The catcher position can be a barren wasteland. Unless you’ve got one of the top catchers, you’re left guessing what to do with the position.
My strategy in many leagues is to wait until the last round if I don’t get one of the top guys. If you can properly use that extra spot, some people go catcher-less, a legitimate strategy in a head-to-head league. But in a roto league, you’re missing valuable production by leaving it empty. So if you missed out on the cream of the crop and need help addressing the problem, look no further. This article will look at the best streaming-caliber catchers for the week ahead.
Who Are the Catchers?
First, we have to rule out any widely owned catcher. For this list, it means anyone over 50% rostered (according to Yahoo). The ineligible catchers are J.T. Realmuto, Will Smith, Willson Contreras, Salvador Perez, Daulton Varsho, Tyler Stephenson(IL), Keibert Ruiz, Travis d’Arnaud, Adley Rutschman, Yasmani Grandal, Gary Sánchez, Christian Vázquez, William Contreras, MJ Melendez, Alejandro Kirk, and Mitch Garver(IL). That’s SIXTEEN catchers.
I’m going to say this now — if you’re in a 12-team league or fewer, don’t stream right now. Try trading for someone’s backup instead of diving in the bargain bin for the players who meet my threshold. But we’re going to go ahead anyway.
Who is Eligible?
So who is left? Jonah Heim, Sean Murphy, Elias Díaz, Yadier Molina, Omar Narváez, Jacob Stallings, Tucker Barnhart, Austin Nola, Francisco Mejía, Austin Barnes, Eric Haase, Luis Torrens, Max Stassi, Jorge Alfaro, Yan Gomes, Gabriel Moreno, Ryan Jeffers, Kyle Higashioka, Jose Trevino, and more. That extensive list will change throughout the year and should give us ample opportunity to find value. If you have questions about those players, please shoot me a tweet; I’m happy to discuss.
Honestly, considering the 50%+ rostered catchers, chances are you already have one of these guys. On the other hand, maybe you took a flier late in the draft and are still debating whether to hold someone like Austin Nola. Maybe you drafted Yadier Molina but didn’t feel confident he’d return to his old self.
I say this every year, but this year’s version of catcher streaming feels so much harder, with so many of my favorite guys on the prohibited list. But, as the season wears on, guys will get dropped, players will emerge, and streaming should become more and more necessary.
Reviewing Last Week
I outlined guidelines for determining streaming a “win” in years past, and I’ll leave these up here each week as a reminder.
- When we stream a catcher, we’re not expecting multiple home runs, so a guy hitting .250 is helpful, and I’ll consider that a plus. Anything over .300 is a super plus and a near-automatic win. We must keep in mind the number of plate appearances — under 10 PA diminishes that boost.
- Home runs have a significant impact. If you get two homers from the catcher position, it’s a guaranteed win unless the catcher bats under the Mendoza line. However, a catcher can still be a streaming win without home runs if other factors exist.
- Counting stats (R+RBI) is the lowest stat consideration because you’re not expecting them from your catcher, and they’re a nice bonus.
The playing time was a little bit lighter than expected. However, he’s made the most of his ABs by smashing two extra-base hits(including one HR on Tuesday). And that was one of the main factors for choosing Heim as our 12-team streamer. Furthermore, the counting stats we were looking for are there. I supposed when six of your nine batted balls are hard-hits(batted balls over 95-mph), good things will follow. Win!
Quite the opposite for Stassi, as he started five of the team’s six games and pinch-hit the other. If playing time didn’t stifle his production, what did? Well, the first issue would be his 31.8% K-rate. Additionally, the lack of contact in the zone(75% Z-Contact%) didn’t help our cause. Lastly, the 60% ground ball rate and 10% hard-hit rate will crush your dreams of being a viable streaming option. Loss!
Dave Swan’s Streaming Record: 6-12
Notes & Transactions From Week 10
- The Toronto Blue Jays placed Danny Jansen back on the IL. The team promoted Zack Collins for a brief cup of coffee before optioning him back down to Triple-A for one of their top prospects Gabriel Moreno. For those unfamiliar with Moreno, he’s a very athletic catcher who can swipe a base and take one deep. Although, his ability to make contact should make for a well-above-average batting average. Moreno should be on your fantasy radar.
- The Cincinnati Reds placed Tyler Stephenson on the IL, but the injury will take several(4-6 weeks) to heal. For now, the team is utilizing Aramis Garcia and Chris Okey. Garcia got some playing time when Stephenson hit the shelf after that nasty concussion, but he’s only viable in two-catcher leagues.
- On Friday, the Texas Rangers placed Mitch Garver on the COVID IL. Garver has spent all his time at DH, and the team will continue to utilize Jonah Heim and Sam Huff in similar usage patterns. Until Garver’s return, we should expect a 75/25 split in favor of Heim.
- The Tampa Bay Rays placed Mike Zunino on the IL. In his place, René Pinto will serve as the backup to Francisco Mejía. We should see a bump in playing time for Mejía, but the Rays don’t use him in back-to-back games(at catcher). Furthermore, with six road games in the upcoming week, I wouldn’t expect more than four games started.
