Streaming starting pitchers can be one of the most effective strategies in fantasy baseball. Here are four pitchers who are widely available and should be useful on June 25.
Tim Lincecum vs. San Diego Padres
I would start almost anybody against the Padres, Lincecum included. There’s no doubt that Lincecum has been bad this season, but his 4.11 FIP and his 3.69 xFIP suggest that he hasn’t actually pitched as poorly as his 4.90 ERA indicates. It’s not like every start has been a disaster; he’s held the opposition to three or fewer runs in 10 of his 15 starts this season.
The Padres’ offense, however, has been a disaster. San Diego is last in the MLB with a .274 wOBA, and that is significantly lower than the second worst team, the Chicago Cubs at .295. San Diego is also last in baseball with just 231 runs scored; the Atlanta Braves have scored the second fewest runs this season with 268 and they’ve played two fewer games than the Padres have. The Padres have been historically bad at the plate this season, making even Lincecum an attractive streaming option.
Henderson Alvarez @ Philadelphia Phillies
Alvarez may not rack up the strikeouts, but he’s not likely to give up many runs either. Alvarez is one of the best pitchers in baseball at consistently getting groundballs, and he’s done a fantastic job at keeping the ball in the park. His 53.4 percent groundball rate this season is the 16th best in baseball, and for his career, he has a 55 percent groundball rate; he’s given up just six home runs in the last two seasons (197 innings). Alvarez has allowed three or fewer runs in 12 of his 15 starts this season, and he’s allowed just three runs total over his last 39.2 innings (six starts).
Charlie Morton @ Tampa Bay Rays
Morton’s biggest strengths, like Alvarez, are that he gets a ton of groundballs, and he does a very good job at keeping the ball in the park. Morton’s 54.5 percent groundball rate is the 11th best in baseball, and he’s given up just 23 home runs over his last four seasons (431.1 innings). The Rays have a high groundball rate (46.7 percent) against right-handed pitching this season, and they’re 24th in baseball with just 42 home runs.
Morton has allowed three or more runs in just five of his 15 starts this season. He’s also only allowed six home runs this season. Five of the home runs he’s allowed have come in starts in which he’s given up at least three runs (he’s allowed just one home run in his 10 starts of two earned runs or fewer).
Alex Wood @ Houston Astros
Wood made seven starts this season before he was — wrongfully, in my opinion — sent to the bullpen to make room for some returning veterans in the Braves’ rotation. In those seven starts, Wood had a 3.00 ERA to go with a 1.18 WHIP and 44 strikeouts in 45 innings. Many people dropped Wood when he was sent to the bullpen, but now that Gavin Floyd is going to miss an extended period of time — quite possibly the entire season — it looks like Wood will be a permanent member of the Braves’ rotation for the remainder of the season.
Wood would have made this article no matter who his opponent was tomorrow, and if he’s still available in your league, he’s a guy you should consider picking up for the long term, not just Wednesday’s start against the Astros. Wood has a 3.26 ERA (backed up by a 2.94 FIP and a 3.07 xFIP) to go with a 1.31 WHIP and 140 strikeouts over 138 career major league innings, and he was my 47th ranked starting pitcher entering 2014.