In the unpredictable 60-game sprint known as the 2020 MLB season, streaming pitchers could be even more important than ever before. Who are the best options for Week 1 (July 23-26)? Let’s take a look at some of the recommended options (to be eligible the pitcher has to be owned in less than 50% of CBS leagues):
Adam Wainwright (STL vs. PIT)
The 38-year old Wainwright? Really?!?! He’s not the ace that he once was, with last year’s 4.19 ERA his best mark since 2015. At the same time last season he showed strikeouts (8.02 K/9) to go along with enough control (3.36 BB/9) and groundballs (48.8%) to be a successful pitcher. He also thrived at home (2.56 ERA), where he’ll pitch on Saturday, and pitched fairly well against the Pirates (3.41 ERA over 29.0 IP, including 27 K).
Then you have a Pittsburgh lineup that is less than stellar, especially with Gregory Polanco on the IL and Starling Marte now in Arizona. Just look at what they are expected to throw out there:
- Kevin Newman – SS
- Bryan Reynolds – LF
- Adam Frazier – 2B
- Josh Bell – 1B
- Jose Osuna – DH
- Colin Moran – 3B
- Guillermo Heredia – RF
- Jacob Stallings – C
- Jarrod Dyson – CF
Mitch Keller (PIT @ STL)
It is somewhat of a surprise, but Keller will open the year as Pittsburgh’s #3 starter meaning he’ll get the ball on Sunday against the Cardinals. Obviously It’s not the easiest matchup and given his struggles as a rookie most will be skeptical. At the same time there’s no questioning the upside that he brings, as we noted in our preseason Draft Guide:
He proved capable of translating both his swing and miss stuff (12.19 K/9 courtesy of an 11.8% SwStr%) and control (3.00 BB/9), and while he didn’t show much groundball stuff (39.2%) he’s shown more in the minors and home runs weren’t a significant issue (1.13 HR/9). Instead the struggles can be pinned on the “luck” metrics (.475 BABIP, 59.6% strand rate), despite a modest 35.9% Hard%. Improving and incorporating his changeup (which he threw 4.5% of the time) would help to keep opponents honest, and in turn lead to better marks on his fourseam fastball (.461 BAA / .719 SLG).
Nathan Eovaldi (BOS vs. BAL)
Eovaldi imploded in ’19, after his apparent 2018 breakout, as he pitched to a 5.99 ERA over 23 appearances. That’s going to leave you concerned, but the Orioles are once again expected to be among the worst teams in baseball. Considering he had thrown 8.0 shutout innings in Spring Training prior to the shutdown, with 12 K vs. 1 BB, there’s enough there to make him worthy of rolling the dice on.
Two Popular Streaming Options To Ignore
- Johnny Cueto (SF @ LAD) – This feels like a case of where fantasy owners simply can’t wait to have a pitcher in a game that matters. The Dodgers remain one of the elite teams in baseball, Cueto has thrown a total of 69.0 innings over the past two years and it’s not like he was pitching well prior to the shutdown (12.79 ERA over 6.1 IP). Don’t do it.
- Corbin Burnes (MIL @ CHC) – Burnes steps into the #2 starter role, which opened up with Brett Anderson hitting in the IL. There has been a lot of hype surrounding Burnes and the once top prospect could have a breakout season, but as we noted in our Waiver Wire column his home run issues make him a streaming option initially and the Cubs’ powerful lineup isn’t an ideal spot (Burnes had a 10.16 ERA over 6.1 IP against the Cubs in ’19, and the Cubs had the sixth most HR overall).
Sources – Fangraphs, CBS Sports, MLB.com
Make sure to check out all of our Updated 2020 preseason rankings: