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VinWins outed me as having had a modicum of success in streaming pitchers: 68 SP (yes, 68 different starters) have recorded 55 wins and 648 strikeouts with an ERA of 3.13 and 1.22 WHIP in 797 IP. From FA/WW grabbed the likes of R.A. Dickey, Lance Lynn, James McDonald, Jonathan Niese, Wade Miley, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Parker. You could have scooped them as well.

Relievers I was able to pick up include Ernesto Frieri, Santiago Casilla, Rafael Soriano, Francisco Rodriguez, Henry Rodriguez, Tom Wilhelmsen, Rafael Dolis, Jared Burton, Glen Perkins, and Bobby Parnell. In total, 59 RPs recorded a 2.75 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with 293 Ks in 249 IP. Plus a league-leading 71 Saves. And, oh yeah…FOURTEEN VULTURE WINS.

The Fredsies currently score 58 out of a possible 60 pitching points after drafting only ONE SP (Stephen Strasburg — traded early). Those rankings are open to scrutiny since I have started so many pitchers thus far. I am trying to get almost all SP out of the way before September, when the ERAs and WHIPs get inflated by strong hitting and weakening arms.

By ‘popular demand’ I am happy to share my ‘secrets’. Yoda advises: “Wise you be to consider this a model tweaked by your own experiences and pearls of wisdom, yes!”

Why swim up stream?

I think the first kernel came from reading on Razz that there were an increasing number of managers approaching drafting all hitters for the top ten slots. What makes that work? We had shared an end of season ‘recap roto strategies.’ Then, I believe that last year’s RCL winner had said he had used a similar strategy. And… well, the picture you get.

GOALS:

1) Allow you to target HITTERS (and CLOSERS?) on draft day, and TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!

2) LIMIT the number of BIG BLOWOUTS, so that the occasional/infrequent/unforeseen & unavoidable one doesn’t destroy your peripherals for the season.

3) Give pitchers the BEST CHANCE to return EXCELLENT WHIP and ERA.

Ws (by virtue of streamed Vulture Wins) and Ks (by virtue of streaming relievers) are NOT targeted, per se, for SP (more explanation further; it is OK to avoid a pitcher who projects to give you only 1 or 2 Ks.) Hmmm… Felix Hernandez lost to Clayton Richard. Stephen Strasburg lost to Mike Minor and to Anthony Bass. Clayton Kershaw lost to Lucas Harrel and Ryan Vogelsong. Cole Hamels lost to Mark Buehrle. Heck, in 15 GS, Cliff Lee even won 1 game, proving anybody can win on a given day.

STRANGE THINGS HAPPEN when THE LEAGUE STARTS BUYING INTO THE PROCESS. I was able to grab Justin Masterson (71% owned), Jarrod Parker (83%), and Ryan Dempster (93%) this weekend. Good pitchers get dropped for the SIT start and become opportunities to grab for the following STREAM.

The following are factors that I weigh in deciding if a pitcher is worthy of streaming, using MLB.com (Probables, sortable team stats), FanGraphs (O-Swing%), and the ESPN league Player Page (% owned, recent results, splits). Yes, it is a lot of work, and it may seem daunting to tackle. Still, if you did nothing other than begin by streaming pitchers @SD/SEA/OAK, I believe you could be successful. (BTW random fact: Mariners rank dead last with 2.9 R/GM @HOME, while @TEX they score 6.4.)

AVAILABILITY (why do the research if someone else already owns him?)

1) Is he a go for the day?

2) Check the FA/WW lists daily.

PARK FACTOR: I don’t check factors anymore, but probably should. KNOW that games @ COL, NYA, BOS, TEX, CHA, CIN, AZ, MIL are absolute SIT. Games @ SEA, OAK, SD are currently the crème de la crème to STREAM. The rest possibles. Huh, why MIL? I don’t have to check the park factor. Home they are 5th in team OPS. Away they are 26th. If they can light it up in MIL, other teams will too.

MY PITCHERS’ STRENGTHS:

RECENT GAME(S): ERA, WHIP

HEADS-UP: if none available for this year, go to previous year. This is a STRONG factor. Poor heads-up is almost a guaranteed SIT.

