As we head into the last month of the season, many fantasy owners are clamoring for more strikeouts and wins. Obviously, chasing wins is a fool’s errand (see: the Cardinals boxscore last night as Michael Wacha blew Shelby Miller‘s win, allowing 3 runs in an inning of work, yet recorded the almighty win). But obviously, the more starts you accumulate, the greater the opportunity for the holy win, and of course, strikeouts.
With a large base of innings already in the books, that means that a pitcher’s implosion won’t hurt nearly as much at this point, so a streaming strategy isn’t ill-advised. So with that in mind, here is one recommended streaming play a day for games from Wednesday through Sunday. Pitchers should all be available in the majority of 12-team mixed leagues and shallower. Of course, since I don’t know who is in your free agent pool, there could be some better options, in which case I fully expect you to ask me about them in the comments.
Jake Arrieta vs WAS
Arrieta made his second start for the Cubs last Friday after being acquired in a trade deadline deal that sent Scott Feldman to the Orioles. The one time top prospect got out of the American League East and moves into the easier league and a home park that doesn’t inflate home runs nearly as much as Oriole Park has. Featuring pretty good velocity on his fastball, he has always flashed pretty good stuff, but for whatever reason, it simply hasn’t translated into swinging strikes. Control has been a problem in the past, but the move to the National League should help his strikeout rate.
He faces a Nationals club that has posted a .311 wOBA versus right-handers this season, ranking 7th in the NL. All of their offensive ranks are middle of the pack, but they do have the sixth highest strikeout rate in the league. He’s scheduled to face off against Ross Ohlendorf who would be returning from shoulder inflammation and owns a 4.87 career ERA.
J.A. Happ @ NYY
This was a tough day because there is not a full slate of games scheduled, the good pitchers are all likely owned in a high percentage of leagues and the lesser owned guys are for the most part bad. My other consideration was Joe Kelly, but he has a poor matchup against the Braves (third highest wOBA and highest ISO versus righties in the NL) and sports a SIERA a full run higher than his actual ERA. So that leaves me with Happ. Since returning from the DL, Happ’s velocity is up. He had previously averaged between 90 and 91 mph with his fastball, and now he’s up to between 91 and 92 mph. He still lacks control at times and has been an extreme fly ball pitcher, so this could admittedly turn into one of those implosions I referenced in the intro.
Although season long stats for the Yankees don’t mean a whole lot since their offense looks a bit different now, they do rank 12th in the AL in wOBA versus left-handers, for whatever that’s worth. The biggest issue has been hitting for power against southpaws, as they sport just a .115 ISO, ranking second to last in the league. Happ will be squaring off against Adam Warren according to the CBS scoreboard, which could result in some run support.
Todd Redmond @ HOU
As I discussed last Thursday, Redmond has been pretty darn good over the last month. I really don’t know what is behind his strikeout rate surge, but it began during his short stint in Triple-A and it has carried over to the Majors. And what better team to face as a strikeout artist than the Houston Astros? They rank last in the AL in wOBA against right-handers, with a putrid .294 mark, and easily lead in strikeout percentage, ending plate appearances with strike three over a quarter of the time. Brad Peacock opposes Redmond and he has batted control problems earlier in the season and brings an extreme fly tendency to the mound.
Erasmo Ramirez vs LAA
It’s true that Ramirez’s results haven’t exactly been what I was expecting. But he has actually been pretty solid if you look under the hood. His SIERA stands nearly two full runs below his ERA, as an inability to strand runners and issues with the long ball have wreaked havoc on his performance. The suddenly injury ravaged Angels offense is currently without Mike Trout and Howie Kendrick, though it’s possible that both have returned to the lineup by this game. To offset the possibility of a healthier Angels attack, Ramirez does get to pitch at home and face off against Jason Vargas, he of the 4.59 SIERA and 4.83 ERA away from home.
Marco Estrada @ Cin
Let’s be clear: this is not a great matchup for Estrada. Unfortunately, this was another tough day in which I think the lesser owned pitchers are weak plays no matter the opponent. This is more a call to Estrada’s low ownership rate (just 45% in CBS leagues). Too many homers on his fly balls allowed and a hamstring injury have clearly caused fantasy owners to forget about this popular preseason sleeper. Though his underlying skills have taken a small step back from last year, he still owns a 3.70 SIERA and an above average strikeout rate. I think it’s pretty absurd that Jacob Turner (4.65 SIERA) is owned in roughly the same percentage of leagues. Oh, and he’ll be opposing Tony Cingrani, who has allowed just one run in his last two starts. Cross your fingers that he’s due for a blowup.