Fantasy Baseball: 5 Pitchers To Stream In Week 26
With the fantasy season reaching it's closing chapter this week, only a handful of owners remain standing. On the one hand, it means that fewer people are scrolling through waiver wires than at any other point in the season. On the other hand, it means that those who are still scrolling want those pickups very, very badly.
So whether you're playing for gold or playing for pride, these five widely available arms should be your last priority adds for this bittersweet end to a long season of work and play.
Aaron Civale, Cleveland Indians
Start: September 25th at Chicago White Sox
ESPN Ownership: 38%
The sinker-balling righty's modest strikeout rate (19.9%) and apparent good fortune on fly balls (3.5% home-per-fly) might keep his draft stock suppressed going into 2020 drafts, but there's no reason to think Civale will end the 2019 season on a sour note. For his final assignment, the 24-year-old draws a Chicago White Sox team that ranks near the MLB basement in terms of group ISO in the second half, making Civale an excellent plug-and-play option in any shallow league where he's not already claimed.
Johnny Cueto, San Francisco Giants
Start: September 24th vs. Colorado Rockies
ESPN Ownership: 31%
Three starts into his return from Tommy John, Johnny Cueto's work has been pretty chalky. The veteran righty handled a pair of bad offenses in the Miami Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates, shutting both out across five innings apiece. Cueto then proceeded to labor through a bout with a very dangerous Atlanta Braves offense, walking five in four frames and coughing up four earned.
The veteran's workload is likely to remain capped, but with the San Francisco Giants hosting a Colorado Rockies squad with the worst road ISO in the National League aside from the lowly Miami Marlins, there should be some quality innings and decent strikeout totals in the offing. Cueto should make for a no-frills add for owners who don't mind getting exactly what they paid for.
Alex Young, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks remain one of the more stream-friendly pitching staffs in baseball to end the year. Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen have been fixtures of this column in the second half, and now Alex Young gets his chance to be a low-key impact arm for fantasy owners looking to wrap up their championships.
The 26-year-old draws a seemingly tough assignment to start his two-step, squaring off against a tough St. Louis Cardinals team looking to secure a division title. But the Cards might be a good mark for Young, with St. Louis cobbling together a .147 team ISO against southpaws in the second half, second-worst in the National League.
Young projects to take the ball on the last day of the season against a San Diego Padres team that has been on a strikeout binge in September, positioning the young lefty as an upside-rich source of Ks in the final week.
Reynaldo Lopez, Chicago White Sox
Start: September 27th at Detroit Tigers
ESPN Ownership: 16%
Streamers in the mood to gamble can look no further than Reynaldo Lopez for a major kick in this final scoring period.
The Chicago White Sox hurler is as wild of a dart throw as it gets, of course. He had streamers dancing with his one-hit, 11-strikeout showing against the Cleveland Indians earlier in the month. And he left them sore as hell in the three starts since that gem, pitching to a 10.28 ERA across 14 innings.
Lopez is facing a Detroit Tigers team that's among the very worst offense in the Majors over the second half, but does that really matter? A look at Lopez's game log shows that his peaks and valleys are largely opponent-neutral, and Lopez struggled against these very Tigers over the weekend.
Point blank, playing Lopez is a major roll of the dice, but it might be just the play that desperate fantasy owners need to get over the hump.
Tyler Mahle, Cincinnati Reds
Fantasy owners who need a show at bulk innings above all else should be able to find Tyler Mahle on most waiver wires this week.
A penchant for the long ball (19.5% homer-per-fly) has kept the Cincinnati Reds righty and his solid 23.7% strikeout rate from achieving any sustained fantasy relevance this season. Even so, a two-start turn against a punchless Pittsburgh Pirates team and a Yelich-less Milwaukee Brewers squad should lend Mahle some cache in deep leagues for this final week. There's probably a little too low a floor here for shallow-leaguers, though, as the Brewers and Pirates both feature dangerous lefty bats and Mahle carries an ugly .532 slugging against southpaws on the season.