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Can you set it and forget it? I’m not talking about your Ronco Rotisserie Oven, I’m talking about your Fantasy baseball lineup, rotisserie or otherwise. Is your Fantasy pitching roster so good that you don’t have to give a second thought about whether or not you should start the same players every week? If you don’t have the horses on your pitching roster that will allow you to feel comfortable riding the same lineup week after week, then you’re going to have to consider streaming pitchers. Admittedly, none of the pitchers that I’ll talk about today can be considered staff aces but they do have favorable matchups and a good chance of providing your Fantasy team with a decent start. Whether you stream by choice or because your lineup can’t be set and forgotten this article can help you. I’m going to introduce you to eight pitchers who are owned in less than 59 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy leagues and have a chance of providing you with a quality start between Wednesday May 20 and Tuesday May 26. As always, I warn you, some of these picks may not be suitable for the faint of heart…
All quoted stats are accurate as of the morning of 5/19/15
Wei-Yin Chen, (L), Orioles, 50 percent owned, vs. Mariners
Venue: Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD
Even though he has a 2.53 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP, Wei-Yin Chen remains unowned in 50 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball leagues. Backed up by a Baltimore offense that is batting .285 at home, Chen faces a Seattle team that is batting just .223 on the road. Even though they have Nelson Cruz, the major league’s leading home run hitter in their lineup every day, the Mariners have still scored the fifth-fewest runs in baseball thus far this season. Chen’s opponent, Roenis Elias, has a much higher 4.15 road ERA compared to his 2.25 home ERA. Baltimore batters who mash the ball at home against a starting pitcher who performs poorly on the road for a team that has trouble scoring runs, adds up to a probable quality start for Chen.
Jesse Chavez, (R), A’s, 37 percent owned, vs. Rays
Venue: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL
Jesse Chavez takes on a Tampa Bay Rays team that is batting just .239 against right- handed pitching and has the fifth highest number of strikeouts in baseball. That should make Chavez happy since he’s been able to entice opposing batters to swing at more of his pitches that are out of the strike zone as compared to last season, and that has also helped him record an above average 10.5 percent swinging strike rate. Chavez’s continued projected success is bolstered by the fact that he is giving up fewer line drives and has a batting average against of just .213.
Mike Leake, (R) Reds, 58 percent owned, vs. Indians
Venue: Citizens Bank Park, Cleveland, OH
Although Mike Leake has posted good numbers thus far this season, with an overall 3.62 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, he is a perfect example of a pitcher that you should use as a streaming option. In a classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde scenario, Leake has put up some monstrous numbers at the Great American Ballpark this season and looks like a Cy Young Award candidate when he pitches on the road. Specifically he has a 1.74 ERA and .71 WHIP on the road compared to his home 6.08 and 1.61 marks, respectively. The Indians provide an opponent that Leake has had previous success against. He has a career 3.28 ERA and 1.09 WHIP against the Indians, striking out 25 batters in 24.2 innings pitched.
Kyle Lobstein, (L), Detroit, 4 percent owned, vs. Astros
Venue: Comerica Park, Detroit, MI
The Houston Astros are not to be trifled with. They have quietly become one of the better teams in baseball, but I think they’re going to have their work cut out for them on Saturday. Kyle Lobstein will be the beneficiary, as the Astros make righty Lance McCuller their sacrificial lamb, serving him up to a Tigers lineup that is batting .280 against right- handed pitching. Lobstein gets to face a free-swinging Astros lineup that is batting .220 against lefty pitching this season. With his above average 56.3 percent groundball rate, Lobstein should be able to keep the power-happy Astros offense in check. Lobstein’s overall numbers this season won’t knock your socks off but he has given up three or fewer runs in five of his seven starts and has a good chance of pitching a quality start this Saturday.
Aaron Sanchez, (R) Blue Jays, 13 percent owned, vs. Mariners
Venue: Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Aaron Sanchez is the kind of pitcher that I was eluding to in my opening. You can’t just punch him into your lineup every week and forget about it. At this point, you only want to start him when he pitches at home. Sanchez has a very good 2.55 home ERA and a very mediocre 1.35 WHIP, but he has a much worse 5.75 ERA and 1.82 WHIP when he pitches on the road. Sanchez has a good chance for a win this Saturday when he makes a home start against a Seattle team that is batting .223 with a .396 slugging percentage on the road. It doesn’t hurt that he’ll have a Toronto team that is batting .314 against lefty pitchers playing behind him. Sanchez’s main nemesis has been the fact that he has given up way too many walks this season but his above average 76.7 percent strand rate has helped him limit the damaging effects from the free passes that he has been giving away to opposing batters all too often.
Carlos Frias, (R) Dodgers, 13 percent owned, vs. Padres
Venue: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
Carlos Frias’s early season numbers have been phenomenal. He’s been doing a great job of getting ahead of hitters with a 65.4 percent first strike rate; and with a 14.3 percent line drive rate and 62.5 percent groundball rate, his batted ball numbers have been way above average. His excellent 78.7 percent strand rate ensures that the few batters that have gotten on base against him haven’t caused too much damage. He should do well against the Padres in this home start since he is especially effective at Dodger Stadium, with a 2.13 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. His opponent, James Shields, who is an excellent pitcher in his own right, is a bit more susceptible to mediocrity when he pitches on the road this season with a 4.20 ERA away from Petco Park.
Tim Lincecum, (R), Giants, 45 percent owned vs. Brewers
Venue: Miller Park, Milwaukee, WI
I don’t like to be a bully but we’ve come to the portion of the article where we pick on the Milwaukee Brewers. At .227 they own the second-worst batting average in baseball and they’ve scored the fifth-least number of runs as well. It doesn’t matter if you play them at home or on the road or if they face a righty or lefty pitcher, their offense is just plain old bad. If the baseball season were to end today, Tim Lincecum would be a frontrunner for the NL Comeback Player of the Year. He sports a 2.43 ERA, and at 11 percent his swinging strike rate is just about back to where it had been during his glory days. His HR/FB rate is currently at the lowest of his career. ERA stand-ins like FIP, xFIP and SIERA disagree on whether or not he can continue his current level of success, but since he is facing the anemic Milwaukee offense and has a 3-1 won/loss record with a 3.66 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in Miller Park, I think he should at least be considered a good short term option for your Fantasy staff.
Nate Karns, (R), Rays, 26 percent owned vs. Seattle
Venue: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL
Nate Karns’ pitching performances have been hit or miss so far this season, but I’ve already mentioned that Seattle has offensive issues when they play on the road this year and that along with the fact that he has a .193 batting average against could work to his advantage. Another thing that could work towards Karns’ advantage in this start is that his opposing pitcher J.A. Happ, has a 4.26 road ERA, which is more than two points higher than his home ERA. Karns has had some success pitching at home, having given up two or fewer runs in four out of his six starts at Tropicana Field this season.