The middle tier has been generally bereft of options these past few weeks, and having a mere four options this week makes planning your fantasy pitching options more difficult than can be recalled over the past few seasons. Thankfully, there are still a number of ace-type arms to turn to in the top group, but the lack of middle tier hurlers means that the bottom group is expansive. This may lead to some desperate actions to collect innings if your league settings demand, but chose carefully if you cast about in the lower depths of two-start options. The streaming options are not plentiful, either as we head into middle August, but at least those profiled have some positive attributes to make them attractive as short-term solutions for pitching staff bolstering. Once you have perused the SP details, why not take a peek at some of our other excellent fantasy information on the Fantasy Alarm site? It has been mentioned that fantasy football draft season is upon us.

 Start 'em If You Own 'em 
Starting Pitcher1st Start/Opponent/Date2nd Start/Opponent/Date
Luis Castillo@ CHW vs. KC 
 SEATouki ToussaintAlec Marsh
 Mon, 8/21, 8:10 PM Sun, 8/27, 4:10 PM 
Zac Gallenvs. TEX vs. CIN 
 ARIJon GrayAndrew Abbott
 Tue, 8/22, 9:40 PM Sun, 8/27, 4:10 PM 
Blake Snellvs. MIA @ MIL 
 SDJohnny CuetoAdrian Houser
 Mon, 8/21, 9:40 PM Sun, 8/27, 2:10 PM 
Bobby Miller@ CLE @ BOS 
 LADNoah SyndergaardNick Pivetta
 Tue, 8/22, 7:10 PM Sun, 8/27, 1:35 PM 
Jordan Montgomery@ ARI @ MIN 
 TEXJoe MantiplyBailey Ober
 Mon, 8/21, 9:40 PM Sun, 8/27, 2:10 PM 
Yusei Kikuchi@ BAL vs. CLE 
 TORGrayson RodriguezNoah Syndergaard
 Tue, 8/22, 7:05 PM Sun, 8/27, 1:37 PM 
Grayson Rodriguezvs. TOR vs. COL 
 BALYusei KikuchiTy Blach
 Tue, 8/22, 7:05 PM Sun, 8/27, 1:35 PM 
Aaron Civalevs. COL vs. NYY 
 TBTy BlachCarlos Rodon
 Tue, 8/22, 6:40 PM Sun, 8/27, 1:40 PM 
Graham Ashcraft@ LAA @ ARI 
 CINLucas GiolitoJoe Mantiply
 Mon, 8/21, 9:38 PM Sat, 8/26, 8:10 PM 
Paul Blackburnvs. KC @ CHW 
 OAKAngel ZerpaMike Clevinger
 Tue, 8/22, 9:40 PM Sun, 8/27, 2:10 PM 

These ten hurlers are the best of those pitchers scheduled to make the trip to center of the diamond twice in Week 21. Although it may seem odd to rely on a starter from the pitiful Oakland franchise, Blackburn has been dealing of late, and the matchups this scoring period are favorable. Wind them up and let them go if you own any of these pitchers.

 Maybe Yes, Maybe No 
Starting Pitcher1st Start/Opponent/Date2nd Start/Opponent/Date
Andrew Abbott@ LAA @ ARI 
 CINReid DetmersZac Gallen
 Tue, 8/22, 9:38 PM Sun, 8/27, 4:10 PM 
Mike Clevingervs. SEA vs. OAK 
 CHWGeorge KirbyPaul Blackburn
 Tue, 8/22, 8:10 PM Sun, 8/27, 2:10 PM 
Javier Assad@ DET @ PIT 
 CHCAlex FaedoBailey Falter
 Mon, 8/21, 6:40 PM Sat, 8/26, 7:15 PM 
Alex Faedovs. CHC vs. HOU 
 DETJavier AssadJose Urquidy
 Mon, 8/21, 6:40 PM Sun, 8/27, 1:40 PM 

Andrew Abbott, the rookie southpaw, has limited opposing offenses to just two earned runs in each of his last outings. He continues to rack up the strikeouts, and facing the Angels to open Week 21 looks promising on that front. He has been able to keep the ball in the park better on the road, not a big surprise given his home park in Cincy. His peripherals hint that his superb ratios could take a hit at some point, but currently a 2.99 ERA and 1.12 WHIP coupled with a 9.7 K/9 through his 81.1 IP make him an attractive dual start option this scoring period.