A recent ESPN player post: “Masterson allowed eight runs on nine hits, walking four and striking out seven, while lasting just 4.1 innings, as the Rays defeated Cleveland 10-3 on Friday night. Spin: He had been on a bit of a roll in his last few outings, but the Rays have always been a struggle for him, and Friday was no different.”

HOME/ROAD, DAY/NIGHT, SPLITS: No absolutes, but if a pitcher is obviously and continuously bad in a situation, SIT.

O-SWING% (The percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone): a pet stat of mine; yours may be better. Basically, a guy can blow fire, but if he doesn’t have a pitch that batters will chase, they will look for the heat, catch up to it, and—BLOWOUT. Look for 30+.

OPPONENT’S WEAKNESSES:

OPS-TEAM RANK: the lower the opponent rank, the better. A 20+ rank: lol—licking our lips!

HOME/AWAY (the opponent’s)

Vs. RIGHT/LEFT (whichever my pitcher is)

GAME DAY:

WEATHER: I HATE this one, especially after all the work put in. But, if the wind is blowin’ out @Wrigley at 25 mph, you don’t really want to play with the TOYS (Tsunami On Your Stats). I check the wind at EVERY venue on game day. If it is blowing out @SD at 15 mph, I ignore. If it is blowing in 10 mph at Rangers, I ignore—those boys can hammer it out there anyway.

GREY’S POSTS: STREAM/SIT. Not one of us can hit 100%. Like everything else, success depends on the percentages. I rely HEAVILY on GREY. July 3: ALL factors were strong for Rick Porcello (3 ER in last 20 IP). I didn’t get to Razz that day. Porcello gave up 12 hits in 3.2 IP. Went to Razz. Grey had told several people to SIT—‘don’t like him at all.’ Cust Kayin’.

LAST MINUTE PITCHER AVAILABILITY: guys get hurt, rotations get adjusted. Continuously checking for callups. Yes, almost always avoid rooks the first time out; but, cheated (it was @SEA!) and got Chris Tillman’s 0.00/0.48/7 K in 8.1 IP in his debut this year.

NOTE: BOT—Bench of Three. It is fine to KEEP any 3 SP on the bench. If they sit for ten games, it isn’t necessarily taking away from counting stats. As soon as you fill one of your active pitching slots with a sitting SP, you are SUBTRACTING counting stats. THINK of it as just like having a batter out of the lineup, because that is KIWI—Kinda’ Is What Is.

Here are a couple of examples Vin mentioned:

Vin: “James McDonald’s ERA is an exceptional 2.44; in 35 innings on The Fredsies, he’s even better, at 1.54.”

 (How is it that a guy with those stats is available on the FA list? Yes, I got him early. Could have kept him on my BOT, but too many other streaming ops. Yesterday’s McDonald is replaced by today’s Travis Wood or Tillman.)

Added McDonald from FA May 4th (immediately after games locked for that day) for his next start May 5th, HOME CIN.

RECENT PERFORMANCE(s):

MY PITCHER’S STRENGTHS: 3 (of 5) quality starts, 2.97 ERA/1.06 WHIP/24 K in 30.1 IP.

HEADS-UP: In 2011 (none yet for 2012) in 28.1 IP vs. CIN: 3.49 era and 22 Ks. Pretty decent.

O-SWING%: currently 29.3 (may have been better at the time).

WEAKNESS OF OPPONENT: TEAM OPS RANK: CIN AWAY 23rd; vs. RIGHT 20th

McDonald enters the game with a sub 3 era, good whip, 7.12 K/9, good record heads-up, weak opponent projections. STREAM.

RESULTS: 1.42 era/1.26 whip/7 K . And, oh yeah, a W. (NOTE: the opposing pitcher was Mike Leake, 0-4, 5.97 era at the time, but that was NOT a consideration in the decision to stream.)

So, entered with strong indicators and, magically, he produced!

DROPPED him immediately when games locked on the 5th—not knowing what his performance might be. Streamed Shawn Kelly (SEA MR) for two days: 4 Ks (and yes, 1 ER). Will take it.

Picked up McDonald again from FA May 8th (immediately after lock) for his next start May 11th HOME HOU. (By now someone may be noticing him; better grab him a little early.) 2-day scoop. It is unrealistic to believe one can stream continuously the night before. Select matchups do get targeted. Just don’t have pitchers filling a slot for a week that could be producing.

