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This post leverages Rudy and Grey’s Razzball Commenter League experience as well as some modeling (the dorky kind) to quantify the effectiveness of streaming and how it should inform one’s draft strategy in shallow mixed leagues (10-12 teams).  The streaming decisions made by Grey and I were HIGHLY influenced by our free, daily updated tools for streaming starting pitchers (Stream-o-nator) and hitters (Hitter-tron).

If you are reading this article (or this site for that matter), I assume you are familiar with streaming starting pitchers.  This is an essential strategy in all daily league formats whether one plays standard Roto or H2H.  While my beloved Stream-o-nator aims to make sure all our readers make the most informed decisions on which pitchers to stream over the next 7 days (and possibly more in 2014), I have yet to read any analysis that quantifies the value of the average streaming pitcher to inform draft strategy.  So this post is going to focus on quantifying the value of a streaming SP and, once I’ve completed quantifying the value of streaming relievers and hitters, I will figure out how this impacts draft strategy.

For this analysis, I am focusing on 12-team 5×5 mixed leagues with moderate GS/IP caps (~180 GS/1,350 or less IP).  In this format, most teams are going to hit their GS/IP cap so the value of a streamed GS is how it compares to a rostered pitcher’s GS.

I will try to directionally speak to the impact in other formats including:  1) large GS/IP cap leagues , 2) leagues with weekly roster changes, and 3) H2H leagues.  Regarding #1 and #3, the value of a streamed GS can be higher as it provides surplus W/K (versus no GS) and their value is higher than the ERA/WHIP downside.

One extra caveat – while ‘streaming’ implies the owner is constantly churning through pitchers, I define it differently.  I see it as pitchers that are picked up off free agency/waivers during the season.  So if I choose to hold onto that pitcher for a stretch, that is still streaming to me.  The important point is that these are pitchers that were neither drafted by your team nor were acquired via trade.

Valuing The ‘Composite Streaming Pitcher’ For 12-team Moderate GS cap leagues

Based on 2 years of using the Stream-o-nator, it seems like the projected value of the best available SPs in 12-team leagues is usually in the $6-$10 range.  So my expectation going in is that this is the ‘high’ range for the value of a composite streamer (i.e., combining one’s streams so that it has the same GS as a standard pitcher).  I would also imagine that the more one streamed, the lower this composite value would be since they could not afford to be as discriminating.

To test this, I went into the active stats of 3 RCLers who did significant streaming:  myself, Grey, and Retro Vertigo who finished tied for 2nd in the overall RCL standings and competed in the most competitive league (ECFBL).  I includes the stats of all starting pitchers that 1) were not drafted and 2) were not traded for.

# of SP AVG IP/SP IP H ER BB K W SV ERA WHIP
Grey 58 11.0 636 625 291 197 574 43 0 4.12 1.29
Rudy 32 13.3 426 424 182 153 413 30 0 3.85 1.35
RV 52 10.9 567 543 228 145 481 36 0 3.62 1.21

As you can see, all three of us were in a similar range (426-636 IP) with Grey on the high end and me on the low end.  This was mostly out of necessity as I had a more successful SP draft than Grey (with 80+ GS and about 600 IP going to Cliff Lee, F-Her, and Derek Holland).  My average innings per non-drafted starter (IP/SP) was the highest among the three because a large chunk of my streaming IP (a little less than 50%) was invested in Justin Masterson (120 IP) and Dillon Gee (83 IP).  Grey and Retro Vertigo didn’t go as bestie on streamers as me with their highest IPs being Grey’s Gerrit Cole (37 IP) and RV’s Chris Tillman (36 IP).

To determine the $ value and to make easier comparisons between the three lines, I pro-rated the stats down to the average starter’s GS.  Since ESPN does not break out GS in the ‘Active Stats’, I went with the assumption that a streaming starter delivers 6/7th the IP as a typically rostered SP (think 6 IP/GS instead of 7 IP/GS).  I have the average SP at 197.3 IP so the pro-rated IP total is 169.1.

IP H ER BB K W SV ERA WHIP $
Grey Pro-Rate SP 169.1 166 77 52 153 11.4 0 4.12 1.29 7.3
Rudy Pro-Rate SP 169.1 168 72 61 164 11.9 0 3.85 1.35 8.2
RV Pro-Rate SP 169.1 162 68 43 143 10.7 0 3.62 1.21 9.3

Retro Vertigo did a slightly better job than Grey and I at streaming last year – although the difference is minor enough (about $3 when multiplied out to the total streamed IP) that Grey and I’s better performance (or preference) for Wins/K over ERA/WHIP might have been better for us in term of standings points.  (Note:  My Masterson/Gee combo were worth $14…meaning my other streams were worth around $3.  Ugh.)

So it does appear that $6-$10 is a solid range for ‘best case’ streaming composite pitcher value in a 12-team league (we are talking about the guy who runs the site and RV finished in the top 1%).  My $3 streaming value (sans Masterson/Gee) shines some light on the less glamorous range of potential outcomes.

