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Streaming Pitchers for Tuesday 8/13: Joe Ross is worth the gamble

Joe Ross may have discovered a third pitch.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Not meant to be an epic, the Streamer Report will provide you with a few starting pitcher selections and then call it a proverbial day. The criteria is starting pitchers who are 50% owned or less in Yahoo leagues. We’ll consider matchup, track record versus opponent, recent performance, and more.

After the debacle that was Monday, it sure is nice to wake up to Tuesday. I knew I should have recommended Mitch Keller, but I held off given his rough patch to begin the season. But he would have offered more upside than Jurado, so I’m learning all sorts of lessons in the early going.

How did yesterday’s streamers fare?

Zach Plesac: 5.0 IP, 7 hits, 3 ER, 2 walks, 2 Ks, 1 homer

Anthony DeSclafani: 4.0 IP, 6 hits, 6 ER, 2 walks, 3 Ks, 2 homers

Ariel Jurado: 3.2 IP, 11 hits, 6 ER, 1 walk, 3 Ks, 2 homers

We will speak no further of this.

Streamers vs. League Average (all starters)

STREAMER STATS 5.08 ERA 1.40 WHIP 7.25 K/9 3.19 BB/9
LEAGUE AVERAGE 4.51 ERA 1.31 WHIP 8.55 K/9 2.94 BB/9

Monday definitely blew up my shiny ratios. Still a small sample though, so we’ll have some pendulum swings early on. Time to right the ship.

Tuesday’s streamers

Joe Ross vs. Cincinnati Reds (12% owned)

In his last two turns against the Diamondbacks and Giants, Ross has managed 11 13 innings without allowing a run. Over that time, his seven walks against eight strikeouts leaves something to be desired, but here’s a fine nugget from Jeff Zimmerman to give us some hope:

Ross’s slider has historically been the pitch that generates the most whiffs, but the aforementioned curveball has a whopping 30.8% strikeout rate so far in 2019. We frequently see two-pitch pitchers struggle—looking at you, Kevin Gausman—but now that Ross is discovering a third pitch he might be working himself into streaming relevance. It’s only a 36-inning sample this year, but Ross has the second-best strikeout rate of his career (8.25 K/9) and has trimmed his home run rate to 1.25 HR/9 (compared to 1.69 and 1.95 over the last two seasons). The curveball isn’t finding the zone much yet (a 22.4% zone rate) so that’s contributing to the high walk rate. Still, the new pitch mix is encouraging and I really like taking a shot on Ross today.

The Reds strike out 23.9% of the time (8th-worst). They are also 19th in wOBA (.315) and 20th in wRC+ (90). But the real kicker is that the Reds rank 27th in the MLB at drawing walks, at a mere 7.4% rate. Since the free pass is Ross’s primary weakness right now, that makes this matchup a good draw.

LHP Brendan McKay at San Diego Padres (39% owned)

The two-way player has racked up 33 strikeouts against only three walks thus far (29 23 innings). The Padres have power, as evidenced by their .192 ISO (11th) in this split. However, they are prone to the strikeout, ranking seventh-worst in the MLB with a 24.9% K-rate against southpaws. McKay’s 12.8% swinging strike rate is above average, and his 39.4% chase rate is elite—for reference, Jacob deGrom tops all qualified starters in the MLB with a 38.0% chase rate. So yes, small sample size applies to McKay, given he’s only tossed 29 23 innings. But if you’re looking for strikeout upside, he’s your man today.

Griffin Canning vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (19% owned)

A 52:17 K:BB over 47 innings will play, even if Canning’s 4.76 ERA is unsightly. On the flip side of the ugly ERA, we have a solid 1.20 WHIP. So where’s the problem coming from, you ask? Home runs! Big league hitters are elevating against Canning more than minor leaguers were able to, and the result is more homers (1.59 HR/9). However, the 13.6% swinging strike rate means we can trust in the strikeout ability, and Canning doesn’t have a big issue with the free pass. The Pirates rank 25th in the MLB with 95 homers against right-handed pitching, which isn’t too scary. They do rank second with a minuscule 19.1% strikeout rate, though. Only the formidable Houston Astros strike out less in this split. So perhaps the upside isn’t tremendous, but I love the strikeout ability paired with the Pirates’ low walk rate of 7.7% (22nd). Lastly, the Angels get to tee off against contact-maven Trevor Williams, so I like Canning’s chances of pitching with a lead in this one.

If I had to rank them, I believe I’d go McKay, Ross, Canning. But each have some form of upside, so it’s a tough call.

What say you all? Anyone you’re using today that didn’t get a mention?