HOU @ HOME:

MY PITCHER’S STRENGTHS: 1.42 era/1.26 whip/7 K in 6.1 IP in most recent; 2.70 ERA/1.09 WHIP/31 K in 37 IP going into the game. Home ERA 1.73 vs. 3.54 away. STRONG!

HEADS-UP: In 2011 in 25 IP vs. HOU: 1.80 ERA/1.24 WHIP/24 K in 25 IP. Can it get much better than this?

O-SWING%: currently 29.3.

WEAKNESS OF OPPONENT: TEAM OPS RANK: HOU AWAY 28th; vs. RIGHT 18th.

So, for the upcoming game he enters with even stronger stats across the board than he did for the previous game in which he performed admirably. STREAM.

RESULTS: 1.13 era/.75 whip/8 K in 8 IP. MagicallyPREDICTABLE! (Lost 1-0. Opposing pitcher was Bud Norris, who had a 3.95 ERA at the time.) (Subsequently traded McDonald.)

Vin: “For Kyle Lohse, the comparison is 2.82 overall and 1.82 in 49.1 innings for Fred.

Picked him up April 4th, added and dropped him several times, so that I had him 4 of first 5 starts: 2.33 ERA/0.85 whip/16 K in 26 IP. I know, Ks are weak, but remember, I was streaming MRs to make up the difference while he was dropped. Yup, by-the-way, 3 W in those 4 starts (he faced Josh Johnson, Leake, Johnny Cueto, and Marco Estrada).

Let’s look at the other side of the coin: what matchups did we AVOID?

Added Justin Masterson on June 10 after a sterling performance against STL. His next game wasn’t until June 15. That’s a LOT of time to ride my bench. Must’ve been star struck. 

On the 15th in 7 IP: 0.00ERA/1.00WHIP/9K, PIT home. That night I DROPPED him to stream someone else!

On the 18th I picked him up again—why was he still on FA?: On the 20th in 9 IP: 0.00ERA/0.33 WHIP/9K. Dropped him as soon as the games locked—a no-brainer, next was @NYA. ANYBODY can do this! (Sometimes it is tooooo obvious.)

How about a more challenging other side of the coin?

On May 29 Masterson faced KC @ HOME. He had just come off a string of 4 quality starts in his last 5. In his most recent two he had given up 3 ER in 14 IP. So, regarding the strength of our pitcher, I think it would have to be good.

The red flag: KC ranks #12 in team OPS vs. RIGHT. (#17 HOME). Remember, I am looking for something in the 20+ ranking. NO WAY do I start him in that game. RESULTS: 7 ER in 6 IP. Was it worth the 8 strikeouts?

A TYPICAL DAY AT THE PARK: Kevin Milwood had a pretty incredible run in May: @NYA/@COL/hTEX/@TEX. In 27 IP: 0.67 era/0.74 whip, and oh, by the way, 20 K and 3 W. His next start he gave up 4 @CHA (excusable). I picked him up for the following start,  LAD@home. Clearly he was a strong pitcher. LAD AWAY ranks #27; vs. RIGHT #21. HEADS-UP 3.65 vs. LAD in 2011.

Definitely a STREAM.

He returned: 0.00 era/0.17 whip/6K in 6.0 IP. Yeah, I had picked him up day of the game. His next start was H vs. SF. SF AWAY ranks #13, vs. RIGHT #27. No HEADS-UP. That #13 AWAY for the opponent puts him on the SHELF. For that game he returned: 5.40 era/2.00 whip/4 K in 5 IP. Yes, I cherry-picked a little here. But, you do get these types of games frequently enough to offset the occasional unforeseeable clunker.

An esteemed contributor to RAZZ recently texted: “I pushed it too far and went with Henderson Alvarez. I still think he will give me a good stretch of games eventually.” Stinkin’ Thinkin’. A pitcher is only as good as he projects for the next game. A good stretch is predictable. If a pitcher has three favorable projections coming, put him in a bench slot. Doesn’t hurt a thing. If he projects poorly for the following game, he gets dropped (traded if you are in a chump league; a smart league won’t buy SP). During the ten, or so, days that he would be sitting in a counting slot, for a poor matchup, you could be streaming the likes of Charlie Furbush, Brayan Villarreal, etc., who will give you miniscule era/whip while adding 8-10 Ks. That is why you can, and should, stream SP with few Ks but frugal era/whip. You make up for the pedestrian Ks by having MRs producing Ks in that slot — rather than producing nada for 10 days.

