By Fred Zinkie
Special to Yahoo Sports
After spending the past two weeks covering lineups to target or avoid with starting pitchers, we will now turn our attention to the information that can lead to better decisions when putting hitters into the active roster. With so many clubs making extensive use of their entire pitching staff, fantasy owners can no longer sit back and select hitters based solely on the opposition’s starter. After all, that starter might pitch no more than half of the game, with relievers having a major impact on the success or failure experienced by batters. Here are the best clubs to target with looking to stream hitters into the lineup.
Staffs to target overall
Orioles: Baltimore’s pitching staff is in a league of their own, ranking last in the Majors in ERA (5.83) and OPS allowed (.864). They have also given up an astonishing 113 home runs, which is 20 more than any other team. John Means is the only Orioles hurler who has thrown more than 25 innings while maintaining a sub-4.50 ERA.
Royals: Kansas City currently sits 29th with a 5.28 ERA and ranks 26th with a .798 OPS allowed. The club is not among the worst for allowing long balls, but their 1.48 WHIP is better than just two teams. The Royals have some relievers who have posted respectable results, but Danny Duffy is their only starter with an ERA below 4.40.
Rangers: Texas may be the second best staff to target, as they rank no better than 25th in ERA, OPS allowed and WHIP. Mike Minor has given the club one stellar starter, but the rest of their rotation members own an ERA over 4.50 and they lack a single reliever who has thrown 20 innings while posting a sub-4.40 ERA.
Mariners: Two of the best staffs to target are in the AL West, with the Mariners placing as a bottom-3 club in ERA and OPS allowed. Struggles with the long ball make Seattle even more attractive, as it has surrendered more long balls than any club other than Baltimore. The club’s staff is full of peaks and valleys, with several staff members owning a sub-4.00 ERA and a few others posting obscene marks. In total, seven Seattle pitchers have allowed at least a half dozen homers to this point in 2019.
White Sox: Chicago places 26th in ERA, 28th in OPS allowed and 29th in WHIP. Lucas Giolito has been very effective, but he is the only member of the staff with an ERA under 5.00 across at least 20 innings.
Tigers: Southpaw Matt Boyd has been one of baseball’s best stories this year, and Spencer Turnbull has also fared well for the Tigers. But the club has struggled to get effective starts elsewhere, with most of the starters owning an ERA north of 5.90. Detroit is also one of three teams (along with Baltimore and Washington) with a bullpen ERA over 5.50.
Staff to target when they are at home
Rockies: This may be the most predictable part of the article, but the Rockies pitchers have struggled mightily (6.58 ERA) when working at their offense-inducing home park. In contrast, they have been a top-10 group in road ERA (3.94).
Staff to target when they are on the road
Marlins: Marlins Park is masking the true nature of Miami’s staff, as they have been a middle-of-the-pack outfit at home but the worst in the National League on the road (5.08 ERA). And the Marlins can’t blame the road venues for their struggles, as they have not visited many offense-inducing parks.
Staff to target for homers
Cardinals: St. Louis ranks among the Major League leaders in homers allowed, and the Cardinals struggles are balanced throughout their staff. All five of their regular starters have surrendered seven or more round-trippers to this point in 2019.
Staffs to target for steals
Mets: The interesting part about the Mets spot in this section is that their best starters are the biggest part of the problem. New York leads the Majors in steals allowed, with Jacob deGrom (11) and Noah Syndergaard (8) accounting for most of the issues.
A’s: Oakland has allowed the most steals in the American League, with reliever Lou Trivino giving up a significant amount of the damage. Oakland has struggled overall on the road, which should combine with the steals troubles to make the A’s a fine target when they are away from Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.