- The Milwaukee Brewers placed Alex Jackson on the IL and activated Omar Narváez from the COVID IL. Before the IL stint, Narváez was enjoying a 121 wRC+ but showcasing a bit less pop(2 HR) than expected. Still, his solid batting average will help in 15-team and two-catcher formats. However, Victor Caratini has been contributing as well. Narváez will sit for at least two games this upcoming week while two southpaws take the mound.
- Sadly, Joey Bart was optioned to the minors after 108 PAs with a .156/.296/.300 slash line resulting in an 81 wRC+. The Giants will lean into Curt Casali and newly-acquired Austin Wynns, and both are only relevant in two-catcher or NL-only formats.
- The Chicago Cubs activated Yan Gomes from the 10-day IL. However, the team elected to keep both backup catchers on the MLB roster since P.J. Higgins has produced so well(.922 OPS in 43 PA). Should Higgins continue to perform well, the Cubs could look to move one of Gomes or Willson Contreras, and this makes Gomes extremely challenging to pick up.
- The Arizona Diamondbacks activated Carson Kelly from the IL. He’s been recovering from an oblique injury that’s knocked him out since early May. Before the injury, Kelly was uncharacteristically striking out over 30% of the time and showing no pop(.071 ISO). He should serve as the team’s primary catcher, with Jose Herrera as the backup and Daulton Varsho grabbing a start here and there.
- Most Dropped! Last week, Yasmani Grandal (-5%) sat on Saturday with an apparent leg injury. But it’s a little more than the injury as his production has been WAY down. No one expected two HRs and a 61 wRC+ out of Grandal at this point of the season.
- Most Added! MJ Melendez (+20%) smashed two HRs this week. Additionally, he plays every day. Sometimes at catcher, sometimes at DH, and even sometimes in the outfield.
- Who’s Hot (and under 20% rostered)!
- Colorado Watch! The Rockies get six games at home this week, and Elias Díaz and Brian Serven are back in the mix.
Week 11 Streamers
If the main streamer is not on your waiver wire, there will be a streamer for 12 or 15-team leagues and additional options. Let’s examine players who might provide added value for the upcoming week:
Going back to the well with Heim? You betcha! He’s been about at consistent as they come from a catcher stream. Furthermore, he’s batting in the heart of the Rangers’ offense that’s REALLY starting to pick up steam. But what has me genuinely interested in the lack of strikeouts(19.7% K-rate) and added quality of contact(9.7% barrel rate and .216 ISO).
Also, Texas draws seven games this week. Given that Garver will likely be out of the lineup as well, it’s not difficult to imagine Heim sees well over 20 ABs….and that’s even with two DANGs(Day After Night Games).
So, how is Heim going to stream us a W? I’m not exactly expecting an HR due to the matchups in Globe Life and at Comerica. Instead, we need Heim to rack up counting stats(R+RBI) and continue putting balls in play for a decent batting average.
There is some inherent risk in Narváez because he’s fresh off the COVID IL, and Milwaukee has a solid backup. However, there aren’t going to be many deeper league options with this type of batting average floor. While we haven’t seen the power, that could also have been because Narváez only played in the colder months, when the ball was zapping power. By now, we’ve all seen offense clawing its way back from the depths of extinction.
In the upcoming week, Milwaukee plays a three-game set @NYM, followed by a helpful three-game set @CIN. Additionally, there are no DANGs that lie ahead. So, from a playing time standpoint, I’m expecting four(hopefully not three) games from Narváez.
What are our streaming expectations? Narváez shouldn’t be expected to take one deep but rather collect plenty of hits and chip in some counting stats. But, hey, those final three games in the park giving up the most HRs in the MLB wouldn’t be a bad spot for Omar to add to his HR total.
Each week, I’ll add a ten-player list of potential streamers by weekly rank. For example, if Jonah Heim is already rostered in your 12-team league, the next in line should be Austin Nola, and so on down the list. 15-team leagues are much deeper, so attention to Roster% is added to the process. If a 12-team player is available, they are considered the player before the 15-team streamer. Lastly, the Roster% is based on Yahoo leagues. Note: I’ve added 10-team streamers and two-catcher league streamers after getting requests.
|MJ Melendez (KCR)||55%|
|Keibert Ruiz (WSH)||70%|
|Gary Sánchez (MIN)||62%|
|Christian Vázquez (BOS)||58%|
|Adley Rutschman (BAL)||60%|
|Yasmani Grandal (CHW)||65%|
|Jonah Heim (TEX)||41%|
|Austin Nola (SDP)||14%|
|Sean Murphy (OAK)||46%|
|Elias Díaz (COL)||11%|
|Gabriel Moreno (TOR)||27%|
|Omar Narváez (MIL)||10%|
|Cal Raleigh (SEA)||4%|
|Max Stassi (LAA)||4%|
|Jose Trevino (NYY)||15%|
|Yadier Molina (STL)||10%|
|Francisco Mejía (TBR)||4%|
|Christian Bethancourt (OAK)||2%|
|Jacob Stallings (MIA)||2%|
|Brian Serven (COL)||0%|
|Aramis Garcia (CIN)||0%|
|10-team Streamers (less than 70%)|
|12-team Streamers (less than 50%)|
|15-team Streamers (less than 20%)|
|Two-C Streamers (less than 5%)|
Featured image by Jacob Roy (@Jake3Roy on Twitter)