Geez, this looking back is hazardous to your health — just saw that I traded Dolis and received Chapman — how did he get away from me after that?

So, you are standing on the edge of the bank. “Do I dive into the STREAM?” Only two things can happen, right? Sink or swim. Well, actually a third — FLOAT to the TOP, baby!

  1. Currently in the money? May just want to dip a toe. Already streaming on occasion? Might not hurt to try these tactics to help find those pitchers that have the BEST percentages in their favor.
  2. Wallowing in the mud? Dive! Dive! Dive! You are going all in. What do you have to lose? Immediately trade ALL of your SP for whatever improvement you can get in hitting or closers. What you can’t trade, DROP. (You may save up to 3 SP that project favorably for their next start on your BOT.
  3. Currently swimming up stream? It’s risk/reward. You have to evaluate your team. “Will I gain more in cats/league standing by trying these tactics?”

Let’s give it a try for Friday’s games.

Begin by recording your hard stats and overall standing in each pitching cat. This is the base that will tells us later if we have improved or not.

Fred K W SV ERA WHIP
Pts 12 12 12 12 10
Stats 941 69 71 3.037 1.207

Check the schedule on MLB.com

Eliminate Extreme Hitters’ Parks.

Away Home Time (ET) Away Probable Home Probable
D-backs Cubs 2:20pm Kennedy (6-7)
Maholm (6-6)
Angels Yankees 7:05pm TBD Kuroda (8-7)
Tigers Orioles 7:05pm
Fister (2-6)
Hammel (8-5)
Indians Blue Jays 7:07pm
Masterson (5-8)
Romero (8-4)
Red Sox Rays 7:10pm
Morales (1-2)
Hellickson (4-5)
Cardinals Reds 7:10pm Wainwright (7-8) Latos (7-2)
Nationals Marlins 7:10pm
Zimmermann (5-6)
Johnson (5-5)
Mets Braves 7:35pm
TBD
Hudson (7-4)
White Sox Royals 8:10pm TBD
Chen (7-8)
Athletics Twins 8:10pm
Griffin (0-0)
Liriano (3-7)
Pirates Brewers 8:10pm McDonald (9-3) Greinke (9-3)
Phillies Rockies 8:40pm Lee (1-5) Friedrich (4-6)
Padres Dodgers 10:10pm
Richard (6-9)
TBD
Rangers Mariners 10:10pm
Holland (5-4)
TBD
Astros Giants 10:15pm
Lyles (2-5)
Bumgarner (10-5)

Then, ID the probable stream candidates. Initially just go down the list for availability. Go to your league’s Players Page, and make sure you are on the pitchers list. Type the last name in the search box. Eliminate the 100% owned/already taken in your league.

That takes care of Ian Kennedy, Jordan Zimmermann, Josh Johnson, Tim Hudson, and Madison Bumgarner.

Doug Fister: Burned me before. Pass.

Jason Hammel: Likely taken, but let’s take a look. The search shows he is owned in 96.6% of leagues, but available in the ECFBL — why? If you check the last 15 days, you see he has given up 15 ER in last 16.2 IP. The question is: why is he still owned in 96.6% of the leagues? Pass.

Ricky Romero: 82% owned. Yet, available in the EFBCL — why? Season 5.22 ERA/ 1.47 WHIP, yuck. Heads-up: Click on his name to bring up recent results; then “View Player Card” for more info. Click”Splits” and find a 7.20 era vs. Cleveland. Pass.

Bruce Chen: Gave up 6 ER in each of last 2. Pass.

Look deeper at what’s left:

Paul Maholm: Facing AZ, worth a look. Gave up 6 ER @AZ 4 games back. Too risky. Pass.

Jeremy Hellickson: 88.5% owned; available ECFBL — why?

  • Heads-up: 4.34 ERA/1.39 WHIP. Home 2.96 ERA. 10K in 18.2 IP vs. BOS.
  • 28.7% O-Swing% (FanGraphs — Plate Discipline). Not strong.

Don’t see enough win-win in tackling BOS at home. Could be why he is available in the ECFBL. Pass.

Derek Holland: 29.4% owned. Owned in the EFCBL.

