Fantasy Baseball: 5 Pitchers to Stream in Week 20
With less than two months to play on the fantasy baseball calendar, the clock is very much ticking, so owners holding out hope for the returns of Blake Snell, Max Scherzer, and Corey Kluber can only sit on their hands for so long. As you bide your time, reinforcements can be found on the waiver wire in the form of these five widely available pitchers, each set up to contribute in Week 20.
Andrew Heaney, Los Angeles Angels
Start: August 15th vs. Chicago White Sox
ESPN ownership: 34%
It feels like we've been waiting around for Andrew Heaney all season. The 28-year-old's stop-and-go 2019 campaign has seen him post gaudy strikeout numbers (26.9% K rate) that have him nibbling at the edges of fantasy stardom, even though a series of IL stints have left him logging just shy of 50 total innings on the year.
Time will tell if the lefty is here to stay for the Los Angeles Angels, or if he can be a difference maker for fantasy down the stretch. What we do know is that this week he draws the softest opponent this side of the Miami Marlins, as the Chicago White Sox have limped their way to a .117 team ISO and 27.1% group strikeout rate since the All-Star break.
Dustin May, Los Angeles Dodgers
Start: August 14th at Miami Marlins
ESPN ownership: 25%
There seems to be yet another gem in the seemingly inexhaustible Los Angeles Dodgers pitching system, with rookie Dustin May impressing in his first taste of MLB work last week. In two starts spanning 11.1 innings, the 21-year-old righty has tallied an impressive 3.18 ERA and 2.86 FIP on the back of 19.1% strikeouts-minus-walks.
Whether May has the arsenal to be an impact arm down the stretch remains to be seem (none of his three primary pitches grade as exceptional, per Fangraphs' PITCHf/x metrics), to say nothing of the thorniness of LA's pitcher management patterns. Even so, you can't say no to a matchup with the dreadful Miami Marlins offense, so May looks like a priority add in all leagues, at least in the short term.
Anthony DeSclafani, Cincinnati Reds
Anthony DeSclafani has clung to marginal fantasy relevance this year thanks to an improved four-seamer, with that pitch earning 15.1% strikeouts-minus-walks on 673 thrown this season, compared to a -4.4% mark on 569 thrown in 2018.
Even with that improvement, DeSclafini remains an uneasy play thanks to some nasty platoon splits (.916 OPS allowed to lefties this season), making him something of a strikeout specialist outside of deep leagues. Neither the Washington Nationals nor the St. Louis Cardinals have especially daunting lefty-on-righty numbers this season (in fact, the Cards' numbers are downright dreadful), so owners in need of Ks who aren't afraid to take it on the chin against a tough Nationals offense might consider DeSclafani as a two-start streamer this week.
Brett Anderson, Oakland Athletics
Start: August 13th at San Francisco Giants
ESPN ownership: 15%
Anything but a strikeout specialist, Brett Anderson has worked his veteran devil magic to turn a 12% strikeout rate into a respectable 3.99 ERA across 133 innings. The ten-year man has emerged as a sinker-baller's sinker-baller this season, throwing no fewer than 836 such pitches thus far in 2019. Both that pitch and his four-seamer are generating plus ground-ball rates, and while he's yet to give up a homer with his fastball this season, the sinker has been pounded for 10 long balls and an .823 OPS overall.
In other words, starting the Oakland Athletics lefty can be a bit of an adventure in fantasy leagues. Still, streamers should feel fairly confident in deploying the southpaw against the perennially beatable San Francisco Giants offense this week, with the G-Men flailing to a .434 slugging mark against lefties in the second half, a mark that falls all the way down to .397 when you factor in the lefty-power-suppressing Oracle Park.
MIke Montgomery, Kansas City Royals
Start: August 16th vs. New York Mets
ESPN ownership: 1%
Barely owned outside of the deepest leagues, Mike Montgomery should earn some interest from needy fantasy players this week after an out-of-nowhere 12 strikeout game against the Detroit Tigers over the weekend.
Of course, the level of competition should be accounted for here, with the Tigers carrying one of the MLB's worst group strikeout rates since the All-Star break. But so too should a whopping 21 swinging strikes from the Kansas City Royals southpaw in that Saturday start.
The 30-year-old lefty draws a hot New York Mets team this weekend, a team that's both hitting for power against lefties (.212 ISO since the break) and offering up generous strikeout numbers (23.7% K rate). It's a risky proposition, but streamers looking to catch lightning in a bottle could do worse.