Fantasy Baseball: Teams to stream against or avoid with your pitchers

·Yahoo Fantasy Contributor
·5 min read

Now that we are into May, more fantasy managers are feeling the pinch to stream starters. Some teams are falling behind in innings, wins and strikeouts, but they need to make the right calls to avoid sliding down the ratio categories. Luckily we have enough data to identify some positive and negative streaming situations. While the sample sizes are still fairly small and many teams are bunched in the middle, there are a few offenses who have been especially effective or ineffective thus far. Here are the matchups I would target or avoid.

Offenses to stream against

Tigers: The Tigers are the best lineup to stream against, and it isn’t even close. Detroit is 61 points behind any other team in OPS, which is larger than the gap between the teams in 13th and 29th. The Tigers also strike out at the highest rate of any team in baseball (30.9 percent). Detroit is so bad against lefties that I would stream any southpaw, and I wouldn’t be too choosy with the right-handers either.

Marlins: For now, Miami is a lineup to target. Sparkplugs Starling Marte and Jazz Chisholm are on the IL, and aside from Jesus Aguilar and Corey Dickerson, the rest of the lineup has been unproductive. The Marlins currently sit last in the National League with a .661 OPS.

Orioles: The Orioles may be my second-favorite streaming target. The club sits 29th in baseball with a .654 OPS. They are only slightly worse than average in strikeout rate, but wins are part of the streaming equation and Baltimore can rarely match your hurler with a quality starter on their own side.

Rangers: Texas is a good example of how you sometimes need to look past run production when finding teams to stream against. The Rangers sit near the middle of baseball in OPS and runs scored, but they have the second-worst strikeout rate (28.5 percent) of any team and their run production has been boosted by one of baseball’s highest BABIPs (.307).

Indians: Cleveland’s offense is mostly a two-man show right now. Jose Ramirez continues to be a stud and Franmil Reyes is among the best power hitters. Beyond those two, it’s really bad. Eddie Rosario hasn’t excelled with his new team, Cesar Hernandez has been unproductive and the offseason trade acquisitions (Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez) have been invisible at the dish. One word of caution: Cleveland is last in baseball in BABIP (.237) and should experience better luck at some point.

Mets: Expected to have a productive lineup, New York is off to a dismal start. The Mets rank last in runs scored (71) and only the Tigers are near them. Still, this club sits in the middle of the pack in strikeout rate and has some big names in their lineup. I would stream against the Mets right now, but I’m ready to pull back on that suggestion in a hurry if they have a few high-scoring games.

Phillies: Like the Mets, the Phillies were not expected to be on this list. Still, Philadelphia ranks in the bottom-10 in both runs scored (108) and OPS (.681) despite enjoying better-than-average batted ball luck (.296 BABIP). The club has received virtually no production from center field, rookie Alec Bohm is off to a slow start and veterans Didi Gregorius and Andrew McCutchen are not meeting expectations. I expect this club to turn this around, but they can be streamed against for now.

Offenses to avoid

Dodgers: Los Angeles is quickly emerging from a slow start and recently moved up to third in both runs scored and OPS. Their roster is arguably the deepest in baseball and can post a quality lineup even when dealing with injuries and giving players days off. Also, they can roll out an outstanding starting pitcher most days. There is little reason to stream against them.

Braves: Atlanta is not near the top of the list in runs scored, but they are fourth in OPS (.751) and easily pass the eye test, thanks to the likes of Ronald Acuna Jr., Marcell Ozuna, Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies. Along with the Dodgers, this is the club I would avoid the most in the National League.

Reds: Cincinnati has dramatically turned things around after being surprisingly unproductive last season. The Reds lead the Majors in runs per game and OPS. A deep, talented outfield group is leading the offensive attack, and this team could be even more dangerous when slugger Eugenio Suarez finds his groove.

Angels: With Shohei Ohtani giving the Angels another dangerous bat to go along with Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, this is a lineup to avoid. The Angels have continued a multi-year tradition of limiting whiffs, as they have the second-lowest rate in baseball (20.9 percent). Now that they also rank fifth in baseball in OPS (.750), Los Angeles offers little reason to stream against them.

Astros: The Astros are incredibly similar to the Angels. They are strong offensively, sitting fourth in baseball in runs scored and ninth in OPS. But they find their spot on this list primarily because of a minuscule 19.1 percent strikeout rate that is the best in baseball. The club has several high-contact hitters, making these trends sustainable.

Red Sox: Boston has met offensive expectations by placing second in MLB with a .762 OPS and also ranking among the league leaders in virtually every offensive category. With J.D. Martinez back in top form, and big names surrounding him such as Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, this lineup is unlikely to cool off.

D-backs: Although they have dealt with injuries to regulars such as Christian Walker, Ketel Marte and Kole Calhoun, Arizona has been very productive. The club sits second in runs scored and ranks sixth in OPS despite having a below-average BABIP. This was a team that I was targeting with streamers at the beginning of the season but am avoiding for now.