Need a pitching boost this weekend? SI’s fantasy expert recommends picking up Orioles’ Kevin Gausman or Padres’ Drew Pomeranz.
Every week, we’ll give you pitchers 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.
Drew Pomeranz, Padres (Sunday @ Dodgers)
The Giants lit up Pomeranz in his last start, though it wasn’t a complete disaster. He surrendered three runs in 4 1/3 innings, striking out six and walking three. If it weren’t for an elevated pitch count because of the strikeouts and walks, he likely could have gone a bit deeper into the game. The Dodgers aren’t exactly an ideal opponent, but Pomeranz has elite strikeout ability for a fantasy spot starter, and can actually stick on a roster, even in a shallow league. He represents one of your last stream opportunities of the weekend, as well, with his start coming on Sunday.
J.A. Happ, Blue Jays (Saturday @ Rays)
Happ has been quite effective for the Blue Jays this season, carrying the lessons he learned in Pittsburgh north of the border. Happ has allowed seven runs on 25 hits in 26 innings, with 13 strikeouts against six walks. He has yet to allow more than three runs in an outing, putting up quality starts in all four of his turns through the rotation. The Rays are 25th in the league in wOBA this season, though it’s worth noting that they have been a bit better against lefties. Still, all that has gotten them is a ..306 wOBA, which ranks 17th.
Kevin Gausman, Orioles (Saturday vs. White Sox)
Is this the oft-foretold Gausman breakout season? The 25-year-old has teased the fantasy community with his potential for the last three seasons, but he has never been able to sustain any level of success in the majors. He looked great in his first outing of the year, however, allowing one run on three hits while striking out seven in a loss to the Rays. His fastball averaged 97.3 mph and he got five whiffs on a curveball that could be among the best in the game if he can reach his full potential. The White Sox broke out of their early-season offensive funk with a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays to start the week, but Gausman is one of the most intriguing streams of the weekend. If he pitches well again on Saturday, you will not want to cut him.
Sean Manaea, A’s (Friday vs. Astros)
First Jose Berrios, now Manaea. Oakland will promote its top pitching prospect to make his major league debut against the Astros on Friday. Manaea has been electric in three starts with Triple-A Nashville this season, allowing three runs and striking out 21 batters—against four walks—in 18 innings. The lefty figures to be an extreme ground-ball pitcher thanks to a slider-changeup combo that he commands at the bottom of the zone. He has also shown an ability to limit homers while posting an impressive strikeout rate. Think of his ceiling as Tyson Ross with fewer strikeouts. That’s someone who should catch the eye of multiple owners in all fantasy formats.
Ross Stripling, Dodgers (Saturday vs. Padres)
Stripling hasn’t quite reclaimed the magic of his first start of the season, in which he took a no-hitter into the eighth, but he has remained mostly effective, surrendering a total of seven runs with 12 strikeouts in his last 15 innings. Understand, however, that this is mostly a matchup-based stream. Stripling pitched way over his head in that near no-hitter, and it’s a surprise he’s still as widely owned as he is. Still, whenever you see a pitcher taking on the Padres, you’re at least going to want to consider him as a streamer. They rank 27th in the league in wOBA while striking out more than all but four teams.
Trevor Bauer, Indians (Saturday @ Phillies)
Bauer is back in the rotation, though not for the reason he’d like to be. He’ll hold down Carlos Carrasco’s spot while the latter is on the DL with a hamstring injury. At this time last year, tiw oudl have been unthinkable that Bauer would be anywhere other than the rotation, but he struggled mightily in the second half. That doesn’t change the fact that he has plenty of strikeout upside, as well as a great matchup on Saturday. The Phillies are 26th in the league in wOBA and are tied for seventh with a 23.9% strikeout rate.
Michael Fulmer, Tigers (Friday @ Twins)
Sean Manaea isn’t the only top prospect making his debut on Friday. The Tigers will promote Fulmer, their No. 1 prospect, to take a start against the Twins. Fulmer, who came over from the Mets in the Yoenis Cespedes deal, got lost in the shuffle with his previous organization, coming up at the same time as Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom. He spent most of the 2015 season at the Double-A level, amassing a 2.24 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 125 strikeouts in 124 2/3 innings. In 15 1/3 frames with Triple-A Toledo this year, he has allowed seven earned runs on 16 hits with 20 strikeouts against five walks. The Twins have gotten their bats going over the last week, but they’re still in the top 10 in the league in strikeout rate. Those in deep leagues should take a shot on Fulmer, though he could be headed right back to Toledo after the start.