Weekend stream: Trevor Cahill, Nate Karns stand out as top options

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Fantasy Baseball: These are the advanced stats owners should value
Friday May 12th, 2017

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 fewer.

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.

Shallow

Trevor Cahill, Padres (Saturday at White Sox)

I understand why it has been hard for some fantasy owners to buy into Cahill’s story this year. We’d already seen more than 1,100 innings of fine, yet perfectly mediocre, performance from him. Why should anyone jump at what has been an impressive, but outlying, run to start this season? Well, at this point, we’ve seen enough that he’s worth a shot in all leagues, even if the skepticism eventually proves true. Cahill has a 3.06 ERA, 2.80 FIP, 1.16 WHIP and 44 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings. He’s an obvious stream choice for owners in shallow leagues this weekend. If you do grab him, keep him around your roster for a few turns through the rotation. He has earned that opportunity.

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Charlie Morton, Astros (Sunday at Yankees)

This is unquestionably a tough spot for Morton. The Yankees are one of the hottest teams in baseball, and they’re swinging the bats well all the way through the lineup. Morton’s not going to have a clean outing for you, but he will likely add quite nicely to your strikeout totals. He has fanned 44 batters in 39 2/3 innings this season, and the Yankees have a league-average strikeout rate. You can likely bet on a strikeout per inning out of Morton on Sunday.

Medium

Trevor Bauer, Indians (Sunday vs. Twins)

It’s a bad weekend to be streaming pitchers in typical 12-team 5x5 leagues. Bauer is one of the few options you have available, although two of the pitchers in the deep category could work here, too. Bauer hasn’t been great this year, totaling a 7.36 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 33 innings, but he does have 37 strikeouts. At the very least, Bauer should be able to boost you in strikeouts, so long as the Twins don’t knock him around early in the game.

Deep

Nate Karns, Royals (Saturday vs. Orioles)

Karns is one of the deep streamers that 12-team league owners can turn to if they really need help this weekend. He has been effective enough to be on the stream radar, posting a 4.58 ERA, 4.39 FIP and 1.22 WHIP with 36 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings. The Orioles have really struggled offensively this season, ranking 20th in team wOBA and amassing the 10th-highest strikeout rate in the league. Karns makes a strong spot starter this weekend in all deep formats.

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Ubaldo Jimenez, Orioles (Sunday at Royals)

Jimenez has been nothing short of terrible this season. He has a 6.15 ERA, and somehow his FIP, which sits at 6.47, suggests he has been a bit fortunate. On the other side of this matchup, the Royals offense has been just as bad. The Royals rank last in the majors in runs (97), batting average (.216), OBP (.278), slugging percentage (.337) and wOBA (.272). You don’t necessarily want to stream a pitcher based entirely on matchup, but if you are desperate for a spot starter, a favorable matchup can push him over the edge. There has been no better matchup this season than the Royals.

Mike Clevinger, Indians (Saturday vs. Twins)

Clevinger is the other deep streamer who could also be attractive in medium leagues. He made his first start of the season last week, tossing 5 2/3 shutout innings, striking out five while pitching around one hit and four walks. The Indians will certainly be favored to win on Saturday, with Nick Tepesch taking the mound for the Twins at Progressive Field. This is a great spot for Clevinger in AL-only leagues and mixers that run 14 teams or more.

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