In a GS cap league, however, there is a bonus value to streaming SPs – you can plug in a middle reliever into the roster slot while between streams.  If you figure that you only need 30 GS out of your designated ‘Streaming SP’ roster slot, then you have 130 games or so to slot in middle relievers.  Assuming a competitive league (where you need to grab the SP a day or two before gametime) and cases where one holds onto a pitcher between starts because of a favorable matchup, let’s reduce that 130 games to about 60 games.

Below are the pro-rated stats for 20 innings of non-drafted middle relievers – using Retro Vertigo’s stats since Grey’s streamed relievers were heavy on SAGNOF and I had so much drafted RP value (including K-Rob and 1/2 a year of Jansen as MR) that I had little need/room for it.

IP H ER BB K W SV ERA WHIP $
Composite Streamed Middle Reliever 20 16.7 7.4 7.6 20.7 0.6 2.1 3.33 1.21 3.7

How is this worth almost $4?  Well, adding this MR’s stats to an average team has no impact on ERA/WHIP but represents 0.2 Point Shares for Wins, 0.2 Point Shares for Saves and 0.6 Point Shares for K’s (i.e., adding 20.7 K’s, on average, would make a team with a 10 in K’s go to a 10.6).  An additional Point Share is worth about $3.9 and this composite pitcher is worth about that.

(I ran the same analysis using Grey’s SAGNOF-heavy MRs and it would’ve netted $4.6 – trading off some ERA/WHIP for 3 more Saves)

So if one is a dedicated and good enough streamer, the value of that roster spot is around $12 ($8+$3.7).  Using my $3 as the ‘floor’, I’ll put the range at $6-$12 for this roster spot with $9 as the ‘average’.

Valuing The ‘Composite Streaming Pitcher’ For 12-team Moderate IP cap league

The difference between a GS cap vs. IP cap league is that the rostered SP’s advantage in IP per GS no longer matters.  This increases streamer pitcher value as it removes the IP/GS advantage that the rostered SP has (which reduces streamer K potential by 14%) and increases the number of GS you can cram into the IP cap (which increases the Win potential for streamers to 17% vs a rostered SP).

If the above gave you a headache, hopefully the table below will make more sense.

GS Cap IP Cap
GS IP/GS IP Impact on Ks (assume equal K/9) Impact on Wins (assuming equal W/GS) GS IP/GS IP Impact on Ks (assume equal K/9) Impact on Wins (assuming equal W/GS)
Rostered SP 180 7 1260 0% 0% 180 7 1260 0% 0%
Streamer SP 180 6 1080 -14% 0% 210 6 1260 0% +17%

Here are the same stats from the earlier section but pro-rated to the average IP total I used for a rostered starter:

IP H ER BB K W SV ERA WHIP $
Grey Pro-Rate SP 197.3 194 90 61 178 13.3 0 4.12 1.29 10.2
Rudy Pro-Rate SP 197.3 196 84 71 191 13.9 0 3.85 1.35 11.4
RV Pro-Rate SP 197.3 189 79 50 167 12.5 0 3.62 1.21 12.5

So the value of a streaming SP in a moderate IP cap league is about the same as in a GS cap league as the value of those extra streamer SP innings (in this case) and the streamed MR innings (in the GS cap case) end up balancing out.

Valuing The ‘Composite Streaming Pitcher’ For 12-team Large GS/IP Cap Leagues

In a large GS/IP cap league (including ones where there are no cap), it is possible that not every team maxes out their pitching.  A streamed start in that context means that all Wins/K’s are additive and the only possible downside is on ERA/WHIP.  Given that ESPN/Yahoo/CBS league defaults have GS/IP caps, my guess is that large/no GS/IP cap leagues are disproportionately deeper leagues and have weekly vs daily roster changes (this is the case with every 15-team MLB and AL/NL-only league).

So the value of a streaming pitcher when replacing a spot normally dedicated to a drafted SP is the same as in moderate GS/IP cap leagues.

To estimate the impact of additive GS in this type of format, I added my pro-rated SP values to the average SP line for 12-team leagues – moving the IP from 1,361 to 1,530.  If somehow you were able to stream at an $8 level AND pitch 170 more IP than the average team in your league, the value is around $25 with gains of 4 standings points in both Wins/Ks while only giving up a point each in ERA/WHIP.  You can also look at as you are gaining $1 for every 6.7 IP.  Even if you can stream at a $4 level, you would be looking at $1 about every 15 IP.

Note:  It’s also possible that in a large GS/IP cap that there are more SPs rostered to max Wins/Ks which would might make it harder to find quality streaming candidates.  Net-net, maxing your GS/IP is almost always a smart strategy as long as you are adding pitching starts that are above $0 and maybe even a few dollars in the negative (as it is guaranteed upside on Wins/K’s with, on average, lesser downside on ERA/WHIP)

Valuing The ‘Composite Streaming Pitcher’ For 12-team H2H Leagues And/Or Weekly Roster Change 

In both these roster formats, the common streaming practice is to target the ’2 start’ pitchers to maximize counting stats.  Everything equal, maxing GS/IP is a positive.  Given everyone is on the search for 2-start pitchers, you are typically left either 1) taking a crappier ’2 start’ pitcher than the average available ’1 start’ pitcher or 2) rostering a lot of SPs.

