Starting Pitchers to Stream — 9/22/20

As we enter the final full week of the season, streaming starting pitchers to try to maximize your wins and strikeouts might either become a viable strategy for you now or has been a strategy you have been executing for some time already. So let’s review the probable starters for Tuesday’s games that are owned on 30% or fewer teams in CBS leagues and conclude with a STREAM or NOT decision, assuming a 12-team mixed league.

Tarik Skubal | vs Randy Dobnak @ MIN

Skubal is the Tigers’ fifth best prospect and ranked 49th overall. He’s had a tough time in his first six starts, but that’s primarily because he’s struggled to strand his baserunners, as he holds just a 58.3% LOB%. His SIERA is an acceptable enough 4.35, which is nearly two runs lower than his actual ERA, due to the aforementioned strand issues, plus an inflated HR/FB rate. He faces a Twins team that has surprisingly been awful against lefties this season, posting a .286 wOBA, with easily the lowest ISO against southpaws among all teams in baseball. Given the strikeout potential and the lack of offense produced against left-handers, Skubal is a STREAM.

Brett Anderson | vs Tejay Antone @ CIN

Gosh Anderson is so predictable. Strikeout nobody, walk few, and induce tons of grounders. It’s a skill set that relies heavily on his defense. Because of all the grounders, he hasn’t truly had any horrible outings this year, and even when he allowed two homers, both were solo shots. This is a low upside arm who isn’t going to move the needle much in strikeouts, but he does face a Reds team that has stunk against lefties and has struck out a lot. Understand most of the stinkage is due to a ridiculous .240 BABIP and they have actually hit for solid power (.181 ISO). This is a tough call, but because of the low strikeout rate and an away game in a hitter friendly venue, I’m going with NOT.

Austin Voth | vs Aaron Nola vs. PHI

I guess deep analysis isn’t really required when discussing a pitcher with not only a 7.17 ERA, but also a 5.39 SIERA. Voth has been an extreme fly ball pitcher with a low strikeout rate, and that’s a bad combination. He faces a strong Phillies offense ranking seventh in wOBA and a win will be tougher facing Nola. Easy call for NOT.

Reynaldo Lopez | vs Shane Bieber @ CLE

Reynaldo Lopez is one of those guys were keep waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and eventually we’re going to have to realize that the breakout isn’t coming and this is who he is — a bad pitcher. This year has been more of the same, but his walk rate has now spiked to a career worst. The Indians offense hasn’t been as good as expected, but a win opposing Bieber is going to be a challenge even if Lopez does manage to pitch well, making him a NOT.

Keegan Akin | vs Nick Pivetta @ BOS

With a solid minor league strikeout rate, but control issues, Akin wasn’t exactly on my radar in even AL-Only leagues. But so far, he’s inducing swings and misses, led by a whifftastic four-seamer and changeup combination, while his curve ball has been solid as well. His slider, his third most thrown pitch, has been terrible at generating whiffs, so he might need to stop throwing it until he could figure the pitch out over the offseason. The Red Sox have been middle of the pack against lefties, but Akin’s strikeout potential is enough to take the risk here as a STREAM.

Jose Urena | vs Cole Hamels @ ATL

Urena has made just three starts after testing positive for COVID-19 and has struggled to a 6.00 ERA and nearly identical 6.03 SIERA. His skills have never been any good, even though his fastball sits in the mid-90s, so there’s certainly no reason to stream him now, facing a Braves team that sits first in baseball in wOBA against righties. Easy NOT here.

Johan Oviedo | vs Brady Singer @ KC

Oviedo was ranked as the Cardinals’ 12th best prospect with an ETA of 2022, as he hadn’t thrown a pitch above Double-A. But this season has been crazy, so he’s made five starts already and has predictably been poor. Even against a weak Royals offense, he’s a clear NOT.

Tejay Antone | vs Brett Anderson vs. MIL

The Reds’ 13th ranked prospect, Antone had posted a low-20% strikeout rate in the minors at each stop since 2016, but that rate has surged in his first taste of the Majors. That said, he’s moved between the starting rotation and bullpen, so he has only gone one start that lasted five innings. Given the low chance he even qualifies for a win, he’s a NOT.

Jordan Lyles | vs Caleb Smith @ ARI

So much for Lyles’ strikeout rate spike over the last two seasons. Something is clearly wrong here as it has been nearly cut in half this season and his SwStk% is the lowest among pitchers with at least 40 innings. Obviously, it would be silly to think his next start will suddenly be the one where his strikeout abilities return, so even against the 24th ranked offense by wOBA, he’s a NOT.

Nick Pivetta | vs Keegan Akin vs. BAL

Pivetta figures to make his Red Sox debut after throwing just 5.2 innings with the Phillies this season. At one point, he was a popular sleeper, but that label seems like a distant memory. While he would seemingly be the perfect crapshoot candidate to roll the dice on, I feel like he isn’t going to be stretched out to even go five innings, and that requires him actually pitching well enough to make it there. So nah, I wouldn’t take a chance here, making him a NOT.

Steven Brault | vs TBD vs. CHC

Do you risk starting a pitcher with a 5.08 SIERA against a team that ranks 27th in wOBA against lefties in a game in his pitcher friendly home park? That’s the situation Brault finds himself in. He’s coming off the best game of his season, and perhaps his career, but before his complete game, he only went five innings once. Remember, streaming him means not starting another pitcher, and I have to imagine there’s a better option, so NOT.

Ljay Newsome | vs Framber Valdez vs. HOU

I don’t think much analysis needs to be done here as the rookie Newsome, the Mariners’ 27th ranked, hasn’t gone more than four innings in a start. The Astros offense has been surprisingly below average (or maybe not surprising to many people), but that’s still not even of a reason for me to give the thumbs up here, so NOT.

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.

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3 years ago

Sonny Gray is starting for the Reds on Tuesday, not Antone

3 years ago
Reply to  luke.shigeo

Are you guys comfortable starting Gray coming off the IL? Previous two starts beforehand were bad