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Catchers to Stream for Week 5 (5/2-5/8)

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 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 Sean Murphy. That’s TWELVE 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? Gary Sánchez, Adley Rutschman, Alejandro Kirk, Joey Bart, Yadier Molina, James McCann, Carson Kelly, Jacob Stallings, Tucker Barnhart, Austin Nola, Jonah Heim, Zack Collins, Eric Haase, Luis Torrens, Max 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. 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 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-12 (.250), 1 RBI

Plain and straightforward, Kirk didn’t do enough for the win. The batting average was there, and we expected him to contribute in that aspect. However, the lack of overall production was a head-scratcher. Furthermore, the lack of playing time was an even bigger headache. He connected with everything in the zone(88% z-contact), but a 30% hard-hit rate and zero barrels reduced productivity. Loss!

 

Max Stassi, Los Angeles Angels: 3-for-10 (.300), 2 R

Much to our chagrin, Stassi also didn’t get the expected playing time. This previous week, the team leaned on Kurt Suzuki for additional starts. However, Stassi didn’t help our cause either as he put up an 85.7% ground ball rate and hard-hit rate barely north of 14%. That’s the type of stats a pitcher would put up at the dish. Loss!

 

Dave Swan’s Streaming Record: 2-4

 

Notes & Transactions From Week 4

 

  • The Seattle Mariners activated Luis Torrens from the COVID IL, and he immediately became an intriguing streaming option. Last season, in 378 plate appearances, Torrens put up a 10.4% barrel rate and 101 wRC+. Although that was primarily at DH, monitoring closely as playing time could be sporadic.
  • Seattle doesn’t need three catchers with Torrens back, and the odd man out was Cal Raleigh. The 25-year-old backstop was 2-for-24(.083) and the easy option for demotion. Should another injury occur, he’ll be back.

 

  • The Boston Red Sox catching duo is finally healthy as Kevin Plawecki returned from the COVID IL. To make room for Plawecki, the ball club optioned Connor Wong to the minors. Christian Vázquez will remain the go-to backstop, but playing time has been a 60/40 split lately.
  • Milwaukee had its run-in with the COVID IL as Victor Caratini was placed on the list. Needing a back for Omar Narváez, the team promoted Alex Jackson to the MLB roster. Additionally, Jackson showcases a little pop but far too much swing-and-miss in the profile.

 

  • On Thursday, Jonah Heim was placed on the paternity list. With an open spot on the roster, Texas promoted Sam Huff. In 2020, Huff flashed signs as he swatted three HRs in ten games. Since then, he’s been in the minors trying to fix the hole in his swing. However, he’s still striking out over 30% of the time in the minors.
  • Atlanta placed Manny Piña on the 1o-day IL again. Getting the call to the major was William Contreras. Additionally, he showcased some raw power by homering eight times in 185 plate appearances but wouldn’t make enough contact to stick around. He should start a game here or there but not significant.

 

  • Tyler Stephenson did not come back mid-week in Cincinnati and is still on the 7-day concussion IL. He is targeting a Tuesday(5/3) return to action. Instead, the team turned catcher duties to Aramis Garcia and Mark KolozsvaryIt’s been a 75/25 split, with Garcia getting most work. Both will get a massive hit to their fantasy value once Stephenson returns.
  • On Friday, Gary Sánchez returned from his abdomen injury and started both games. Ryan Jeffers found some success in his absence by going 4-for-15 with one HR and two doubles. Although, his ceiling gets lowered with Sánchez getting some of his ABs.

 

  • Baltimore prospect Adley Rutschman appeared in his first minor league games this week. However, that was in High-A ball, and it could still be some time before he breaks the MLB roster. At the moment, only the deepest of leagues should consider rostering him. Additionally, Robinson Chirinos is still the Orioles’ primary catcher.
  • Luis Campusano was promoted to the MLB roster after Luke Voit hit the IL. In the minors, Campusano showcased a very nice skill set with a decent hit tool. Additionally, he’s started three of his first five games at DH but struggled as he’s 1-for-12 with two Ks.

 

  • Cleveland activated Luke Maile from the 10-day IL and optioned Bryan Lavastida to the minors. Additionally, Maile will serve as the backup catcher to Austin Hedges. Unless you’re in an AL-only league, none of them should be on your fantasy radar.
  • The Rays’ Francisco Mejía is still on the COVID IL. René Pinto remains as the emergency catcher. Although, the team’s usage pattern relies heavily on Mike Zunino.

 

  • The most dropped catcher of the last seven days is Zack Collins. We only saw his name on a lineup card three times in the previous week. But they were listed in the heart of Toronto’s batting order as a DH. Furthermore, he only compiled one hit in his last ten ABs, so that’ll get you dropped quickly.

