Fantasy Baseball

Fantasy Baseball Streaming Guide: Six Pack to Success

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No matter your draft strategy in regards to pitching, streaming is an important aspect of winning in any fantasy baseball format. I’m going to help you learn out to stream in my Fantasy Baseball Streaming Guide.

In season-long leagues, it’s not always about finding the 2018 Luis Severino or 2019 Lucas Giolito late in drafts. That weekly quality-start you get from a player that will never find his way on a permanent fantasy roster can win you a weekly matchup or bolster some counting stats in rotisserie leagues.

Look at it from a daily fantasy sports (DFS) standpoint. The aptitude to find a starter that will cost you half as much as the chalky ace of the night can allow you to spend higher on superstar hitters.

The purpose of this article is to highlight the major ingredients for selecting streamers that might not be obvious. I’ve listed six vital rules to achieve semi-consistent success when streaming starters!

Fantasy Baseball Streaming Guide

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Rule 1: Don’t pay as much attention to batter versus pitcher (BvP) data.

In Tom Tango’s ‘The Book’ (first of many references), it is said that hundreds of plate appearances are needed in order to decide whether or not a trend can be determined in regards to one batter’s chances against a pitcher. Show me any player who has ‘hundreds’ of PAs against a pitcher in today’s game and I will show you a picture of me in a leopard-printed leotard prancing around a nightclub.

SPOILER: It doesn’t exist. (I promise about the picture at least.)

I’m sure there are some cases where a certain batter just has a pitcher’s ‘number’, but that’s more of a mental aspect of the game. Not really something that can be predicted by us fantasy players. If you are like me, you aren’t doing hours of research just to figure out who to pick up. I wouldn’t waste time on BvP when the other information to come is so much more useful.

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Rule 2: Avoid selecting pitchers primarily because they are in a ‘hot streak’.

So stop me when you hear something you haven’t done before – you are looking through the waiver wire to replace an injured or underperforming player. You filter the stats/points/whatever-the-hell-you-look-at to show ‘last 15/30 days’ to see who is catching fire. Then, right as you pick the player who is ‘on fire’ up and throw said player in your starting lineup, BOOM, they put up a stinker. Why, you ask, must I curse this player?

It’s called natural fallback, people. Remember that this player was on the waiver wire for a reason, as their stats previous to their ‘hot streak’ probably looked like a ‘hibernation’ of sorts.

Rule 3: Utilize batted ball data to your advantage.

‘The Book’ is spoon-feeding us this one – fly-ball pitchers dominate fly-ball hitters and ground-ball pitchers dominate ground-ball hitters. As you would infer from the previous statement, ground-ball hitters would dominate fly-ball pitchers and fly-ball hitters would dominate ground-ball pitchers. Use this to your advantage when selecting or avoiding streamers!

A good example of a player with extreme batted ball data would be Reynaldo Lopez, who has run high fly-ball rates for the last three years. In three starts against the Indians in 2019, Lopez pitched extremely well, going 23 innings and giving up just five earned runs with 19 strikeouts.

At a first glance across the waiver wire, you’d look at Lopez’s ERA and how bad of a fantasy matchup the Indians are against pitchers. However, the Indians have one of the highest fly-ball percentages in the league and have many players shooting for the stars (who isn’t nowadays). Lopez achieved a quality start in each of those three outings.

When you are looking at matchups, it’s easy to say ‘oh, just start the decent pitcher against the Orioles’ based on some statistics like team wOBA. However, if you aren’t analyzing batted ball data, you are potentially missing out on the best streaming options available.

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Rule 4: Don’t ever ignore the platoon splits.

Remember that I am strictly speaking of waiver wire pitchers. There aren’t going to be many waiver wire pitchers who pitch as well against their opposite-handed batters as they do when facing the same-handed hitters. If that’s the case, just count your blessings because you are in a league of fantasy-challenged folk!

Nah, this article isn’t for the faint of heart. You have gotta want to embrace the opportunity when Pablo Lopez faces a right-hand heavy lineup like the Cardinals! Don’t be afraid to throw a decent left-handed streamer against a team like the Texas Rangers.

Don’t ignore the platoon statistics – they just may separate two close options in free agency.

Rule 5: Ballparks can be the deciding factor.

The best way to incorporate ballpark factors is to project the batted ball data of a pitcher in the ballpark. If a ground-ball hurler finds himself starting a game in Cincinnati, it’s not really going to matter that Great American Ballpark plays to the long ball. If fly-ball-inducing Caleb Smith is starting that game, it suddenly matters quite a bit.

The next thing to do is to look at which parks play well for handedness of hitter. If you have a right-handed pitcher slated to start at Yankee Stadium, the short porch could be deadly. On the other hand, streaming southpaws at AT&T Park in San Francisco could be advantageous.

Additionally, ‘ballparks’ in the sense of NL or AL makes a big difference considering the ongoing DH debate. I would be foolish to not at least mention that aspect as an important factor. I wouldn’t put all my stock in it. But, if I’ve narrowed it down to two players and one is in an NL park, bingo.

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Rule 6: Don’t go all in because he could ‘get the win’, but pay attention to the bullpen.

Whoa, that rhymed on many fronts!

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen someone burned because they are going for the win. You aren’t going to roll Randy Dobnak out every time the Twins have an easier opponent. Some guys are just to bad to stream, regardless of the team they pitch for or the opponent they face. Getting a win won’t be able to overcome whatever damage they allowed in the form of runs, hits, walks, etc.

However, teams with elite bullpens can bump up fringe starters on any given day. A clear example of this would be the backend of the starting rotation in San Diego. With five or six guys that could be above-average to elite relief arms, the Padres have a great chance of winning games where their starter gives them a lead after 6 innings. This would favor someone like Joey Lucchesi who is typically getting pulled in the sixth inning. The bullpen can bail him out of jams and straight-up shut down the opposition in the final innings.

Summary

When selecting streamers, here’s a narrowed down checklist to ensure success:


  • How does the pitcher fare in platoon splits? Do the platoon splits of the projected matchup line up with the pitcher’s strengths?
  • What does the historical batted ball data look like for the pitcher in question? How does that batted ball data pertain to the opposing team and ballpark?
  • Does the manager use the pitcher correctly in combination with a great-to-elite bullpen?
  • Will the pitcher be starting a game in an NL park, thus erasing the designated hitter?
  • Quash the importance of BvP stats due to small sample size.
  • Avoid selecting a guy just because of his recent hot streak.

By following this guide, streaming starters can become more of an art/hobby and less of a pain!


Check out the rest of our great Fantasy Baseball content as the season approaches.

About Tyler Thompson

Follow me on Twitter at @therealwody. For all the latest news and best advice out there, like us on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

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