Does your fantasy baseball team need pitching help this weekend? SI’s Michael Beller picks out the best pitchers for spot starts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
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Every week in the Weekend Stream, 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.
Mike Fiers, Astros (Friday @ Angels)
Something interesting, and almost certainly not good, is happening with Fiers this season. After being a strikeout-per-inning pitcher over the last two seasons, Fiers has a 17.2% strikeout rate and 6.45 K/9 this season. At the same time, his line-drive and hard-hit rates are way up. He’s basically playing with fire, and that’s not likely to end well, homonyms be darned. The good news for this weekend, though, is that his matchup with the Angels isn’t all that intimidating. Eve with them hitting better as a team over the last few weeks and Mike Trout doing his usual thing, they’re still just 21st in the league in wOBA.
Adam Conley, Marlins (Friday @ Braves)
Conley’s up-and-down season continued apace last week. He made two starts, the first against the Phillies and second against the Nationals. In the first, he danced around eight hits to allow one run and strike out five batters in six innings. In the second, he surrendered six runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. You can bet favorably on Conley being on the upswing this weekend. The Braves remain one of the two worst offenses in baseball, and are generally worse than the Padres, the one team that can give them a run for their money in terms of futility. Conley shouldn’t have much of an issue shutting them down on Friday.
Nathan Eovaldi, Yankees (Sunday @ Rays)
Eovaldi likely isn’t long for the weekend stream. He has always had the ability to be a fantasy-relevant starter for an entire season, and it appears he is realizing that potential this year. In 54 2/3 innings, he has a 3.95 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.15 WHIP and 50 strikeouts against 13 non-intentional walks. Eovaldi already should be owned in more leagues, but his inexplicably low ownership rate creates a great stream opportunity for owners in leagues where he’s available. The Rays have the fourth-highest strikeout rate in the majors, which helps make Eovaldi the best spot-start target for an owner in need of whiffs. He should also be able to stick on a roster in leagues with at least 14 teams, and potentially with as few as 12 teams, too.
Ubaldo Jimenez, Orioles (Saturday @ Indians)
There’s a lot to be concerned about any time you stream Jimenez. Deep-league owners don’t have very many choices this weekend, however, and, at the very least, Jimenez has some strikeout upside and a matchup with a Cleveland team that is 12th in the majors in strikeout rate. Depending on where things stand in your matchup on Saturday, that could be enough for him to be worth a spot start. If you’re close in the rate categories, however, stay away from Jimenez.
Michael Fulmer, Tigers (Friday @ A’s)
Fulmer earned a quick promotion to Detroit this season in part because he fanned 20 batters in 15 1/3 innings with Triple A Toledo, flashing swing-and-miss stuff that could make him a reliable backend starter in the majors this season. He has carried that over to Detroit, racking up 33 strikeouts in 26 1/3 frames. The A’s have the third-lowest strikeout rate in the majors, so Fulmer might not help a ton in that category this weekend, but it’s a great matchup on the whole. The A’s are 25th in the majors in wOBA, ahead of only the Twins, Phillies, Padres and Braves.