So the fundamental valuing question in this type of format is really “How much worse does a 2-start pitcher have to be than a 1-start pitcher that their ERA/WHIP impact hurts my team more than their W/K contribution?”

To model this, I looked at Stream-o-Nator data for starts worth exactly $1-$10 and averaged them together for a composite.  It looked like this:

 $ W L IP H ER K BB ERA WHIP
1 0.4 0.4 6.0 6.2 2.9 4.3 2.1 4.36 1.39
2 0.4 0.4 6.0 6.1 2.8 4.1 2.0 4.24 1.35
3 0.4 0.4 6.0 6.1 2.8 4.4 2.0 4.23 1.34
4 0.4 0.4 6.0 6.1 2.8 4.5 1.9 4.17 1.34
5 0.4 0.4 6.0 5.9 2.7 4.6 2.1 4.03 1.33
6 0.4 0.4 6.0 5.7 2.7 4.7 2.2 3.99 1.31
7 0.4 0.4 6.0 5.8 2.6 4.7 2.0 3.90 1.29
8 0.4 0.4 6.1 5.7 2.6 5.0 2.1 3.84 1.28
9 0.4 0.4 6.1 5.8 2.6 5.1 2.0 3.81 1.27
10 0.4 0.4 6.2 5.5 2.6 5.1 2.2 3.75 1.25

I then added these totals as well as 2x these totals (to reflect 2-start pitchers) to the average team’s yearly totals to estimate their impact.  The regressed formula I got from looking at 2-start pitchers with average start values between $2-$6 is the following:

-1.635+2.125*(Average of 2-start $ Value)

Here is how that translates:

Two Start $ Avg Equivalent $ Value of One Start
1 0.5
2 2.6
3 4.7
4 6.9
5 9.0
6 11.1
7 13.2
8 15.4
9 17.5
10 19.6

The reason that a 2-start pitcher is worth less than its sum (e.g., two $2 starts not worth $4) is because the impact on Wins/K’s is slightly below 2x (since a $4 pitcher has slightly better Win/K than a $2) and the two-start pitcher drags down ERA/WHIP more than 2x (because the $2 pitcher has worse ERA/WHIP than a $4).  This should hit the 2x mark when the `2-start pitcher` average $ value equals the value of the average GS.

  1. Robby D says:
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    Wow, this means the streaming for SP/MR in my 10 team H2H in ESPN is more valuable because there is no Innings Cap.

    I’ve utilized this strategy and with no limitations on IP/GS, this is a way to drown my opponents in counting stats. I normally give up WHIP and ERA concerns, but I’m going to have to lean more heavily on MR in the off days or if there is no good option for a starter instead of taking the best starter option if it’s sub-10$

    This strategy in a 10 team H2H with 6 keepers allows me to keep 0 pitchers every year and not pick up a starter until round 9-10 because I know I can get the value on the wire (Iwakuma was on Waivers last year at the beginning of the year, Kuroda the year before), but as I mentioned to you on twitter before, I will need to invest in at least one or two top closers because I’ve gone too extreme in the SAGNOF department and had to eat a Marmol in the past which is really detrimental to the WHIP/ERA, and tastes like an old gym sock.

    Thanks for the analysis Rudy, This really helps refine the finer points on the draft strategy.

  2. beardawg says:
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    Thanks Rudy! Doin’ work!

    I suppose I’m stating the painfully obvious to say the upshot is to divert about $6-9 from your auction pitching budget to your hitting budget?

    I also never realized our 1700 IP cap was so high in comparison to others’.

    • beardawg says:
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      @beardawg: or, alternatively, move $6-9 up from your lower SP slots into higher SP slots, I suppose.

    • @beardawg: My take is that if you play in a shallow format with daily, unlimited roster changes, it’s ridiculous to draft an SP that you don’t think can deliver $10-$12. So it’s worth investing in an ace or two but no need to roster a 5th/6th SP.

  3. JDW says:
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    Other posters will throw rotten tomatoes at me for what I am about to say but – how the hell is this not a pay site? You guys bust your ASSES for us and ask for nothing in return but smart-alecky responses and the occasional thanks. Well, I make sure I click on every AD on here a few times a day. Great work!

    • RandomItalicizedVoice says:
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      @JDW: Yeah it’s pretty remarkable what these guys do. I went to another FBB site over the weekend, mostly to check out a podcast about draft strategy (which was awful both contentwise as well as presentation style…and not to mention they felt the need to throw in 3-4 minutes of commercials every 10-15 minutes. Guess what the commercials were for? The FBB products that website sells! Seriously, 3 commercials in a row every 15 minutes. Awful!) So after I turned off the podcast after 30 minutes, I decided to check out the website. They allow you to ask question of the writers on the site….for $1.50 (or so) per question! Can you believe it?? How rich would Grey, Rudy et al be raking in $1.50 per question going by the number of questions they answer every day? It really blew me away and made me really appreciate what is on offer here. The guys can’t possibly get enough thanks from us.

      PS – Buy a daiquiri JDW

    • Blue says:
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      @JDW: Tip them. I did last year.

      • Philsfan76 says:
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        Grey’s ‘e’ book was a great read last summer
        @Blue:

    • Whatever says:
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      @JDW:

      A lot of us donate via their paypal link (Buy them a Daiquiri).

