Fantasy Baseball: 5 Pitchers to Stream in Week 8
We can't all be Los Angeles Dodgers, can we? LA has thumbed its nose at the offensive explosion over the past two weeks, with Hyun-jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda combining for a jaw-dropping 36.2 frames of 0.00-ERA ball over five starts.
One or two fantasy owners in every league must be thrilled. For the rest of us, whether we be owners of Trevor Bauer or streamers of Pablo Lopez, times have been a little leaner. So let's beef up our rotations with these five widely available arms, each poised with plus matchups to shave some fat off of our ratio categories and add some cheap counting stats to our bottom lines.
Chris Bassitt, Oakland Athletics
Start: March 21st at Cleveland Indians
ESPN ownership: 33%
Even in a climate of elevated strikeout totals, Chris Bassitt's current trajectory is raising eyebrows. Once a contact-coaxing sinker baller, the 30-year-old Oakland Athletics righty has worked a strikeout rate a hair below 30% across 32.2 frames in 2019, a number nearly ten percentage points higher than last year's career-best 20.1% punchout rate.
It's Bassitt's fourseam that's doing most of the heavy lifting here, adding an extra mile per hour plus in average velocity while earning 14.2% whiffs and 60.7% strikeouts across 112 offerings. A .222 BABIP on that pitch might be due for some correction, while the righty's stellar 1.93 ERA stands in stark contrast to his 3.69 fielding independent pitching (FIP) mark. Streamers shouldn't be sweating the imminent regression, though, with Bassitt's Week 8 opponent, the Cleveland Indians, posting some of the MLB's worst group marks for isolated slugging (ISO) and strikeout rate.
Spencer Turnbull, Detroit Tigers
Start: May 22nd vs. Miami Marlins
ESPN ownership: 23%
Spencer Turnbull was snakebit by some poor Detroit Tigers defense last week, tacking five unearned runs onto an outing that otherwise saw the ascendant 26-year-old punch out six Athletics hitters in four innings.
If that overstuffed box score leads anxious fantasy owners to keep their distance, it offers streamers a nice opportunity to grab one of the more promising young arms on the wire. Despite the lack of fanfare, Turnbull has worked a 1.34 ERA across 33.2 innings over his last six starts.
Meanwhile, the Marlins rank dead last dead last in terms of weighted production against the slider so far this season, and Turnbull's slider is a nasty one, coaxing 19.9% whiffs and 35.7% out-of-zone swings across a 156-pitch sample. The young Tiger righty looks like a no-brainer plug-and-play in Week 8.
Nick Margevicius, San Diego Padres
Streamers looking to capitalize on the soft Toronto Blue Jays lineup this week might have to hold their nose and add Nick Margevicius. The San Diego Padres lefty is in the midst of an ugly four-start stretch that has largely exhausted whatever good will he banked with a strong early-season run, with the 22-year-old southpaw coughing up eight long balls over that span, with an eyesore of a 6.64 ERA over 20.1 frames.
The silver lining is that Toronto is especially poor against lefties, carrying an AL-worst .098 group ISO with 25.3% strikeouts. Margevicius is as pure as matchup plays get, but he's worth a look as a contingency plan in competitive leagues.
Danny Duffy, Kansas City Royals
Start: May 25th vs. New York Yankees
ESPN ownership: 9%
Our instinct is to immediately scratch the AL East-leading Yankees off of our list of streaming targets, but the fact is the injury-ravaged Bombers are vulnerable against lefty pitching. New York's group ISO against southpaws is a dreadful .129 on the season, second worst in the AL behind Toronto, with a team strikeout rate of 27.1% that ranks slightly worse than perennial streamer targets like Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh.
This is good news for Danny Duffy, who has quietly returned to the Kansas City Royals rotation with 22.2 frames of 3.97-ERA ball. We'll need to see the sample expand (especially against righties) to know if Duffy can return to all-formats relevance for fantasy, but this week he makes for an interesting deep league play against a Yankees team at far from full strength.
Merrill Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks
Start: May 22nd at San Diego Padres
ESPN ownership: 7%
Merrill Kelly's totals don't jump off the page (4.21 ERA, 4.68 FIP, 17.9% strikeouts in 51.1 innings), but his line would look pretty respectable had he not been shelled for seven earned runs in four innings by the Tampa Bay Rays earlier this month.
Of course, Kelly doesn't have the luxury of cherry picking his best starts, but only the most desperate and/or brazen fantasy owners would have activated the Arizona Diamondbacks righty for a turn against the hot-hitting Rays. When called upon in favorable matchups, Kelly has mostly delivered, logging five or more innings while surrendering three or fewer earned runs in six of his nine starts.
One such favorable matchup awaits Kelly in Week 8. The Padres are among the MLB's most generous teams in terms of group swinging strikes and strikeouts overall, while the pitcher-friendly Petco Park provides Kelly with a soft landing for his somewhat sketchy hard contact and line drive trends.