I absolutely love it when I pick up a pitcher for a spot start and he puts up good numbers. I don’t know if it’s the Fantasy geek in me, or just my competitive side kicking in, but streaming pitchers is something I look forward to every week.
I’m the kind of Fantasy owner who is constantly making moves (most on the pitching side of things) and knows who the 25th man on my roster is, if and when I find the right matchup for the right pitcher in the right situation, for an add/drop. While I usually look at a pitcher’s head-to-head stats versus a specific opponent and tend to lean toward a pitcher starting at home, there are a ton of stats that can make a pitcher worth streaming.
If you’re looking to find that diamond-in-the-rough pitcher still available on your waiver wire, one stat that could send you in the right direction is FIP — Fielding Independent Pitching. FIP helps determine the quality of a player’s pitching performance while removing the outcome of plate appearances that involve a defensive play. It measures what a pitcher’s ERA would be if they were to have league-average results on balls put into play. FIP can show Fantasy owners a pitcher’s true value while removing the role of defense, and, most of all, luck.
To put it simply, FIP is a better indicator of how a pitcher actually performed as it removes the quality — or lack thereof — of the defense played behind him. When you see a pitcher with a mid-4.00 or 5.00 ERA, they’re seen as average at best. But one with a mid-3.00 ERA is a really good pitcher, one you want on your team.
The pitchers being highlighted here have a 1.00 or larger difference between their ERA and their FIP, meaning they are better than most Fantasy owners think. If you happened to be an owner that recently lost Felix Hernandez to the DL or your starters continue to scuffle, these hurlers are quality streaming options that should be available in your league.
Pineda Primed for Positive Results
When you look at Michael Pineda’s 6.41 ERA, his 1.61 WHIP and his 2-6 record through 11 starts, at first glance he looks like a pitcher that should be available in all formats. But as a Yankees fan who has watched nearly all of his starts, I know that Pineda is better than his numbers appear. And his FIP (4.32) proves that. That’s an enormous difference of 2.09.
If you look at Pineda as a pitcher with a mid-4.00 ERA instead of one with an ERA over 6.00, then the rest of his numbers are a lot more appetizing. The big righty has struck out more than a batter an inning (67 in 59 innings) while walking just 15 and is coming off a start where he struck out eight and walked none while allowing just one run in 5 2/3 innings. Pineda also has a career ERA of 3.99, a far cry from where he currently sits.
Long story short, Pineda’s numbers should be better than they are. He’s had some bad luck defensively and has given up a few too many home runs (11 in 11 starts), but that should course correct making him a nice addition your Fantasy rotation for the upcoming summer months.
Make a Move for McHugh
Collin McHugh has been a top-of-the-rotation pitcher since coming to Houston in 2014. But so far this season, McHugh has just four quality starts through 12 outings along with a 4.96 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. That doesn’t look like a guy I want starting for my Fantasy team, but his FIP says otherwise.
Sitting at 3.89, that is far more in line with his numbers in an Astros’ uniform (2.73 ERA in 2014; 3.89 ERA in 2015). The 1.08 difference says that the defense being played behind him is likely one issue and a .297 batting average against in 2016 points to bad luck as well. With 61 strikeouts in 67 innings and a 31/6 K/BB ratio in his last four outings (two quality starts), expect McHugh’s numbers to continue to improve making him a quality add in all formats.
Nolasco is Viable Veteran Option
I know this might look like a stretch since he is owned in less than 5 percent of leagues, but Ricky Nolasco has put together back-to-back quality starts (while striking out 14 in 13 2/3 innings) and outside of a near-5.00 ERA, his others numbers aren’t half bad.
Yes, his surface stats leave much to be desired, but he has a walk rate of just 1.64 BB/9 along with an 8.22 K/9 rate. Nolasco has also been somewhat unlucky so far this season with his strand rate at 59.1 percent (the league average hovers around 72 percent). Meanwhile, his FIP (3.75) is more than a full run lower than his ERA (4.93) so he’s pitched much better than his ERA indicates.
Even SIERA (Skill-Interactive ERA) puts him below 4.00 (3.72). Take out one bad matchup against a hot KC lineup where he gave up six runs in just 2 2/3 innings, and he’s a decent match-up pitcher in deep leagues. Look to find his next start on the road, as he’s been really good away from Target Field posting a 3.82 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in six road starts.
Roll With This Rockies’ Rookie
Jon Gray’s ERA looks bad on paper. When you see a 5.33 ERA from a starter who pitches half of his games at Coors Field, that’s typically a red flag for owners to avoid. But Gray is far better than his ERA suggests. The 24-year-old right-hander has a FIP (3.51) that is nearly two runs less than his ERA.
He’s thrown three consecutive quality starts including a career high 12 strikeouts his last time out versus the Padres. His one non-quality start (nine runs in 3 1/3 innings on May 19 at St. Louis) over his last seven outings looks to be a blip on the radar as he has been outstanding since the beginning of May. If we take out his one bad outing, the rookie has compiled 46 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings while giving up just 11 runs. That’s a 2.45 ERA since the end of April. And Gray was the 3rd pick overall in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft, so he has the pedigree to keep it up.
See if you can snag Gray before he takes on that same weak Padres lineup again at home on Friday as there is an ace pitcher-in-the-making hiding behind a bad ERA in Colorado.
Shoemaker Should Show Improvement
Here’s another case where FIP says good pitcher, but ERA says otherwise. Matt Shoemaker has a 5.40 ERA and a 3-7 record in 11 starts. On the surface, that looks pretty dreadful, but the righty’s FIP (3.83) is more than a run and a half lower than his ERA and his last four starts have been impressive.
Shoemaker has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last four outings compiling a 37/0 K/BB during that span. The four runs he gave up in a loss to the Yankees on Monday is the same number of runs he gave up in his previous three starts combined, and all of them came in the seventh inning (two after he already left the game).
The Angels starter is going late into games and is clearly pitching better than his ERA suggests. Ignore his surface stats, add him to your roster and expect encouraging numbers from him and these other starters moving forward.