Field Of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

Posted on 12 August 2012 by Will Emerson

Welcome to another edition of Field Of Streams, a weekly look at some viable and, possibly, some non-viable, streaming options for your fantasy team(s) in the upcoming week. Fantasy leagues are in the home stretch and if you’re in the playoff hunt, it is time to be savvy, get crafty and stream away! All of these pitchers are owned by less than half of ESPN and Yahoo fantasy owners, meaning there is a good chance you will be able to snag ‘em. So without further ado, here’s a look at your streaming options for the week of 8/13-8/19:

 Jeff Samardzija (CHC)- This upcoming week is Shark Week, so naturally we have to start with the Shark himself. Clearly my praise for Samardzija in last week’s Field of Streams has not had people jumping the Shark’s bandwagon as he is actually now owned in fewer fantasy leagues than last week. Huh?! Remember Samardzija’s July numbers? 1.91 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and a 9.82 K/9? Those are great numbers, people!  His last start, while it was at Petco, was impressive as well: 7 IP, 6K, 4H, 2BB, ER, sporting a 2.86 xFIP and 58.8% of batted balls were worm burners. Shark has a two start week this week, that starts with the Astros at Wrigley. The Astronomicals are not slugging by any means, so you should already generally stream against them as much as possible, and Shark Ks almost 10 batters per nine at home. The second start agains the Reds in Cincy though, could be a slight cause for concern, but I have faith and highly recommend fully embracing Shark Week and grabbing Smardzija!  (40.0% owned in ESPN and 43% in Yahoo!)

Alex Cobb (TB)-  Now Cobb is not the flashiest of guys by any stretch of the imagination and may never post those high K/9 numbers he was posting in the minors, but he has definitely been more than serviceable for the Rays.  Now the 4.32 ERA and 6-8 record, has managed to steer many fantasy owners clear of Cobb, making him readily available. What most don’t see is his 3.61 xFIP, 3.59 SIERA and a nice 57.9 ground ball rate, which is really enhanced when the mad genius Joe Maddon is aligning the defense behind him. Oh, did I neglect to mention that his first start of the week is against the Mariners at Safeco? The same Ms that have the worst wOBA and second fewest runs scored in the majors this season, which should be a gimme for Cobb. His second start of the week, however, will be against the Angels and they have scored more runs and posted a higher wOBA than any other team in the majors over the last month. So he’s a safe bet in Safeco, but I’d recommend sitting him against the Halos. (4.0% owned in ESPN and 5% Yahoo!)

Jeff Karstens (PIT)- Do not adjust your monitor, you read right! Jeff Karstens as a stream option this week. Karstens starts the week off at PNC, against the Dodgers. Karstens has been highly above average at home this season, with a 1.33 ERA and a .96 WHIP. Of course the .263 BABIP means these unworldy numbers with regress a tad, but the 3.69 xFIP is still promising. Plus, only the Cubs and Astros have been less effective offensively than the Dodgers over the last month. Start him against the Dodgers, but hold off against the Cardinals at Busch.  (5.0% owned in ESPN and 10% Yahoo!)

Patrick Corbin (ARI)- The youngster has put together back-to-back solid starts at the Dodgers and at the Pirates. Striking out 12 batters in 12 innnings while only two earned runs, eight hits and five free passes. He also put up a sub-three FIPs in both of those starts. Now, as I mentioned the Dodgers bats have not exactly been striking fear into opposing pitchers of late, but Corbin has the Astros this week and they have not been striking fear into opposing pitchers most of the season. So it is a thumbs up for Patty Corbin against the ‘Stros this week! (2.5% owned in ESPN and 4% Yahoo!)

Jarrod Parker (OAK)- If you have not been living under a rock for the past couple of, I dunno, decades or so, you know that the Athletics always seem to have young pitchers that can, quite simply, get the job done.  Parker is no different, with a very decent 3.55 ERA,  1.29 WHIP and a 7.10 K/9. Now his .291 BABIP and 4.02 xFIP points to a bit of a regression, but he’ll still be very solid. He draws the Tribe at the Coliseum, where he has has a 2.75 ERA and an xFIP of 3.09, making him a highly viable stream option this week. (40.3% owned in ESPN and 45% Yahoo!)

Bartolo Colon (OAK)- Big ol’ Bartolo has found nice little home in Oakland this year, right now posting his lowest ERA since 2002 and over a half a run better than his career ERA. The K/9 numbers will not get much higher than they are, maybe slightly above six, nothing off the charts, but with a K/BB rate over four, a ground ball rate cl0se to 50% and a prime chunk of real estate behind him in the Coliseum, the quality starts should continue to flow like wine. With his first start of the week coming on the road against the Royals, who are not exactly crushing the ball, and his second start of the week coming at home against the Indians, I would fully recommend freshening the air around your fantasy team with a spritz of Colon! (21.5% owned in ESPN and 29% Yahoo!)

