Catchers can be like stepping on a lego! 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 Salvador Pérez, J.T. Realmuto, Will Smith, Buster Posey, Yasmani Grandal, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Willson Contreras, Gary Sánchez, Christian Vázquez, Yadier Molina, Omar Narváez, 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.
James McCann, New York Mets: 5/18 (.278), 1 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI
Thanks to some heroics last night, McCann saved our week. He was having an OK week in terms of batted ball quality, but the results hadn’t been there. McCann’s blast to left field in the 6th inning of last night’s loss was a two-run shot and pushed us over the edge for a win. It should also be worth noting; the HR had a 112.5-MPH exit velocity, which is the hardest-hit ball of McCann’s season.
Pedro Severino: 5/14 (.357) 2 R, 1 RBI
I am going to be pretty tough on myself and take the loss here. The batting average was lovely, but I expected a bit more in the way of power and counting stats. Not to mention, he didn’t get the extra playing time I was banking on to get us a streaming victory. While the surface stats weren’t pretty, it was close. Loss!
Swan’s Streaming Record: 22-19
Quick Thoughts From Week 23
- On Sunday(9/5), the Royals placed Cam Gallagher on the 10-day IL. Yes, there is another catcher in Kansas City not named Salvador Perez. Until Gallagher returns, the club will lean on Perez with Sebastian Rivero as an emergency catcher.
- Tuesday(9/7), Cleveland sent Roberto Perez to Columbus (Triple-A East) on a rehab assignment. Austin Hedges remains the everyday catcher for Cleveland but holds very little fantasy relevance. It’s best to avoid the whole Cleveland catching core at the moment.
- Friday(9/10), Milwaukee Brewers reinstated Manny Piña from the 10-day IL and optioned Luke Maile to Nashville (Triple-A East). Both moves are better “real-life” baseball moves and shouldn’t factor into your fantasy baseball team. Potentially Piña spells Omar Narváez from time to time, but that’s about it.
- Atlanta Braves placed Stephen Vogt on the 10-day IL. Recalled William Contreras from Gwinnett (Triple-A East). Vogt went 2-for-2 with a pair of HRs in his only appearance this week. Contreras was a decent streaming option earlier in the season, but Travis d’Arnaud is back and healthy. Any consideration for Contreras as a streamer would not be helpful.
- St. Louis Cardinals 0ptioned Ali Sánchez to Memphis (Triple-A East). Sánchez showed decent numbers at Triple-A and faired pretty well in the MLB, albeit a tiny sample. There is not much fantasy takeaway here, as Yadier Molina has been the Cardinals’ backstop of choice for over a decade.
- New York Mets sent Tomas Nido to Syracuse (Triple-A East) on rehab assignments. Before injuring his thumb, Nido was James McCann’s backup. Fast-forward to now, and the Mets have run out of several other options. In all likelihood, Nido will finish out the season with the big league squad after this rehab assignment. That move will send Patrick Mazieka to Triple-A.
- Alejandro Kirk was a man on a mission. He swatted three HRs in five games and racked up four RBI. Furthermore, he managed to make his way into the dangerous Blue Jays lineup nearly every day. However, George Springer is back from the IL and will play DH instead of Kirk.
- Daulton Varsho continues to impress as he went 7-for-11 with three extra-base hits, including one HR. My fear was a lack of games and playing time would hinder his production a touch too much to make him a streaming call. Varsho remains one of the better streaming options for the rest of the season.
- 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. J.T. Realmuto (9), Austin Wynn (1), and Daulton Varsho (5) stole bases this week. Varsho did so while playing outfield, but it counts even if you play him as your catcher.
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:
This week is the playoffs for many leagues. Along with the 12 and 15-team streamer calls, I added secondary options if the top choices aren’t available. To those still on a championship run, good luck!
Travis d’Arnaud, Atlanta Braves (44% Rostered) 12-team leagues
d’Arnaud spent most of the season on the IL, so it took a little while for him to shake off the rust. Since the calendar flipped to September, d’Arnaud has looked like a different hitter. In that timeframe, he is walking more than striking out and showcasing a 163 wRC+. Furthermore, his .320 ISO and .420 wOBA suggest the power is returning. In fact, four of his last seven hits have been extra-base hits(two 2B, two HR).
The challenging part to streaming d’Arnaud is Atlanta only plays six games (3 G vs. COL, 3 G @ SF). Included in those series is one DANG (Day After Night Game), which could mean only five games started. So, d’Arnaud needs to be efficient in his ABs. Atlanta likes to stick Travis in the six-hole, so we need the counting stats (mainly RBI) and batting average to make this pick successful.
- Mike Zunino, Tampa Bay Rays (46%) – Massive HR potential with three upcoming southpaws (.545 ISO vs. LHP)
- James McCann, New York Mets (34%) – Safer BA floor with six games at home this week
Pedro Severino, Baltimore Orioles (4% Rostered) 15-team leagues
Am I going back to Severino? Absolutely! As I mentioned, while he let us down last week, it was a very close call for the win. Sevy draws a more challenging start to the week with three home games against the Yankees, including one against Gerrit Cole. However, two very lovely matchups against southpaws (Nester Cortes Jr. and Jordan Montgomery) after Cole. Severino has smashed LHP this season and showcases a .180 ISO vs. LHP.
Quickly after the Yankees’ series is a three-game set against Boston. Only one southpaw (Eduardo Rodriguez) takes the mound, and he’s been tremendous at suppressing hard contact. Additionally, this series features the Oriole’s lone DANG, which will help keep Severino on the field for plenty of games. Let’s hope Severino makes the most of his three games vs. LHP and plants one over the outfield fences and provides plenty of counting stats.
- Jorge Alfaro, Miami Marlins (10%) – Left Saturday with injury(no additional news on severity) but carries a tremendous hard-hit profile against very weak pitchers.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)