3 innings with the Indians, he amassed a 3.02 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 57 strikeouts against eight walks. The Mets, meanwhile, are last in the league in wOBA. They have all of two home runs and have scored 20 runs in eight games. Tomlin can help fantasy owners across all categories this weekend.
Erasmo Ramirez, Rays (Saturday vs. White Sox)
Ramirez has spent the early part of the season working out of the bullpen, allowing a total of two runs on five hits with six strikeouts and zero walks in six innings. He’ll get his first start of the year Saturday against the White Sox, and could very well become relevant beyond being just a spot starter in fantasy leagues. He made 27 starts last year and racked up a 3.75 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 126 strikeouts in 163 1/3 frames. The strikeout rate leaves a bit to be desired, but those are back-end starter numbers in a typical 12-team mixed league. Keep an eye on Ramirez, this weekend as well as over his next few starts. He could jump from the Weekend Stream to our Waiver Wire pickups column in the not-too-distant future.