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Catchers to Stream for Week 6 (5/9-5/15)

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 GarverTravis d’Arnaud, and Sean Murphy. That’s ELEVEN 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? Christian Vázquez, Gary Sánchez, Adley Rutschman, Alejandro Kirk, Joey Bart, Mike Zunino, Yadier MolinaJames McCann, Carson Kelly, Jacob Stallings, Tucker Barnhart, Austin Nola, Francisco Mejía, 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.

 

Gary Sánchez, Minnesota Twins: 4-for-17 (.235), 1 RBI

In a week with so many PPDs, it was a great sign that Sánchez got an entire run of plate appearances. However, he didn’t do enough with them and had more HBP than counting stats. Although, Sánchez didn’t underperform either. Two of his 13 batted ball events were hit for barrels, and he recorded a hard-hit ball in every game. Luck simply wasn’t on our side, and we got a loss.

 

Luis Torrens, Seattle Mariners: 1-for-12 (.083)

Welp! It was a swing-and-miss here. Torrens received a decent share of the playing time, but not getting a start against a southpaw is concerning. His plate discipline was acceptable as he didn’t strike out over 20% of the time. What gives? The batted ball quality was exceedingly poor. Furthermore, when Torrens made quality contact, they were worm burners. Loss!

Dave Swan’s Streaming Record: 2-6 

 

Notes & Transactions From Week 5

 

  • The Texas Rangers optioned Sam Huff to the minor leagues. Furthermore, He started one game and was primarily used as an emergency backstop. The team will stick with a heavy dose of Mitch Garver and Jonah Heim, not that he’s back from paternity leave.
  • Luis Campusano was optioned down to the Triple-A El Paso. His brief time with the MLB was not productive, and he failed to reach base in 12 plate appearances. The Padres will continue to use Austin Nola and Jorge Alfaro behind the plate, although Alfaro finds his way into the lineups more than expected.

 

  • The Oakland Athletics optioned Austin Allen as the strikeouts had become problematic(56% K-rate). The team will try Christian Bethancourt as the backup catcher to Sean Murphy in Allen’s place. Bethancourt is somewhat versatile and can also play first base. With nine games this week for Oakland, every play will see increased playing time, including Bethancourt.
  • To make room for José Ureña, the Milwaukee Brewers optioned Alex Jackson back to Triple-A. Major league pitching was still too challenging for Jackson in his limited sample, and he stuck out over 50% of his plate appearances.

 

  • The Kansas City Royals finally promoted MJ Melendez after Cam Gallagher was placed on the 10-day IL with hamstring issues. Melendez has to be on your radars because his raw talent is off the charts. In 448 AB in the minor leagues last season, Melendez crushed 41 HRs(28 in Double-A, 13 in Triple-A). Unfortunately, it’s difficult to predict whether the Royals will option him upon Gallagher’s return.
  • The Detroit Tigers needed to cut down their roster and optioned Dustin Garneau. This roster move is beneficial for Eric Haase since he will be the backup to Tucker Barnhart as the season continues. However, the playing time split will be more like 80/20 in favor of Barnhart.

 

  • Finally, Tyler Stephenson returned to action for the Cincinnati Reds. Furthermore, the team limited his activity right away as he only started three of his five games back. Stephenson’s backup catcher will be Aramis Garcia as they optioned Mark Kolozsvary.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays welcomed Francisco Mejía back from the COVID IL. Unfortunately, this roster move meant the demotion of René Pinto, who did hit the ball with power in his brief stint. Lastly, Mejía was the most added catcher on Yahoo.

 

 

 

  • The most dropped catcher of the last seven days is Sean Murphy. After his blistering start to the season, he’s since cooled off by 4-for-33 with 11 strikeouts. However, Oakland plays nine(!!!) games this week, and he’ll get plenty of ABs to rack up counting stats.

 

Week 6 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:

 

Austin Nola, San Diego Padres (32% Rostered) 12-team leagues

Nola has tip-toed around being called out for the 12-team streamer options for several weeks. Well, this is the week to get Nola in your lineups. He’s only rostered in 32% of leagues, so there is an outstanding chance he’ll be available on your waiver wire.