  4. mauledbypandas says:
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    I get all weak in the knees when you go all mathy on us, Rudy

  5. Mike says:
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    What do you suggest for H2H leagues with no IP limit, but only 3 transactions allowed per week? Streaming can give you more starts so you have an edge on W/K, but can come at the cost of no transactions to pickup hot players, new closers, or call ups. I’m still unsure if streaming is worth it in this format, and middle relievers seem like even more of a gamble.

    • @Mike: Transaction caps make it tougher. I’d first make sure you’ve got all your hitting spots filled. After that, I’d figure out ways to max GS including keeping the bench stocked with a couple of them.

  6. oaktownsteve says:
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    I’m interested to see where you go next with this, Rudy. In this piece you focus on an owner who is going to stream just to cover SP6. In the future of this are you going to look at the effect of streaming more to all of your starts. Obviously the more you stream, the worse the performance out of you GS but as a trade off, the more the influence of low ratio, high K rate relievers that can be rostered in lieu of carrying full time starters and without using additional bench slots holding SPs that are not pitching on that day. Will you get into the optimal number of stream spots for an RCL league?

    • A Hill O' Beans says:
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      @oaktownsteve: Not to jump in and keep Rudy from commenting but, to see the effect on a team that streamed almost all of its starts have a look at my comment below.

      http://razzball.com/fantasy-baseball-streaming-strategy-starting-pitchers/#comment-2150034

      I drafted only 4 starters and the rest relievers (MR and CL). My starters were Dickey (who wasn’t particularly good), Morrow (who I traded before opening day), Cashner (who I only held for about a month), and JZimmerman (who I traded mid season for Pujols). So in essence I got less than 2 full starters out of that, and the rest of my starts were streams.

    • @oaktownsteve: Not planning on taking SP streaming any further. I think b/w this and the earlier posts on hit/pitch split, my conclusion is that my 2013 strategy is spot-on. Draft only 4 SP – but find solid ones. Stream the other 2 and if you find someone good, keep them. Stock up on relievers.

      • oaktownsteve says:
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        @Rudy Gamble:

        I’m more on the HoB side. I don’t think 2 streamers is enough. The impact of the relievers is huge.

        • A Hill O' Beans says:
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          @oaktownsteve: yeah I think if you really want to maximize your roster like this you can’t have more than 3 SP. That way you can always have all of your active roster spots in use (with only 3 bench spots in the RCLs). The rub is that it won’t leave you any flexibility without not making use of an active spot, so I found 2 SP to be better. I may even give just 1 a try fora full year.

          Another benefit I found was some of your MRs turn into closers, who are fairly easy to move in trades for upgrades on offense.

          • oaktownsteve says:
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            @A Hill O’ Beans:

            We see eye to eye on all of this. I drafted one closer last year, Casey Janssen, and drafted Kenley as a closer in waiting and I ended up with 159 saves.

            After crunching a lot of numbers I also arrived at 2 as the right number of SPs to roster to maximize competitive advantage. In addition to in season roster flexibility it also gives you some draft leverage.

            Well some of my leaguemates are bound to read this, but I’ve put it all out there in the forums before. So to anybody in the FCL, here’s my fastball…try to hit it.

            • oaktownsteve says:
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              @oaktownsteve:

              Here were my pitching totals last year:

              3.14/1.13/94 W/159 saves/1451 Ks

              I didn’t use all 180 starts as I was in a tight ERA/WHIP race and shut it down the last week.

              • A Hill O' Beans says:
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                @oaktownsteve: Yeah, we’re pretty close there. My total pitching line for the year:

                3.37 / 1.17 / 105 W / 176 SV / 1489 K’s

                I managed 176 saves despite trading away Greg Holland in the preseason, and 4 other closers before the end of July. That really allowed me to fill any, and there were minimal, holes in my offense from the draft.

                So the streaming helps you by valuing guys at the end of the draft that wouldn’t even be drafted (MR), so you don’t have to reach at all. Allows the picks you would normally spend on SP in the draft to go to offense. Then after the draft you’ve got access to a seemingly endless supply of useful MR, you’re constantly getting MR turn into closers which you can then trade for better bats. You’ve got lots of disposable roster spots for short schedule days to get extra bats in the lineup. All you have to do is be decent (and somewhat lucky obviously) when you stream.

                I’m not sure how much stat analysis, etc you do for your streaming, but for mine (which was pretty darn effective) it was just simple things like pitchers park, or bad offense, or above average SP and lots of gut calls. I didn’t spend too much time going in depth on splits and things.

                • Oaktownsteve says:
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                  @A Hill O’ Beans:

                  Yep. Same. I watch a ton of games. Have season tix. Listen to games on satellite. I feel like I have a good idea most times. Really more about having a plan for getting the streamer you want before somebody else.