  • Gave up 8 ER in 1.2 IP HOME vs. SEA.
  • In 4 starts vs. SEA in 2011, 2.77 ERA.
  •  2 ER in 16 IP @SEA in 2011.
  • 26.0 O-Swing%.

Classic risk/reward. Will he return 2011 heads-up or blowout like recent 8 ER. One of the main goals is to avoid blowouts. He may turn in a sterling performance. There will be more opportunities. If he blows, that much more work to overcome. Pass.

Jordan Lyles: 0.1% OWNED.

  • 3 quality starts in last 4.
  • Gave up 1 ER HOME to SD. Should be good to go @SD.
  • 25.7 O-Swing%. Can’t do it. Pass.

Justin Masterson: Check him out. A click on his name after the search reveals his recent performances:

DATE OPP IP H ER BB K DEC
7/6 TB 4.1 9 8 4 7 L
7/1 @Bal 7.0 5 1 0 7 W
6/26 @NYY 6.0 7 4 3 2 L
6/20 Cin 9.0 3 0 0 9 W
6/15 Pit 7.0 4 0 3 9 W
6/9 @StL 7.0 5 1 0 6 L
6/3 Min 6.0 7 3 3 3 L

That last 8 ER against TB, yuck; maybe 4 @NYA excusable. Four others with 1 or fewer ER. Let’s check:

HEADS-UP: Click VIEW PLAYER CARD>splits, vs. TOR

ERA  

IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG

1.13

  8  2  1  1  1  1  10  .077

Gonna chicken out. Looking at the sortable team stats>Splits> OPS: TOR HOME ranks #7; vs Right #8. Just too many obstacles that could overcome that previous heads-up in CLE. Pass.

These are the weakest OPS teams at home; good targets for even an average pitcher to not get lit up: #20 PHI, #21 LAD, #22 WAS, #23 NYN, #24 PIT, #25 CHN, #26 SF, #27 TB, #28 OAK, #29 SD, and #30 SEA.

Franklin Morales: 12% owned.

  • 3.50/1.17 for the season. Possible.
  • Gave up 6 ER HOME vs. NYA in last (excusable).
  • Heads-up: 0.00 ERA in 4 IP (not much weight).
  • TB HOME rank #27; vs. LEFT #23. TB not likely to run it up at home.
  •  O-Swing%, 33.7.

Excellent. STREAM.

A.J. Griffin: 2% OWNED

  • 1.50/0.72 in 3 GS.
  • Heads-up: none, only 3 GS.
  • Min Home rank #8; vs. RIGHT #24.
  • O-Swing%: 33.1.

Strong pitcher. STREAM.

Francisco Liriano: 18% owned.

  • Gave up 1 ER @TEX last outing.
  • 4 of last 5 quality starts.
  • 0 ER, 9K, W heads-up.
  • OAK AWAY #24; vs. RIGHT #26.
  • 31.2 O-Swing%.

What’s not to like?—EXCEPT HIS FREAKIN’ TRACK RECORD OF BLOWUPS!!! Everything points to a repeat of last @home vs. OAK. STREAM.

Clayton Richard: 18.9% owned.

  • Gave up 6 ER vs. CIN @HOME in last.
  • 5 straight quality starts previous.
  • VS. LAD 2.70 ERA, .167 AVG against. Look a tad deeper. Vs. LAD HOME: 2 ER in 14 IP. Vs. LAD, AWAY: 4 ER in 6 IP.
  • 31.2 O-Swing%.
  • HOME/RIGHT: #21/#27.

Tough one. Will risk the possible 4 ER away, given the upside. Close call. STREAM.

There you have it. Periodically, check your current stats with your base: Sinking? Swimming? Floating! If I were in the money and my first efforts turned out blowouts, I’d set it aside.

For the others, you are starting with tiny sample sizes. My stats have proved worthy overall this year. And, I have had my share of blowouts, tempered by sterling performances. If you have already dived in, may as well let the stream carry it where it will.

GET TO WORK!

76 Responses

  1. Simply Fred

    simply fred says:
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    This stuff is dynamic. CHW @ KC had TBD. That since filled in with Quintana. 36% owned. If available your league (he isn’t in the ECFBL), I’d run him. Sub him in place of Richard.

    I see that Griffin and Liriano face each other. Shows how little I pay attention to opposing pitchers. ALMOST a NEVER to run guys against each other: can get only 1 W, or 2 L. However, I would take a pitcher’s duel through nine with this one.