Mike Clevinger has been sharp since he returned to action after dealing with bicep inflammation. In his four starts since July 29, he has posted a stellar 1.57 ERA and 0.96 WHIP through 23.0 IP. He has been picking up the rate on swings and misses over his last two trips to the hill, collecting 13 Ks over those 13.0 IP. He has two home games on the slate, and he has been exceptional when toeing the rubber in his home park this season.

Javier Assad is doing his best to make claim on a rotation spot, having dealt two consecutive quality starts (QS) over his last two trips to climb the hill. He has given up just three earned tallies over those 13.0 IP, although he is not much of a strikeout artist, with just six Ks over that span. He has two road starts lined up, but his home/road splits indicate that to be a strength for the second-year right-hander, and neither matchup is particularly fear-inducing.

Alex Faedo gets to take on Assad in the first game the two pitchers are scheduled to take the mound in Week 21. Also a second-year righty SP, Faedo has been effective since being recalled to the big leagues, facing the Twins twice for no-decisions. He is a better potential source for Ks than the Cub pitcher (11:3 K/BB over his last 9.2 IP), and he looks to be ready to start stretching out his arm to pitch deeper into contests as a member of the Detroit starting staff.

 Not On My Roster 
Starting Pitcher1st Start/Opponent/Date2nd Start/Opponent/Date
Bryce Eldervs. NYM @ SF 
 ATLDavid PetersonTBD
 Mon, 8/21, 7:20 PM Sun, 8/27, 7:10 PM
Johan Oviedovs. STL vs. CHC 
 PITAdam WainwrightDrew Smyly
 Tue, 8/22, 7:05 PM Sun, 8/27, 1:35 PM 
Kutter Crawford@ HOU vs. LAD 
 BOSJ.P. FranceTony Gonsolin
 Thu, 8/24, 2:10 PM Sat, 8/26, 4:10 PM 
Matthew Liberatore@ PIT @ PHI 
 STLBailey FalterTaijuan Walker
 Mon, 8/21, 7:05 PM Sun, 8/27, 1:35 PM 
Drew Smyly@ DET @ PIT 
 CHCReese OlsonJohan Oviedo
 Tue, 8/22, 6:40 PM Sun, 8/27, 1:35 PM 
Noah Syndergaardvs. LAD @ TOR 
 CLEBobby MillerYusei Kikuchi
 Tue, 8/22, 7:10 PM Sun, 8/27, 1:37 PM 
Johnny Cueto@ SD vs. WAS 
 MIABlake SnellTrevor Williams
 Mon, 8/21, 9:40 PM Sun, 8/27, 1:40 PM 
Touki Toussaintvs. SEA vs. OAK 
 CHWLuis CastilloTBD
 Mon, 8/21, 8:10 PM Sat, 8/26, 7:10 PM
Alec Marsh@ OAK @ SEA 
 KCTBDLuis Castillo
 Mon, 8/21, 9:40 PMSun, 8/27, 4:10 PM 
Bailey Faltervs. STL vs. CHC 
 PITMatthew LiberatoreJavier Assad
 Mon, 8/21, 7:05 PM Sat, 8/26, 7:15 PM 
Joe Mantiplyvs. TEX vs. CIN 
 ARIJordan MontgomeryGraham Ashcraft
 Mon, 8/21, 9:40 PM Sat, 8/26, 8:10 PM 
Ty Blach@ TB @ BAL 
 COLAaron CivaleGrayson Rodriguez
 Tue, 8/22, 6:40 PM Sun, 8/27, 1:35 PM 
Nick Pivettavs. LAD vs. LAD 
 BOSJulio UriasBobby Miller
 Fri, 8/25, 7:10 PM Sun, 8/27, 1:35 PM 
Bailey Ober@ MIL vs. TEX 
 MINWade MileyJordan Montgomery
 Tue, 8/22, 8:10 PM Sun, 8/27, 2:10 PM 
Jose Urquidyvs. BOS @ DET 
 HOUJames PaxtonAlex Faedo
 Mon, 8/21, 8:10 PM Sun, 8/27, 1:40 PM 
Taijuan Walkervs. SF vs. STL 
 PHITBDMatthew Liberatore
 Mon, 8/21, 6:40 PMSun, 8/27, 1:35 PM 
Carlos Rodonvs. WAS @ TB 
 NYYJosiah GrayAaron Civale
 Tue, 8/22, 7:05 PM Sun, 8/27, 1:40 PM 

There are certain bottom tier arms that hold some potential value, such as those arms starting against teams buried in the standings: Oakland, Washington, Pittsburgh or St. Louis. Overall, though, these pitchers should just be left on the bench or as free agents that will not sully your pitching staff.