 

Week 5 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:

 

Gary Sánchez, Minnesota Twins (48% Rostered) 12-team leagues

I’m not going to lie; this was an easy streaming call. Last week, the injury cost Sánchez playing time, and his roster% dipped below 50%. He’s a cut above all streamer options because it’s nearly a given that he’ll smash 20-plus HRs. Minnesota doesn’t even routinely start him at catcher to make matters better. He’s been the team’s DH for five of his 12 games.

The Twins play seven games(four games @ BAL, three vs. OAK). Furthermore, looking ahead at his matchups makes him very intriguing. Baltimore will trot out Tyler Wells, Bruce Zimmermann, Kyle Bradish, and Spenser Watkins. Plus, Oakland will toss Adam Oller, Cole Irvin, and Daulton Jefferies. Additionally, when none of the seven SPs scare you, it’s a good sign for streaming a catcher.

What are our expectations? Well, since there is only one DANG(Day After Night Game), and Sánchez tends to DH, there isn’t any reason he shouldn’t play six games this week. Given the poor matchups, decent park factors, and his ability, we are looking for HRs and counting stats. Unfortunately, batting average has NEVER been Sánchez’s thing.

  • Elias Díaz, Colorado Rockies (27%) – When Colorado is at home for any portion of the week, Díaz gets a mention. Additionally, this week, he faces Erick Fedde, Patrick Corbin, and Aaron Sanchez inside Coors Field.
  • Alejandro Kirk, Toronto Blue Jays (29%) – Kirk let us down last week as the 12-team streamer, but he’s still making lots of contacts and starting to elevate the ball(a little). His upside is immense, and there’s top-10 potential when he figures it out. Lastly, he’s got some tough matchups, so he drops down the ladder.
  • Austin Nola, San Diego Padres (39%) – Nola has been getting early lineup spots vs. LHP, and the Padres draw two southpaw matchups. However, they’re Trevor Rogers and Jesús Luzardo. There are simply a couple of better options in front of him this week. But overall, he’s a solid addition if you’re weak at catcher.
  • Mike Zunino, Tampa Bay Rays (17%) – With Mejía not available, most playing time shifts to Zunino. He showcased the elite power that produced 33 HRs last season but isn’t making enough contact. Furthermore, the Rays get two matchups against LHP, and that’s where he dominates. Let’s call this what it is, and we are HR hunting.

 

Luis Torrens, Seattle Mariners (2% Rostered) 15-team leagues

Back from the IL and already a streamer? Absolutely! And sure, I’ll admittedly say we’re taking a leap of faith on this one. Some of the upcoming matchups aren’t the best, but he’ll get three games at Houston, followed by four games at home vs. the Rays. However, the leading cause for concern might be in playing time. Fresh off the IL, will we get five starts out of Torrens? With only two DANGs, I say yes.

Now, with only a small sample in 2022, let’s see why he was so successful in 2021. From a statcast perspective, Torren’s showcased a 10.4% barrel rate and 43% hard-hit rate. Furthermore, even with a sub-optimal launch angle, he smashed 15 HRs. So, it’s safe to say there is some power in his bat. We need those pesky strikeouts to go away for a week.

What are our expectations? From a power standpoint, anything less than one HR is a loss. Torrens isn’t a fantasy-relevant player because of his batting average. Although, he isn’t a sub-.200 drain like some of the streamers listed. Lastly, he needs to pick up the slack in counting stats.

 

Catcher List

 

Each week will add a ten-player list of potential streamers by weekly rank. For example, if Gary Sánchez is already rostered in your 12-team league, the next in line should be Elias Díaz 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%
Gary Sánchez (MIN) 48%
Elias Díaz (COL) 27%
Alejandro Kirk (TOR) 29%
Austin Nola (SDP) 39%
Mike Zunino (TBR) 17%
Luis Torrens (SEA) 2%
Omar Narváez (MIL) 12%
Max Stassi (LAA) 5%
Jacob Stallings (MIA) 2%
Tucker Barnhart (DET) 2%
12-team Streamers (less than 50%)
15-team Streamers (less than 20%)

 

 

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

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.

  • micah.mclain@gmail.com says:

    Do you think Ruiz will turn it on soon? Narvaez, Molina, Kelly, Kirk, etc. are on the wire.

    • Dave Swan says:

      I think you stick it out with Ruiz. It’s not like he’s striking out at a 30% clip, and the overall plate discipline looks solid.

      Of the few you’ve mentioned, only Kirk has the upside of Ruiz.

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