Wednesday’s slate of starting pitchers is not fully set, as there are still no fewer than five teams listing TBD as their starter as of this writing. I have filled in some of the blanks, projecting that Stephen Gonsalves will be the Twins’ primary pitcher and Sam Gaviglio will start for the Blue Jays. That increases the number of widely-available projected “starters” to eight, using a 25 percent ownership rate on Fantrax as a cutoff point.
While most owners are forsaking these hurlers, a few are reasonable streaming options, particularly in deeper formats.
Brett Anderson – OAK vs. LAA (23%)
Anderson has been steady for most of the second half, but his last two starts — the one right before his DL stint for a forearm strain and the one right after — did not go well. In fairness to Anderson, his early exit in the fourth inning of last Thursday’s start at Baltimore came after he had allowed four singles, none which had a hit probability greater than 47 percent. He continued to be good at getting grounders (53.8 percent) and chases (43.3 percent O-Swing%) in that start, so I like the idea of giving Anderson a whirl with this start in mixed leagues with at least 15 teams. Over the last 30 days, the Angels rank 23rd in batting average and 22nd in Iso against lefties.
Stephen Gonsalves – MIN at DET (23%)
After faring poorly in his first four major league starts, Gonsalves did much better in his first game as a primary pitcher following an opener. He tossed three no-hit innings last Thursday at Kansas City, allowing one unearned run with four strikeouts. However, Gonsalves induced only three swinging strikes in 69 pitches and walked four batters. He figures to pitch behind an opener again on Wednesday, but we can’t count on him to pitch many innings. Even if he is effective, getting fantasy value from Gonsalves in this start looks like a long shot.
Yohander Mendez – TEX vs. TB (13%)
Mendez’s season hit a low point when he was demoted to High-A Down East back in June, but since being added to the major league roster earlier this month, he has been effective. The 23-year-old has allowed only two runs in 15 innings, despite a ratio of 10 strikeouts to seven walks. Yohander the Left-Hander is getting it done with an avoidance of hard contact (20.5 percent), and he even kept the potent Athletics’ offense in check. It’s still asking a lot for Mendez to turn in a good start against a Rays team that leads the majors in wOBA this month.
Sam Gaviglio – TOR at BAL (13%)
Earlier this season, Gaviglio was making strides as a strikeout pitcher, but since the beginning of July, his strikeout rate is merely 18.6 percent. Over that span of 13 starts, Gaviglio has only two quality starts, though both came at the expense of the Orioles. He has not shown a standout skill that might help him compensate for allowing too much contact, so it’s probably a losing bet to expect Gaviglio toss another quality start on Wednesday.
Robbie Erlin – SD vs. SF (10%)
If you need a quality start, you should probably look elsewhere, as Erlin does not go deep into games. Otherwise, Erlin looks like the best starter of this group. He rarely walks anyone (10 BB in 99 IP), induces soft contact at a fair 20.0 percent rate and sports a 2.80 ERA and .265 wOBA at home. As a left-handed strike-thrower, the Giants are an ideal opponent for Erlin, as they rank 25th in Z-Contact and 26th in wOBA vs. left-handed pitchers.
Heath Fillmyer – KC at PIT (8%)
Fillmyer doesn’t have the same appeal as Erlin does, but he could be worth a try if you are needing to make up a sizable deficit in a Head-to-Head matchup. Three of his last four outings have been quality starts, with two of them lasting at least seven innings. In each of his last four starts, he has allowed contact on pitches outside of the strike zone at a rate no higher than 60 percent. Since Fillmyer doesn’t fill up the strike zone (39.8 percent Zone%), that’s a skill that could come in handy.
One of the bigger concerns about Fillmyer is that he has yet to post a game score above 45 away from Kauffman Stadium. However, PNC Park may be the pitcher-friendliest venue he has visited, and the Pirates are not hitting for much power (.143 Iso in September).
Dylan Covey – CHW at CLE (7%)
Covey’s season got off to a promising start, but since June 18, he has a 7.38 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP. Just as it seemed that Covey might have started to turn his season around during a brief stint in the bullpen, he gave up six runs (five earned) over 4.1 innings at Kansas City on Sept. 11 — his first start back in the White Sox’s rotation. Covey has less appeal than any pitcher on this list, including an unheralded, untested rookie like…
Spencer Turnbull – DET vs. MIN (1%)
Turnbull’s start against the Twins will be the first of his career, after he made his major league debut in an inning of relief against the Indians last Friday. As a 25-year old, Turnbull had something of a breakout at Double-A Erie, striking out 105 batters in 98.2 innings, and he got a couple of good starts at Triple-A Toledo under his belt before getting called up. He doesn’t come with much prospect cred, so it’s a stretch to expect him to help in fantasy right away.
So to recap, the following pitchers are potentially viable streaming options (listed in order from most to least desirable): Erlin, Anderson and Fillmyer.
Al Melchior has been writing about Fantasy baseball and sim games since 2000, and his work has appeared at CBSSports.com, BaseballHQ, Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and FanRagSports. He has also participated in Tout Wars' mixed auction league since 2013. You can follow Al on Twitter @almelchiorbb and find more of his work at almelchior.com.