Streaming Pitchers – A Primer March 30, 2013  |  Brien Bonneville

Each day, beginning Monday, 2013 MLB Opening Day, I will post an article that gives my top pitchers for you Daily players and a small list of the top streaming options for the day. Below is a primer to get you ready. 


There are few things more controversial in fake baseball than streaming pitchers.   Streaming is when an owner  adds and drops starting pitchers to maximize the starts during the matchup. A good/lucky streamer is able to rack up the pitching stats and win categories like Ks and Ws and stay competitive in ERA and WHIP. A bad/unlucky streamer will skyrocket their ERA and WHIP and gain too few Ks or Ws to make it worth the add/drops…

To Stream, or Not To Stream? That is the Question,
First, know your rules. It is so simple but I can’t state it enough. Many leagues work to prevent streaming by capping add/drops either for the year, month, week or per matchup. Nevermind rules to prevent it, it may not make sense whatsoever in your league format.  This information is given for a standard 5×5 H2H format league. If you have a different format, judge how much weight this should carry for yours.

My league is a 5×5 H2H (pitching cats were ERA, WHIP, Ks, Ws, Saves) format and had a limit of 1 add per matchup day. Meaning in 7-day matchups, you had 7 moves that you could use all at once or spread out throughout that week. This add limit doesn’t prevent streaming but it cuts the amount you could do.

My draft strategy is to rack up the offense, pick up 2 of the top 5 Closers and at least 2 solid SPs and reserve the rest of my pitching slots for some decent adds and streaming slots.

Second, know your matchup. If you’re winning ERA and WHIP near the end of your matchup, chances are you aren’t going to stream. Sure you could possibly pick up Ws and Ks, but because you are selecting pitchers from the “Island of Misfit Toys,” it’s a gamble and you could end up losing ERA and WHIP too. Flip side: if you are getting hammered in ERA and WHIP or have it so locked up and it would take meltdown on the mound to lose it, you should try and stream to steal the Ws and Ks categories and maybe the matchup. Sometimes, you may just be a gambler willing to risk that you are the best pitcher streamer on your side of the Mississippi River or you’re the guy to  o afraid to drop anyone and against streaming.

Whatever your reasoning to stream or not to stream, I can say from experience, nothing is more sweet than having a close match up and stealing one or both of those categories for the win at the end of the last day. Especially, from an opponent with a far superior pitching staff who is terrified to stream. They’ll bitch about it, but hey, rules are rules and you’re within them. 

How to choose a pitcher from Waivers or Free Agency?
When choosing the appropriate pitcher to stream in, the baseball geeks will tell you to look at how pitcher friendly the ballpark is, the opponent’s lineup, pitcher history, if he is a righty or lefty facing a majority righty/lefty lineup and if he is a rookie or a veteran.

If you have the time for that, more power to you. C’mon man! Who has the time or know-how for all that crap. We are not statisticians or qualified to make scouting assessments, this is fake baseball, our HOBBY. As a fake baseball geek, I have a formula to help with Ws: look to Vegas. The nerds who set Vegas baseball betting odds look at all that and then some.

Every morning, my routine is to Google “baseball odds” and click one of the first results that provide free up-to-the minute baseball betting odds for that day. I then go to my Free Agency pool and narrow my results down to Starting Pitchers who are slated to start that day. I compare those pitchers to the Vegas odds: the more favored the team is to win, usually the more favorable the matchup for the SP. I print out the list and put stars next to the top Vegas-favorite-pitchers and then judge them if its close between pitchers, I judge them based on a few  factors:  I look at the pitcher’s K/9 count; I like NL pitchers better than AL pitchers (because in the NL there’s no DH and less base runners and runs scored); and if the top available favorites are AL pitchers, I  like pitchers on the powerhouse teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, etc.  because they usually win 90+ games. Make your choices and pray.

I hope you weren’t expecting some stat-based theory-of-relativity-type explanation of how you should choose a Starting Pitcher to stream. I’m not that smart but I do know to trust Vegas because the house always wins.

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