Scott Diamond (MIN)- On the surface, yes, he appears to be a diamond in the rough, and yes, I am sure I am the first one to use that, but he is not as ace like as he seems. So far this season Diamond is 10-5, with a 2.91 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, but with a .290 BABIP and a 3.70 xFIP there is a regression storm a comin’! He Ks less than five batters per nine, but with a ground ball rate just over 55% he can probably manage to get away with the low K-rate more often than not. But Scotty is pitching in Seattle this week and until the Mariners prove other wise, it is generally a good idea to stream against them. You may want to avoid him though, if you are in a K/9 league or in search of Ks. With all that being said, I am not entirely sold on his overall fantasy value and so, whilst I recommend him this week, for the future I would say sell high if you can. (46.6% owned in ESPN and 49% Yahoo!)

Joe Saunders (ARI)- With a career K/9 of 5.14 and ERA over four, I’ve never really seen Joe Saunders as much of fantasy pitcher. This season he has a K/9 over a K higher than his career average and his 3.52 ERA is his lowest ERA since 2008 with the Angels, but this still does not have me sold on his fantasy merits. Mainly because the Ks/9 are only now only slightly over six, his xFIP is 4.20 and that ground ball rate below 45% does not instill me with a lot of confidence. Combine all this with the fact that he is pitching against the Cardinals who have the highest wOBA of any team in baseball this season. So disregard that nice little ERA and do not stream Joe Saunders against the Cards. (8.6% owned in ESPN and 14% Yahoo!)

Marco Estrada (MIL)- I am absolutely loving the young patchwork rotation the Brewers are throwing out there these days, especially Marco “Ponch” Estrada! With a 9.26 K/9, 1.79 BB/9, 1.14 WHIP and a 3.45 xFIP, what is not to love, am I right? And you know what is even more lovely?  His home numbers, that’s what! At home his K/9 is 10.17, his BB/9 is .78, his WHIP is .93 and his xFIP is 2.97! Amazingly he is winless at home, and for that matter, everywhere. Yes folks, he is 0-5 on the season and 0-2 in his eight starts at Miller Park. Well, although he’s got Cliff Lee and the Phillies in town this week and I have a sneaking suspicion that this when he breaks into the win column. Not only should you stream him, but if you can buy low for the rest of the season, he is most likely worth the stash! (8.6% owned in ESPN and 11% Yahoo!)

Carlos Villanueva (TOR)- Villanueva has been money since being put in the Jays rotation and it could be for real, but he has not generally been a big success as a starter in the past. Just last season he had 13 starts with the Jays and, well, it was not so stellar. In only three of those starts did he have a K/9 over seven and only two starts with an xFIP of below 3.65. In fact, in six of those starts he had an xFIP over 4.89. Nothing impressive to say the least. However, this season he has only had one start with an xFIP of over four, so maybe, quite possibly, there’s a chance he has made a turnaround. I mean his K/9 over nine as a starter this season is  somewhat encouraging, but I am still not sold as he faces the White Sox and Rangers this week at home. With his 12.9% HR/FB I would advise against streaming him.  (8.8% owned in ESPN and 23% Yahoo!)

Aaron Harang (LAD)- Harang has two starts this week and generally if you need some innings and a quality start or two, Harangutang is your man. However this week he draws the Pirates and the Braves on the road and while these two teams are not crushing the ball right now, the Dodgers are crushing the ball even less and I don’t see a lot of run support coming Harang’s way. So do not count on “W”s from Harangutang this week and in general take a pass on streaming him. (9.3% owned in ESPN and 19% Yahoo!)

Jose Quintana (CWS)- The 4-2 record, 2.78 ERA, and 1.09 WHIP all look like fairly sexy numbers and word on the street is Q is in line to stay in the White Sox rotation for the stretch run. All this information has fantasy owners slowly, but surely, adding him to their rotations. But with a 4.86 K/9, .263 BABIP and a 4.09 xFIP those sexy looking ERA and WHIP numbers are bound to rise and become, well, less sexy looking. So while you should steer clear of Quintana against the Blue Jays early in the week, he could grab you a “W” against the Royals in his second start of the week, just don’t expect the Ks or an ace-like outing. (19.7% owned in ESPN and 27% Yahoo!)

Franklin Morales (BOS)- While I do love me some Franky M as a starter, it looks like he will draw the Yankees this upcoming week and thus far, the biggest, and really only, blip as a starter has been against the Yankees. In that one start he lasted only 3.1 innings, allowing six earned runs on  four home runs. Now while this does not mean a similar outing is in store, you should probably avoid Franky at the Stadium this week. But, if you have him, I would keep him and the great K-rate down the stretch. (13.2% owned in ESPN and 16% Yahoo!)

So there you have it, another edition of  Field Of Streams in the books! So what did we learn this week, children? 1) Stream against the Astros and the Mariners when possible, B) Ks/9 are still your best friends, 4) If you see the Jose Quintana bandwagon rolling by, stay grounded, do NOT hop on and F) Marco, is the coolest Estrada since Erik! Good day and godspeed! 

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