I'm going to preface this with all of the positives I have. The Houston Astros are under new management and this new management team, led by former Cardinals scouting director Jeff Luhnow, looks to have a real plan. And they are executing this plan perfectly so far, building up their middle class of prospects -- which had been ravaged by the previous regime who really screwed up some of their recent drafts. Salary relief and prospect depth are great things for an organization moving forward, and the Astros are positioning themselves well so far for the second half of the decade.
On the other hand, the team they are fielding right now is downright awful. Their best hitter is Jose Altuve, and frankly it's not even close. Their best pitcher is probably Bud Norris. It's essentially a Quad-A lineup they are running out there. So this means that the Astros have achieved must-stream status -- if you see a starter who has all of their appendages and they are pitching against the Astros, stream them. Jeff Karstens is doing that today. Stream him. Erik Bedard, Marco Estrada, Michael Fiers -- stream all of them. Not only have the Astros achieved Padres status, they've surpassed it.
And now for what you came here to see -- medium-term starting pitcher schedules!
After the jump..THE POTENTIAL OUTPERFORMERS
Travis Blackley (@BAL, TOR, LAA, @KC, MIN, @TB)
What to make of Travis Blackley? My first thought when he started to have some success was that he must have been some sort of minor league journeyman getting lucky in a pitcher friendly home park. Well, neither of those things tell the whole story. Yes he bounced around between six organizations since he was signed 12 years ago, but he was also participated in the Futures Game in 2003 and was ranked as a Top 100 prospect (#63) by Baseball America in 2004. And as far as his performance, sure he's unlikely to keep up a 3.3% HR/FB rate even with that park helping him, but his 3.66 xFIP suggests there's real skills to back this up. I'm buying in on Blackley in deeper mixed leagues, especially with this schedule over the next month.
Jeremy Hellickson (@LAA, BAL, @MIN, @SEA, KC, OAK)
Another year and Jeremy Hellickson is still outperforming his underlying numbers, befuddling statheads everywhere. Unfortunately, fantasy owners expected more than a 5.7 K/9 rate and 5 wins. But when you have a stretch of six starts like this, all to be played in pitchers' parks, you have an opportunity to take advantage. Hellickson is probably a guy who can be had relatively cheaply right now, especially in redraft leagues, so if you want to take a shot on someone putting up good numbers over the next month, he could be a solid risk to take.
Clayton Kershaw (@SF, CHC, @MIA, @PIT, SF, MIA)
When a pitcher like Kershaw has this sort of upcoming schedule, it just seems unfair. You're not getting any extra value on him, but if you're thinking about picking up this ace for your home stretch, it's always nice to see a group of opponents like this on the docket.
Tommy Hanson (MIA, HOU, @NYM, SD, @WSH, @SF)
I'll keep this one simple. If you have Tommy Hanson on your team, you're best case scenario is that he pitches well as he goes through this stretch and you can unload him before your trading deadline. If you can con someone into thinking that Hanson is "back", do so and don't look back. Things are not going to get better for Hanson from a skills perspective or a health perspective.
Braves Mystery Starter (MIA, HOU, @NYM, SD, WSH, @SF)
This one is a fun one. It's one of the most favorable six-start stretches out there, but we still have no idea who is going to be taking the mound for them. Could it be Zack Greinke? If a trade happens before Greinke toes the rubber on Sunday, it just might be. Could it be Jair Jurrjens? If you're a Braves fan, this has to be the worst case scenario. But regardless of who it is, expect them to perform better than they should (or in Jurrjens' case, like a replacement-level starter).
Other Potential Outperformers:
Josh Collmenter (NYM, @LAD, @PIT, WSH, @HOU, MIA)
Wade Miley (@LAD, @PIT, WSH, @HOU, MIA)
Matt Harvey (@SF, @SD, ATL, @WSH, COL)
Josh Tomlin (@MIN, @KC, MIN, BOS, @OAK)
Josh Johnson (SD, @WSH, @NYM, PHI)
Scott Diamond (CLE, CHW, @CLE, TB, @SEA)
Bartolo Colon (@BAL, TOR, LAA, @KC, CLE, @TB)
A.J. Burnett (@CHC, ARZ, SD, LAD, @SD)
Jeff Karstens (@HOU, @CHC, ARZ, SD)
Clayton Richard (@MIA, NYM, CHC, @ATL, SF)
Adam Wainwright (@CHC, MLW, SF, ARZ, HOU)
Joe Kelly (@CHC, MLW, SF, ARZ, PIT)
Alex Cobb (@LAA, @OAK, TOR, @SEA, @LAA, OAK)
David Price (@OAK, BAL, @MIN, @LAA, KC)
Jordan Zimmermann (@MLW, MIA, @HOU, @SF, NYM)
THE POTENTIAL UNDERPERFORMERS
Yu Darvish (CHW, LAA, @BOS, DET, @TOR)
I'm treating Darvish as the anti-Tommy Hanson. The skills are there for Darvish, and if he has a clunker or two prior to your trading deadline, that owner may start to believe what everyone was saying coming into the season -- that he will wear down over the course of the long season and in the heat of Texas. Don't believe it. Yu can do it (bad pun intended).
Rick Porcello (@TOR, @BOS, NYY, @TEX)
Don't be fooled by his outing against the White Sox. This is still Rick Porcello.
Phil Hughes (BOS, BAL, @DET, @TOR, BOS, @CHW)
For a pitcher who still has issues with the long ball, this is what we in the fantasy community call a bad idea. Hughes has had a nice comeback, but it may be a good time to listen to offers on him.
Other Potential Underperformers:
Aaron Cook (@NYY, DET, TEX, @CLE, @NYY, LAA, @LAA)
Gavin Floyd (@TEX, LAA, OAK, @TOR, NYY)
Bud Norris (@MLW, @ATL, MLW, @CHC, @STL)
Ivan Nova (BAL, @DET, @TOR, TEX, @CHW)
Vance Worley (@WSH, ATL, STL, @MLW, CIN)
Ryan Vogelsong (LAD, @COL, @STL, WSH)
Matt Harrison (CHW, LAA, @BOS, @NYY, @TOR)
As you may know, I post a streamer of the day owned in less than 10% of leagues on a daily basis at @tfw_bret on Twitter. And as a staple of this column, I'm going to review my picks as the season goes on. Here are the final numbers for the past seven days of #streameroftheday picks:
3 wins, 4.38 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 37 K's in 37 innings.
And the details:
Drew Pomeranz promptly halted the momentum I had from the last two weeks, but great starts from Erik Bedard, Mike Leake and A.J. Griffin led me back to at least decent totals on the whole -- especially in the K department.
Follow me on Twitter at @tfw_bret.