2013

Best Streaming Options: Five Pitchers to Start, and One More if You’re Desperate

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If you read the first column, you can skip the first section and start to read where I go over the best streaming options.

From now till the end of the season, I will go over the best streaming options available for the upcoming week; Monday’s post will have the best options for Monday through Thursday, and Thursday’s post will have the best options for Thursday through Sunday.

To make your options realistic and reach a wider range of players, we will keep the pool of players eligible to be streamed to those pitchers that are owned in 50% or less of ESPN leagues.

 (If you don’t know what wRC+ is, this is a link to the FanGraphs library definition)

Here are the best streaming options for Thursday through Sunday:

Thursday:

Sonny Gray vs. Houston (In Oakland)

ESPN Ownership:  25.9%

Opponent’s wRC+: 86 vs RHPs (28th in MLB)

As much as can be said about the bright future of Sonny Gray, even more can be said about the anemic offensive season the Astros have had this year. Gray, in five starts, has managed to produce an exceptional ERA—2.57—with the peripherals to match—2.99 xFIP and 2.52 FIP. The game is in Oakland to boot. Although, not very many balls will be put in play with Gray’s 9.51 K/9 and the Astros’ league leading 25.2 K% against righties.

Friday:

Felix Doubront vs. New York (At New York)

ESPN Ownership: 18.5%

Opponent’s wRC+: 86 vs LHPs (23rd in MLB)

Doubront has had a successful 2013 as a result of ditching his two-seam fastball. The lefty threw his two-seam fastball 30.5% of the time in 2012, and is throwing it only 16.1% of the time this year. It appears that he has allocated the difference from last year to his four-seam fastball; that pitch has been thrown 45.2% this year, compared to only 33.2% in 2012. Doubront’s four-seam fastball has still accounted for negative -1.9 wFA, but that is a marked improvement over his -7.3 wFA last year. Although Doubront has thrown as many change-ups this year as he did last year, it appears as if the conscious decision to throw mainly four-seam fastballs has helped disguise his best pitch; his changeup’s value has increased from a 2.5 wCH in 2012 to a 5 wCH this year.

Andrew Cashner vs. Colorado (In San Diego)

ESPN Ownership: 9.8%

Opponent’s wRC+: 93 vs RHPs (20th in MLB)

I was close to picking Marco Estrada for this spot, but I feel like, at any moment, Estrada could start to give up the home runs that plagued him at the beginning of the year. Cashner has had a 3.38 xFIP at home this year—thank you Petco Park—and while the Rockies did activate Carlos Gonzalez from the DL, he is still not allowed to hit due to discomfort in his right middle finger. Nolan Arenado, the Rockies third baseman, added to the injuries that have plagued Colorado this year and left the game Wednesday’s with a thumb injury.

Saturday:

Dan Straily vs. Houston (In Oakland) IF YOU’RE DESPERATE

ESPN Ownership: 2.9%

Opponent’s wRC+: 86 vs RHPs (28th in MLB)

If there’s one piece of information you take away from these streaming columns, it’s that you should hunt out above average pitchers playing against the Astros. With that said, Dan Straily is not an above average pitcher. Straily fooled a lot of novice fans with his 3.89 ERA in his seven starts at the end of 2012, but the more astute observer noticed his 6.48 FIP and 5.30 xFIP. If you absolutely need a start, play Straily, but don’t feel good about it. Saturday is not a good day for streaming options, and because I admittedly would not start Straily in this game, I will not count him against my final stat line when I recap my streaming column at the end of the year; I still, however, thought it would be good to give readers an option.

Sunday:

Danny Salazar vs New York Mets (In Cleveland)

ESPN Ownership: 6.4%

Opponent’s wRC+:  92 vs RHPs (21st in MLB)

Photo By: Lianna Holub

Photo By: Lianna Holub

Danny Salazar is going to downright embarrass the Mets on Sunday. Count on it. I feel like a promoter for a prizefighter right now. Salazar is somewhat of a sabermetric darling, through his ability to produce extreme, high strikeout, and low walk totals in the minors, but the Mets will bring their own punch from their corner with their 21.9 K% to help the cause. If you can stomach the fact that Salazar is unlikely to pitch more than six innings, go with him.

Michael Wacha vs. Pittsburgh (At St. Louis)

ESPN Ownership: 7.8%

Opponent’s wRC+: 95 vs RHPs (17th in MLB)

The Pirates have done most of their damage this year against LHPs, and have been bellow the league average in wRC+ against RHPs this year. Michael Wacha has been able to stymy right-handed batters since he was called up earlier this year, but he has also been able to hold lefties to a .230 wOBA, and control his platoon splits with his superb changeup (1.8 wCH).

Devon Jordan is obsessed with statistical analysis, non-fiction literature, and electronic music. If you enjoyed reading about pitcher value in Fantasy Baseball, follow him on Twitter @devinjjordan.

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