  2. Anthony says:
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    YES!! My friend as a fellow steamer, work will be done. Excellent post

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @Anthony, feel free to add your special tips! Thanks!

      • Simply Fred

        simply fred says:
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        @simply fred, what your hit on #1? would you run either? both?

      • Simply Fred

        simply fred says:
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        @Anthony,…

  3. Ronkonkoma says:
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    Wow.

  4. VinWins

    VinWins says:
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    C’mon. “esteemed contributor?” Everybody will know you’re talking about me!

  5. TheBravesWear Prado says:
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    What are your thoughts on Chris Young @ATL?

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @TheBravesWear Prado, let’s do the work:

      My pitcher’s strengths:
      6 QS in a row
      3.41/1.27 (0 BB in last 2 GS)
      NO headsup
      Home era 3.60; Away 3.18 era
      0-Swing% 33.3%
      A STRONG PITCHER

      Opponent weaknesses:
      Home-OPS rank #15
      Vs. RIGHT-OPS #13
      (both outside my tolerance of around #20 or higher; BTW I give more weight to vs. R/L over H/A.

      What does Grey say?

      If tentative YES, check weather last minute

      All-in-all, you have a STRONG pitcher going up against a relatively STRONG opponent at HOME. I like Young but I prefer all of my ducks aligned. Too risky for me.

      • Simply Fred

        simply fred says:
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        @simply fred, if morales/griffin/liriano available your league, why not drop young for one of them?

  6. Prezii says:
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    And this is exactly why i tell no one about razzball.. haha great article!

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @Prezii, was hoping this might give an advantage to those that play outside the RCL leagues.

  7. B.o.B says:
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    Sooooooo how bout you do this for us daily??? This is awesome! Great job!

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @B.o.B, my over/under for this suggestion was projected to be comment #4.

      1) I don’t remember the quote exactly…something about teaching a man to fish…
      2) If I posted daily, everyone would have as much jump as you. If you do the work, you get the jump!

    • Prezii says:
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      @B.o.B, maybe not everyday… But every week would be logical! I sure wouldnt complain!

  8. later tater says:
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    usually don’t post other than for grey/rudy, but this is great

    FANTASTIC WORK!

    btw, i have been keeping 1 slot open every day to stream, working good so far; this article will help refine the strategy

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @later tater, think hard about taking the plunge to TWO slots when the matchups warrant. report back your progress!

  9. Vacation says:
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    This was pure gold. Just dropped Hammel for Morales.

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @Vacation, Morales next projected starts: HCHA, @TEX, @NYA. Not goodt. Have someone lined up to stream in Morales place immediately after games lock tomorrow.

      • Vacation says:
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        @simply fred, Will do. Morales is a one time start. I’m applying your method the rest of the way. Trying to trade guys like NatGio and McDonald for offense and moving to strictly streaming.

  10. Grey

    Grey says:
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    I think Fred should do this every day for Razzball Nation too. Cust kayin’.

    • Prezii says:
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      @Grey, hahahaha i second that! Take sum stress off of grey, why dont ya?

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
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      @Grey Amen to that. Preferably before he swipes up all of the top streamers in our league…ESPN has a daily column rating starting pitchers. I can verify that Fred is far better then the ESPN fantasy-faux’s. How he achieves an incredibly low ERA and WHIP by virtually streaming all of his pitchers is an incredible accomplishment.

  11. Simply Fred

    simply fred says:
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    Eh, not ready to give up 37 years of wedded bliss and the grandkids!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Doesn’t need to be a post… In forums, you start a thread: Fred’s Streaming Pick for the Day, then you write a name… Or not, your call…

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @simply fred, catch you in a couple–NAP TIME!

  12. Steve says:
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    Fred – great work here. Think this is all applicable to H2H as well? Seems it would be…

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @Steve, I have never tackled H2H, so wouldn’t have a clue. If it extends there, great!

      • Paulie Allnuts

        Paulie Allnuts says:
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        @simply fred, Putting in my two cents – don’t think that this works anywhere near as well in H2H leagues, especially those with weekly limits to moves. The key in H2H is numbers – the more starters you can use, the better. You want to compile large numbers of K’s and Wins. You might actually take ERA and WHIP, but even if you don’t, you have pretty much assured at least a split. Fred’s system works in a format with start limits, such as Razzball RCL’s.

