Fantasy Baseball: 5 Pitchers to Stream in Week 23
With head-to-head playoffs underway and rotisserie leagues entering their final month, it's time for fantasy pitching staffs to put up or shut up.
The days of patient stashing and long-term prospecting are over: you need someone who can produce for you right this minute. Check your waiver wire for these widely available arms, each poised to thrive for fantasy owners in Week 23.
Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks
Start: September 4th vs. San Diego Padres
ESPN ownership: 29%
Despite his stellar recent work (2.88 ERA, 27.9% strikeouts in August), Zac Gallen likely made his way onto a number of waiver wires last week when he had a matchup with the fearsome Los Angeles Dodgers.
Shrewd fantasy owners will want to snap the 24-year-old Arizona Diamondbacks hurler right back up as he lines up for a much softer assignment in Week 23. The San Diego Padres are the National League's most generous team in terms of group strikeout rate in the second half, putting Gallen and his boss changeup (21.7% whiff rate, 46% reach rate) in a terrific spot to put up some crooked strikeout numbers.
Anthony DeSclafani, Cincinnati Reds
The schedule smiled upon Anthony DeSclafani and his fantasy owners last week, and the up-and-down Cincinnati Reds' righty smiled back with a strong seven-inning shutout performance against the Miami Marlins.
The schedule isn't quite as kind this week, with two starts at the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park against talent-rich offenses in the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks. That said, DeSclafani's splits indicate he's pretty comfortable pitching in the bandbox in Cincinnati (3.55 ERA)... and perhaps a little lucky (4.57 FIP).
Whatever the case, the Phillies and Diamondbacks have been around league-average producers since the All-Star Break, lending DeSclafani some appeal as a two-start streamer with considerable strikeout ceiling.
Sandy Alcantara, Miami Marlins
An upside play if ever there was one, Sandy Alcantara boasts questionable peripherals (4.75 FIP, 6.6% strikeouts-minus-walks on the season) but an intriguing recent track record, with back-to-back starts earlier this month that include seven innings of shutout ball against a tough Atlanta Braves lineup and seven innings of two-run ball at Coors Field.
Fantasy owners in need of a spark can roll the dice on the Miami Marlins' youngster this week as he draws two teams among the MLB's bottom five in terms of power production in the second half. And with a matchup with the beatable San Francisco Giants on the horizon for the week following, Alcantara might be poised to finish the season on a high note.
Trevor Richards, Tampa Bay Rays
A strong changeup (17.3% whiff rate, 50.9% reach rate) has kept Trevor Richards alive as a strikeout streamer all season, but the 26-year-old simply can't stay out of his own way, walking batters at a 10.3% clip across 123.2 frames between the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays.
WHIP liability though he may be, Richards makes for an interesting two-start add this week, as he squares off against a pair of lackluster division rivals. The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles are both below league average in terms of group walk rate since the break, so if Richards can keep the ball in the park, he's in a nice spot to log some quality innings for desperate deep-leaguers.
Word to the wise: owners with a starts limit should tread carefully here, as the Rays used Richards as an "opener" in his most recent start.
Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates
Fresh off of an eight-run scorching at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies, Mitch Keller might send fantasy owners running with his downright heinous 8.62 ERA across his first 31.1 big league frames. A second look at Keller's line will find a suspiciously dissonant 3.91 FIP and a very impressive 26.8% strikeout rate over that same span.
Of course, none of us play in FIP leagues, but the strong underlying numbers suggest Keller's rookie stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates isn't unsalvageable. With a monster slider (28.3% whiff rate, 45.6% reach rate) and a plus curveball, Keller could be in for a surprising rebound this week against two of the NL's worst offenses.