Catchers can be a dumpster fire! 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 purposes of this list, it means anyone over 50% rostered (according to Yahoo). The ineligible catchers are J.T. Realmuto, Salvador Pérez, Willson Contreras, Will Smith, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Christian Vázquez, Buster Posey, Yasmani Grandal, Omar Narváez, Yadier Molina, Gary Sánchez, Sean Murphy, and Kyle Farmer. That’s THIRTEEN catchers.
On top of that, I often avoid certain situations until playing time becomes more apparent. Those situations include the Rays (Francisco Mejía/Mike Zunino) and the Orioles (Pedro Severino/Austin Wynns).
I’m going to say this now — if you’re in a 12-team league or fewer, don’t stream right now. Instead, try trading for someone’s backup instead of diving in the bargain bin for the players that meet my threshold. But we’re going to go ahead anyway.
Who is Eligible?
So who is left? Mike Zunino, Travis d’Arnaud, Eric Haase, James McCann, Austin Nola, Daulton Varsho, Mitch Garver, Tyler Stephenson, Carson Kelly, Keibert Ruiz, Max Stassi, Jorge Alfaro, Tucker Barnhart, Yan Gomes, Jacob Stallings, Alejandro Kirk, Pedro Severino, Luis Torrens, Martín Maldonado, Max Stassi, Kyle Higashioka, and Jose Trevino. That’s an extensive list that 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. That’s 13 guys who are well-owned, the perfect amount for a 12-teamer. On the other hand, maybe you took a flier late in the draft and are still debating whether to hold someone like Omar Narváez. Maybe you drafted Salvador Pérez but didn’t feel confident he’d return to his old self.
I find myself saying 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.
- Batting average is king. 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. That said, we have to 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 are there.
- Counting stats (R+RBI) are the lowest stat consideration because you’re not expecting them from your catcher anyway. They’re a nice bonus.
Travis d’Arnaud, Atlanta Braves: 4/16 (.250), 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
Even with one more game set in Coors Field, d’Arnaud did enough to secure the win. However, it was a close one since his lone HR came in a pinch-hit role last night. It’s been a bit of a bumpy road since d’Arnaud’s lengthy stint on the IL. Moving forward, I am handling him with a little more care until we see improvements.
Contextually, Haase didn’t have a superstar week of production. However, when you put his week next to the 13 catchers rostered in over 50% of leagues, he deserves the win. Haase outperformed catcher stalwarts like Will Smith, Buster Posey, and J.T. Realmuto. Begrudgingly, I will take the win.
Oof! Let’s unpack this one a bit. First, Alfaro was a disappointment from a production standpoint. Not getting the start on 8/31, followed by a PPD the next day was unexpected, and hindered his week. Although, of his six batted ball events, half of them were smashed at 100-MPH or greater. The main problem is Alfaro failed to get them in the air. I hope you didn’t follow the Alfaro recommendation, as we take the loss on this one.
Swan’s Streaming Record: 21-18
Quick Thoughts From Week 22
- The Twins recalled Ben Rortvedt from St. Paul (Triple-A East). The move was desperately needed as Ryan Jeffers was the only true catcher on the MLB roster. However, Mitch Garver will be eligible to return shortly. Jeffers will take a significant step back in playing time when that occurs, and Rortvedt will get sent back down.
- Manny Piña hit the IL on August 28th and prompted the Brewers to recall Luke Maile from Nashville (Triple-A East). Maile isn’t fantasy-relevant as he has limited power and will likely only give Omar Narváez the occasional breather.
- Washington Nationals reinstated Alex Avila from the 10-day IL. This puts three catchers on the MLB squad and could cut into playing time for dynamic prospect Keibert Ruiz. However, Avila is yet to sniff playing time, and Ruiz has started the majority of games. Consider Ruiz as a potential boom pick-up that’s available in 83% of leagues.
- Toronto Blue Jays reinstated Danny Jansen from the 10-day IL. The team will use a trio (Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, and Reese McGuire) at catcher while the rosters have expanded. Playing time looks to be an equal split so far between Jansen and Kirk.
- Texas Rangers reinstated Jonah Heim from the COVID-19 IL. Heim is an intriguing deep-league catcher because the Rangers tend to bat him in the heart of the order when he starts. However, the reinstatement doesn’t bode well for Jose Trevino and Yohel Pozo. Although, Pozo at least gets a look at DH when a southpaw is on the mound.
- It was a hectic week for the New York Mets and their catchers. The club placed Tomas Nido on the 10-day IL, retroactive to August 28. Later in the week, they reinstated C James McCann from the 10-day IL on September 2nd. McCann will get everyday ABs, while Chance Sisco and Patrick Mazeika taking a backing role.
- Cleveland sent Roberto Perez to Akron (Double-A Northeast) on a rehab assignment and placed Wilson Ramos on the 10-day IL. Neither of these is Earth-shattering moves, and Cleveland will stick with Austin Hedges and Ryan Lavarnway (recently promoted from Triple-A) as their catchers. Hedges is only viable in AL-only leagues.
- Dustin Garneau has carved out some playing time since his joining Detroit on August 19th. In the timeframe, he sports a 180 wRC+ with .296/.321/.741 slash line. He could be an exciting streamer in deep leagues if he can keep the strikeouts at bay and put enough quality batted balls in play.
- STOLEN BASE ALERT! A reader reached out to me and asked about finding a catcher with stolen bases. So, as we advance, I will be recapping any catcher that swiped a base that week. No catchers swiped a bag in Week 22.
Have more questions? “Catch” up with me on Twitter @davithius!
This Week’s Streamers
Well, that was a lot to go through. So now, let’s examine players who might provide added value for the upcoming week:
The streaming options aren’t nearly as vast as usual. McCann is a terrific option because the Mets play seven games this week. Furthermore, when you look at the upcoming SP matchups, you can’t help but salivate. Outside of Gerrit Cole and Sandy Alcantara, the other five(Patrick Corbin, Corey Kluber, Edward Cabrera, Jesus Luzardo, and Jameson Taillon) are not shutdown pitchers. In fact, you could see any of them meltdown at any time.
In summation, we’ve got plenty of playing time with no DANGs(Day After Night Games) slated ahead and plenty of pitchers ripe for the picking. We should expect a bounty of counting stats to coincide with a usable batting average in the upcoming week. Lastly, McCann offers a safe floor for those managers currently in a playoff matchup.
Speaking of loads of playing time, the Orioles have not seven but eight games upcoming. The extra game comes from a double-header on Saturday(9/11). Even better, all eight of the games are in the hitter-friendly confines of Camden Yards. I do love it when my streaming catcher option plays at home all week. We should easily expect a five-game started for Severino. Lastly, Pedro is slugging nearly 100 points higher at home.
Outside of the unusual number of games and home-field advantage, Severino flourishes against southpaws. His .215/.278/.333 slash line with .611 OPS against right-handers has hampered the overall production. However, against LHP, Severino is slashing .268/.326/.457 with a .783 OPS. Why do I bring this up? The Orioles will likely draw matchups against Mike Minor, Kris Bubic, Robbie Ray, Hyun Jin Ryu, and Steven Matz — all lefties.
Everything lines up so well for Severino; I think I might even prefer him over McCann.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)