First, the Padres’ upcoming schedule calls for six games(3 vs. CHC, 3 @ ATL). Furthermore, the matchups will include two lefties(Justin Steele and Max Fried). Nola has been getting starts at DH vs. LHP and even leading off. So, playing time concerns should be in the rearview mirror.

But wait! He’s only batting .188 with one HR and nine RBI! Yes, I know, it’s not pleasant. But have you seen the state of offense in general for baseball, let alone catchers? Take a glance at the chart below for reference(note: this is only catchers).

 

PA AVG (K%) .ISO wRC+
2019 21233 .236 (24.1%) .168 85
2020 7454 .229 (26.6%) .156 90
2021 20990 .228 (25.2%) .163 89
2022 3434 .203 (26%) .122 79

 

Lastly, I mentioned a couple of matchups against the LHP(Steele and Fried), but where things get juicy is the rest of the matchups. The Chicago Cubs will roll out Kyle Hendricks and Keegan Thompson; one is a shell of themselves, and the other is a bulk reliever making his first start of the season. Next, Atlanta scheduled Charlie Morton and Spencer Strider. Again, one SP who’s a shell of themselves and another bulk reliever making the switch to the rotation.

So, what are the expectations? Power has never been Nola’s game, and relying on HRs won’t get us a streaming win. Instead, this is an excellent spot for Nola’s hit tool to perform. I mean, he can’t keep this .220 BABIP up all season, right? The key will be making lots of contact and bolstering our batting average.

 

  • Gary Sánchez, Minnesota Twins (46%) – The power will always keep him stream-relevant, but his streaky profile keeps him a streamer. Minnesota gets six games in the week ahead, and playing time isn’t the concern. The bigger problem is that he’ll face some premier SPs, and we don’t know which streaky version of Sánchez will show.
  • Alejandro Kirk, Toronto Blue Jays (27%) – Everything screams push Kirk ahead of Sánchez, but Toronto only gets five games in the upcoming week. Furthermore, we are looking at only four games if Kirk gets a night off. Too tough!
  • James McCann, New York Mets (39%) – McCann isn’t accumulating counting stats but making more contact lately. The improved plate discipline keeps the batting average from bottoming out(and we need something). Also, the Mets get six games this week, and McCann will be in the lineup for most of them.
  • Christian Vázquez, Boston Red Sox (45%) – Much like Toronto, Boston only gets five games this week. In a typical week, that might e plenty, but it’s near the bottom due to all the doubleheaders. However, he’ll still get plenty of plate appearances in an above-average offense. If he performs even semi-decent, his roster% will soar. This might be your only week to scoop Vázquez up for a stash.

 

MJ Melendez, Kansas City Royals (20% Rostered) 15-team leagues

While Melendez is only the 15-team streamer pick, it wouldn’t bother me if he went ahead of any of the 12-team options. If you can stash or want the high-upside play, Melendez is your pick. He wasn’t higher in the order due to the questions surrounding his future on the MLB roster.

I referenced his power output in the minor leagues early. He’s shown big-time HR potential that doesn’t come with a massive strikeout risk. Furthermore, his plate discipline has always kept the walk rate above 10%. These are minor league numbers, but the potential is too great to pass up. Scoop him up, and fingers crossed that the Royals make him an everyday player.

 

 

Catcher List

 

Each week will add a ten-player list of potential streamers by weekly rank. For example, if Austin Nola is already rostered in your 12-team league, the next in line should be Gary Sánchez 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%
Austin Nola (SDP) 32%
Gary Sánchez (MIN) 46%
Alejandro Kirk (TOR) 27%
James McCann (NYM) 9%
Christian Vázquez (BOS) 45%
MJ Melendez (KCR) 20%
Yadier Molina (STL) 11%
Max Stassi (LAA) 5%
Tucker Barnhart (DET) 4%
Andrew Knapp (PIT) 0%
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.

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