Welcome back to another edition of Field of Streams, your in depth look at some viable, and some not so viable, fantasy streaming options for the upcoming fantasy week.
Now before we dig on in this week, I just want to mention that, thanks to my stellar praise (shameless plug here,) you will no longer find the Shark Jeff Samardzija on this list as he is now owned by more than, albeit barely, 50% of ESPN and Yahoo! owners. Huzzah! He is still only owned by about 51% in both ESPN and Yahoo! leagues so you can still probably grab him, but the rise over 50% eliminates him from this list. So now on with the show, here comes your look at your fantasy streaming options, owned less than 50% in ESPN and Yahoo! leagues for the week of 8/20-8/26:
Mike Leake (CIN)- After a sluggish start, Leake turned it around with a solid June. In the month of June he posted a 2.55 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and a very solid 3.17 xFIP. Good numbers indeed! But then came July. In that month, he had a 5.46 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP, a pretty drastic turnaround, if you ask me, and while you didn’t ask me, I’m the one writing, so deal with it. The bright spot here is that his xFIP was still below four at 3.69, so maybe he was not quite as bad as he seemed. So far in his three August starts he has a 3.43 ERA, a .90 WHIP and a respectable 6.86 K/9 and his last start was plain brilliant. Against the Mets he pitched a complete game, allowing just one earned run on four hits, walking no one and striking out four. His xFIP and SIERA point to him sustaining an ERA around 3.70-4.00 and could provide a fantasy team with some quality starts down the stretch. He has two starts this week, but unfortunately he is locking horns with Roy Halladay at Citizen’s Bank Park in the first start and looks to be matched up with Adam Wainwright in Cincy in the other. Neither of these looks to be any sort of lock for a quality start or a “W”. So, I would keep an eye on Leake, but until he stays consistent, I would steer clear. (3.7% owned in ESPN and 10% in Yahoo!)
Miguel Gonzalez (BAL)- Some of you still may not have M-Gon, his unofficial terrible nickname, on your radar but the 28 year old has twirled a few good starts this year. Now the first red flag is this is the first many of us are hearing about Miggy and he is 28 years old. He was selected in the 2004 amateur draft and did not pitch in the minors at all in ’08 or ’09. At Triple-A Norfolk this year he had a 1.61 ERA with a .72 WHIP and a K/9 over 10, which as you know tends to grab my attention. Since being called up all he’s done is go 5-2 with a 3.38 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and a 6.90 K/9. In his last outing he stymied the Red Sox over six innings and this week he has two starts, so he should be grabbed immediately, right? Well, maybe not. These starts come against the Rangers and Blue Jays, two heavy hitting teams and for a pitcher inducing ground balls only about a third of the time and an xFIP close to five I would think long and hard before streaming him. (7.9% owned in ESPN and 8% in Yahoo!)
Freddy Garcia (NYY)- Another two start pitcher for the upcoming week, Freddy could be a solid pickup for any fantasy squad. Don’t necessarily expect a ton of Ks, but if you need some quality starts Steady Freddy (new nickname pending) may just be your man. Only once in his last eight starts has he given up more than three earned runs and in that start he gave up four earned runs. As much as I am not a fan of the quality start stat, it is nice to know that five of those eight starts were quality starts. I like Steady Freddy a lot this week at the White Sox and at the Indians. This could very easily be a two win week for Garcia and he is a pitcher that is unlikely to hurt your stats this week unless you are, and really you should be, in a league with K/9. Although his season K/9 of 6.80, which is a bit lower than I’d necessarily care for, is certainly respectable enough.(1.3% owned in ESPN and 6% in Yahoo!)
Mark Rogers (MIL)- Obviously I absolutely love the K/9 of 9.13 Mr. Rogers is throwing out there, but that 4.94 ERA may steer some fantasy owners away. Well his xFIP is 3.14 thus far and the high ERA could have a lot to do with the last start in Colorado where he was roughed up a bit, but that can be expected a mile above sea level. Most prognosticators seem to feel his ERA will be somewhere in the fives, but the xFIP is promising, mostly because he is walking less than three batters per nine, which is much lower than his walk rates in the minors which tended to hover in the five or six range. His K/9 is also higher than his Triple-A numbers, which you don’t often see. Maybe he is gaining better control or maybe it is just major league hitters not having seen him and his stuff, previously. So while a regression could be coming, his starts this week are against the light hitting Cubs and the upstart Pirates. The Cubs and Pirates are currently 28th and 29th in the majors in walk rate, not exactly the most patient of hitters, so I say ride the trolley on in to Mr. Rogers neighborhood this week. (.2% owned in ESPN and 1% in Yahoo!)