Potential Streaming Options for Week 21

There is no promise that each game day will provide a streaming option. First of all, the pitcher must be available in at least 50% of leagues to be a viable candidate to snag off the wire. Then, the pitchers discussed above are not included as they have a different sort of value, even though some might be available as free agents in your league. Plus, some days the matchups and/or venues just do not figure as positive enough factors to favor plugging the arm into your rotation, even for one start. That all being said, here are this week’s best streaming candidates:

Zack Littell, Tampa Bay Rays vs Colorado Rockies

The Tampa righty seems locked in to the Rays’ rotation, now that Shane McClanahan is going to be out for the balance of the season with Tommy John surgery (TJS) on his horizon. He has been pitching well in the starter role, posting a stellar 2.78 ERA and 0.97 WHIP over his last 22.2 IP, with superb control allowing just a single free pass over that stretch. The Ks are pedestrian, though, with just 15 to his credit over those four starts. He gets a home matchup against a team that struggles mightily on the road.

Zack Thompson, St. Louis Cardinals @ Pittsburgh Pirates

The 25-year-old southpaw has moved into the Cards’ rotation, and acquitted himself well in his first trip to the mound in that new role, holding the Mets to just two runs and collecting five Ks over his 5.0 IP, although he was saddled with the loss in this effort. While pitching mainly in relief, he has been able to miss plenty of bats, posting an attractive 12.2 K/9 rate through his 30.0 IP to date. 

Jose Quintana, New York Mets @ Atlanta Braves

The veteran lefthander has been quietly and consistently pitching well, aside from allowing too many walks. The walks (3.5 BB/9 through his six starts) are pushing his WHIP up near worrisome range at 1.26, while his effectiveness at keeping runners from scoring is delivering a useful 3.03 ERA this season so far. The K rate is at the lower end of useful, too, sitting at 6.3 K/9. More bad news: road game against the best team in the majors. Still, he does know how to pitch and keep his team in the game, a useful set of qualities for a streaming option.

Brandon Williamson Cincinnati Reds @ ARI Brandon Pfaadt

Here is a game where either side of the pitching matchup has some value for streaming purposes. The Cincy SP is an average K producer (7.8 K/9 through his 81.0 IP) but is coming off a QS and would have a pair to showcase had he been able to get one more out against the Marlins in a home victory. The Diamondbacks’ rookie righty is settling in to his role in the Arizona rotation, racking up a 20:5 K/BB ratio over his last three trips atop the hill. He also allowed eight earned tallies over that stretch of 17.1 IP, so the picture is not all roses and rainbows and he was charged with two losses in those contests along with a no decision. The development as a rookie hurler, though, is encouraging.

Jesse Scholtens, Chicago White Sox vs Oakland Athletics

The rookie Southsider righty has tossed three consecutive quality starts, yet only has a 0-2 record to demonstrate for those fine efforts on the bump. He struck out 17 over those 18.1 IP, and posted a stellar 2.95 ERA and 1.09 WHIP over that stretch. Pitching at home against the woeful A’s is too tempting to pass up if you are seeking a streamer midweek.

Cole Irvin, Baltimore Orioles vs Colorado Rockies

Irvin returned to the Oriole rotation with a no-decision against the host Mariners, and with Baltimore shifting to a six-man rotation, it looks as though the southpaw is going to be trotting out to toe the rubber regularly. He has a nice matchup here, as the Rockies are nowhere near a road warrior type of team. His 8.5 K/9 rate should play well against the Colorado lineup, the third most prolific K producing offense this season to date.

Dakota Hudson, St. Louis Cardinals @ Philadelphia Phillies

It is hard to argue with using a starter who has won all three of his starts since rejoining the rotation as Hudson has, so despite the tough venue and opponent, he is worthy of streaming consideration in this contest. He is mediocre choice if you seek big K numbers, but he also does not hurt himself with excessive free passes during his time on the hill.

Hyun Jin Ryu, Toronto Blue Jays vs Cleveland Guardians

The veteran lefty is coming back from TJS, and has been quickly settling back in as a member of the Blue Jay rotation, allowing zero earned runs over his last two outings (two runs allowed total over those 9.0 IP). The matchup is a good one, as the Guardians struggle away from Cleveland. The downside to using him is that he is likely on a limited pitch count for the foreseeable future, coming off major surgery and all.