Streaming pitchers is one of the most difficult things to do in fantasy baseball. It’s a big risk to pick up a pitcher who is owned in very few leagues because he pitch a dud, destroying a team’s chance of winning.
Of course, the most important thing to look at when deciding which pitcher to stream is the pitcher’s stats. Obviously, someone is more likely to pick a pitcher up who has a lower ERA and WHIP than the other pitchers available. Another not so obvious thing to look at is their last few outings. For example, Alfredo Simon has a lower ERA and WHIP than Phil Hughes does, but Hughes has had five quality starts in a row and Simon has struggled through his last two appearances.
One of the most important things to take into account when deciding whom to stream is the matchup. This is also important to consider when deciding to sit or start a pitcher. When looking at the team a player is going to face, there are two important factors. First is the history between the pitcher and the opposing team. The second is the opposing team’soffensive stats during the current season.
Although it can be difficult to find a pitcher’s stats versus different teams, it is worth the effort. A good way to illustrate this is by looking at Yu Darvish’s numbers. Since signing with the Texas Rangers in 2012, Darvish has a 3.24 ERA and a 32-19 record. This may be surprising, but in his career, Darvish has started against the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners seven times each and against those two teams, he has a 4.30 and 4.78 ERA respectively.
The next factor to consider is the opposing team’s batting stats. It’s always a nice sign to see a possible streamer pitching against the likes of the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, or Chicago Cubs, but there are a few teams that surprisingly offer even better pitching matchups.
For example, The Atlanta Braves are ranked 29th in runs scored and OBP, 27th in batting average, and 23rd in slugging percentage. There are a few other teams ranked surprisingly low, such as the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals. Check out those rankings here.
A final thing to consider when picking out a streamer is the ballpark they will be pitching in. Everyone knows to avoid pitchers who have to start in Coors Field in Colorado, but many other parks have quite the effect on the starter’s performance. ESPN has developed a complex formula to calculate the effect that each ballpark has.
So far in 2014 the top five most hitter friendly parks, according to ESPN’s Park Factors, are, in order, Coors Field, Busch Stadium, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Rogers Centre, and Minute Maid Park. The top five most pitcher friendly parks have been Citi Field, Miller Park, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, O.co Coliseum, and Citizens Bank Park. The stats for each ballpark can be found here.
When looking to stream pitchers, keep some of these factors in mind. It may just be the difference between winning and losing the matchup.
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