Brad Johnson

Streaming Away

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Streaming Away: EJax Back?

Sunday, August 27, 2017


Welcome back to Streaming Away, a twice weekly column serving all your fantasy streaming needs. I'll be using DFS techniques to help you select players for your normal fantasy leagues. With careful execution, you'll be one step closer to a fantasy championship. As always, the column will run on Sundays and Wednesdays to better prepare you for the thin Monday and Thursday schedules.

 

For more info about how and why to stream, check out the first edition of Streaming Away.

 

Editor’s Note: Win a FREE trip to the World Series plus cash prizes!

 

Monday, August 28

 

Ten games are scheduled for this fine Monday. Storms could affect the action in Chicago. That would be a bummer since it includes two of the four streamable pitchers.

 

Pitchers to Use

 

The Cubs are turning to Mike Montgomery versus Pirates righty Trevor Williams. Both make for solid streaming options. As always, keep an eye on the prevailing winds at game time. Wrigley Field can play very differently based on whether the wind is blowing in, out, or across.

 

Montgomery has declined slightly from his superb 2016 campaign. He's walking more batters this year, and he's lost one mph on his fastball. He continues to outperform his peripherals due to a high ground ball rate and limited hard contact. It would be nice if he had fewer than 4.05 BB/9. Monty will keep the Cubs in the game most days while tossing five or six solid frames.

 

Williams can be described in many of the same terms. He's another ground ball pitcher who also limits hard contact while posting a middling 6.68 K/9 and 3.01 BB/9. Williams doesn't outperform his peripherals like Montgomery, probably because his ground ball rate isn't quite as impressive. His average outing approximates a quality start. He'll usually allow about three runs in six innings.

 

This year, nobody has outperformed his peripherals like Edwin Jackson. He has a 3.38 ERA, 5.44 FIP, and 5.43 xFIP. At least the estimators are in agreement. Jackson's velocity is up to 94 mph – about one mph slower than his peak seasons. He also has 2.81 BB/9 – his best walk rate since 2012. Jackson's success can be tied to his .268 BABIP. He's never been a low BABIP pitcher, leading me to question his ability to continue this pace. He'll face the hot Marlins.

 

Miami will call upon Jose Urena against the Harper-less Nationals. The hard throwing righty is yet another guy with a good ERA and questionable peripherals (3.68 ERA, 5.00 FIP, 5.34 xFIP). His .245 BABIP looks extremely fortunate, although he's managed to turn the feat in 129.2 innings. Urena's breakout season can be pinned upon increased breaking ball usage. He throws either a slider or curve ball nearly half the time. It's taken a lot of pressure off his hard but hittable fastball.

 

Pitchers to Abuse

 

As always, there are plenty of exploitable pitchers on the docket. Let's just get the Coors Field game out of the way. Jordan Zimmermann has been terrible at sea level. Predicting anything other than a disaster outing is blindly optimistic. He's a fly ball pitcher with a home run problem (1.80 HR/9). His opponent, Antonio Senzatela, has a reliever's repertoire. While his numbers closely mirror the streamable pitchers (4.52 ERA, 6.75 K/9, and 2.97 BB/9), it's pretty clear that his heavy reliance on fastballs and sliders would work better out of the bullpen. Predictability can lead to meltdowns.

 

Andrew Heaney has allowed seven home runs in 10 innings since returning from Tommy John surgery. He also hasn't given up a walk while posting strong strikeout and swinging strike rates. In the long term, this is a guy to own. However, until he stops making mistakes in hitter's nitro zones, it's a good idea to use any lefty masher you can find against him.

 

Marco Gonzales is another guy I think has long term potential – although not nearly on the same level as Heaney. While the Angels starter just needs to make a minor adjustment, Gonzales needs a breakthrough before he's fantasy relevant. The typical paths are to add velocity, a new pitch, or refine command. Gonzales is extremely homer prone. He has allowed 3.05 HR/9 to date. A visit to Camden Yards sure isn't going to help. He's opposed by Chris Tillman, another terribly performing pitcher.

 

Braves prospect Lucas Sims has managed to avoid walking everybody – an issue he's had prior to the 2017 season. Unfortunately, the expected high strikeout rate hasn't transferred to the majors (4.76 K/9 in five starts). Sims will have to overcome an improved Phillies offense. I'd avoid him until he starts inducing whiffs.

 

Other exploitable pitchers include Austin Pruitt at Ian Kennedy and Daniel Gossett visiting Heaney.

 

Hitters: Power

 

We're not overloaded with hitting options today, although the power department is relatively deep. Fantasy owners have finally reacted to Rhys Hoskins. He's up to 70 percent ownership. His teammate Nick Williams is only 14 percent owned despite some encouraging recent signs. The sweet-swinging lefty has a reputation as a hyper-aggressive hitter. However, over his last 79 plate appearances, he's posted a 12.7 percent walk rate. Although the power hasn't been on full display lately, mixing a little bit of plate discipline with his toolsy skill set could be the key to unlocking an All Star ceiling. Williams and Freddy Galvis are options against Sims.

 

The Athletics may enjoy facing homer prone Heaney. Marcus Semien bats leadoff for the A's when they face a lefty. He has the right mix of power and speed to be of value at the plate or on the bases. Over his career, Semien is a .285/.332/.479 hitter against southpaws. Other Oaklanders to try include Jed Lowrie and Matt Chapman.

 

Luis Valbuena is a streaky hitter. Over his last 10 games, he's slashing .367/.486/.900 with five home runs in 37 plate appearances. Ride the wave. Valbuena is set to face Gossett and a mediocre Athletics bullpen.

 

Steve Pearce is another guy who bats leadoff when his club faces a lefty. The Blue Jays will see a good one tomorrow – Drew Pomeranz. Pearce is having a typical season, batting .271/.341/.476 with 13 home runs in 302 plate appearances.

 

An old friend of ours, Yonder Alonso, is back under 50 percent owned. A slump is to blame for his availability, although he is slashing .366/.447/.585 in his last 47 plate appearances. The Mariners are getting him more time on the bench which may be helping to mitigate fatigue. Remember, Alonso's never really been a full time player in the majors. Alonso, Mike Zunino, and Mitch Haniger should enjoy playing against Tillman.

 

A few more players to try include Mikie Mahtook at Coors Field, Lucas Duda versus Ian Kennedy, and Howie Kendrick opposite Urena.

 

Hitters: Speed

 

A couple injuries have made speed a rare trait on the waiver wire. Your best option – if his bruised knee is recovered – is Ben Revere. The Angels' speedy fourth outfielder shares playing time with Cameron Maybin. Revere is batting over .300 since the All Star Break while posting a healthy stolen base total. The Athletics are prone to allowing steals too.

 

The Marlins are good at holding runners. It's unlikely Wilmer Difo will attempt a steal. Despite a below average batting line, he has a valuable role as the Nationals second hitter. He's swiped eight bags in 275 plate appearances.

 

Cesar Hernandez has a slightly better matchup than Difo since the Braves don't hold runners well. This season, Hernandez is best described as an opportunist. In past years, he'd attempt 30 steals and get caught close to half the time. In 2017, he's 13-for-16 on the base paths. While he's not a prolific runner, he's a high OBP bat who scores plenty of runs.

 

 



Brad Johnson is a baseball writer for Rotoworld, FanGraphs, The Hardball Times, MLBTradeRumors and The Fake Baseball. He can be found on Twitter @BaseballATeam.
Email :Brad Johnson



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