by Ken Balderston
Now comfortably into the second half of the year, offenses have built up an ample sample size to make streaming against them even more attractive. While not an exact science there are usually effective options out there for the astute owner. Let’s see who could impress this week:
To be considered in most leagues
Derek Holland – Giants (at Mets, 35% owned) ‘A-‘
Holland has quietly put up a very solid season, sporting a 3.83 ERA and 1.31 WHIP, and seems to have learned how to strike guys out (9.19 K/9 on the year). Of late he’s been even better, with a 3.31 ERA in his last 3 starts and despite pitching his home games in Pac Bell Park, and having the Rockies in the same division, has managed a better road ERA (3.56) than home (4.18). He’ll be on the road this week against the Mets, who have really struggled to score at home with a league worst home OPS of .632 and only 198 runs scored in 61 games (3.25 average per game). Holland is still available in a large number of CBS leagues (only 35% ownership rate) and owners looking to stream should really consider this ideal matchup.
Some nice upside but also some risk
Brett Anderson – Athletics (vs. Rangers, 20% owned) ‘B+’
It’s been an amazing year for the Athletics, getting value from nearly everything they touch. Add Brett Anderson to that pile as he’s been able to keep a 3.90 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, albeit through 55 innings and 11 starts. He’s managed to keep a lot of balls on the ground, 54%, with a solid 36.8% hard hit rate as well. He’s been particularly effective lately, putting up a 0.92 ERA and 0.61 WHIP in his last 3 starts covering 19.2 IP, including two starts at home with no ER allowed. He’ll be at home again facing off against the Rangers, owners of a .687 road OPS and scoring barely 4 runs per road game. While Anderson doesn’t strike a ton of guys out the Rangers might give him a hand there, averaging 10 K per game. There’s a lot to like in this matchup and Anderson should be considered in most formats.
Solid option but also a fair amount of uncertainty
Jake Junis – Royals (at Rays, 33% owned) ‘C’
Junis was a bit of a sleeper entering the season, as his plus command of 4 pitches was thought to have potential as an innings eater. Injuries and some periods where he lost his command have cast a shadow on the season, who’s ownership rate has fallen all the way down to 33%. He’s been much better of late, putting up a 2.20 ERA in his last 3 starts including 21 strikeouts in 16.1 IP and a 4:1 K:BB ratio. He’ll be matched up with the Rays in Tampa, where they’ve had some trouble offensively. They have managed to average 4.25 runs a game,but have a less than frightening OPS of .720, good for 20th in MLB. It’s not a lights out matchup, but it’s a start to consider given Junis’ recent hot streak, and with the possibility of holding onto him if all goes well.
Significant risk but also potential to put up a solid outing
Sam Gaviglio – Blue Jays (vs. Orioles, 6% owned) ‘D+’
Between trades and injuries the Blue Jays are in need of innings and seem to be throwing everything against the wall in hopes something sticks. Gaviglio has a couple seasons at Triple-A which he’s put up encouraging stats, consistently sub 4.00 ERA and a sub 2.00 ERA at Triple-A this season (5 starts). He’s had a tougher go of it in the Majors, sitting with a 5.13 ERA (4.07 xFIP) but he controls the strike zone well (7.2% BB rate) and has started to show he can strike guys out (16 K in his last 15+ IP). He’ll be at home this week, where he has a 2.70 ERA in 50 IP, so he clearly prefers Rogers center to the road. He’ll be facing the Orioles, who have really struggled on the road (.658 road OPS, 29th in MLB), and score an average of 3.5 runs a game on the road. It’s tough to recommend a guy with a 5.00+ ERA, but there are signs of life and the matchup could be very favorable as well.
James Shields – White Sox (vs. Twins, 19% owned) ‘D’
Big Game James has seemingly gotten things under control after a couple of years where there were whispers he was done. While a 4.39 ERA would appear to be difficult to trust, he’s managed a much better 3.58 home ERA, thanks to a .653 home OPS and .287 xOBA. Home is where he’ll be this week against a pick-on road offense in the Twins. On the year they are 25th in MLB with a .675 road OPS, but have a depleted lineup since the trade of Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar. There are some reasons to be nervous of this start, but there’s also enough to encourage owners to grab Shields if they need a streamer and some of the other options are not available.
Options you might be considering but are not recommended
Austin Gomber – Cardinals (at Dodgers, 34% owned)
Gomber has had a successful start to his MLB career, evident by his 2.89 ERA and 1.29 WHIP through his first 37.1 IP. At first glance he’s been even more successful of late, with a 2.40 ERA in his last three starts with 14 K in 15 IP. A look a bit deeper into the numbers suggests that ERA might not remain below 3.00. His FIP, for one, is almost a run and a half higher than his ERA at 4.26, likely tied to some luck on his part (.257 BABIP, 79% strand rate) and also poor control (4.58 BB/9). Gomber’s allowed a 25% line drive rate and 39.4% hard hit rate, suggesting his .257 BABIP will regress, likely sooner than later. He’ll be matched up against the Dodgers in LA this week, who manage a .744 home OPS (11th in MLB) and have been particularly hot of late, with the 4th best OPS during August sitting at a fearsome .800 so far this month. Owners of Gomber will likely want to take advantage of his hot start, but the numbers behind the ERA suggest there will be regression, and with a tough matchup you should ask yourself if you want him in your lineup when that happens.
Hit me up on twitter or in the comments below if you have a player you’re considering streaming and want some thoughts on
Sites consulted: CBSsports, MLB.com, Fangraphs, Rotoworld, MILB.com