With the fantasy baseball season at our front door, it’s essential to nail down the pitchers on your waiver wires who can get you value for the cost of free.
I’ve grouped the starting pitchers into two categories – more rostered pitchers who I’d feel great streaming up front vs. a selection of pitchers who are a bit riskier but still have a decent chance to produce.
In addition, I’ll be bringing back my daily morning Streaming Rankings through the season + we’ll have daily fantasy streaming options projected by our PLV projections each day for PL Pro members.
Keep in mind, the players listed below are not ordered by preference.
Great Early Streaming Options
Zach Eflin (TBR) @ WSN – Eflin has a history of completing six innings with his sinker/slider combination and the Rays need all the innings they can get with questionable IP arms in their rotation (how long is Josh Fleming actually going to go?). A date with the Nationals makes him an easy play and a follow-up start against the Athletics is icing on the cake.
Jared Shuster (ATL) @ WSN – Like Eflin, Shuster is getting granted the gift of the Nationals who have a lineup consisting of…players. I loved what I saw from Shuster in camp with his wicked slider and changeup and you’re in a fantastic situation of grabbing an exciting arm while he faces a weak club.
Hayden Wesneski (CHC) @ CIN – I know, you’re already aware of plenty of these starters at the beginning (let me get through them first!) and Wesneski’s slider is very much on your radar. Still, he’s not rostered everywhere and taking a shot on his deadly arsenal against a middling Reds team (even in Cincy) is worth it.
Kenta Maeda (MIN) @ MIA – Please, just a few “wide-awake sleepers” to go! Maeda hasn’t had the explosive spring I hoped for, but give him some time. He hasn’t featured a strikeout rate under 24% since…well, never and the Marlins are as comfortable of a matchup as you’ll find as he pitches in front of a solid defense and potent offense.
Graham Ashcraft (CIN) vs PIT – Sure, it’s in Cincinnati, but the Pirates are far from the most formidable of foes and Ashcraft has been flirting with strikeouts this spring. It’s possible he’s discovered a way to harness his velocity to light up the fantasy scoreboard for your fantasy teams en route to a productive day against Pittsburgh. The floor can’t be that bad, right?
David Peterson (NYM) @ MIA – Peterson has seized the final spot in the Mets rotation with José Quintana out for months and it should get you excited. Not only has Peterson commanded his heater and new slider well this spring, but he also has one of the best schedules ahead of him. If he looks comfortable against the Marlins, you could be holding onto this one for far longer than his ADP and Rostered % suggest.
Carlos Carrasco (NYM) @ MIL – I wouldn’t say I’m the biggest fan of Carrasco’s innate volatility with his slider and changeup, but can you really turn down a start against the Brewers? Like Peterson, Carrasco has a comfortable schedule in the month of April, allowing for more upside if this works out well.
Nick Martinez (SDP) vs COL – I’m kinda in on Martinez this year as he’s had a tremendous spring – 1.93 ERA and 19/4 K/BB over 14 innings – and now he’s in the perfect situation starting for the Padres against Rockie Road. Here’s your chance at a cheap Win with a handful of strikeouts without destruction to your ratios. That’s not enough. How about it happening on Friday, when you can swap him out for another starter before they make their first start? You can get two for the price of one! Now I get it.
Seth Lugo (SDP) vs COL – See what I just said for Martinez? It’s essentially the same for Lugo. He’ll be allowed to go at least five frames, he isn’t a bad pitcher, and he’s likely to have the lead when he exists. Like Martinez, Lugo will start on Sunday, i.e. before next week’s games, allowing you to move on and adjust before some of the others listed here. Take advantage of it.
Clarke Schmidt (NYY) vs SFG) – I really love this one. Schmidt was off my radar for most of spring training until two things changed: 1) All of the Yankee starters suddenly fell to the IL and 2) Schmidt began featuring a sweeper 40% of the time. In the two games we had that data, he fanned seven batters and you have to believe he’ll carry that approach against the Giants. He’ll also be slotted to pitch on Saturday for the Yankees, once again helping managers make an early decision and jump onto a different bandwagon if this doesn’t go well. That’s my kind of stream.
Backup Streaming Options
Nick Pivetta (BOS) vs PIT – You wouldn’t be wise to blindly trust Pivetta for a full season, but there is promise that could spill into a wonderful matchup against the Pittsburgh Pirates as Cameron Levy outlined here. It’s a solid Win chance mixed with a heavy chance to accrue 5+ strikeouts. Isn’t that what a stream is all about?
Ryan Pepiot (LAD) vs COL – I had my doubts about Pepiot’s ability across the off-season after watching his mediocre 2022 rookie frames. However, his changeup command has vastly improved during the spring and Pepiot could coast to a solid outing against a Colorado squad that’s notorious for their struggles on the road.
Justin Steele (CHC) vs MIL – Steele has a fantastic slider and a fastball that makes or breaks his days if he’s able to control it near the top of the zone and miss bats. There are worse shots to take opening weekend, especially when it could be a skill Steele has acquired this off-season without our knowledge. The rewards are there if he has it over the weekend.
Corey Kluber (BOS) vs BAL – It’s weird to be able to stream an opening day starter, but here we are. Despite contently boasting a sub 90 mph heater through the spring, Kluber seems capable of going six frames of production for the Red Sox. It opens the door to a full Toby of a season, why not start on Day 1?
Michael Wacha (SDP) vs COL – It might be odd to be less interested in Wacha than Lugo and Martinez against the same team, but Wacha’s spring hasn’t featured the command we enjoyed in the middle of 2023 and he may still be wrestling with his changeup, cutter, and four-seamer the opening weekend of the season. Still, he has the Padres to help him get to the finish line and that’s always a positive.
Yusei Kikuchi (TOR) @ KCR – Do I have faith in 2023 being Kikuchi’s breakout season? Absolutely not. Do I realize it’s a game in Kansas City after Kikuchi has returned double-digit whiffs in every single spring training outing? Yes, yes I do. He’s also going to square off against the Royals’ #5 and it feels like a solid chance at a Win.
Eric Lauer (MIL) vs CHC – Lauer came out with guns a-blazing last season and you can’t rule out another electric spring from Lauer after he increased his four-seamer velocity a tick for the second straight season in 2022. The Cubs don’t induce terror and Lauer may overwhelm with four-seamers above the belt for a smooth six frames.
Marco Gonzales (SEA) vs CLE – Is it fun? Pfffft no. The man just went over five frames in his final spring tune-up without earning a single strikeout. But Marco can go 5-6 frames of…decency while the mighty Mariners offense square up against Zach Plesac. That’s a reasonable shot for those needing a dub.
Eduardo Rodriguez (DET) vs TBR – I wonder what version of Rodriguez we’ll see in 2023 – is it the man we anticipated this time last season or will it be the one struggling with command and velocity throughout the season? There’s a chance Erod features the 93 mph heater we saw glimpses of this spring, allowing him to string together 5+ innings of points for bold managers.
Drew Smyly (CHC) @ CIN – It’s not ideal to head into Cincinnati, but Smyly took down the Reds with ease last year and could do so again if he’s spotting his curveball down with a 93 mph sinker upstairs.