Streaming Wars: Exploiting the Waiver Wire to Win Your League

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Welcome to Streaming Wars, a new column offering waiver wire recommendations for the next day. Streaming goes by many names such as micromanaging, churn and burn, etc. Whatever you call it, the goal is the same - to fully leverage your weakest roster spots.

Streaming is not for everybody, but it is for mostbody. Sometimes, you'll have drafted too potent of a roster. You have no cuts! Others among you play in leagues where streaming is disallowed by explicit rule or via a taut waiver moves cap.

Even if you find yourselves in these situations, this column can still be useful.

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Agenda

  1. Why Stream?
  2. Today's Weather and Updates
  3. Tomorrow's Picks

 

1. Why Stream?

When streaming is allowed, chances are somebody in your league is already doing it. And when executed properly, frequent usage of the waiver wire greatly improves your odds of winning. Undoubtedly, most of you are familiar with the concept of pitcher streaming - picking pitchers with good matchups. This is especially useful in head-to-head formats, but it has its place in roto too.

It's less common to see fantasy owners stream hitters. This is the best way to improve your roster on the cheap. In a typical 12-team league, solid hitters with great lineup roles like Matt Joyce and Seth Smith are almost certainly freely available. You can use these overlooked bats to bolster your run production. It's also relatively simple to target home runs and stolen bases, grinding an extra 10 or 20 in both categories without having to find that coveted 20/20 multi-threat.

Most owners should look to stream on Mondays and Thursdays; MLB's off days. Fallow roster spots are anathema to fantasy success. And if the back end of your roster leaves something to be desired, stream every day until you find a gem.

 

2. Today's Weather and Updates

You'll notice the column caters primarily to tomorrow. The majority of leagues process next-day waivers, meaning you have to claim a guy today in order use him tomorrow. Some leagues process waivers immediately. Going forward, this section will link back to yesterday's column for those same-day leagues. I'll also offer weather and other relevant updates.

Speaking of weather, three games are at serious risk today. The Tigers-White Sox contest may be hopeless. Philadelphia-Cincinnati and Kansas City-Minnesota aren't much better off.

 

3. Tomorrow's Picks - Tuesday, April 4th

There are eight games tomorrow night, making it a great day to stream. MLB builds flexibility into the early season schedule because April showers are common enough to have their own popular saying.

 

Pitchers to Use

Early in the season is the trickiest time to target pitchers. The only fresh data at our disposal is from Spring Training which is often ruined by lopsided matchups and players experimenting with new pitches or swings. Aside from velocity, it's hard to separate signal from noise.

I mention this because I'm not at all confident about the waiver wire options. I do have my eye on Pat Corbin. His matchup against Johnny Cueto and the Giants at Chase Field isn't ideal. However, now another year removed from Tommy John surgery, this is the time for him to prove he's a major league pitcher. Last season, his command declined, and his stuff was more hittable. I've seen scouting reports saying the command is still fringy. He'll need a crisp walk rate to be a fantasy asset.

Tyler Anderson visiting Zach Davies at Miller Park is, again, far from ideal. Anderson is the "safer" play, although the Brewers offense is volatile. Milwaukee strikes out frequently, but there's also plenty of pop in the lineup. Anderson lacks a breaking ball, making his success last season a tad unusual. As for Davies, the statcast darling has yet to convert his strong peripherals into useful fantasy numbers. The home park doesn't help.

Other Targets: No thanks

 

Pitchers to Exploit

Go chase down Indians for a drubbing of mediocre Martin Perez. The once promising lefty flowered into mediocrity. He's a grubby dandelion. Perez has steep platoon splits. And lookee here, the Indians have an army of switch hitters and platoon bats. Fancy that.

Clayton Richard is almost too obvious to mention. You get this right? The Dodgers are good and Richard is bad. That said, Richard did carve out a superb ground ball rate last season. The Dodgers only partially resolved their unbalanced lineup.

Other Targets: CC Sabathia, Hisashi Iwakuma, Adam Wainwright

 

Homers on the Wire

So, about Richard. One or two of Franklin Gutierrez, Enrique Hernandez, and Scott Van Slyke will play tomorrow. I'm putting my money on Gutierrez even though he's not a great fit. Both Richard and Gutierrez favor ground balls. When those match, it usually favors the pitcher. Both Van Slyke and Hernandez have an even split between grounders and flies. All three mash lefties.

Time will give us clarity regarding the Dodgers platoons. Thankfully, the Indians have a locked in platoon to use. Brandon Guyer is a beast versus lefties. His career triple slash is .288/.390/.469. A shocking portion of his valued is supplied via getting hit by pitches. Guyer bats fifth or sixth, depending on Michael Brantley's status.

Other Targets: C.J. Cron, Matt Joyce, Ryan Schimpf, Yuli Gurriel, Josh Reddick, Jesus Aguilar, Corey Dickerson, Rickie Weeks, Steven Souza

 

Steals on the Wire

Steals are scarcer than home runs. It's a fact of fantasy baseball life.

The majority of leagues have opted to leave everyday utility man Hernan Perez on the waiver wire. The 26-year-old hit 13 home runs and stole 34 bases in 430 plate appearances last season. Those are droolworthy fantasy numbers. Unfortunately, a .272/.302/.428 batting line (89 wRC+) means he's better for us than the Brewers. Perez will play most days until a shiny prospect pushes him out of the way. Tyler Anderson isn't particularly prone to allowing stolen bases.

Other Targets: Travis Jankowski, Brett Gardner, Delino DeShields

 

Skill Positions

I'll typically supply a couple backup catchers, setup men, and other skill positions. Since it's the start of the season, I'll need to gather more information about usage patterns. For example, the Dodgers have sat Yasmani Grandal against lefties in the past, which would mean Austin Barnes is a great target. However, they've stated they will play Grandal against southpaws this year. No closers have been overused or are on the verge of losing their job.

 

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