Just as I did for much of last season, each Sunday I will provide a look ahead at favorable pitching matchups for fantasy owners who utilize the "streaming" method (pulling mediocre starters off the waiver wire in an effort to win counting categories in H2H leagues). If the preceding parenthetical makes no sense to you, you should probably move on to another post. I use the player pool from a 12-team 5X5 mixed league at ESPN. Since all the owners in the league have previously won ESPN leagues (a qualification for entry), the competition is at least fairly stiff and the teams fairly active. However, just because a player is available in that league, doesn't necessarily mean he'll be available in your league. Remember, the idea of "streaming" is to win strikeouts and wins, while remaining as competitive as possible in ERA and WHIP.
Monday, 5/10: Bronson Arroyo (Reds) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Ross Ohlendorf)
Arroyo has been running hot and cold in the early going, which is fairly typical for him. His last two starts have been solid (1-0, 3.95 ERA). And, for some reason, veteran pitchers tend to catch fire when they go to Pittsburgh. The Pirates rank 15th in the NL in scoring and dead last in run differential (-77).
Back-Up Plan: John Maine (Mets) v. Washington Nationals (Luis Atilano)
Tuesday, 5/11: Scott Olsen (Nationals) @ New York Mets (Jon Niese)
This may seem like a dangerously trendy pick following Olsen's extended no-hit bid last week, but the truth is, Olsen has always been quite talented, and even going into his start against Atlanta he hadn't allowed an earned run in thirteen innings. He's averaged a strikeout an inning over his last three starts and he'll be pitching in the friendly confines of Citi Field.
Back-Up Plan: Johnny Cueto (Reds) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Charlie Morton)
Wednesday, 5/12: Fausto Carmona (Indians) @ Kansas City Royals (Kyle Davies)
Carmona has posted quality starts in five of six appearances thusfar and is looking more and more like the kid who was a Cy Young candidate in 2007. Carmona is a groundball pitcher whose Achilles heel is the base on balls. That shouldn't be too much of a problem against K.C., a free-swinging lineup that's last in the AL in talking free passes.
Back-Up Plan: Chris Volstad (Marlins) @ Chicago Cubs (Carlos Silva)
Thursday, 5/13: C. J. Wilson (Rangers) v. Oakland Athletics (Gio Gonzalez)
In a pinch, I'd take either starter in this game, as Gio Gonzalez went a long way towards proving his reliability by posting a quality start (7 IP, 3 ER) against the ravenous Rays this past weekend. I'll still take Wilson, who boasts the second-best ERA in the American League among starting pitchers, and is better adjusted to the unfriendly confines of Arlington. Get 'em while they're hot. Both these guys will reach 100% ownership with a couple more good starts.
Back-Up Plan: Jhoulys Chacin (Rockies) v. Washington Nationals (Matt Chico)
Friday, 5/14: Justin Masterson (Indians) @ Baltimore Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie)
Masterson's another pitcher who should be owned in more leagues. His overall numbers don't look great (thanks to one truly awful start in Oakland), but he piles up strikeouts (10.4 K/9) and has shown the ability to pitch deep into games, even against quality lineups, in his last two starts against the Twins and Tigers (13 2/3 IP, 7 ER, 15 K).
Back-Up Plan: Cesar Valdez (D-Backs) @ Atlanta Braves (Kris Medlen)
Saturday, 5/15: Ian Kennedy (D-Backs) @ Atlanta Braves (Kenshin Kawakami)
The Braves, with the exception of Jason Heyward, are still having serious problems on offense. They rank 14th in the NL in scoring. The only regulars hitting above .250 are Heyward and Marin Prado, who's mired in a 2-for-25 slump. Kennedy, meanwhile, it starting to live up even to my high expectations. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the last week I get to advertise my excitement via The Stream Team. In his last four starts, Kennedy is 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP.
Back-Up Plan: Scott Feldman (Rangers) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Ricky Romero)
Sunday, 5/16: Brett Myers (Astros) @ San Francisco Giants (Barry Zito)
Not the safest matchup, by any means, what with Zito being basically unhittable thusfar, but Myers is having his own miniature Renaissance. He's made three consecutive quality starts and now has a 3.60 ERA for the season.
Back-Up Plan: Trevor Cahill (Athletics) @ Los Angeles Angels (Joel Pineiro)
Week Five Results:
Brett Cecil (@ Indians): W, 8 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K
Ian Kennedy (@ Astros): W, 6 2/3 IP, 8 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Fausto Carmona (v. Blue Jays): ND, 6 1/3 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K
Matt Harrison (v. Royals): ND, 5 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K
Justin Masterson (v. Tigers): ND, 6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
Jaime Garcia (@ Pirates): L, 6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
Anibal Sanchez (@ Nationals): ND, 4 1/3 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K
Week 5 Totals: 2-1, 2.76 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 35 K, 42 1/3 IP (38 H, 13 ER, 20 BB)
Brett Cecil flirted with a perfect game and ended up with eight innings of one-hit baseball and double-digit strikeouts. Combined with Ian Kennedy's impressive win over the Astros it was a pretty good way to start the week. Carmona, Masterson, and Garcia also pitched well enough to win, but were let down by their teammates. Things have gone quite well for me the last few weeks. If this were a standard 5X5 league, I'd be middle of the pack in most of the pitching categories, which is pretty impressive, considering I'm not using a single pitcher rostered on draft day.
2010 Totals: 12-9, 3.46 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 165 K, 216 IP (193 H, 83 ER, 82 BB)