We are roughly one-third of the way through this truly bizarre 2020 MLB season. Are you like me and having trouble matching your excitement level in previous seasons? Maybe it’s the COVID blues or something, but I’ve been relatively disconnected from fantasy baseball. That makes streaming pitchers analysis difficult.
You would think that being relatively quarantined and working from home, I’d have more time to devote to you, my loyal array of readers. Not so. The passion just hasn’t been there these past few weeks. I have had more false starts that the Indianapolis 500 trying to get my first streaming pitchers article of the season out. @DraftBuddy threatened to fire me but realized I’m working for free. [Editor’s note: not true… the first part]
60 Game Schedule-Schmedule
What is bothering me is that this 60 game schedule is anti-fantasy baseball when you think about it. The beauty of this little game we play is the safety net of consistency we know is there below us. How we think a player will perform this season is often based on how he did last year and the year before.
This 60 game schedule isn’t going to be like any other season in baseball history. I mean, they are starting extra innings with a runner on 2nd!?! What’s next, ghost runners, aka ghosties as we called them back in the day? If more players keep testing positive for COVID-19, we just might have to or the MLB season will be cancelled… along with your fantasy baseball season. Maybe that is also part of it. First it was the Miami Marlins, and then the St. Louis Cardinals. I’m not very optimistic about finishing this sprint.
If we do play all 60 games, we’re going to see some unpredictable statistical outliers and they could end up being league winners. By only playing 37% of a typical season we’re essentially basing our leagues on small sample sizes.
Small Sample Size
Case in point, in this great description of small sample size over at FanGraphs they lay out the following “stabilization” points for offense statistics:
Using 3.5 PA per game, you can see that outside of K%, most don’t stabilize and become reliable until the back half of this abbreviated season… if at all.
Looking at a large sample of data and trying to predict what a player will do over one game is what DFS is all about. This 2020 season is essentially the same thing. Take this exercise for example. In a 60 game season, a healthy starting pitcher should get about 11 starts. Let’s look at two pitchers and their first 11 starts in 2019.
Who would you want on your fantasy squad? Pitcher A, right? That’s Mike Minor who was available in the late rounds of your draft (2019 ADP 160). Pitcher B? Pitcher B is Walker Buehler with a 2019 ADP of 21. Ouch.
Fantasy Baseball Impact
Baseball is meant to be a marathon, not a sprint. Runners train differently for each, and fantasy baseball managers must do the same. The best players won’t provide their typical advantage over merely average ones. Injuries to top players are going to be more difficult than ever to overcome. Pitching is a quagmire, at best. Middle relievers will be sniping wins all season and good luck chasing saves.
67 different pitchers have recorded a save so far in 2020 (roughly 18-20 games per team). Compare that to last season when 199 different pitchers recorded a save and in 2018 when 165 different pitchers recorded a save in 162 game seasons.
All this being said, you come to Straight Cheese to get my advice streaming pitchers. I mustered up some motivation and finally get something on paper… er, in WordPress. Here we go…
Streaming Pitchers August 17
As you know by now (2018 post-mortem, 2019 post-mortem), my process is to look at wOBA, ISO and K% because they tend to identify weak lineups. Conversely, for pitchers I look at wOBA, ISO against and their K%. Here’s a shortlist of some lineups that are struggling.
All data is via FanGraphs and as of games through Thursday, August 14.
|Indians||vs RHP||26.9% (27th)||0.090 (30th)||0.270 (28th)|
|Braves||vs LHP||31.3% (29th)||0.113 (26th)||0.242 (29th)|
|Brewers||vs RHP||28.7% (29th)||0.138 (23rd)||0.281 (27th)|
|Mariners||vs LHP||24.3% (23rd)||0.109 (28th)||0.253 (28th)|
|Blue Jays||vs LHP||23.5% (22nd)||0.076 (30th)||0.267 (27th)|
Using the data above, let’s go look at the schedule for these teams next week and see if there are any starting pitchers we can use.
NOTE: These are probable pitchers as of this morning. As you know, we’re one COVID positive test away from scheduling mayhem.
|Lineup||Opposing Pitcher||Scheduled Start||IP||ERA||WHIP||K%||ISO Against||wOBA Against||My Thoughts|
|Indians||RHP Trevor Williams, PIT||8/18||20.1||3.98||1.24||20.9%||0.156||0.320||Start him|
|Indians||RHP Chad Kuhl, PIT||8/19||9.0||2.00||1.00||34.3%||0.156||0.263||Start him|
|Indians||RHP Michael Fulmer, DET||8/21||5.2||6.35||1.92||14.8%||0.360||0.436||Bench him|
|Indians||RHP Ivan Nova, DET||–||15.2||5.74||1.58||11.4%||0.159||0.336||Bench him|
|Indians||RHP Spencer Turnbull, DET||–||18.0||2.00||1.00||25.4%||0.048||0.230||Start him|
|Braves||LHP Patrick Corbin, WSN||–||18.0||2.50||1.00||27.8%||0.116||0.253||Start him|
|Brewers||RHP Jake Odorizzi, MIN||8/19||3.0||6.00||2.00||13.3%||0.333||0.474||Bench him|
|Brewers||RHP Jose Berrios, MIN||8/20||20.1||5.31||1.54||18.7%||0.190||0.350||Bench him|
|Brewers||RHP Randy Dobnak, MIN||–||20.0||0.90||0.90||14.5%||0.042||0.211||Start him|
|Brewers||RHP Kenta Maeda, MIN||–||23.2||2.66||0.73||23.9%||0.107||0.199||Start him|
|Brewers||RHP J.T. Brubaker, PIT||8/22||8.0||3.38||1.38||25.7%||0.129||0.324||Start him|
|Brewers||RHP Trevor Williams, PIT||8/23||20.1||3.98||1.24||20.9%||0.156||0.320||Start him|
|Brewers||RHP Chad Kuhl, PIT||–||9.0||2.00||1.00||34.3%||0.156||0.263||Start him|
|Mariners||LHP Julio Urias, LAD||8/18||21.1||2.53||1.14||15.3%||0.101||0.270||Start him|
|Mariners||LHP Clayton Kershaw, LAD||8/19||10.0||3.60||1.10||29.3%||0.275||0.331||Start him|
|Mariners||LHP Kolby Allard, TEX||8/21||9.0||1.00||0.78||25.7%||0.097||0.190||Start him|
|Mariners||LHP Mike Minor, TEX||8/22||19.2||5.49||1.30||22.4%||0.118||0.281||Bench him|
|Blue Jays||LHP Wade LeBlanc, BAL||8/17||17.2||7.13||1.51||12.5%||0.222||0.357||Bench him|
|Blue Jays||LHP John Means, BAL||8/18||7.0||7.71||0.71||21.4%||0.240||0.282||Bench him|
|Blue Jays||LHP Tommy Milone, BAL||8/19||14.0||3.21||1.14||27.6%||0.148||0.296||Start him|
|Blue Jays||LHP Ryan Yarbrough, TB||8/21||21.0||4.71||1.24||14.1%||0.150||0.310||Bench him|
|Blue Jays||LHP Blake Snell, TB||8/23||13.0||2.08||1.15||37.0%||0.160||0.285||Start him|
Thank you for reading and good luck streaming pitchers next week! If you have questions then you can find me on Twitter @Roto_Chris.