Kevin Millwood (SEA)- Kevin Millwood is an innings eating dude and while that will not always translate into fantasy goodness, you have to like him in his first start this week. He is at home against the Tribe and Millwood has been cruising in his home starts of late. In his each of his last four home starts, against the Rays, Royals, Yankees and Rangers, he pitched into the 7th and allowed less than 3 earned runs. The peripherals have not been great, per se, but I really like his odds at home against the Tribe this week. His second start will be at the Cell against the White Sox and this is a bit more iffy. I say stream him against the Tribe and sit him against the ChiSox. (1.1% owned in ESPN and 4% in Yahoo!)
Marco Estrada (MIL)- I know I have made my fantasy crush on Marco “Ponch” Estrada readily known, but here he is still owned less than 10% in both ESPN and Yahoo! leagues! I mean, sure, who would want a pitcher with a 8.73 K/9, 1.91 BB/9, 1.21 WHIP and a 3.72 xFIP? Of course at home, his recent start against the Phillies not withstanding, he has been even more superb. At home his K/9 is 9.35, his BB/9 is 1.24, his WHIP is 1.06 and his xFIP is 3.46! But wait! That’s not all! Pick him up this week and we’ll throw in a start against the Cubs who have scored the fewest runs in the majors this season! So what are you waiting for?! Operators are standing by! (2.1% owned in ESPN and 6% Yahoo!)
Lucas Harrell (HOU)- Harrell has two starts this week and his recent numbers are highly decent, meaning a lot of fantasy owners are starting to take a notice and eyeing his progress. But these owners clearly did not read the inaugural Field of Streams, because his two starts this week are on the road, where Harrell has been less than good, to say the least. On the road young Lucas has an ERA over five a WHIP of 1.42, a sub six K/9 and an xFIP of 4.82. oh yeah, and his first start of the week is in St. Louis. The Cardinals are fourth in the majors in runs scored and have the 3rd best wOBA to boot. Avoid Harrell this week, but keep an eye on him for future starts. (5.3% owned in ESPN and 12% Yahoo!)
Dan Straily (OAK)- On the surface Straily’s looked pretty good since his call up with a 1-0 record, an ERA of 3.18 and a 1.18 WHIP. But below the surface he has not been so dazzling, as evidenced by his 4.56 SIERA, 4.82 xFIP and a .240 BABIP. He is also striking out less than 7 per nine innings which does not combine well with the fact he is only inducing ground balls 28.3% of the time. Now sure he could be solid in the future, but he will go through some growing pains very soon. Luckily a cavernous home park can somewhat compensate for the low ground ball numbers and normally I would still recommend giving him a whirl at home, but he has the Twins, who have been surprisingly decent offensively of late. So I’d avoid Straily for the near future, unless you are in a dynasty league preparing for the future. (8.7% owned in ESPN and 15% Yahoo!)
Zach McAllister (CLE)- Zach Attack has a 3.64 ERA and 1.24 WHIP to go along with a K/9 just over eight. Now his xFIP is close to four, but his SIERA is 3.73, so his ERA is about where it is expected to be. Ks may drop a bit, but Zach Attack seems like he could be a good pickup for the stretch run. But, if you’re not sold on him as a keeper through the end of the season, you should at least believe in him this week when he faces the lowly Mariners in Safeco. What do we say? Stream against the Ms when you can, especially at Safeco. (5.5% owned in ESPN and 10% Yahoo!)
Kris Medlen (ATL)- Medlen has been an asset pretty much wherever the Braves have needed him. The Ks have been a bit lower than expected at 6.53 per nine innings, but everything else has been the bee’s knees! A 2.03 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP are nothing to scoff at, so scoff elsewhere! His 3.30 SIERA and 3.43 xFIP mean that, yes, an ERA and WHIP regression are on the way, but personally, I can live with an an ERA in the 3.30-3.45 range. But all of these numbers are based on mostly bullpen numbers. In his four starts, including his last one which was a complete game shutout, he’s thrown 25.2 innings and allowed three, yes THREE, earned runs, 19 hits and four walks. That’s a 1.05 ERA and a WHIP of .89. He also had a K/9 of 7.71 in those starts. So, I’d recommend getting as many starts out of Medlen as possible while he is still in the rotation. Now he is actually owned by more than 50% in ESPN, but still more widely available in Yahoo!leagues, so he is on the list on a slight technicality. (57.9% owned in ESPN and 37% Yahoo!)
Patrick Corbin (ARI)- With a 3.41 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP, Patrick Corbin has worked out quite well for the Diamondbacks as a starter. His K/9 of 7.60, FIP of 3.34 and an xFIP of 3.74, seem to back up that his numbers thus far have been legit. This week he heads into Miami to face the Marlins and you have to like his chances in that park! If you have not already, it’s time to take a flyer on Corbin! (28.8% owned in ESPN and 17% Yahoo!)
So there you have it, another edition of Field Of Streams in the books! So what did we learn this week, children? 1) As always, stream against the Astros and the Mariners when possible, B) Ks/9 are your BFFs, 4) Hop on the Kris Medlen train while you can and F) Marco, is still the coolest Estrada since Erik! Good day and godspeed!