Since this site’s inception, we’ve written a lot about streaming. It’s one of the most heavily used, and also heavily debated on topics in fantasy baseball. So, we’re going to continue to write about it.
Actually, I devote a column to it every week — Dixon’s Picks.
So, how successful am I? Well, I’m not including the most recent Dixon’s Picks (results have been mixed early, but it’s not complete until the week is over), but take a look at the stats of pitchers I’ve recommended. Just so you know, we’re looking at 21 total starts here.
Ironically, the man pictured above, A.J. Griffin has a similar ERA, WHIP, and K/9 ratio so far in 2013. He was also in last week’s Dixon’s Picks and depending on his availability, could well be there more throughout the season.
With that out there…
Do I consider that a successful stat-line?
This answer will tell you a lot about streaming. Because in a competitive roto league that I’m in right now, the ERA and WHIP are decidedly average. Not bad, but not good, either. I also don’t think anyone reading this site strives to be average.
But despite all of that, I do consider that to be a successful line.
The strikeout totals could be better, but I tend to recommend guys who don’t walk many hitters. Those guys are around the plate and because of that, their strikeout totals aren’t great. Conversely, the win-loss record looks pretty good but remember that most of the time, I’m suggesting guys who are going against average to bad opponents. So, a good W-L record is to be expected.
When I say that I consider those numbers successful despite being average numbers for a fantasy team, remember one thing. I am not specifically advising that you to go out and pick up the pitchers mentioned at any costs. No, what I am saying is that if your team’s pitching needs a bit of a kick, you should give these guys a look for the week.
I am not suggesting that you build a fantasy rotation by streaming waiver wire guys in and out. If you do that and have average pitching numbers by year’s end, throw a parade, because you have seriously overachieved.
You need rotational strongholds. I’m not a huge fan of drafting guys like Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw in the first few rounds, but you do need some solid starters taken in the first half of the draft. If you’re looking for 2013 examples, I’m talking about guys who went in the area of Madison Bumgarner, Yu Darvish, C.C. Sabathia, Johnny Cueto, Matt Moore, etc. Some of those guys may overdo expectations while others may fall short but generally speaking, you’re looking at solid arms to anchor your rotation. If you have a few of these guys, then maybe 2-3 good closers, you’re in a position to stream a little bit to make up for lost numbers.
Do I think you should stream?
It’s not a bad strategy if you know what you’re doing and you have solid pitchers to bank on. You can’t be in a position where a bad start will kill your ERA and/or WHIP. In a head-to-head league, it’s not a great idea unless your league has an extra stat from the standard five (wins, strikeouts, saves, ERA, WHIP), and that extra stat benefits starters.
For example, if your league counts quality starts, then you can stream, throw a lot of innings and make yourself very hard to beat in wins, strikeouts, and quality starts. If you have good closers, then you’re hard to beat in four out of six categories.
But, if it’s a standard league, or you have categories that make extra innings thrown disadvantageous, it’s not such a good idea. In those spots, you can’t punt ERA and WHIP, which is an inherited risk when you stream. The numbers just don’t make it worth it.
Now, in a roto league, I’d say that it depends on how good your base starters are. If they’re good, then a bad start is not going to kill your staff, just like a bad start won’t kill a pitcher’s ERA and WHIP when the season is over. It’s a long year, and things tend to even out. You just have to be sure the pitchers on your team are good enough to even them out.
Where’s the advantage to streaming?
If you do it well, it can help you across the board. But simply put, streaming will help you get cheap wins and strikeouts.
The Astros and Marlins are on pace to win fewer than 50 games and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if both kept that pace, or even fell off of it over the next four (plus) months. Other teams like the Cubs and Twins appear likely to lose 90 or more games. If you’re streaming against those kinds of teams, you can pick up a lot of cheap wins and strikeouts. Not only are those teams losing, but they aren’t exactly losing games 10-9.
Again, you have to have the rotation that can afford a bad start in roto. Or, in head-to-head, you need to have at least four of six categories pretty well on lock before the week even starts.
Which brings us to this…
Who shouldn’t stream?
We’ve already covered the advantages and disadvantages of different formats. But regardless of format, if you want to stream successfully and make it work consistently, you can’t be this type of owner.
- Read about a few two-start pitchers for the week.
- Sign one or two of them.
- Set your lineup on Sunday night or Monday morning.
- Don’t pay too much attention until next Saturday night or Monday morning.
If you’re a good drafter, you can be competitive with that strategy. Heck, you might even be able to win a league with that strategy if you’re a good enough drafter and the league isn’t that deep with good owners. But if you want to stream every, that strategy will kill you in the long haul. You have to know not only your own team’s strengths and weaknesses, and what they can/can’t overcome, but you need to know the same about the other teams in the league — at least the ones closest to you in the standings. Semi-active owners don’t do that, not in an every day sport like baseball.
I’ve won with streaming, and been burned with it before. As is always the case in fantasy baseball, there are no guarantees with streaming. But if you’re an active owner and in a league with the right format, it’s a strategy that you can use to help bring a championship.