I don't actually do as much pitcher streaming as you might guess. Though, if you're spending your time guessing how I run my fantasy rosters, that's kind of creepy. Do something more productive with your time.
But one of the problems with sharp advice when it comes to strategies is that most leagues aren't conducted with sharps. Some strategies require a good portion of the league to follow a similar strategy in order for the strategy to work.
For example, most fantasy football experts (including me, not that I'm an expert expert) advise not bothering with a backup quarterback when you have a stud starter. Let the stud run through his games, pick someone off the waiver wire in the stud's bye week, then go back to your stud and never worry about a backup again. I like that strategy, because if you're in a 10- or 12-team league, and a fair number of your leaguemates do the same, then, when Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees has a bye, there will be a Matt Schaub or a Jay Cutler, maybe an Eli Manning available.
Unfortunately, in my primarily football league, that strategy doesn't get followed. Everyone takes a backup. Some guys take two. So late in the draft, when I was contemplating a pick, it occurred to me that the next best quarterbacks available were guys like Carson Palmer, E.J. Manuel, and Josh Freeman. Begrudgingly, I took Palmer to back up Aaron Rodgers, just so I won't be left out in the cold later. Because my leaguemates don't subscribe to that philosophy, I couldn't justify using it either.
Bringing this at long last back to baseball, the idea of streaming pitchers relies on the idea that a few guys in the league are regularly adding and dropping starters, so a decent-but-not-special starter will often be out on the wire for you to grab for an outing against the Twins or the Marlins. So, if your leaguemates grab their starters and hold on for dear life, you're looking at streaming guys like (just to pick some names from Wednesday's starters) Daisuke Matsuzaka, Robbie Erlin, and Henderson Alvarez. You might catch lightning in a bottle with one of those guys (not Daisuke), but more often than not it isn't worth the effort.
But lo, there are exceptions. In leagues with non-sharps, where owners grab their pitchers and sit tight, back-from-injury and up-from-the-minors guys can fly under the radar. For example, Danny Duffy.
Duffy has two starts so far this year - August 7 against Minnesota, when he gave up 2 runs in 3.2 innings, and August 16 against Detroit, when he pitched 6 scoreless. After both outings, Duffy was sent down to the minors to bide his time until the team needed him again. Now, though, Duffy is scheduled to start Wednesday - again against Minnesota - and all signs are that he'll be in the rotation going forward, replacing the man-were-they-wrong-about-him Wade Davis.
Part of the reason given for the rotation change by Royals manager Ned Yost is that they want to get their playoff pitching staff in order, which is just adorable. I bet the Astros would like to get a playoff rotation set up too, guys. But either way, Davis has been horrible, and his demotion means Duffy is likely to stick around.
Duffy was one of those highly touted Royals' prospects, and earned a rotation slot entering 2012. Of course, that lasted for all of six starts, and 27.2 innings, before Duffy earned that pitching nightmare of Tommy John surgery. In those six starts, though, Duffy had managed a 3.90 ERA and struck out better than a batter per inning, using that small sample to live up to expectations.
In his (even smaller sample) two starts this year, Duffy has continued that trend - 10 strikeouts and 2 runs in 9.2 innings. In AA and AAA this year, he has struck out more than 10 batters per 9 as well. If you're trolling for strikeouts, you can do way worse than Danny Duffy.
It's true that Duffy, right now, walks too many guys - 4.7 per 9 in his career so far. He's unlikely to be a WHIP dominator. But he's likely to maintain his starting job regardless, and his remaining starts - likely some combination of Minnesota, Seattle, Cleveland, Seattle - aren't likely to scare you off completely.
Look, Duffy won't win you your league in the playoffs. But if you are streaming pitchers, or if you want to start streaming now (which I tend to do, actually - stream more around the end of the year when there are more new guys popping up), or if you lost a Matt Harvey-type, Duffy will help you out. He's only owned in 3% of Yahoo leagues. Take advantage of that.
Follow me on Twitter @danieltkelley
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