With the Yahoo Fantasy Trade Deadline having come and gone, most managers believe that the waiver wire is the only path to improved roster production down the stretch. And while making smart moves on waivers is undoubtedly essential to success, the less-discussed way to get ahead of the competition in the coming weeks is to make the right moves with shuttling players between the bench and active lineup.
Fantasy managers discuss streaming starters often, but finding the right hitter options each day is also very important. With that in mind, here are the best and worst matchups for hitters, including some specific names to target in the coming days.
The Skinny: The Nats are far and away the best streaming target for opposing hitters. Here are the five current members of their rotation, with their ERA as a starter this season in brackets: Josiah Gray (4.79), Patrick Corbin (6.96), Cory Abbott (5.79), Anibal Sanchez (7.20), Paolo Espino (5.27 ERA). Hitters should be aggressively streamed against this last-place club for the remainder of the season.
The Skinny: The usual plan for facing Colorado is to stream hitters when they are at Coors Field but not during their road games. However, their staff actually has a slightly higher ERA on the road (5.07) than at home (4.96) this year. The team doesn’t have any starters with an ERA below 4.50, and their relief corps has logged the second-highest ERA in baseball.
Upcoming streaming targets: San Francisco, August 19-21, Mike Yastrzemski (OF), Joey Bart (OF), Luis Gonzalez (OF). Texas, August 23-24, Leody Taveras (OF), Ezequiel Duran (2B/3B/SS), Bubba Thompson (OF).
The Skinny: Pittsburgh hasn’t been the worst pitching staff in any area this year, but they rank in the bottom-5 teams in most splits. Their starting staff has a couple barely-respectable performers (J.T. Brubaker, Mitch Keller), as does their bullpen (Wil Crowe, David Bednar, who is on the IL) but beyond those arms things are pretty bleak. Remarkably, the Bucs starters have collected just 14 wins this year (the second-lowest total is 22).
Upcoming streaming targets: Cincinnati, August 19-21, Donovan Solano (2B/3B), Jake Fraley (OF), Kyle Farmer (3B/SS). Atlanta, August 22-24, Vaughn Grissom (2B/SS), Eddie Rosario (OF).
The Skinny: Cincinnati has shown some signs of improvement in the second half, despite trading away their two most reliable starters, Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle. Still, this is a staff that ranks 29th in baseball this year in overall ERA (5.04) and last in bullpen ERA (4.96). Even some of their young starters with potential (Graham Ashcraft, Nick Lodolo, Hunter Greene), will likely be inconsistent down the stretch.
Upcoming streaming targets: Pittsburgh, August 19-21, Ben Gamel (OF), Kevin Newman (2B/SS), Michael Chavis (1B/2B/3B). Philadelphia, August 22-25, Jean Segura (2B), Bryson Stott (2B/SS), Darick Hall (UT).
Kansas City Royals
The Skinny: Kansas City ranks 27th in overall ERA, mainly thanks to a relief corps that sits in 28th spot. This is the team to target when looking for baserunners, as their 1.47 WHIP places 29th. I would avoid streaming against Brady Singer (3.29 ERA) and go after the Royals on most other days.
Upcoming streaming targets: Tampa Bay, August 18-21, Yandy Diaz (1B/3B), Jose Siri (OF), Isaac Parades (1B/2B/3B).
Pitching staff to avoid
Here are some details on pitching staffs that you should avoid with marginal hitters. These staffs have been so effective that aside from star players, you should look to get your hitters to the bench when facing them.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers are on another level when it comes to pitching prowess, leading the Majors in ERA and WHIP. And they are doing it without an army of future Hall of Famers. They will likely give up very few runs in upcoming home series against a light-hitting Marlins lineup and a mediocre Brewers offense.
Houston Astros: Houston boasts arguably the deepest rotation in baseball, albeit one that is not at the top of the list in terms of star power. And their team has an equally deep relief corps that leads the Majors in ERA. Although they will have their work cut out for them in upcoming series against the Braves and Twins, we usually see great pitching come out on top against good lineups.
New York Mets: The Mets already had an effective rotation, and the return of Jacob deGrom has made them so much stronger. They should be completely avoided on the days that deGrom and Max Scherzer start, and mostly avoided on the other days as well. They have an upcoming four-game series against the Phillies that will be followed by a two-game set vs. the Yankees.
New York Yankees: Speaking of the Yankees, they get the last spot in this prestigious group. I don’t fear this pitching staff as much as the ones listed above, but the results speak for themselves, and the Yankees sit third in baseball in ERA. They will have their work cut out for them in their two upcoming series (Blue Jays, Mets) but should be up to the task.