by Ken Balderston
Streaming pitchers off the waiver wire can be a very effective way to add innings to your staff. Maybe you missed out on some of your end game pitchers in the draft, have run into a string of injuries or just want to take advantage of some matchups. Here’s a look at some options owned in less than 50% of CBS leagues to help you gain an advantage this week.
Note: The weather has wreaked havoc on the schedule and the matchup is very important factor when streaming pitchers. Keep an eye on the schedule and make sure these starters don’t get bumped back a day and end up facing a much more difficult offense.
To be considered in most leagues
Chad Kuhl – Pirates (vs. Tigers, 6% owned) A
An under the radar player gets an ideal matchup at home against the Detroit Tigers. Through 4 starts Kuhl is sporting an unassuming 4.57 ERA but an impressive 2.45 ERA in 2 home starts. He’s had some trouble with command in PNC this year (6 BB in 11 IP) but has also been hard to hit (9 hits allowed at home despite an overall .371 BABIP on the year).
Lefties have had more success, 1.71 WHIP vs 1.29 against righties, but the Tigers feature a mostly righty lineup. In fact, the 3 guys who could be hitting from the left side of the plate against Kuhl were not overly successful vs righties last year (Martinez (s) .719 OPS, Candelario (s) .860 OPS, Leonys Martin (L) .427 OPS). The Tigers as a team have been ice cold on the road, leading to MLB’s 29th ranked road OPS .551 (.281 OBP, and a ridiculous .270 road SLG), hit a measly 2 home runs in 7 road games so far and only 14 total extra base hits in those 7 games. Kuhl is widely available in CBS leagues, but this is a matchup for those even in shallow leagues to consider.
Some nice upside but also some risk
Jamie Garcia – Blue Jays (vs. Rangers, 22% owned) B
Jamie Garcia has gotten off to a solid start to the season, putting up a 3.86 ERA and 1.35 WHIP through 3 starts, and we’ve seen his ownership rate go up from 11% to start the season to 22% as of this writing. A reassuring stat is his career strikeout rate has sat at less than an 8.00 K/9, but so far this year is up over a 9.00 K/9. He’ll be matched up against the Rangers who could help Garcia keep that trend, as they’ve struck out 92 times through their first 10 road games. They’ve also put up an anemic .669 road OPS, a .634 OPS vs lefties, and will be without the key bats of Rougned Odor or Elvis Andrus. Garcia has given up his share of home runs (4 in 16 IP) but that shouldn’t sway owners away from taking advantage of a solid matchup.
Solid option but also a fair amount of uncertainty
Brandon McCarthy – Braves (at Reds, 40% owned) C
When you think of the Reds you fear Joey Votto. Cincinnati is really struggling this year, with the second worst overall OPS of .619, and Votto has an unimaginable .261 SLG, .015 ISO, and .573 OPS. Below is a chart (credit to Fangraphs) of how McCarthy is attacking left handed hitters this year.
Generally it looks like he’s throwing his cutter up and in to lefties, and the sinker and curve down and more off the plate away. Below are Votto’s slugging heat charts this year against 1 Curve and Sinker and 2 Cutter. Votto is still hitting the curve and sinker when it’s down and in the zone, but he’s really struggling when it’s away and off the plate.
Similarly Votto is holding his own when the cutter gets in on his hands, but when it stays away he’s struggling to do anything with it. Given his ISO is only .015, even if he does hit these pitches the damage is minimal.
This is all to suggest the Reds best hitter, and arguably the best hitter in the National League, is not performing and could struggle in this matchup. Taking away the other team’s best hitter can really make things easier on a starter and significantly reduce the chance of a blowup. With the current state of the Reds offense and the way McCarthy has been able to perform this year, this is a matchup worth keeping an eye on.
Tyler Anderson – Rockies (at Marlins, 12% owned) C
After getting blown up in his first start of 2018 Anderson has settled in and put up a 1.66 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 18 K through three April starts totaling 16.2 innings. His walks are elevated at 5.68/9 on the year, despite throwing more than 62% of his pitches for strikes, and he’s living with a maintainable .306 BABIP and 70% LOB%. Part of the reason for his success could be a jump to his SwSt% which sits at 14.5%, likely the result of a 48.9% O-Contact%. Basically his breaking stuff is fooling hitters regularly. He’ll be facing a very young Marlins lineup this week, who continue to be the worst offense in baseball showing an overall OPS of .603 (.297 OBP, .305 SLG), scoring just over 3 runs a game on average and jacking a grand total of 11 home runs in 19 games. Part of this matchup is taking advantage of Anderson who’s been hot, but just as important is facing the Marlins who could prove to be one of the worst offensive teams in recent memory.
Significant risk but also potential to put up a solid outing
Andrew Triggs – Athletics (at Rangers, 42% owned) D
Triggs has had some issues so far this year, as his ERA is currently sitting at 5.82, but he’s not gotten any favors. His BABIP is an elevated .320, despite a 53.8% GB rate and 13.5% LD rate. Add in his K/9, which is currently an attractive 9.00, and it’s easy to envision his ERA coming down towards the level his xFIP (4.25). The concern here is when can we expect Triggs’ ERA to trend to a what his peripherals suggest? This leads to quite a bit of risk until he can show he can put up a strong start. That being said, we’ve already spoken about the Rangers and how they’re a weakened offense until they get healthy or temperatures rise in Arlington. There is risk here, but many indicators point to Triggs being able to handle the assignment.
Options you might be considering but are not recommended
Tyler Mahle – Reds (at Braves, 30% owned)
After a strong year in the minors in 2017 (1.59 AA ERA, 2.73 AAA ERA), many fantasy owners put Mahle on their sleeper list for 2018. He’s been very home run prone, giving up over 2 HR/9 IP, and sports a 5.14 ERA. There are some indicators he’ll be able to get his season on track, namely he’s still striking out far more hitters than he’s walking, almost 3 to 1, but the Braves present a very difficult matchup. They’re currently 5th in baseball with a .771 OPS and are even better at home, with a .781 OPS. Mahle did have a successful start last week against the Cubs, but that was at home and on the heels of two very disappointing starts in Pittsburgh and at home vs. the Cardinals. If you’ve invested in Mahle you might be tempted to use him against the Braves, but the risk of getting blown up is to great to take the chance.
Feel free to tweet me (@kenintoronto) for advice on any other pitching matchups or post the matchups in the comments below
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