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Catchers to Stream for Week 3 (4/18-4/24)

Week 2 is in the books: Who's worth streaming behind the dish?

Catchers 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?

 

Prohibited List

 

First, we have to rule out any widely owned catcher. For the purposes of this list, it means anyone over 50% rostered (according to Yahoo). The ineligible catchers are Salvador Perez, J.T. Realmuto, Will Smith, Yasmani Grandal, Willson Contreras, Daulton Varsho, Tyler Stephenson, Keibert Ruiz, Mitch Garver, Christian Vázquez, Travis d’Arnaud, and Gary Sánchez. That’s TWELVE 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 Brewers (Omar Narváez/Victor Caratini).

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 who meet my threshold. But we’re going to go ahead anyway.

 

Who is Eligible?

 

So who is left? Adley Rutschman, Alejandro Kirk, Sean Murphy, Joey Bart, Yadier Molina, James McCann, Carson Kelly, Jacob Stallings, Tucker Barnhart, Austin Nola,  Eric Haase, Luis TorrensMax Stassi, Jorge Alfaro, Yan Gomes, Ryan Jeffers, 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 Perez 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Counting stats (R+RBI) is the lowest stat consideration because you’re not expecting them from your catcher anyway, and they’re a nice bonus.

 

Alejandro Kirk, Toronto Blue Jays: 3 for 17 (.176), 3 BB

The Danny Jansen injury opened up a world of opportunity for Kirk; however, he could not capitalize in Week 2. Kirk scattered three singles and a few walks over 20 plate appearances. Furthermore, plenty of contact was made as he only struck out three times. So, where did we go wrong?

The biggest issue was all the worm-burners; Kirk hit over 70% of his batted balls into the dirt. A stat line like this is an easy loss on the streaming pick.

 

Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics: 8 for 23 (.125), 2 HR, 5 R, 7 RBI

The playing time was there, which could be a trend as the season progresses. Oakland doesn’t have the surrounding talent to keep his bat out of the lineup. Additionally, they started Murphy in five of the six games as a catcher and once at DH.

What really jumps out is the robust quality of contact. In 15 batted-ball events, 11 were hit over 95 mph (73.3% hard-hit rate). The name of the game is barrels, and Murphy produced a 26.7% barrel rate, which led to his HR output.

Sure, there will be weeks he doesn’t punish baseballs, but Week 2 wasn’t one of them. Win!

 

Swan’s Streaming Record: 1-1

 

Notes & Transactions From Week 2

 

 

  • Austin Allen could not make the trip to Toronto and was placed on the restricted list. Needing another catching option, they promoted Christian Bethancourt for the series.
  • Adley Rutschman is not slated to make an MLB debut until sometime in June. Unless you’ve got an NA slot or deep benches, there is no reason to roster him.

 

  • While Mitch Garver is the primary backstop in Texas, Jonah Heim has been stealing headlines this last week. He went 5-for-11 with a pair of HRs and eight RBI. He could see a few more ABs if the team elects to slot Garver at DH.
  • The Yankee’s Kyle Higashioka and Jose Trevino appear to be in a 70/30 playing time split. In limited time, Trevino has five hits in ten ABs with a pair of RBI. Likely, Trevino won’t see enough consistent ABs to be fantasy relevant.

 

  • On Saturday, Elias Díaz got his first night off from catching. In what was an even platoon split last season, the playing time has swung heavily in favor of Díaz-even against RHP. The Rockies faced four straight southpaws, but it’s worth monitoring in case Díaz gets a healthy boost in plate appearances.
  • Arizona’s Carson Kelly is off to an abysmal start (0-for-19). Additionally, he’s been splitting time with Jose HerreraKelly is rostered in 15% of Yahoo leagues, which should be lower.

 

Have more questions? “Catch” up with me on Twitter @davithius!

 

Week 3 Streamers

 

If the main 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:

 

Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics (30% Rostered) 12-team leagues

After last week’s performance, Murphy bumps into consideration for all 12-team leagues. Oakland will need his bat as much as possible, and we should see him in the lineup for nearly every game moving forward. The ball club gets another seven-game week (four vs. BAL, three vs. TEX). Even with two DANGs (Day After Night Games), Murphy has little reason to be out of the lineup.

