Astros seem to be able to make any pitcher relevant

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Scott Pianowski
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Astros pitcher Wade Miley is suddenly back on the fantasy radar with Houston. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Astros pitcher Wade Miley is suddenly back on the fantasy radar with Houston. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

It’s easy to dismiss Wade Miley after a quick scan of his career stats. He’s three games under .500, an ERA of 4.20, WHIP of 1.38. Even in today’s world of Home Run Derby, those are not destination numbers.

And yet, Miley had a nifty 16-game run with the Brewers last year (2.57/1.22), even if it was somewhat smoke and mirrors. And now he’s with the special sauce kings of the majors, the Astros.

You always want to bet with the Astros.

Miley had his good stuff — although he took a tough loss — in Wednesday’s game against the Cubs (7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 9 K). Both of Chicago’s runs came on home runs (welcome back, Kris Bryant).

The home dates are the sweet spot for Miley this year. When he’s in Houston, smile, you’re at Wade Miley’s. He’s striking out more than a batter per inning at home, with a 2.23 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. The AL West is filled with ordinary opponents, and Minute Maid Park has been a pitcher’s yard for years (don’t let the Crawford Boxes fool you).

Even if the ERA estimators don’t buy Miley’s overall 3.25 number, there are some good things going on here. Miley’s bumped his strikeouts by 4.4 percent and trimmed his walks by 3.3 percent. His change has been a more effective pitch in 2019. Of this last nine starts, eight were fantasy useful (some of them outright beauties), and the bad one wasn’t that bad (six innings, four runs).

Miley’s next two starts are on the road — at Seattle (fine with me), then at Baltimore (a house of horrors for him in 2017, when he was on the Orioles). You’re on your own with that second start.

But Miley deserves, at minimum, preferred streamer status, and in the medium and deeper pools, he’s a grab-and-hold. Seek out those home starts. He’s a little under-repped in the Yahoo world, available in 56 percent of leagues.

Closer change possible in Anaheim?

A bunch of name relievers went off the reservation Wednesday in Oakland, with the Angels escaping with a 12-7 victory. Hansel Robles blew his second save in three chances, Blake Treinen worked a messy ninth, Lou Trivino had nothing (2 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K). Jagged numbers all over the place.

But let’s get a price check on Ty Buttrey, Anaheim’s set-up man. His dominant numbers (1.27 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 35 K in 28.1 innings) already had him fantasy-worthy, simply for the wipeout innings. But perhaps he’ll get a chance to work the ninth if Robles (4.26 ERA) can’t get right.

Buttrey is recommended for most leagues, simply for the bagels. But handshakes could easily be in his future. He’s unclaimed in 72 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. making noise

If you consider plate discipline standard for a fantasy pickup, Lourdes Gurriel won’t be for you. He’s a see-the-ball, hit-the-ball hacker, and he’s always going to strike out a lot. But exciting things happen when he connects.

Gurriel connected Wednesday at Tampa, taking Blake Snell deep (and shocking all 31 fans in attendance). Make it four homers for Gurriel and seven extra-base hits since his recall a week ago. He’s 10-for-23 over that span.

Gurriel is a reluctant base-stealer and his batting average will probably be in the .250-.265 range. But if you want some pop in the middle infield, he’s capable there. The Jays even used him in the No. 2 slot Wednesday, perhaps because of the lefty matchup, perhaps because of the hot bat. He’s grab-and-go in 62 percent of Yahoo leagues.

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