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I like to consider myself a pioneer of the streaming approach. I won a league about seven years ago completely ignoring saves and just stacking up the starts each week. While streaming is undoubtedly more directly associated with pitching, there's plenty of value in streaming for offense as well.

Maybe you have a stacked roster and you can't drop anyone. But for those of us with a couple of guys on the roster fringes, it's never too early to look into targeting a specific player or two to gain an edge in a particular category. This season, I will be making weekly recommendations for extreme short term category specialists every week in three offensive areas: speed, power, and average; and three pitching areas: strikeouts, wins, and ratios (ERA/WHIP).

Below are my Week 4 category streamers for fantasy baseball. All position eligibility and ownership percentages are based on Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

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Head-to-Head Category Streamers to Consider

Speed

Michael A. Taylor (OF, WAS) 29% Owned

Somehow his ownership percentage has dropped since last week. Michael A. Taylor makes his second consecutive appearance on this list. He stole a base early last week and although he was still below the Mendzona line as of Wednesday, there's nothing wrong with his legs. Adam Eaton may have returned by the time you are reading this, but that's okay - Taylor will still get some starts and when he does, you can start him with the expectation of some steals.

Rajai Davis (OF, CLE) 1% Owned

The Indians' fourth outfielder is not an every day player, but man is he fast. This is the ultimate discount play here and you are purely putting him on your roster to put in your lineup on days where he actually plays with the hopes of getting a steal or two. Rajai Davis only had 25 at bats on the season as of Wednesday, but he already amassed four stolen bases. As long as you're on top of team starting lineups and with a roster spot available, Davis is a strong bet for a steal when he plays.

 

Power

Christian Villanueva (3B, SD) 57% Owned

Power is tough to come by on the waiver wire so we're going with a guy that's over the 50% ownership threshold. I'm still not completely sold on Christian Villanueva. The .417 BABIP has no choice but to come down. However, Villanueva does have a history of lofty BABIPs, indicating he puts the ball in play. That's supported by his low strikeout rate in the minors. Unfortunately, that has jumped up to over 30% in the majors. Nevertheless, when he does make contact, Villanueva is hitting the ball in the air more and on the ground less. He has a history of power, hitting 20 home runs in just 109 games in AAA in 2017. If he does fizzle out, you can just drop him. For now, enjoy the power.

Matt Kemp (OF, LAD) 32% Owned

I know what you're thinking: "What year is it?" I am not endorsing any sort of Matt Kemp revival, though. I'm merely pointing out that he had three home runs in his first 50 plate appearances and was, at one point, one of the best hitters in the league. His ridiculous 32% strikeout rate and BABIP over .400 are reason to doubt his long term sustainability, but power wise, he's hot right now, and you need some power.

 

Average

Michael Brantley (OF, CLE) 39% Owned

Since returning from injury, Michael Brantley, a career .293 hitter, is hitting .346 (as of Wednesday) to start his 2018 season. He was once an elite fantasy player, but his productivity was derailed by many injuries. He's healthy...for now, but while he is healthy, he needs to be on your team. He's striking out just 7% of the time, which means he is giving himself opportunities to get on base. A higher walk rate would be nice, but his hit rate is mostly legitimate. Even with a small drop in BABIP, he projects as an over .300 hitter as long as he is on the field.

Joe Mauer (1B, MIN) 21% Owned

Joe Mauer is on this list for the second week in a row because he just keeps on hitting. Mauer was hitting .378 as of Wednesday after going 6/12 in the four consecutive games he played that were bookended by numerous rainouts. He's the emptiest and cheapest average you can imagine.

 

Strikeouts

Steven Matz (SP, NYM) 37% Owned

The young left hander has struck out at least as many batters as innings he's pitched in every start this season thus far. Steven Matz's next start will come in St. Louis against a Cardinals team that is middle of the road in team strikeouts. He is going to miss bats, but don't expect an overall elite performance.

Andrew Triggs (SP, OAK) 12% Owned

Andrew Triggs got blasted by the White Sox in his last outing, but had otherwise been pitching well before then. He is projected to start on Tuesday against a Rangers team that is top five in how often they strike out. Add to that fact that Triggs himself is striking out a batter an inning and you're looking at a great stream for some cheap strikeouts.

 

Wins

Zack Wheeler (SP, NYM) 24% Owned

Remember Zack Wheeler? He was supposed to be good and then he wasn't that good and then he was hurt and now he's back and maybe is good again? Well, his lone scheduled start for next week should come in the lofty confines of PETCO park against the offensively challenged San Diego Padres. The Mets look like one of the best teams in the league and should be favored over the Padres even on the road.

C.C. Sabathia (SP, NYY) 22% Owned

It's a pair of New York pitchers for you to stream next week. C.C. Sabathia should start at home Monday against the Twins. This is a favorable matchup and one in which the Yankees should be heavy favorites. Sabathia is most certainly not good at anymore and even his 4.00 ERA is due for a correction in the wrong direction. However, his offense should be able to carry him to a victory, but your ratios won't be happy about it.

 

ERA/WHIP

Andrew Cashner (SP, BAL) 15% Owned

The odds Andrew Cashner pitches well in a projected start at home against Detroit next week are just as good as the odds he finds himself on the DL between now and then. If that happens, I'm sorry this was a wasted recommendation. Cashner is off to a strong start in 2018. I doubt it continues based on his 5.51 FIP, but Detroit is not the team to start the regression. Cashner's absurd 91% strand rate is due to come down, but so is his equally ridiculous 16% home run to fly ball ratio. Stream Cashner against Detroit and then let him go.

Brandon McCarthy (SP, ATL) 11% Owned

The odds Brandon McCarthy pitches well in a projected start in Cincinnati next week are just as good as the odds he finds himself on the DL between now and then. Wait, didn't I write this already? Yeah, McCarthy and Cashner are pretty similar in that they've historically been pretty good pitchers when they are actually playing baseball. It's the playing baseball part that they've struggled with. McCarthy would actually be on the DL already with a dislocated shoulder, but luckily it was his left shoulder. McCarthy's 2.91 ERA is mostly legitimate and the Reds can't hit anything.

 

 

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