Fantasy Baseball: Starting pitcher streaming strategy for the second half

·Yahoo Fantasy Contributor
·4-min read

With the second half here, fantasy teams need to make bold moves with their pitching staff in order to secure the wins and strikeouts needed to move up the standings. And if you’re reading this article, chances are that your season is off to a pretty good start and you generally know what you’re doing. So, I’m not going to waste your time by telling you not to stream pitchers against the Blue Jays, Astros, and Dodgers.

Instead, I’m going to use this space to explain which teams I want to face in as many matchups as possible during the second half.

Favorable streaming matchups at virtually all times

Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona is arguably the best streaming target in baseball. The club ranks last in baseball with a 27-68 record, which means that opposing starters have a great chance for a win. They are dead last in OPS vs. righties (.656) and average against left-handers. And Arizona figures to be even more appealing after they unload Eduardo Escobar (21 homers) at the Trade Deadline.

Widely available starters who could be streamed against the D-backs this week: Tyler Anderson, Trevor Williams.

Pittsburgh Pirates

If one club can challenge Arizona as the most attractive streaming target, it’s Pittsburgh. Like the D-backs, the Bucs are bad overall (36-57) and have a dismal pitching staff (4.85 ERA), which creates plenty of win potential for opposing starters. Pittsburgh is also the lowest-scoring team in baseball and ranks 28th in OPS (.676). All five NL Central teams are either in this article or were strongly considered, meaning that pitchers in that division will have several favorable matchups down the stretch.

Widely available starters who could be streamed against the Pirates this week: Taylor Widener, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto.

Miami Marlins

Miami’s offense has been consistently ineffective this season. The club ranks no better than 26th in OPS vs. right-handers or lefties, and their pitcher-friendly home park means they can be streamed against in most situations. Miami has also struck out more often than all but three teams. The only caveat with the Marlins is that their strong starting staff subsequently forces opposing hurlers to earn their victories.

Widely available starters who could be streamed against the Marlins this week: Jon Lester, Ryan Weathers.

Chicago Cubs

After a decent start to the season, the Cubs have trended heavily in the wrong direction. Veterans such as Kris Bryant and Javier Baez have cooled off after hot starts and Ian Happ hasn’t been able to get on track at any point. Since June 1, the Cubs rank 28th in the Majors in OPS, and on the season, Chicago sits fifth in total strikeouts. Expected to be sellers at the deadline, the Cubs could be an even more appealing matchup by August 1.

Widely available starters who could be streamed against the Cubs this week: Merrill Kelly, Caleb Smith.

Seattle Mariners

Seattle is slightly ahead of Baltimore as the softest landing for opposing AL pitchers. The Mariners rank last in overall OPS and no higher than 27th against either right-handers or southpaws. Outfielder Mitch Haniger has fared well, and rookie Jarred Kelenic has the potential to turn around a poor Major League debut. Thus, Seattle can be targeted for now, but they could improve in the second half.

Widely available starters who could be streamed against the Mariners this week: None.

Favorable streaming matchups for right-handers

Baltimore Orioles

You may have expected the Orioles to be classified as a favorable matchup in all situations, but the club surprisingly ranks seventh in the Majors with a .758 OPS against left-handers. The club is a totally different story against righties, however, ranking 29th, which is a major reason for their dismal 30-62 record.

Widely available right-handers who could be streamed against the Orioles this week: Michael Wacha.

Favorable streaming matchups for left-handers

Cincinnati Reds

I’m surprised to put the Reds in this article, as they have been among the most productive NL lineups overall. But most of their production has come against right-handers, with the team ranking 26th in baseball in OPS vs. southpaws (.680). Star outfielder Jesse Winker (.509 OPS vs. lefties) is the biggest reason for this disparity. I will be especially aggressive streaming left-handers against the Reds when Cincinnati is on the road.

Cincinnati Reds' Jesse Winker (33)
Jesse Winker has been a monster this season, but surprisingly below-average against left-handed pitching. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Widely available left-handers who could be streamed against the Reds this week: Wade LeBlanc.

Tampa Bay Rays

Although the Rays are one of the better teams in baseball, they rank 29th in OPS against left-handers. The staggering results are not all that shocking, as the team includes left-handed hitters Ji-Man Choi, Austin Meadows, and Brandon Lowe, all of whom have a long track record of having more success against right-handed hurlers. As an added bonus, the Rays lead the Majors with 949 strikeouts.

Widely available left-handers who could be streamed against the Rays this week: Keegan Akin.

Favorable streaming matchups when on the road

Colorado Rockies

Using starters against the Rockies for non-Coors Field games is perhaps the most favorable of all situations in this article. Colorado has been abysmal on the road, posting a .584 OPS (more than 50 points lower than any other team) and a Major League worst 9-34 record. And the Rockies should be even worse in a couple of weeks when superstar shortstop Trevor Story is wearing a different uniform. I would stream ANY pitcher against the Rockies on the road, as long as I expect the hurler to toss at least five innings.

Widely available starters who could be streamed at home against the Rockies this week: David Price, Tony Gonsolin.

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