  7. The Thumb says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Rudy, earlier you said:
    ” My take is that if you play in a shallow format with daily, unlimited roster changes, it’s ridiculous to draft an SP that you don’t think can deliver $10-$12. So it’s worth investing in an ace or two but no need to roster a 5th/6th SP.”
    I play in a 10 team roto with no transaction limit, daily moves, and a 1500 IP max (have to roster 5 SP). Coming out of the draft we just had, my staff is Sale, Teheran, Salazar, Gray, Masterson, Smyly (last round upside pick).
    Compared to my league mates, I think my pitching has a lot more risk (with possibly more reward), however my offense is, in my opinion, leaps and bounds better than anyone else’s.
    My strategy was to draft young, high K pitchers and then use a streamer spot for guys like Dillon Gee at home, Hodgepadres, etc.. Did I do well?

    Thanks!

    • @The Thumb: I like it – especially if you can make sure to max out your IP (I assume at least some don’t).

      • The Thumb says:
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        @Rudy Gamble: yeah usually about 6 of the 10 teams do because the others have given up at that point, oh well.

  8. A Hill O' Beans says:
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    Great stuff Rudy.

    As someone who had a team that streamed extensively in the RCL last year (and finished 14th), including extensive use of RP when I didn’t have a SP to stream I find this very interesting. I couldn’t help but compare my numbers against the 3 examples you provided, and they were pretty close.

    My team did slightly more streaming I think, using 64 SP (non-drafted, non-traded for), and 35 different RP (again, non-drafted, non-traded for).

    My composite SP looked as follows. I outdid you guys in W and ERA for my starters, but had to sacrifice Ks to do it.
    169.1 IP / 136 K / 12.6 W / 3.48 ERA / 1.22 WHIP

    My composite RP is as follows. I think I outdid the composite you listed by a good margin here.

    20 IP / 22.2 K / 1.1 W / 6.4 SV / 2.75 ERA / 1.12 WHIP

    I’m fairly certain that these numbers are somewhat comparable to the guys that I did actually draft (Dickey/JZimm/Cashner for SP, Grilli/Frieri/Perez/Pestano/Robertson/McGee/DHernandez for RP).

    Anyway, fascinating stuff Rudy.

    • @A Hill O’ Beans: If you finished 14th, I imagine any streaming you did was very good. I have found that most commenters prefer safe ERA/WHIP streamers (usually games at pitcher parks) and shy away more from those with W/K potential. There really isn’t a right or wrong way w/ it. Just an observation. Thanks for sharing your team’s performance!

    • oaktownsteve says:
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      @A Hill O’ Beans:

      Last year I streamed 134 starts with a 3.25 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 8.00 k/9

      I also got 460 innings from relievers at a 3.01 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 10.28 k/9

      • The Thumb says:
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        @oaktownsteve: how do you find this specific information? I’d be very interested to see how I did in that regard. My league uses Yahoo if that affects anything…

        • Oaktownsteve says:
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          @The Thumb: @The Thumb:

          I got it off espn league site. Not sure if yahoo has it.

      • @oaktownsteve: That’s great If you can stream that well, then I can see being more aggressive in how many pitchers you stream.

        • Oaktownsteve says:
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          @Rudy Gamble:

          460 relief innings a ton of extra innings at that K rate. Lots of extra wins too. Really that’s the story. Not the stream.

          • @Oaktownsteve: That really is a lot of innings. I drafted K-Rob and Jansen so had a sweet MR base. Then had the worst MR week ever (3 straight MR streams, 3 straight 3+ ER innings). I don’t think I did much MR streaming after that but didn’t need to anyway (top in league for K’s and SVs)

            • Oaktownsteve says:
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              @Rudy Gamble:

              I didn’t stream mr’s. I rostered good ones. The more starts you stream without holding starters for more than a day, the more roster slots available for relievers. I basically held 8 all year.

              I seriously doubt I’ll be able to stream as effectively this year, but the strategy may still hold I think.

              • Grey

                Grey says:
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                @Oaktown: First 9 picks of my NFBC, ready? 1. Dread Pirate 2. Freeman 3. Segura 4. Cliff Lee 5. Trumbo 6. Anibal 7. Wieters 8. Addison Reed 9. Arenado

                • Oaktownsteve says:
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                  @Grey:

                  Assuming you were out of the. 4 can’t argue with cutch. Magoo would not approve of freeman. I’m ok with it especially with the trumbo pick. Well rewarded with patience on pitching by having lee fall. I don’t love segura this year but I know you still like him. Can’t fault the idea to lock up ss with speed. I’ve been waiting a little longer on catchers but again you need it get a c1 somewhere in that range. I think Reed is a bit of a risk among the SP1. Some stuff in his profile red flags. Aranado a solid pick. Probably the last guy in his 3b tier. I think very solid roster construction though not all the guys you took would necessarily be my targets.

                  • Grey

                    Grey says:
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                    I hear ya… I was out of 4 slot… McCutchen and Freeman are counting stat and average guys, figure Trumbo is power and Segura is speed… Wieters is power to offset Freeman a tad and Arenado is a upside guy… I don’t love Reed, was between him and Perkins but like the Ks and maybe possibility for more saves in Arizona… It really was a coin flip… Anibal and Lee are solid staff builders, obviously…

                    • oaktownsteve says:
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                      @Grey:

                      I’ve been waiting a little later in mocks to take that SP2 and Anibal is also a guy that I’m not targeting. I have a weird feeling he’s going to have arm trouble this year. Had a little flair up last year. Pitched a lot of innings with the post-season. But can’t fault that pick either. I like what you did with the team and you didn’t blow yourself with bad roster construction. If you got your player evaluations right, you should be well positioned.

