It’s every owner’s goal to build a pitching staff full of horses who can go out every week and pitch well. Even when one of them struggles, you can confidently leave them in your starting lineup the following week and know that they’re much more likely to bounce back and pitch well than continue to give up runs. ESPN’s Matthew Berry has a list of pitchers who you should start every week, regardless of matchup, and says that all of those pitchers are above the Wandy Line. The higher up the list, the more stable the pitcher is. Any player above this line is a must-start pitcher, and they are likely all going to be owned in your league. For example, everyone wants Clayton Kershaw. He’s at the top of Berry’s list and hasn’t given his owners any reason to believe that will change. You start Kershaw each and every week, and it simply doesn’t matter who he’s pitching against due to his track-record of dominance and consistency over a long period of time.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a staff with a Kershaw or a Verlander at the top and several other solid, must-start pitchers beneath them. When this is the case, owners stream pitchers, meaning they pick up and start a pitcher for one or two starts only, due to how he has been pitching recently and/or the matchup he’s facing this week. At the beginning of the year, many in the fantasy community were encouraging owners to start anyone who was pitching against the Marlins or Astros. It’s been a solid strategy even though the Astros haven’t been as terrible as everyone thought (20th in total runs scored), the Marlins have been atrocious. They have scored the fewest runs in baseball and have been without their best and only real offensive threat, Giancarlo Stanton, for a majority of the season. Even though Stanton is back, the Marlins will continue to be the worst offense in baseball for the rest of the season.
Today, I was watching the Braves play the Mets. After a late game last night and a day game today, the Braves put out their B squad agains the formidable Matt Harvey. Through six innings, Harvey had a no-hitter and was making guys like Gerald Laird and Reed Johnson look terrible. While he gave up three runs towards the end of the game, mainly off of bad luck, he finished with seven strong innings of 13 strikeout baseball while only allowing three total bases. Harvey is a dominant pitcher but facing the Braves bench players certainly helped his numbers.
Harvey’s start reminded me that even an average pitcher should be started in the day part of a double header when some of the starters are sitting. It’s just enough of an advantage that an average pitcher looks good, a good pitcher looks great, and a great pitcher almost throws a perfect game. The same strategy goes for getaway games in the middle of the week when one series is wrapping up and another is starting the next day. Similar to the day part of a doubleheader, managers will rest starters on getaway games which gives the pitchers a good matchup and their owners an ideal time to stream.