Fantasy Baseball: 5 Pitchers to Stream in Week 24
The first week of football season is usually a sore spot for fantasy baseball diehards. You're in the thick of the playoff hunt, and the spotlight gets jerked away from the diamond towards a shiny new season on the gridiron.
Treat this as an opportunity rather than an aggravation. Starting this week, owners still in the mix in fantasy baseball should have their pick of the litter on the waiver wire from here on out, and these five widely available arms will be yours for the taking as you look to make your title push.
Sean Manaea, Oakland Athletics
Start: September 14th at Texas Rangers
ESPN ownership: 25%
You know football season has started when a recently reactivated Sean Manaea has spun a 0.75 ERA over his first 12 innings on the back of an outrageous 34.9% strikeout rate, and yet the Oakland Athletics lefty remains available in over 70% of ESPN leagues.
Many metrics peg Manaea as an overachiever, including a 100% strand rate, .091 BABIP against, and 7.1% homer-per-fly rate. At this point, though, there might not be enough time left in the season for regression to hit in any meaningful way. There's no reason to be anything other than utterly stoked for the this week's start against the Texas Rangers, the weakest offense in the MLB since the All-Star break.
Jordan Lyles, Milwaukee Brewers
A nine-year MLB veteran at just 29 years old, Jordan Lyles has posted the best strikeout rate of his career (24.2%) but has given back much of his punchout growth by continuing to struggle with command. His increased usage on his four-seamer is an emblem to his Jekyll-and-Hyde tendencies: across 1060 thrown this season, that fastball has coaxed a career-best 9.8% whiffs, but it's also surrendering 12.5% walks and a .214 ISO.
Miller Park seems like a non-ideal venue for a pitcher who surrenders 52.5% fly balls on his primary pitch, but fortunately for Lyles and for streamers, the Milwaukee Brewers hit the road this week, lending Lyles no small amount of intrigue as a two-start streamer. Owners in daily-moves leagues can highlight the Miami Marlins start here, as the St. Louis Cardinals have proven to be a much tougher matchup over the last month.
Ivan Nova, Chicago White Sox
A shelling at the hands of the Cleveland Indians last week might take some of the fantasy luster off of Ivan Nova. That's a good thing for needy streamers, as the Chicago White Sox hurler is set up for a run of dynamite matchups the rest of the way, beginning with this juicy two-start week.
Strikeout-hungry owners will have to look elsewhere, of course (13.7% strikeouts this season; 16.8% for his career), but quality innings should be in the offing here, with Nova's four remaining starts slated to come against the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, and Detroit Tigers -- all bottom-half offenses since the All-Star break.
Merrill Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks
The San Diego Padres really had the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation looking electric last week, with both Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen posting dominant performances against the talent-starved Pads. Kelley and Gallen each line up for two-start turns this week, and while Gallen would be the preferred add, his no-hit bid against San Diego might make him a scarcer commodity in leagues that are still competitive into the current week.
The late-blooming rookie Kelly carries a much lower upside (19.5% strikeouts) and an ugly floor (43% hard contact allowed), but neither the New York Mets nor the Cincinnati Reds grade as particularly menacing power threats over the last month. The 30-year-old righty makes for a solid no-frills streamer add in lieu of more intriguing options.
Dereck Rodriguez, San Francisco Giants
Start: September 13th at Miami Marlins
ESPN ownership: 3%
Remember when Dereck Rodriguez rather inexplicably swung fantasy leagues in the second half of 2018? Maybe he's at it again in 2019, as the 27-year-old halted a surging Cardinals offense with seven innings of one-run ball earlier last week.
Then again, maybe not. Rodriguez has been as trick or treat as it gets this season, making him a tough sell for streaming purposes. Look at his recent game log: five innings of one-run ball at Coors Field, seven shutout innings against a tough Diamondbacks club, eight hits and five earned against the lowly Padres.
You have to be feeling pretty lucky to employ Rodriquez, but the deck would certainly be stacked in your favor this week, as D-Rod draws perhaps the most stream-friendly offense in the Majors. Desperate deep leaguers might have to say their prayers and dive in.