Happy Memorial Day to you. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to all the military personnel who have died during their service in the United States Armed Forces. I know many of you will be traveling to see loved ones, or perhaps it’s the first time you’re dusting off the grill to cook out. So let me get to the streaming plan for this week as the MLB calendar flips to June.
Michael Kopech is our two-start pitcher this week. He’s available in half of Yahoo leagues, and it’s worth picking him up to see if there is a chance that he will sustain the significant increase in velocity with his slider. If batters will chase consistently in better lineups than the last two that he’s faced, then there may be more Kopech buzz before too long, and we’ll miss our chance.
Just a reminder that I do my best to choose pitchers available in 50% of Yahoo leagues so the advice is more useful to you. I also must choose a starter every single day, but I will you if it’s a dangerous day to stream. To identify these pitchers, I use the wonderful Fantasy Pros Weekly Probable Pitchers as of Friday, May 26th.
Waiver Wire SP Streamers: Week 9
Monday, May 29
Michael Kopech (SP – CWS) vs. LAA | 49%
Do we dare? I always struggle with the idea of streaming a pitcher against a lineup with two of the best hitters in baseball, but here we are. This is less of a matchup play and more of a “let’s take a look” play. If you can’t afford to risk it, sit Monday out. Kopech looked like an ace in his last two outings. Granted, it was against the weak-hitting Guardians and Royals, but there are two key takeaways. On May 19 against the Royals, he had a 38.8% CSW, which is a season-high. On May 24 against the Guardians, he had a 32.6% CSW, which he hasn’t had since April 21.
I don’t want to ignore the underlying good luck, perhaps, based on the low BABIP in those games. The fact is that many people will focus on his primary pitch (the fastball), but we should take note of the slider. That’s two games in a row where he is throwing it harder and getting more batters to chase. On May 2, the slider hovered around 83 mph. On May 7, it was 82 mph. In the last two notable outings, it was 86.5 mph! That’s not just an uptick. That’s significant. More than this, on May 12, his slider had an O-Swing% of 13.3% (eek). But on May 19, it was 55.6%. Is this sustainable?
We need to see more. But since we don’t have as many fun options for Monday, let’s take the new model on a real mission.
Tuesday, May 30
Kyle Gibson (SP – BAL) vs. CLE | 32%
It never looks cool claiming Gibson off waivers, but cool and practical are rarely the same thing. If you want some more dazzle, go with Bryan Bello below, but Baltimore is one of the best offenses in baseball, and Cleveland is one of the worst. So this is Streaming 101.
Gibson has only allowed one run in his last 14 innings against the Yankees and Blue Jays. I suspect that he’s being more wily with his changeup, a pitch that he’s throwing twice as much this year. The HR/FB rate on that pitch is 0.0% (yup, that’s right). The results are intriguing because hitters are topping the ball a little more, but they’re getting under it as well. The GB% on his primary pitch (the sinker) is up 10% from last year. And can you even call it his primary pitch? Sure, he throws it slightly more than his other five pitches, but Gibson really does lash out with all of his tools.
In a way, he’s a pitcher’s pitcher and probably could talk shop better than some aces. Let’s see if we can snag him during a hot streak.
Other option: Brayan Bello (SP – BOS) vs. CIN | 25%
Wednesday, May 31
Grayson Rodriguez (SP – BAL) vs. CLE | 54%
Jared Shuster (SP – ATL) at OAK | 14%
Today’s choice is between Wobbly One or Wobbly Two. Two rookie first-round picks have been trying to find their footing in the big leagues so far, and they’re both coming off good outings. They’re also pitching against weaker lineups. So choose your weapon.
The changeup had a 42% CSW for Grayson Rodriguez in his last outing in Toronto, where he only gave up two runs. He had a 28.6 K%, which is the first time we’ve seen that in the month of May. There is danger here, though, that might simply be about gaining confidence at the Major League level.
Jared Shuster went six innings and struck out seven in his last outing against Seattle, by far his best outing of the year. He threw his slider harder and more often, which is great to see. Sometimes rookies can rely on that primary pitch (the fastball) too much, and they simply need to gain confidence in their other offerings. Eeny meeny miny moe.
Thursday, June 1
Tanner Bibee (SP – CLE) vs. MIN | 46%
Based on his availability, I see that many managers are not completely sold on Tanner Bibee yet. I get it. Part of this might be the team. They rank last in runs scored. But I’m buying the skills and hoping for better days ahead in Cleveland. He owns a 3.18 ERA (3.26 xERA and 3.03 FIP). It’s possible that these numbers are wrong, and he’s closer to a 4.00 ERA on the season, but that’s the magic number for streaming available pitchers.
His last two outings were against the Mets and the Halos, where he went a combined 13.2 innings and gave up three runs. The free passes are plaguing him a bit, as he’s walked eight batters in his last three outings. But he does have a 0.0% HR/FB rate in four of his five outings so far this season.
Friday, June 2
Andrew Heaney (SP – TEX) vs. SEA | 65%
The Texas Rangers are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays in runs scored on the season. The last time Andrew Heaney faced the Mariners was on May 9 when he went 6.2 innings and gave up 3 ER for a quality start. It was a decent outing with a 1.00 WHIP and seven punchouts. Historically, pitchers often do better their second time out against a team, and Heaney has been better overall in his two outings in between facing Seattle (allowing a minuscule one run in 12 innings). He had good luck in those games, as his LOB% was above 80%. With that juggernaut offense behind him, I’m looking for a much-needed win.
Saturday, June 3
Michael Kopech (SP – CWS) vs. DET | 49%
Well, we picked up Kopech to start the week, and we might be worried depending on how that start went. But even if that start was shaky, sometimes we only have so many “adds” available in an H2H league, so it’s worth holding him for the rest of the week to get the Tigers on Saturday. Everything from Monday’s blurb applies here, but watch that Monday game against the Halos to see how his slider plays. Consider that the Tigers are 26th in home runs this season, 29th in runs scored and 29th in team OPS. The White Sox are not tearing the cover off the ball, either. But we might hope they’re the last man standing in this one.
Other option: Eury Perez (MIA – SP) vs. OAK | 65%
Sunday, June 4
Kyle Freeland (SP – Colorado) at KC | 38%
I think the play here is Freeland. Last week, I advised that we stream him at the dangerous Coors Field because he seems to modify his arsenal and find success there. He did well enough, limiting the flyball and reducing the damage to two runs in five innings. He has a decent 3.86 ERA and a 42/14 K/BB ratio.
I realize that he got crushed by Texas in the outing before, but Texas is a buzzsaw this year, and the Royals… well, they are not. Their team OPS is 27th in the Major Leagues. Like Gibson on Tuesday, this Kyle is also a streamer-darling in that his ERA and xERA hover around 4.00. This is the kind of pitcher you want against weaker lineups, both because they’re available and they’re capable.