  13. Pops says:
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    Great article, unfortunately this strategy will not work in my keeper league (limit of 50 transactions) or my head – to – head points league (pay – per – transaction).

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @Pops, Ha! time to climb out of those leagues and dive into the water!

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @Pops, talkin’ to the guy who has made the most moves in Razzball history–so really don’t get the ‘FUN’ of just watchin’ the action. I NEED to be IN the action.

  14. jack says:
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    @ fred … mcdonald performed quite well 5 weeks ago @MIL … 6 IP 1ER, 8Ks. And his heads up from previous years is not really relevant given how he has evolved as a pitcher with his new slider. Would you still sit knowing that he has done well @MIL recently?

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @jack, McDonald VERY tempting. Yet, his first game HPHI he only gave up 2 ER. His second @phi he gave up 4 ER in 5.2 IP. His last two against weak sisters HOU and SF he did well, but shouldn’t get to enamored by them. If he is going to have a less than stellar outing, it would be @MIL. He is definitely good enough to repeat, but…

      Really depends on your team. Can you take a hit? Is the upside worth it?

      I would sit this game.

      • jack says:
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        @simply fred, thanks fred. my problem is I am in a weekly league and have only 10 waiver picks a year (2 left). I built up a huge starting staff, 11, to stream matchups best I can. It worked out great for first half of the first half, horrible second half. Lance Lynn, Haren, Anibal, Holland, most of my guys really just sucked regardless of competition. I went from 3.2/1.17 to 3.8/1.27. I need to get those down to 3.4/1.23 to secure an easy victory. Have some good closers which helps — Frieri, Soriano, Street, Putz.

        My 11 are: Kershaw and McDonald (only on my team two weeks), Hamels, Anibal, Haren, Garza, Shark, Holland, Harrison, Lynn, Fister. For the weekend, I’m sitting Lynn, Fister, Haren, Shark, Anibal. But your method would speak against many of my starts: McDonald, Holland, Hamels (at COL, but he did well there already this year), Garza at home vs AZ (Garza is fantastic in day games at home tho).

        So I usually run out studs like Hamels, Kershaw regardless of opponent. Mcdonald, Anibal, and a healthy Haren are borderline must starts. And then I pick and choose based on matchups and pitcher trends … I have not been looking so much at team OPS splits, but will start doing so … Anything I can do differently given my constraints?

        • Simply Fred

          simply fred says:
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          @jack, a little out of my league here, since I don’t carry studs like Hamels/Kershaw, I can’t speak authoritatively for the value of running them at every opportunity. Kershaw seems to be weakening.
          Season: 2.91/1.06
          Last 30 days: 3.66/1.17
          Last 15: 3.93/1.36
          Last 5 ER @AZ
          His last (early season) vs. SD HOME: 4 ER in 5.1 IP.
          SD ranks 18th away and 28th vs left. That’s a pretty strong factor. I would set aside everything else and start him HSD just because SD so weak against lefties (no explaining the early season drubbing). and, anything can happen.

          bottom line: i would try to think beyone the ‘must’ and ‘borderline’ starts. Pencil out each matchup. If you get enough negatives, sit or dump. Really, I think you will see as good out of streamers morales, griffin, liriano, just on friday as you get from ANY 3-pack from your team. We’ll see.

          Just follow through on monitoring the above; that will help decide if you can/should do else. Also, ask Grey!

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @jack, next one is at COL. :-(

  15. Alcesto says:
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    Dempster is rated (yahoo ratings) the 60th most valuable player (not pitcher) in the game so far. I question how tough the league is if you can just scoop a guy like that off the wire for a spot start. Same goes for dropping and re-scooping James McDonald who has been the 6th most valuable pitcher this year.

    Also, do you use this strategy in leagues with innings limits, or only in those with unlimited starts/innings?

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @Alcesto, GREAT questions. Thanks for playing!

      I am in the ECFBL. Our league has the highest rating for toughness of all the 40+ teams.

      The only explanation I have for him being available is that he had just come off the DL list. ESPN:”Spin: After being sidelined since June 15 with a shoulder injury, Dempster picked up right where he had left off with the Cubs.”

      Nobody wanted to slot him for nearly a month, when they could (and did) get production elsewhere, and not knowing for sure how he would come back.

