Fantasy Baseball

Streaming Pitchers Worth Rostering Permanently

Now at the halfway point of the season, you will likely at some stage have streamed a starting pitcher, whether it be for one game, one week or multiple occasions. It’s something I try to avoid but nearly every league format will lend itself to streaming as a viable option at some point in the season for one reason or another.

And as the season goes on, you will also have noticed that some starting pitchers being used for streaming purposes will end up being picked up and permanently rostered due to their performances. So to keep you ahead of the curve (pun intended), we’re going to take a look at three starting pitchers currently under 33% owned at ESPN and Yahoo who will most probably have been streamed in your league at one point but should be considered for permanent rostering the remainder of the season.

Anthony DeSclafani; ESPN 8%, Yahoo 12%

If the Reds are going to have any chance of making the postseason, they’ll need their offense to help what has been a surprisingly stellar pitching unit so far. The Reds as a team has the MLB’s third lowest ERA of 3.74 with the starters boasting a collective 3.68 ERA. DeSclafani’s 4.35 ERA therefore seems to be the one letting the rotation down but a closer look at his season as a whole tells a slightly different story.

After a decent start to the season, DeSclafani struggled in May to the tune of a 5.59 ERA. June however has seen significant improvement and ended the month with a 3.08 ERA. The clear difference between the two months is his newfound ability to keep the ball in the park. May saw him give up nine homeruns and June only the once.

Looking at DeSclafani’s pitch usage may provide an answer as to why. June saw a near 5% drop on his fastball usage compared to May with his curveball (4%) and sinker (1%) seeing increases. These may sound pretty nominal changes but coupled with his whiff percentage on his curveball going from 10% to 17% from May to June, any increased usage of it should see a continued drop in his ERA. And that is something trending the right way.

Homer Bailey; ESPN 7%, Yahoo 11%

No, it’s not 2013. We’ve not gone into a time warp. But Homer Bailey has had an impressive June compiling a 3.48 ERA over six starts. He ended the month with a clunker (five earned runs over five innings) but his improvement in June as a whole wasn’t a fluke.

When comparing his three months individually, it reveals a telling tale;

Batting Average FIP
April .245 3.61
May .299 5.69
June .233 4.28

 

Slider horizontal movement (inches) Splitter vertical movement (inches)
April 1.33 1.60
May 0.63 1.27
June 1.42 1.38

Although these look-like pretty minor differences in movement on his splitter, the smallest increase in movement can have a large impact on his numbers, especially as his slider and splitter contribute to 40%+ of his pitches thrown. His slider have half as much movement in May would have been brutal, hence his poor numbers during the month.

A third of the Royals remaining games are against the Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians, all of whom rank in the bottom seven for runs scored in the MLB. There will likely be a horror outing or two but the chance Bailey remains available to stream the rest of the season is going to diminish.

Tanner Roark; ESPN 16%, Yahoo 32%

Remember what I said about the Reds rotation earlier being underappreciated? Well Tanner Roark currently sports a 3.36 and has a 9.14 K/9 rate over 16 starts. He’s been unlucky to only manage a 5-6 record but that can be put on the Reds offense which is showing signs of life in recent weeks.

Roark’s FIP is 3.50 so you can’t put his numbers down to luck. The one slight on Roark is his inability to go very deep into games as he’s only completed 7+ innings once and only five times he’s managed to go 6 innings or more. But at the same time, Roark hasn’t had any huge blow-ups, yet to give up more than four earned runs in any of his starts. He’s also had more starts with one or fewer earned runs (7) than three or four earned runs (6).

Over his last six starts, Roark has also average just one walk per outing while striking out 37 in 34.1 innings. All solid numbers which are made more impressive when you consider his opponents in those six starts are all in the top half of runs scored in the MLB.

If you can’t get Roark, I’ll offer up his teammate Sonny Gray as a solid alternative (rostered in more leagues than Roark) who has a slightly higher ERA but offers more strikeouts.

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