It comes down to one word in the last week of July: Cleveland. This week I’m streaming the Guardians. It’s not because I grew up a Cleveland fan on the shores of Lake Erie in a small town called Port Clinton, where people wore their fan gear to Put-in-Bay to ride golf carts around Perry’s Monument or to Cedar Point to ride the Demon Drop, which I hear no longer exists. It’s because Cleveland could prove to be one of those thorn-in-the-side teams this year, even now, with a 48-49 record. More importantly for this article, their pitchers are available in many leagues.
The AL Central is a weak division, and this 48-49 record puts them in second place behind the Twins, who are only 51-48. In the month of July, the Guardians are steadily playing to a 9-7 record. The fact is that any major league team has the potential to win in the playoffs, but they need to make it to the playoffs.
And that could happen for the underdog Guardians on the Cuyahoga River. Who doesn’t like to root for an underdog?
The pitchers on this team have been well-regarded as prospects or touted at other points in their careers. Many of them are available against weaker matchups this week. So I’m not claiming a pitcher as much as a rotation. It allows me to sit back and imagine how this David might beat future Goliaths if they can make it to October.
As you know, I select pitchers available in 50% of Yahoo leagues whenever possible. I choose a pitcher every single day, even when it’s not a good day to stream. But I will warn you if sitting a day out is better.
Fantasy Baseball Streaming Pitchers: Logan Allen, Aaron Civale, Tanner Bibee
Monday, July 24
Logan Allen (SP – CLE) vs. KC 25%
Allen has not given up an earned run in his previous three outings. Granted, they were against Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Oakland. He owns a 3.21 ERA (3.49 FIP and 3.83 xFIP) with 71 K’s in 67.1 IP. The WHIP is elevated at 1.37, which is possibly due to overusing his fastball and cutter (.273 xAVG and .510 xAVG).
His slider and changeup have been more effective (.225 xAVG and .152 xAVG). In a game where he relied on his off-speed pitches more, Allen blanked Oakland through four innings on June 22nd. But he threw 89 pitches in that short outing and walked three. His changeup had a 42.9% CSW. This is outstanding, but Allen needs to find ways to command these secondary offerings more effectively and throw them more often.
Kansas City is one of the lowest-scoring teams in baseball, second only to the Athletics, while Cleveland is eighth in the last two weeks in scoring runs.
Tuesday, July 25
Aaron Civale (SP – CLE) vs. KC 56%
Civale is quietly having a solid season, holding a 2.71 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. His K% is 19.2%, so he’s not a strikeout machine. Civale is throwing a little harder, as his primary cutter tops out around 87.8 mph versus 86.4 mph in 2022. But if we look at his fastball variations, it’s death by slight changes in speed. The cutter is around 88 mph, the fastball is around 92 mph, and the sinker is between 92-93 mph. This might not seem like much, but this has caused the cutter to go from a 28.3% CSW to a 32.8% CSW with a 10% increase in GB%.
The other area of significant improvement on those three pitches is the HR/FB%. For the cutter, it went from 14% in 2022 to 3.8% in 2023. For the fastball, it went from 7.7% to 0%. And for the sinker, it went from 13.6% to 6.7%. Here’s a contact pitcher keeping the ball in the yard for a weak-hitting offensive matchup. Let’s go for it.
Wednesday, July 26
Gavin Williams (SP – CLE) vs. KC 33%
This is probably my scariest pick of the week next to Friday’s Matt Manning gamble, just because Williams is still figuring things out with his whopping 4.73 FIP (5.06 xFIP). To be fair, it has only been 33.2 IP. In his previous outing against the Phillies, he threw his fastball 61.7% of the time, which is again an indication of an over-reliance on a single pitch. It’s a good heater, coming in at 95-96 mph and resulting in a 30.1% CSW. But it also has a .316 xAVG. His slider and changeup both result in an xAVG below .235. Mix in those off-speed pitches more, Gavin!
On July 8th, he did throw those secondary pitches more, and while he gave up three earned runs, he also struck out seven batters in 5.2 IP. That was against this same Royals squad. I’d love to see him get to 6 IP on Wednesday and it again.
Thursday, July 27
Tanner Bibee (SP – CLE) at CWS 56%
I said Seth Lugo was my streamer of the year a couple of weeks ago, and he produced well for us last week. But Tanner Bibee might be another streamer darling for me in 2023. He’s still owned in only 56% of Yahoo leagues.
Bibee has a 3.32 ERA (3.56 xERA and 3.68 FIP). Up to this point in the season, the WHIP has been a problem, and it currently sits at 1.26. But in the last month, he has a 1.15 WHIP. When you watch Bibee pitch, you see someone adapting to the level. The last time he pitched over 70 innings at one minor league level was Double-A in 2022, where he had a 0.88 WHIP.
Throughout his minor league career, he has shown an ability to keep runners off base, and if he’s beginning to transfer some of those skills, he’ll be a solid rotation arm. In his last outing against a tough Texas team, he threw his primary fastball 10% less in favor of his off-speed pitches. He held them to two runs and struck out six. I’m hoping he can do similar work on the south side of Chicago.
Friday, July 28
Matt Manning (SP – DET) at MIA 21%
This is not a day for streaming based on the limited availability of solid rotation arms and difficult matchups. The best I can offer at a sub-50% ownership is Mr. Manning. The former first-round pick in 2016 has a 3.38 ERA, but he’s been lucky according to the underlying stats (4.67 FIP and 5.50 xFIP). He hasn’t been an amazing strikeout pitcher (5.97 K/9), and he walks too many guys.
The BABIP sits at .206, which explains why the ERA will rise. But I’m hoping for the 4.25 xERA against Miami if I absolutely MUST stream today in order to get innings, say, in an H2H League. The Marlins are 24th in runs scored in the last two weeks and tied for 23rd on the entire season. I can offer that the xAVG on his slider and curveball are below .243, so maybe he can set up the off-speed pitches effectively for more outings this year. Please, oh please, tiptoe through Friday carefully.
Saturday, July 29, and Sunday, July 30
Logan Allen (SP – CLE) at CWS 25%
Aaron Civale (SP – CLE) at CWS 56%
Everything from Monday applies. Let’s send Allen and Civale out for another round of success. The White Sox are 22nd in runs scored on the season. In the last two weeks, they are 29th in hitting the long ball, right down there with the Mariners and the Blue Jays.
Sometimes you can take a look at not only the opponent for a game but the streak. An old baseball adage is that it’s not who you face but when you face them. For this week, I hope that the White Sox have been struggling offensively this season and that Cleveland has been scoring recently. So can we get a couple of wins on Saturday and Sunday?