Fantasy Baseball: 5 Pitchers to Stream in Week 6
As if the slew of underperforming aces wasn't enough to stoke our pessimism over the current starting pitching landscape, Week 5 saw a rash of bad injury news for prominent starting pitchers. The state of the fantasy starter is indeed quite dire--that is, if you're only sticking with the guys you drafted.
Fewer and fewer of us are, of course. Whether you're streaming as a premeditated strategy or as an outright necessity, the waiver wire is rich with hurlers who can help bolster the back end of your fantasy rotation. Here are five names who should have your attention in Week 6.
Matt Strahm, San Diego Padres
Start: May 8th vs. New York Mets
ESPN ownership: 28%
The Matt Strahm bubble emphatically burst when the popular sleeper candidate was torched by the Arizona Diamondbacks for five earned runs and 11 total base runners across 2.2 innings in his first start of the season.
The shell shock from the debut drubbing might be moving standard leaguers to keep the San Diego Padres lefty at arms length. Well, that and the limited strikeouts. While Strahm's five subsequent starts have brought his ERA all the way down to 3.03 (certified by a tidy 3.23 FIP), his overall season strikeout rate has been something of a disappointment, with 20.3% punchouts across 32.2 frames after the superb 28.2% mark in 61.1 innings last season.
Swinging strikes and reaches outside of the zone are indeed down for Strahm, but so too are walks and homer-per-fly rate. In short, what exactly Strahm is, either as an MLB pitcher or a fantasy asset, remains to be seen, but he sure looks like a strong streaming option this week.
The Mets are one of the more strikeout-prone groups in the majors, while their weak team power profile (they're bottom third in both group ISO and hard contact) will be further exacerbated by pitcher-friendly Petco Park.
Strahm is set up as a premium plug-and-play option for Week 6, and if he continues to excel and the bulk strikeouts reappear, even shallow leaguers might have a hard time throwing him back to the wire.
Chris Bassitt, Oakland Athletics
Start: May 10th vs. Cleveland Indians
ESPN ownership: 22%
The nearly two-run gap between Chris Bassitt's sharp 2.12 ERA and hairy 4.07 FIP will have shrewd fantasy players casting a bit skepticism towards the 30-year-old Oakland Athletics righty. This is understandable given that Bassitt (filling in for an injured Marco Estrada) has cruised through his 17 innings with the A's on a slender .189 BABIP and 100% left-on-base rate, which both seem, dare we say, unsustainable.
And perhaps that 30.1% strikeout rate is a bit overblown as well. To be fair, Bassitt is working with an absolutely electric four-seamer that has approached 97 mph this season while averaging 93.5, a full tick higher than last season. The results speak for themselves: the pitch has limited hitters to an outrageously stingy .063 OPS across 66 offerings. There's certainly some small-sample magic in play here, but it's worth mentioning that Bassitt sustained a .394 OPS allowed with a wild 41.9% strikeout rate across 107 four-seamers last season.
With his 70-mph curveball coaxing 35.7% reaches and 19.1% whiffs, Bassitt appears to be keeping hitters off balance, even as his primary sinker has been clobbered for a .267 ISO. Some negative regression in his overall results is sure to come, but it might wait another week as Bassitt draws a Cleveland team that has been the least productive offense in the American League over the first five weeks of the season.
Jeff Samardzija, San Francisco Giants
Start: May 10th vs. Cincinnati Reds
ESPN ownership: 18%
We might be tempted to see Jeff Samardzija as a Rodney Dangerfield veteran who puts in good work but just gets no respect. And sure, it does seem that a pitcher with a strong track record who totes a 3.16 ERA through 37 innings should be getting a little more love from standard leaguers.
But there are some warts here. Shark's 11.5% strikeouts-minus-walks this season is a faint shadow of the 20.4% mark that made him a surprise fantasy boon in 2017. Meanwhile, the dissonance between his sharp ERA and his 47.8% hard contact rate (a career worst by a mile) can't simply be waved away because of his favorable home venue at Oracle Park. We began to see negative regression take hold this weekend when Samardzija surrendered three homers on three consecutive pitches to the Reds.
Even if that 4.50 FIP seems like a truer indicator of Samardzjia's talent, the big righty makes for an excellent streamer whenever he toes the rubber at Oracle. Shark has yet to surrender a dinger in 16.2 innings at home this season, good for a sharp 1.62 ERA and 2.25 FIP. He'll look to enjoy some home cooking this week against those same Reds, who, even after the homer barrage this past weekend, carry a .679 team OPS that ranks fourth-worst in the National League.
Anthony DeSclafani, Cincinnati Reds
You'll get whiplash trying to follow Anthony DeSclafani's career arc, with the Reds pitcher's considerable upside again and again derailed by injury. We've reached another promising high point for DeSclafani in 2019, as the 29-year-old is in the midst of a six-start stretch that's seen a massive spike in strikeouts (27.7% in 31 innings compared to a 20.8% career mark) to go along with a respectable 3.48 ERA.
Adding to the intrigue is a two-start slate in Week 6 that will certainly draw the attention of fantasy streamers. DeSclafini gets two cracks at the San Francisco Giants, who are neck-and-neck with the woeful Miami Marlins as the least productive offense in the majors. The righty's outsized 48.1% fly ball rate does make him a touchy start at the homer haven that is Great American Ball Park, but even risk-averse streamers have to like his chances against a Giants team that sports a frail .132 team ISO heading into Week 6 action.
Martin Perez, Minnesota Twins
Anyone who owned Martin Perez outside of very deep leagues probably cut bait in advance of what was pretty clearly a stay-away start against the Houston Astros last week. Wouldn't you know it, the 28-year-old posted one of the most surprisingly dominant starts of the season, striking out seven while scattering six base runners over eight shutout frames.
Streamers will be doubling back to snap up the Minnesota Twins starter for what should prove to be a productive Week 6. A two-step against the Tigers and Jays is about as soft as a weekly assignment gets, with both squads virtually tied for the highest group strikeout rate in the American League and near the very bottom of the Major League leaderboard in terms of group ISO.
The fact that Perez's modest 20.4% strikeout rate would mark a significant career high should tell us a little something about his capped upside, but the eighth-year starter does have three quality starts in his last four assignments. Perez is a respectable, no-frills streamer add in most formats.