From a matchup standpoint, let me list some likely starters: Spenser Watkins, Jordan Lyles, Tyler Wells, Taylor Hearn, and Martín Pérez. That’s a juicy list of SPs for a streaming pick. Putting the ball in play against this group of arms should not be an issue.

Expecting another performance like Week 2 shouldn’t be the expectation, and let’s temper that. However, his power is legit, and we’ve seen enough to consider him as an HR threat each week. But full-time ABs from the heart of any batting orders are rare. Fantasy baseball is a numbers game, and Murphy can pile up counting stats-even in a poor lineup.

 

  • Austin Nola, San Diego Padres (26%) – Nola’s roster% jumped 16% from Week 2. As noted in last week’s column, it was a total shocker that he wasn’t more universally rostered. As the batting order in San Diego shakes out, Nola finds himself in the two-hole every time he starts. The Padres will draw four LHP next week, which is a good sport for him.
  • Elias Díaz, Colorado Rockies (24%) – Week 2 was more decisive in matchups, but Díaz opens the week with a matchup in Coors Field. Sure, it’s against some better SPs, but betting on Coors is a winning strategy. Following the first series, the Rockies should draw a pair of lefties. 

 

Max Stassi, Los Angeles Angels (3% Rostered) 15-team leagues

Stassi appears to be a forgotten person in L.A. We could indeed see why, with names like Ohtani, Trout, and Rendon ahead of him in the lineup. However, that’s also partly why Stassi is so appealing. The top of the Angels lineup is stocked with OBP machines and Stassi bats anywhere from 4-to-6. That’s a prime spot for RBI!

The week ahead is solid for Stassi too. Up next is a three-game series in Houston, one of the better parks for right-handed pull hitters like Stassi. Then there’s a three-game series at home vs. Baltimore, where he’ll get to mash against pitching fodder like LHP Bruce ZimmermannSpenser Watkins, and maybe (if we’re lucky) Keegan Akin.

What are Stassi’s expectations? Let’s set the bar reasonably high again and say a bunch of counting stats and a HR, since Stassi isn’t known to be an outstanding source of batting average.

 

  • Jacob Stallings, Miami Marlins (3%) – Last week was not a good showing for Stallings (1-for-16 with a 7:2 K/BB ratio). However, there isn’t a playing time concern, even if struggling, since Stallings is a proven plus-defender. Miami draws three games vs. STL in the upcoming week, followed by another series in ATL, where they’ll miss Max Fried and Charlie Morton.

 

Catcher List

 

Added to each week will be a ten-player list of potential streamers by weekly rank. For example, if Sean Murphy is already rostered in your 12-team league, the next in line should be Austin Nola and so on down the list. Also, 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.

 

CATCHERS ROSTER%
Sean Murphy (OAK) 30%
Austin Nola (SDP) 26%
Elias Díaz (COL) 24%
Joey Bart (SFG) 36%
Alejandro Kirk (TOR) 37%
Max Stassi (LAA) 3%
Jacob Stallings (MIA) 3%
Yadier Molina (STL) 16%
Omar Narváez (MIL) 12%
James McCann (NYM) 11%
12-team Streamers
15-team Streamers

 

Featured image by Jacob Roy (@Jake3Roy on Twitter)

Dave Swan

Dave Swan is an avid Chicago Cubs fan that enjoys all aspects of fantasy baseball-especially DFS. He would trade his right arm for a GIF library of Greg Maddux pitches. Swan's baseball thoughts are available at @davithius.

  • Mike Honcho says:

    In a single catcher 12 team roto mixer, drop Kirk for S.Murphy?

    • Dave Swan says:

      Long-term? Kirk. Toronto is a superior offense, and early-on Kirk was even used as a DH.

      This week? Murphy. Oakland plays seven games and gets more favorable matchups.

  • Connor says:

    Read your headline, I see that Omar is in the catcher list now at the bottom. Has playing time become more apparent? Asking as I have him and cannot trade anyone for a catcher. Debating switching to a streaming catcher system but only 4 acquisitions per week

    • Dave Swan says:

      MIL tried to bring in Pedro Severino, but he was suspended for 80 games. Then, they acquired Victor Caratini. MIL is drawing a full week of RHPs, so Narvaez should see at least five games(even if he gets a day off).

      Only having four transactions in a week is challenging. The goal of streaming any position is to try and find a good enough player so you’re no longer streaming. So, steady playing time is key.

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