If you’re in a fierce battle in the wins or strikeouts categories, or both, you are no doubt considering streaming pitchers if your league uses daily transactions. So let’s take a look at the pitchers owned in less than 50% of CBS leagues who are scheduled to start on Thursday and determine who warrants a pickup and who’s at risk of destroying your ratios.
Daniel Norris vs CLE
I discussed Norris just last week and like what I have seen in his recent performance. It’s a home start and the Indians are right in the middle of the pack among all Major League teams in wOBA against left-handers. They don’t possess a ton of power against southpaws, but have been able to post an elevated BABIP, which one a game-by-game basis is far less predictable. So this makes for a pretty decent matchup for Norris, even though the Indians don’t strike out a whole lot against lefties.
Cody Anderson @ DET
Remember how excited some of us were (I was somewhat as well!) during spring training when Anderson was throwing with higher velocity and striking out everyone? Yeahhhhhh, so he currently owns a 6.34 ERA and his strikeout, while much improved from last year, remains sub-20%. Looking under the hood, his overall skills have actually been pretty decent. He’s just been killed by a .376 BABIP and 18.2% HR/FB rate. In a better matchup, I’d be tempted to recommend him, but against a strong Tigers offense at Comerica Park, he’s not a consideration.
CC Sabathia vs BOS
Sabathia has posted monthly ERA marks above five in three months and marks below 3.00 in two months, with an ERA in the middle the last month. Talk about up and down! Overall, he’s basically the same pitcher as last year, but without the poor batted ball luck and the inflated HR/FB rate. The Red Sox own the second highest wOBA versus lefties in baseball. They don’t strike out, take their walks, hit for power, and convert balls in play into base hits. This is a dangerous team no matter the pitcher on the mound. That it’s Sabathia who has posted weak skills this year mean the risk of a ratio torching is present.
Kendall Graveman @ SEA
Man these extreme ground ball pitchers always intrigue me. If they could just find a decent strikeout pitch, a breakout would be imminent! Graveman’s strikeout rate has gone from low to scary this year, but he’s still inducing grounders and displaying good control. Unfortunately, the entire skills package has led to an ugly 4.61 SIERA. The Mariners have had a pretty good offense this year and when considering a streamer, part of the expectation is for strikeouts. Sadly, Graveman cannot be counted on for those and since he’s pitching away as well, he doesn’t fit the profile of a smart play.
Ariel Miranda vs OAK
Miranda is Graveman’s opponent and he is on the opposite of the batted ball spectrum as an extreme fly ball pitcher. That fly ball nature combined with a low strikeout rate and inflated HR/FB rate has led to a terrible 1.88 HR/9. The Athletics offense has stunk against righties, posting the fourth lowest wOBA in baseball. They make excellent contact, but they don’t walk often, have limited power, and haven’t been able to convert balls in play into hits at even an average clip. This is an extremely borderline call here and for those in dire need of the start.
Verdict: Start if desperate
Kyle Gibson @ KC
Gibson is another in the mold of Graveman, but he actually possesses two strikeout pitches in his slider and changeup. The problem is that his fastball is so terrible that even excellent secondary pitches haven’t been enough to bring his strikeout rate into average territory. Still, he induces ground balls and does have those two pitches that could really work for him in any given game. The Royals are just behind the Athletics in wOBA vs righties, as they are the most impatient team in baseball and have also posted the lowest ISO. It’s unlikely Gibson racks of the strikeouts, but unless he gets singled to death, there’s seemingly little chance he severely hurts your ratios. Essentially, this is a high floor game, but probably a low ceiling.
Albert Suarez vs COL
With an unimpressive minor league record and 4.64 SIERA over 84 innings, Suarez would rarely be in consideration as a streamer. But he’s facing the Rockies at home and we know the Rockies annually struggle in away parks. The team has posted just a .301 wOBA, good for 24th in baseball. They strike out a lot and walk infrequently. It makes for a pretty good matchup, especially since he did possess a strikeout pitch in his slider. He’s just above Miranda if I was ranking the pitchers.
Christian Friedrich vs LAD
Friedrich’s ERA has nicely come down each season, but that’s not saying much when it began at 6.17 and has gradually dropped into the 5.00s and now finally into the 4.00s. He lost velocity and whiffs upon moving back to the rotation, though his slider has remained excellent at inducing swings and misses. Unfortunately, he’s facing a Dodgers team that sits fifth in baseball in wOBA against righties.
Josh Collmenter vs PHI
I had no idea Collmenter was back! Now on the Braves, he takes his soft tossing ways to Atlanta. He has generally outperformed his expected ERA metrics thanks to a suppressed BABIP, but I hate to bank on that being a sustainable skill for long. That said, this is a pretty juicy matchup against a Phillies team that is second to last in wOBA that strikes out a lot. It’s a home game for Collmenter too, which is a definite plus.
Rob Zastryzny @ PIT
Admittedly, I have never heard of him and know absolutely nothing about him. Over a tiny sample of 12.1 Major League innings, he has induced lots of grounders, which is good, and his curve ball has been insane, generating a 30.8% SwStk%. The Pirates have a mediocre offense, though not heavy on power. This is a gamble since it will be Zastryzny’s first MLB start. Given that it’s an away game, this seems far too risky for my blood.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.