Is James Paxton’s increased velocity for real? He’s among fantasy baseball’s best weekend pitcher streaming options, if you can get him.
Every week, we’ll give you pitchers to add for weekend 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.
James Paxton, Mariners (Sunday vs. Cardinals)
Paxton’s velocity has reached heights never before seen from the lefty, with his average fastball checking in at a minimum of 97.4 mph over his five starts this season. The results have been merely good, not great, but he does have 34 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings. If the velocity bump is for real, and at this point we have no reason to believe it isn’t, he’s going to be an asset in all fantasy leagues going forward. That means for those of you in shallow leagues, this could be your last chance to buy in on the cheap. Sunday’s matchup is a tough one, but Paxton always has identifiable strikeout upside.
Mike Leake, Cardinals (Saturday @ Mariners)
There aren’t a ton of streaming options for shallow-league owners this weekend, with even someone like Leake, who’s typically a nice spot starter for fantasy purposes, in a bit of a tough spot. His 1.16 WHIP is great, and not typical of someone you can simply drop into your lineup for one start, but he doesn’t have much strikeout upside, and he’ll be dealing with a Seattle offense this weekend that ranks sixth in the league in wOBA. The Mariners have been even better over the last 30 days, with only the Blue Jays and Cubs posting higher wOBAs in that timeframe. Leake isn’t a terrible choice, but you might be better off dipping down to the next classification of options before turning to the St. Louis righthander this weekend.
Anthony DeSclafani, Reds (Sunday vs. Padres)
DeSclafani is coming off his best start of the season, in which he allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings, striking out six while walking one in a win over the mighty Rangers. The Padres’ offense is essentially at the opposite end of the spectrum. DeSclafani has been very good in two of his three starts since coming off the DL and should be a backend starter in the typical fantasy format for the rest of the season. He’s one of the best stream options regardless of league size this weekend.
Cody Reed, Reds (Friday vs. Padres)
Reed made his major league debut against the Astros last Saturday, allowing four runs on six hits while striking out nine in seven innings. There’s way more good than bad there, especially for a 23-year-old in his first start. His assignment is much easier this weekend, with the Padres visiting Cincinnati for a three-game set. Reed entered the season as Baseball America’s No. 34 prospect and pitched to a 3.20 ERA and 1.18 WHIP with 63 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings at Triple A Louisville before getting promoted. He could have value beyond this weekend in leagues with at least 12 teams.
Nathan Eovaldi, Yankees (Sunday vs. Twins)
Every member of the fantasy community knows exactly who Eovaldi is, so you don’t need a lengthy scouting report here. The Twins rank 22nd in the league in wOBA and eighth in strikeout rate, making them the sort of opponent we like to attack with streamers. Eovaldi just faced them last weekend, and while the results weren’t great, I’d rather bet on both his and the Twins’ full-season track records rather than just one meeting. Be careful, however, if you’re locked in a tight rate stats battle. Eovaldi can give you a strikeout per inning in this start, but he has had serious trouble with the long ball recently.
Tyler Glasnow, Pirates (Sunday vs. Dodgers)
The Pirates have yet to make an official announcement, but all signs point to Glasnow making his major league debut Sunday against the Dodgers. The consensus top-15 prospect has had an excellent year at Triple A Indianapolis, amassing a 1.75 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 92 strikeouts in 77 innings. He has had serious issues with his control, however, walking 42 batters, which nearly matches the amount of hits (49) he has surrendered. Nevertheless, Glasnow has electric stuff that could one day push him to the top of Pittsburgh’s rotation. We’ve been recommending him as a player to stash for most of the season, and it looks like the payoff for those of you who did so is just around the corner. Regardless of how he does in his debut, you’re going to want to keep him around for the long haul.
Nate Karns, Mariners (Saturday vs. Cardinals)
Here’s our old friend, who I’d be willing to bet leads all pitchers in appearances in this column this year. Karns is still striking out more than a batter per inning but has hit a rough patch in June, allowing 15 runs in 18 1/3 innings in the month. That makes him a bit riskier than usual this week. The Cardinals have one of the best offenses in the league and they don’t strike out a ton. Karns is a fine streaming option, as usual, but you should only be turning to him if you’re looking to make a move in the strikeout department.
Hector Santiago, Angels (Sunday vs. A’s)
Santiago’s stock is back on the upswing, and there’s good reason to believe he can stay hot against the A’s. In his five starts from May 20 through June 10, he surrendered at least three runs in each outing, went deeper than four innings just once, and on three occasions allowed four or more runs in fewer than three innings of work. But in his last two starts, he has allowed a total of two runs while fanning nine batters in 12 1/3 innings. Oakland’s offense has lagged behind league average in basically every important stat all season. This is a lineup Santiago should be able to handle.
Ervin Santana, Twins (Saturday @ Yankees)
Santana, like nearly everyone on the Twins, is scuffling through a down year. He does, however, have a few things going for him this weekend. First, he’s coming off one of his best starts of the season, allowing two earned runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings his last trip to the mound. Second, that outing was against the same Yankees team he’ll face on Saturday. The Yankees’ offense is simply a bad outfit, ranking 23rd in the majors in wOBA. There’s nothing to fear about this lineup, and that’s exactly what you’re looking for in the opponent of a streaming candidate.