Fantasy Baseball: 5 Pitchers to Stream in Week 18
Of course, the timing couldn't be worse, as fantasy players enter the dog days of summer looking to put serious distance between themselves and their opponents. But the waiver wire, as always, ensures that we may run out of luck, we never run out of options. Try these five widely available fantasy starters out for size and see if your luck doesn't turn around in Week 18.
Michael Pineda, Minnesota Twins
Start: August 1st at Miami Marlins
ESPN ownership: 30%
Michael Pineda's 4.30 ERA and 4.23 FIP might not distinguish him as a standout fantasy asset, but note that the 30-year-old is still working off 29 innings of 6.21-ERA ball from April. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins' righty has been mostly money since the start of May, posting a 3.62 ERA and an 18.7% strikeout-minus-walk rate across 82 innings in that span while logging nine quality starts in 13 attempts.
Jaded streamers might bristle at Pineda's reliability (he's posted bad starts against pushover offenses like the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays), but you'd have to be pretty confident in your alternatives to look past the veteran's upcoming date with the Miami Marlins, a perennial streamer target that has been among the least productive offenses in the majors in the second half.
Reynaldo Lopez, Chicago White Sox
An uptick in fastball velocity over his last three starts has Reynaldo Lopez looking like the fantasy dynamo we'd always hoped he'd become. ReyLo carries a pristine 1.71 ERA over his last 21 innings of work, underwritten by a terrific 2.18 FIP and a jaw-dropping 30.5% strikeouts rate.
The Chicago White Sox's righty is pretty clearly the luxury two-start streamer for Week 18 as he squares off against the Mets and Phillies, both below-average producers in the second half, with Philadelphia toting one of the eight worst group strikeout rates in the majors over that span, only slightly better than common streaming targets like the Marlins and Baltimore Orioles.
Jake Junis, Kansas City Royals
Start: July 31st vs. Toronto Blue Jays
ESPN ownership: 16%
Homers remain a bugaboo for Junis, who has averaged one long fly per start in 10 assignments since the start of June. Yet despite surrendering more hits (61) than strikeouts notched (59) over that span, the Royals' righty has averaged just shy of six innings per start, providing a sturdy ratio baseline even when he's not at his very best. Jilted streamers might want to lick their wounds and roll Junis out there again for a date with the weak-hitting Blue Jays, a bottom-four AL offense in the second half.
Asher Wojciechowski, Baltimore Orioles
Start: August 1st vs. Toronto Blue Jays
ESPN ownership: 4%
Even if you've never heard of Asher Wojciechowski (and even if you tie yourself up trying to spell his last name), the Baltimore righty should have your attention in Week 18. His improved cutter has been thwarting hitters of late, earning 25.6% whiffs and a 41.7% reach rate. The result is a whopping 23 strikeouts over his last 19.2 innings of work, to say nothing of a terrific 2.66 ERA and 0.66 WHIP in that span.
Baltimore's Woj shouldn't wallow in obscurity for too much longer. Expect his ownership percentage to spike when needy streamers notice the soft Toronto offense on the upcoming schedule.
Drew Smyly, Philadelphia Phillies
Start: August 3rd vs. Chicago White Sox
ESPN ownership: 1%
Discarded by the Texas Rangers in June, Drew Smyly has reemerged with the Philadelphia Phillies, immediately putting in work to make his former team regret their decision. Last week the veteran southpaw struck out eight Pirates in six innings in his first appearance in more than a month, and deep leaguers have to have their antennae up when they notice that Smyly is scheduled to toe the rubber against the Chicago White Sox in Week 18.
Granted, Smyly's excellent performance against the Pirates shaved his season-long ERA down to only a hair-raising 7.69, so there is no small amount of trepidation here. Still, if there's any time to squeeze some intrigue out of the seemingly washed Smyly, that time is now, as the White Sox boast not only one of the second half's worst group strikeout rates leaguewide, but one of the worst team isolated slugging marks, as well.