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Thanks! Yeah, I probably could’ve waited on Anibal, but I didn’t know how the draft would play… In hindsight, I would’ve waited on a SP2… I’ve since taken Patrick Corbin and Norichika Aoki with my next two picks…

                  • Big Magoo says:
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                    @Grey: @Oaktownsteve: I don’t have a problem with Freeman as a player. I just think that he’s overvalued as a fantasy commodity. He’s a .290+, 23-25 HR, 90+ RBI guy in my eyes. Very useful, but I think he needs to be more of a 28-30 HR player to separate himself from 1Bs like A-Gon and Craig and justify his price tag.

                    I think that’s a well balanced start. Terrific 1-2 punch at SP with Lee and Anibal (I like him more than OTS). Addressed multiple positions. Maybe just a hair light on power, and I’m not a fan of Reed. Your first three picks would allow you guys to take on a lower average power guy like Granderson, Cruz, or Moss to complement your core players, if you’re still around that spot in the draft.

                    • oaktownsteve says:
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                      @Big Magoo:

                      Not sure who else but Corbin was available for the SP3 pick, but could work out.

                      I like Aoki a lot this year, but agree with Magoo below that it’s starting to drift a little speed heavy, power light. I think you’re going to have to start to play catch up in RBIs and HRs pretty quick like.

                • Greyismyhero says:
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                  @Grey:

                  You know you are definitely my hero and all but you have me scratching my head….can you explain this please? Thanks

                  This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Verlander. I call this tier, “Semantics.” What I mean by the tier name is I wouldn’t draft Lee and Verlander, and they’re probably elite, so they could’ve just been put in the above tier, but they felt slightly below those top-top guys.

                  • Grey

                    Grey says:
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                    It’s semantics that they’re in a new tier, they could’ve just been in the above… But they just felt like they belonged in a lower one, so there they are…

                    • Greyismyhero says:
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                      @Grey:

                      Na hero, I got you on that, but you drafted Lee you said in NFBC. Help your apostle understand please.

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Ah… Yeah, it’s a 15 team league and 50 rounds deep… There’s no waivers so I can’t stream, trade or pick up anything… Rosters lock after the draft, so I need to set and forget my whole team….

                • Moose Out Front says:
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                  @Grey: I haven’t read all of 2014 Grey yet, but I would be surprised to see 2013 Grey with 2 SPs, a C, and CL in his first 9 picks.

                  Maybe I’m taking this punt C and wait wait wait on SP philosophy too far in my head.

                  • Grey

                    Grey says:
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                    Read what I said above about the league… There’s no waivers… It’s a set it and forget it team…

                    • Moose Out Front says:
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                      @Grey: OHhhhh. Sorry for my omission. That makes more sense.

              • @Oaktownsteve: Gotcha on rostered relievers. I like the strategy though I don’t have the same confidence in streaming SPs as you do. Would rather have a couple of solid SPs as a foundation and stream more if forced by injury (like I had to with offense last year).

          • Simply Fred

            simply fred says:
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            @Oaktownsteve: The ‘story’ is: hte strategy you used to get such fantastic results from streaming???

            • Oaktownsteve says:
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              @simply fred:

              Eat sleep breathe baseball

              • Simply Fred

                simply fred says:
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                @Oaktownsteve: will mow your lawn all season for streaming results of that lofty achievement!

                buldge, buldge, buldge…

                • Oaktownsteve says:
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                  @simply fred:

                  RCLs are public. You can see my picks. I’ll take the lawn mow anyhow.

            • Kid A says:
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              @simply fred: You might want to get that tumor growing out of your neck looked at.

  9. Malarkey says:
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    Thanks for this Rudy, awesome work!

    I have a quick question re: Iwakuma. Are you concerned at all that his finger injury will affect his pitching this year, especially since he relies so much on the split finger to generate the swing-and-miss. I’m contemplating him as a keeper but am worried that the finger could make him less effective.

    any thoughts?

    • @Malarkey: Yeah, it worries me. If you’ve got him for cheap, worth the risk. If you have other options, I’d take them.

  10. Buge Hoobs says:
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    Awesome, useful data … unfortunately, however, I’m in a small weekly league where it’s difficult to stream. (You actually began to advise my questions in your LABR Draft article, but I’m still unclear on your thoughts.)

    In my 12 team weekly league, where we start any 7 P’s (no switching players, just set it and forget it for the week):

    1) Would you still value the top RP’s more than Gray?

    We also only have 3 BN slots. Gray often says not to draft BN bats, unless something really stands out, so:

    2) Of the 10 P’s I draft, 7 would be SP’s. For the RP’s, my mock strategy so far has been a lower $12 Salad, a top Donkeycorn and a low Donkey or High Brain Freeze. Sound good to you?

    • oaktownsteve says:
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      @Buge Hoobs:

      What are your categories? 5×5 roto?

