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(IL), Daulton Varsho, Tyler Stephenson (IL), Keibert Ruiz, Travis d’Arnaud, Adley Rutschman, Yasmani Grandal(IL), Gary Sánchez, Christian Vázquez, and Alejandro Kirk. That’s THIRTEEN 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, William Contreras, MJ Melendez, Sean Murphy, Elias Díaz, 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, if other factors exist, a catcher can still be a streaming win without home runs.
- Counting stats (R+RBI) is the lowest stat consideration because you’re not expecting them from your catcher, and they’re a nice bonus.
Big week, and even the holy grail (1 SB). We were expecting the counting stats to come in since he bats in the heart of the lineup and the HR is the chef’s kiss for the W. Furthermore, his productive week came on the back of hitting the ball hard (45% hard-hit rate and 10% barrel rate).
The batting average south of .200 is a bit upsetting; however, some underlying metrics make me less worried. First, eight of his 12 batted ball events were hit over 95 mph (66% hard-hit rate). That’s REALLY good contact! Second, he’s kept the strikeouts mostly at bay (25% K rate). The biggest issue was his 58% ground ball rate. Nonetheless, the HR and counting stats give us the W.
Dave Swan’s Streaming Record: 11-14
Notes & Transactions From Week 13
- The Seattle Mariners placed Luis Torrens on the 1o-day IL and purchased the contract of veteran backstop Andrew Knapp. He’ll play a backup role to Cal Raleigh, who starts a majority of the games. Additionally, if you’re holding onto Tom Murphy in an IL slot, go ahead and drop him. The team moved Murphy to the 60-day IL.
- The Miami Marlins optioned Willians Astudillo to the minors. Furthermore, the team is rolling with Jacob Stallings and Nick Fortes. Stallings is still the primary catcher but Forte is getting more playing time recently, and rightfully so as he’s touting a .393 wOBA and 158 wRC+ in June.
- The Cincinnati Reds optioned Chris Okey in favor of Michael Papierski. Since activation, Papierski has started all three games. However, Tyler Stephenson is expected to be back much quicker than anticipated and will return to his starting role.
- The San Francisco Giants gave Yermín Mercedes a very brief look as he DH’d on Wednesday (6/29). He was optioned to the Triple-A following that game.
- The Washington Nationals optioned Riley Adams, who was struggling defensively and striking out nearly 30% of the time. Instead, the team recalled Tres Barrera to fill the backup catcher role.
- The Cleveland Indians placed primary catcher Austin Hedges was placed on the 7-day IL. With playing time needed, the team will utilize a blend of Sandy León and Luke Maile. Additionally, neither catcher is fantasy relevant.
- The Houston Astros catchers have been lousy this season, and losing Jason Castro to the IL might not help. Although, taking Castro’s spot will be Korey Lee, an athletic former first-round pick. In 270 Triple-A at-bats, Lee has ten HRs and six SB but a wRC+ that’s 30 points lower than league average. Martín Maldonado will continue as the primary catcher.’
- Pedro Severino of the Milwaukee Brewers is eligible to return from his 80-game suspension on Sunday. Furthermore, it’ll be interesting to see where he fits as the team already carries two viable catchers (Omar Narváez and Victor Caratini).
- Injury Updates!
- Salvador Perez (KCR) is expected to miss up to eight weeks with a torn UCL. His return date would be near the end of August.
- Tyler Stephenson (CIN) begins a minor league rehab on Monday and could be back with the team as early as Thursday (7/7).
- Yasmani Grandal (CHW) has resumed running and swinging a bat, but won’t return from the IL until the back pain goes away. He is eligible to return on Wednesday (7/6), however, that seems unlikely.
- Mike Zunino (TBR) received a Botox injection, and that’s terrible news as it could be thoracic outlet syndrome. Stay tuned, but that could indicate his season is over.
- Danny Jansen (TOR) fractured his finger but showed signs of improvement. He will need a few rehab games before being activated but could be back by next week.
- Yadier Molina (STL) is no longer traveling with the team. That’s not a good sign as it’ll likely be a while until his return from the IL.
Week 14 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:
Garver is catcher eligible but primarily serves as the team’s DH. This should help with playing time since there are two DANGs (Day After Night Games) in next week’s games. Furthermore, he could grab time behind the plate or continue to pile up plate appearances. Either way, the expectation should be six games starting next week.
Now, from a surface stats level, Garver has been somewhat underwhelming. The .212 batting average, eight HR, and lackluster counting stats (19 R, 18 RBI) can be troublesome to look at. However, Garver missed some time in May and June. Since his return on June 21, the heavy-swinging catcher is putting up much-improved numbers-especially in the power aspects. In that timeframe, his barrel rate is up to 12.5% and the hard-hit rate sits slightly below 50%.
To grab us a win as a streamer, Garver needs to go deep. His 26% K rate will stunt the batting average and counting stats with an HR is the only path to success. He’s got the power and playing time to do it. Fingers crossed he gets hold of one.
We are going back to the well for the third time in a row. Sure, why not? He’s producing like a 12-team catcher but available in over 80% of leagues. In June, Trevino is slashing .263/.317/.474 with a 124 wRC+. That’s quite a nice stretch of consistency. The big question is, how has he done it?
We’ve chatted about this in a few previous weeks but for the first-timers, I’ll repeat. Trevino has cut the K-rate to under 15%, which is practically unheard of these days; let alone for a catcher. In doing so, he’s pulling the ball nearly seven percent more than any other season and hitting more fly balls as well. The new approach aids the added power and helps bolster a 116 wRC+ on the season.
In the upcoming week, the Yankees only get six games (2G @ PIT, 4G @ BOS) with no DANGs. While we normally want a full slate of games for a streamer, the options are in the same boat. Furthermore, if playing time is slight, we need someone that can rack up counting stats. And that’s where Trevino comes in since he bats in an upper-echelon offense-even if it’s the back end.
Each week, I’ll add a list of potential streamers by weekly rank. For example, if Mitch Garver is already rostered in your 12-team league, the next in line should be Sean Murphy, 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.
|Christian Vázquez (BOS)||69%|
|Keibert Ruiz (WSH)||64%|
|Gary Sánchez (MIN)||59%|
|Mitch Garver (TEX)||40%|
|Sean Murphy (OAK)||48%|
|Jonah Heim (TEX)||48%|
|MJ Melendez (KCR)||44%|
|Jorge Alfaro (SDP)||36%|
|Jose Trevino (NYY)||16%|
|Gabriel Moreno (TOR)||16%|
|Cal Raleigh (SEA)||19%|
|Austin Nola (SDP)||14%|
|Christian Bethancourt (OAK)||18%|
|James McCann (NYM)||4%|
|Elias Díaz (COL)||10%|
|Eric Haase (DET)||4%|
|Francisco Mejía (TBR)||3%|
|Yan Gomes (CHC)||2%|
|Max Stassi (LAA)||2%|
|Carson Kelly (ARI)||6%|
|10-team Streamers (less than 70%)|
|12-team Streamers (less than 50%)|
|15-team Streamers (less than 20%)|
|Two-C Streamers (less than 10%)|
Featured image by Jacob Roy (@Jake3Roy on Twitter)