By Fred Zinkie
Special to Yahoo Sports
Successful fantasy owners stay on top of lineup splits when choosing their starting pitchers. While some lineups are consistently successful or unsuccessful, many offensive groups are more effective in some situations than in others. And with most lineups having amassed 1000 plate appearances against right-handers and 300 against lefties, we now have enough 2019 data to make evidence-based predictions.
This week’s edition of Advanced Stats will outline lineups that owners can target when streaming starting pitchers. And next week we will detail the lineups to avoid.
Lineups to target as often as possible
Marlins: The Marlins are the gold standard in terms of lineup targets. They are last in the Majors in overall OPS (.595) by more than 50 points. They are also dead last in runs scored and home runs by large margins. To make matters worse, they don’t have the pitching staff to hide their anemic offense, which has resulted in an abysmal record. You should stream virtually anyone against them.
Giants: Although a recent offensive surge at Coors Field temporarily boosted their numbers, the Giants remain a prime target for virtually every streaming matchup. They rank 25th in the Majors in OPS vs. righties (.674) and 27th in OPS against southpaws (.600). Owners should be especially aggressive against San Francisco when they are at their spacious home park, where they own a Major League-worst .573 OPS.
Blue Jays: Despite owning a hitter-friendly venue, the Blue Jays offense has been putrid this year. The club ranks 27th in overall OPS (.651) and is no higher than 25th against either hand of hurlers. Toronto also sits fifth in the Majors in total strikeouts, making them even more likely to allow an opposing hurler to log a memorable outing.
Indians: The Indians’ lack of offseason upgrades have certainly caught up with them, as the club ranks 29th in baseball in overall OPS (.646) and sits in the bottom-5 against both right-handers and lefties. Once you get past the star power of Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, their starting nine gets thin in a hurry.
Tigers: We all expected Detroit to have a lackluster lineup, and they certainly haven’t disappointed. They rank in the bottom-10 in OPS against righties and southpaws, with an overall mark of .671 overall (26th in baseball). Their lack of pop (29th in baseball with 29 homers) makes them especially unlikely to burn an owner who streams against them.
Lineups to target with lefties
Pirates: Pittsburgh owns a respectable .702 OPS against right-handers (20th in baseball) but they rank dead last against lefties with an OPS of .581. Among Pirates who have logged at least 15 plate appearances against southpaws this year, only Melky Cabrera owns an OPS over .800.
Royals: Kansas City has been surprisingly effective against right-handers (10th in baseball with a .784 OPS) while looking more like the offense we expected when they face lefties (24th in baseball with a .661 OPS). They have four starting players with an OPS of .550 or lower against southpaws so far this season.
Lineups to target with righties
Reds: Cincinnati has been a disappointing team overall and their struggles against righties (.654 OPS, 26th in the Majors) have been a big reason. The club has actually fielded a top-10 lineup against lefties, making them one of the most unbalanced groups to this point in the campaign.
Lineup to target when they are on the road
Reds: The Reds make perfect sense in this spot, as their offense-inducing home park tends to hide some of their lineup deficiencies. The club has slugged well at Great American Ball Park (.805 OPS) while being baseball’s most unproductive group (.578 OPS) when playing on the road. By connecting the dots in this article, owners can clearly see that using right-handers against the Reds when they are on the road is one of the best streaming options. This is especially true if Joey Votto — who typically thrives against righties — continues to look like a player in rapid decline.
Lineup to target for strikeouts
Padres: The Mariners lead the Majors in whiffs but they are also tops in runs scored, which presents a Catch-22 situation for streaming starters. But the Padres are a safer target for those who want to accumulate whiffs, as they rank sixth in the bigs in that category and just 22nd in overall OPS (.701). San Diego also led the Senior Circuit in strikeouts a year ago.
Tune in next week when we outline the MLB lineups to avoid!