      • oaktownsteve says:
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        @oaktownsteve:

        Any innings or game started cap? Transaction limits? FAAB or waivers?

        My first thought is that with weekly leagues the primary “streaming” option is playing for two start pitchers. But a lot of that would have to do with how you acquire players, caps etc.

        In standard 5×5 roto where you start any 7 I think you would want to have two closers on your roster but maybe not start both each week. I think a Kimbrel type season would have super extra value in that league as you could probably compete in saves using 1 to 1.5 closer spots and the extra Ks will help offset some of the disadvantage you’d have against any save punters or folks who maybe go with .5 closers.

        • Buge Hoobs says:
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          @oaktownsteve: Sorry! That would be 5×5 standard roto, Max IP at 1500 usually isn’t a factor, No trades … strictly waiver wire, unlimited transactions

          Point taken on the value of a Kimbrel type, Thanks Oaktown. Perhaps I’ll take an upper “Salad” and two mid to low Donkeycorns, starting the best 1 or 2. I’m still convinced that I need to draft at least 3 though.

          Our weekly lineup deadline is set for Saturday night midnight, and for some reason I have a difficult time figuring out which of my P’s have favorable two start match ups. I try my best, but I haven’t found a reliable, user friendly source to assist me yet. I seem to recall Smokey coming out with his weekly opinions a day or two after my deadline.

          My league mates typically value SP’s more than me and while I usually wait on drafting my 1st SP, I am leaning toward taking a quality SP this year instead of following Gray’s tier strategy.

          • Oaktownsteve says:
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            @Buge Hoobs:

            I think Scott or somebody does an excellent double start post on this site and I think it’s on Sarurday

            • Buge Hoobs says:
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              @Oaktownsteve: Maybe I’m wrong about the Smokey AND my deadline. Like I said, I remeber it coming out the morning after. Anywho … I appreciate the opinion.

    • @Buge Hoobs: I don’t play in this format so hard for me to say how people are playing it. If there’s no max/min on IP/GS, I would think some go 7 starters and some might go more reliever-heavy. I think 7 SP/3 RP makes sense with a 5 SP/2 RP mix. I probably would be less gung-ho about top closers in this format – I might focus more on offense and 1-2 SP aces. I would want a couple of extra SPs who generally have good matchups (e.g., pitch in a neutral/pitcher park, not the AL East, etc.).

  11. Blue says:
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    12 team AL/NL roto no IP cap unlimited daily transactions. I actually went through and added up the stats generated by my streamers following my victory last year (thanks Stream-O-Nator).

    In aggregate they were basically equivalent to adding James Shields.

    We now have a three-a-week cap.

    • @Blue: Ha. Yeah, great streaming. One thing I’m curious about is how sustainable such streaming success is season-to-season. How much of it is skill vs luck? I imagine the ‘winners’ of leagues will have done well in streaming but I think my $8 estimate (definitely less than James Shields) is probably the most likely outcome.

      But if someone can deliver that type of performance year in, year out….I can see why they put the transaction cap in your league!

  12. Peter Nincompoop says:
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    Excellent article Rudy and I echo the sentiments of other posters who’ve been giving you, Grey and other contributors praise for the work that you do. You all consistently churn out intelligent insight.

  13. Jason says:
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    Rudy I just finished picking up my brain. I feel smarter just reading it. Thanks for taking the time to explain it so that even I get it!

    This site is by far the best thing out there.

    • @Jason: Thanks! Whatever doesn’t kill your brain, makes you smarter. Or dumber. Avoid concussions, readers!

  14. Eddy says:
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    Rudy, who are a couple of sure fire MR you’re targeting simply for ratios? I’m thinking non closers here. I’d like to try and roster one or two in my roto league and maybe not draft a 6th SP, as per advice seen above.

    • @Eddy: Allen, Melancon, and Benoit have been my top 3 MRs but that’s a combination of them being closer-quality pitchers and the chance they might steal some saves. Alex Torres on SD was great in TB last year. Here are some other pitchers who have strong WHIPs without closer jobs: Farquhar, Herrera, Doolittle, McGee

  15. Moose Out Front says:
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    Excellent work. Without bothering with actual quantitative analysis, what’s your gut say about the value of streaming a 12 team H2H 6×6 league that counts losses? We’re limited to 6 roster moves a week, but I played last year under the thought that I wanted to have more starters going every week than my opponent every week.

    My thought was that I wasn’t even really compromising era and whip since the streaming options when carefully chosen (streamonater+grey+rudy+gut) were better than taking what the end of a typical bench of rostered SPs would give you paying no mind to matchups.

    • @Moose Out Front: yes, i would aim to beat my opponents in IP. Losses neutralizes Wins but you still have K’s and it’s debatable on ERA/WHIP. The one change I’d make is I’d up the $ threshold on SoN – maybe instead of $3+ starters, it’s $5+ and you fill in with some MRs.

  16. Kyman says:
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    Rudy,
    I’m in a 5×5 H2H league where there isn’t a GS/Inning Cap, but there is a limit to 6 transactions per week. Is the strategy still to go hitter heavy, and just dedicate a large number of bench spots to pitchers?

    Thanks!

