Fantasy Baseball Strategies: Streaming Pitchers in Fantasy Baseball

To Stream or Not to Stream on Your Fantasy Baseball Team

No baseball team, fantasy baseball team or inner city little league team coached by Keanu Reeves has a pitching staff comprised only of aces and pitchers with 200+ strikeouts and a sub 3.00 ERA. Just like a manager in the MLB, a fantasy team manager will have to start a questionable pitcher from time to time in order to help them with strikeouts, wins and to some extent, WHIP and ERA.

However, unlike in the MLB, a fantasy baseball manager has the entire league at his or her disposal and any pitcher on the waiver wire can be added to their rotation in an instant. This is where “streaming” comes in with fantasy baseball. Streaming is the strategy of picking up a pitcher from your fantasy baseball league waiver wire for the purpose of only making one start and then immediately dropping them afterwards.

Livan Hernandez

Often pitchers from the Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals are available to be streamed.
Often pitchers from the Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals are available to be streamed. | Source

Risk vs. Reward

Streaming in fantasy baseball can be risky business (not as risky as running a brothel out of your parent’s house while they’re on vacation, but risky none the less) and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. “Necessary” meaning your fantasy baseball team has a pitching staff only a mother could love or the season is winding down and you have to go all out.

Why is streaming risky? Well, first of all, in order to pick up a pitcher off your waiver wire, you will have to drop another player from your team. It may not be an easy choice as to who to drop and making the wrong decision could come back to bite you if another team immediately adds that player and that player turns out to be the next Babe Ruth.

So, as that knight in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade once said, “Choose wisely.” Make sure it is a player that isn’t just on a cold streak but rather one that has consistently underperformed throughout the season.

This could become a non-issue if you master the art of streaming in fantasy baseball as you’ll simply be dropping the pitcher you streamed the previous day, ad nauseum. But, baby steps, my friend.

Top Tier They Ain't ...

Another inherent streaming risk is that, obviously, for one reason or another, the pitcher you are picking up must not be Cy Young material if he isn’t on anyone else’s fantasy baseball team.

It isn’t as if Tim Lincecum and CC Sabathia are available. No sir. The pitchers on your fantasy baseball league waiver wire are likely bottom-of-the-barrel, back-end-of-the-rotation types. Some may be good for strikeouts, while others may have a good WHIP or Home/Road splits, but none will be completely well-rounded and all are consistently inconsistent.

Therefore by potentially helping one scoring category, you may ruin another one or more. Six of one, half dozen of the other. A horse a piece. Colloquialisms, etc. Anything is possible when you stream in fantasy baseball, and unless you are Miss Cleo, it’s hard to predict the results.

But, by doing research, using helpful fantasy baseball advice websites and scrolling down another inch, you’ll know what to look for when choosing a pitcher.

Streaming in Fantasy Baseball

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The Keys to Streaming in Fantasy Baseball

The Pitcher

As previously discussed, no pitcher eligible for streaming in fantasy baseball is going to be great. But, some are so bad that they wouldn’t even make the Bad News Bears of fantasy teams. What you will particularly want to watch out for are pitchers with very high WHIPs. If their WHIP is high (anything over 1.60 or so), that just means more base runners, which means more opportunity for runs to hurt your ERA and less likelihood to get a win. That’s what we in fantasy baseball call a hot mess or lose/lose/lose situation.

In theory, if a pitcher doesn’t appear in the Top 20 or so available in your league, it’s probably best to avoid them.

The Matchup

When scouring your fantasy baseball waiver wire, look for the pitcher facing the worst offense. The more awful the better. A great offense can make a great pitcher crumble, so imagine what it might do to a pitcher eligible for streaming. Zoinks!

ESPN, as well as plenty of other websites, offers up-to-date baseball stats able to show you where an offense ranks amongst the rest in the MLB. Try to keep away from any offense in the Top 20 if possible, and if the offense is in the Top 10, you’ll probably want to avoid that pitcher.

Also, if you can find a pitcher that pitches on a team with a great offense, you will want to go in that direction as there is more potential for run support and a win for the pitcher and your fantasy baseball team.

Jon Garland

San Diego Padres are great for streaming since they pitch at PETCO Park.
San Diego Padres are great for streaming since they pitch at PETCO Park. | Source

The Stadium

In terms of the stadium, a couple of aspects come into play. First off, you will want to know how the pitcher performs at home and on the road. For whatever reason, some pitchers are better away from their home ballpark, whereas some are terrible on the road.

After that, you’ll need to research whether the stadium is a “hitter’s park” or “pitcher’s park”. Due to deep dimensions, expansive outfield gaps or weather, some stadiums lend themselves to giving up less runs whereas others have shorter outfield fences or thin air that help the ball carry for home runs. Most West coast stadiums are considered pitcher friendly, with the exception of Arizona and Colorado, while most East coast stadiums are hitter friendly, with the exception of Citi Field and Turner Field.

Your Gut

If you’ve researched all the available pitchers on your fantasy baseball league’s waiver wire, know your MLB offenses and know which stadiums are pitcher friendly and still can’t find a great pitcher to stream, or if multiple pitchers meet all the necessary requirements, then go with your gut. Sometimes fantasy baseball is no more complicated than that.

You never know when a terrible pitcher may have his best stuff going and shut down the New York Yankees. Anything is possible in baseball, so, why not fantasy baseball. When it comes to streaming in fantasy baseball, you have to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya?

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