    • @Kyman: yup, that’s the strategy there. 6 transactions a week is still a lot. I think you can still stream in that format but you’d be selective – perhaps $5+ starters vs. $3 starters (for 12-team roto, i put the threshold at $8+)

  17. Joe blow says:
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    Know of any RP with SP eligibility to target that provide good ratios or K’s? We start 5 SP and 2RP in out yahoo league. Any possible closers with SP eligibility? I had Brett Myers as a closer in my SP slot a few seasons backs and it paid major dividends

  18. Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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    that table converting 2 start values that become equal to 1 start values. could it be added to the SON page? very nice, but this post will fade into memory obscurity (not the lessons, but that table might) unless it’s easily accessable. Or just make it it’s own link on “tools” up above.

  19. Philsfan76 says:
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    This was a fantastic article. i play in a points league and this strategy works well, especially for catching lighting in a bottle.

  20. Sean says:
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    Ok, so let’s take the standard roto 5×5 yahoo format. No games played limit for pitching only 162 for hitters. 1400 ip limit, must start 2 sp, 2 rp, and 4 any p. 5 bench spots. Unlimited daily lineup changes. Offense is C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OF, 2UTILITY. What would be the smartest strategy for drafting pitchers in this format? Is it important in this type of league to grab a top tier SP or two? What about top tier Closers? 1400 ip for 8 spots is a good amount so I assume some streaming can be done for sure. I read that pitchers hold more value in this format cause the starting offense is shallow. What are your thoughts?

    • @Sean: You failed to mention how many teams. I’ll assume 12 teams. 1400 IP does minimize the ‘max IP’ strategy as it’s easy to reach that with 180 GS and fairly aggressive RP usage. So the key points are 1) how to max the quality of those 1400 IP and 2) how to balance this at the draft vs. hitting.

      I’d probably go as follows:
      1) Aim for 4 SPs in the top 40 (if 12 teams) or 30 (if 10 teams). Any combination can work – just don’t reach for anyone. If there are certain top 40 SPs that have low ADPs, target them pre-draft (two guys I like that fit the bill are Masterson and AJ Griffin)

      2) Get two closers in top 15.

      3) Stop drafting SP for a while after you’ve done that to secure offense. Drafting more closers and premium MRs is fine too.

      4) Grab two more SPs at the end of the draft. Gravitate towards either those with pitcher-friendly home parks (for matchups), NL vs. AL, prospects with high upside (e.g., Archie Bradley). Consider these guys fungible – you’ll be dropping them during the season for other streaming pitchers.

      End goal: 5-6 SPs, 5-6 RPs. Only start pitchers when their start is valued at $8+. For a Masterson type, you’ll probably sit him every 3rd or 4th start (@DET, @BOS, @TEX, and @NYY the obvious 4).

      That should leave 1-2 spots for bench bats. Ideally you draft at least 1-2 players with position eligibility like Allan Craig or Martin Prado (got both of them in NFBC draft!).

  21. Sean says:
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    Awesome stuff! Thanks Rudy. So, basically the lower the inning cap, the more quality is placed on innings pitched. Making top closers more valuable. Now if the inning cap was reduced even more, let’s say 900. Does the value of closers go up when the cap goes down? And how about the value of elite starters? Would it make sense to draft both starters and releivers earlier with a 900 IP limit? If so, how early? I would imagine there would be no streaming in this league, and that you would want to have high quality innings from elite pitchers. I also assume, that you would want to concentrate on drafting guys with a high k%. Another angle would be that you shouldn’t start any starters until you’re confident that they are in a great position to deliver quality innings. I know it’s a funny question and you’re propably saying,”who the hell plays a 900 IP limit?” Well, to answer your question my cousin runs a league with that limit and he has 9 any pitcher starting slots with 8 slots for a bench. His league is 12 teams, and he asked if I wanted in. I might do it

    • @Sean: 900 IP cap? That’s ridiculous. I would probably make Kershaw my #1 pick, draft a top 4 reliever, get two more good starters and then the rest relievers. I guess on the bench spots i’d go for hitters to swap in/out based on matchups (i like rockie hitters for that) and some prospect SPs with high K-rates.

  22. Sean says:
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    Sorry, to add to my last post. His league is a weekly lineup not daily with no games played limit for any positions except for the 900 IP LIMIT

  23. Kai says:
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    So I play in a daily 12 team mixed H2h Yahoo standard scoring (category) league with no max on innings or moves in a week. How do ppl feel about streaming every spot? Is this not advisable? I did it one year and went to the title game but my hitting ended up letting me down. Go figure. Anyway, I’m kicking around the idea of doing it again but wanted some input first and this seems to be a great place to get it.

    BTW its a keeper league and I currently have all hitters with Hanley, Carlos Gomez, Adam Jones and Ryan Braun

    • @Kai: I don’t see why you’d stream every SP spot. You’re at the mercy of how your leaguemates play. If I knew that’s what you do, I’d empty my bench and stash any decent streaming play for that week. I would keep some roster spots to stream but would want at least 4-5 SPs that you’d want to start all the time aside from really bad road matchups.

      • Kai says:
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        @Rudy Gamble: ok that makes sense to me but just wanted to get an opinion. Thanks for the input.

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