      RE: McDonald. I streamed him in May. Not sure what his ranking was May 5 when I first picked him up, but doubt it was 6th most valuable pitcher. Yes, even by then one could see the promise–that’s why I picked him up. Didn’t mean to intimate that he would now be available to stream. Just an example of the pitchers that do come along.

      Our league has a 180 GS limit for the season. I like to get as many games under the belt as possible before Sep. when the arms weaken and hitters mash. Then just fill all those slots with K-throwing, low era/whip closers and MR’s (and, the occasional vulture win).

      McDonald’s projected next two @MIL, @COL. Do you bench him two weeks to get to HCHN, @HOU?

      If you sit Dempster HAZ this week, you get HMIA, @PIT, HPIT, @SD, HCIN, HCOL–ALL STREAMS! You get the picture.

      • Alcesto says:
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        @simply fred, I guess it helps if you have no dedicated SP slots so you can load up on RP’s when necessary. My Yahoo league uses 5 SP and 5 RP slots and has a 1450 IP limit. If you were in that league your pace would roughly get you 8 points in wins, 7 points in saves, 7 points in k’s, 12 in ERA and 11 in WHIP, for a total of 45 pitching points. Not too shabby, but that won’t make up for any weaknesses on offense.

        I was thinking that you are going lose points in your league in the counting stats as other owners come closer to you in innings pitched, but I guess where there is no limit to innings, only starts, you’ll end up with a decided advantage in innings pitched by getting your starts out of the way early and then loading up with relievers.

        I’m not trying to be a jerk, but i read your article carefully and it just struck me that it wouldn’t work all that well in my league (my league has deep benches too, which doesn’t help your strategy). So I guess the moral of the story is that you’ve got to play your league. Your strategy is obviously successful in leagues like yours, and probably those with no pitching limits as well, but i would imagine that the tighter the innings constraints, the fewer spots for relievers and the deeper the benches, the less effective your strategy becomes.

        That said, I think the way you analyze streaming pitchers is probably very valuable in making spot start decisions in all leagues, even if you don’t convert to an entirely streaming-centric strategy.

        • Simply Fred

          simply fred says:
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          @Alcesto, spot on maestro! CLEARLY, not all will work for your (and others’) league parameters. Also, you may find a marginal gain in working out some of your matchups. Every inch gained helps. Tip of the cap!

  16. Melvin Emanuel says:
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    Hold Marco Estrada (@PIT) or drop for:

    Liriano v. OAK
    Griffin @ MIN
    Qintana @ KC

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @Melvin Emanuel, Estrada has good stuff. 33.2 0-Swing%. But…Home at MIL is a definite SIT. His next start projects @COL. Drop him.

      Grey picked Quintana over Griffin, so I would go that way.

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @Melvin Emanuel, sorry man. Everything else went well. You got the one stinker. Doesn’t feel good I know. Watch for awhile and see if you want to take another chance.

  17. Chris says:
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    Great post, Fred! The example elimination/stream portion toward the end was an especially nice touch.

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @Chris, thanks buddy!

  18. Enrico Palazzo says:
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    This is a great post. I’ve been toying with this strategy for the past two years, but don’t put in nearly this much work, so always wind up getting burned. With this guidance, I’m likely to go all in on it next year. Thanks for writing this!

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @Enrico Palazzo, look for a post(s) over the winter. Hopefully, razzers can go over the value of drafting hitters and closers in lieu of SP. Encourage you to visit the ‘recap roto strategies’ link at the top. Appreciate your comments and I say: Full Steam Aboard!

  19. Paulie Allnuts

    Paulie Allnuts says:
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    Fred, a terrific job. Keeping this entry as a “Favorite” so I can consult and study your methods.

  20. Jay29 says:
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    @simply fred, Cool stuff. I play in a deeper league with weekly add/drop, so no one can stream to the extent you do, but I use a lot of the same criteria for picking up SPs (which I do almost every week). The problem is I don’t have the luxury of benching SPs, or I’ll be in last place in both Ks and Ws (seriously… every team gets about 12-14 starts per week).

    What I would recommend to you is to ditch the “recent ERA/WHIP” from your checklist and instead spend more time on FanGraphs after checking for O-Swing%.

    For myself, I check, somewhat in order, K/9, BB/9, SIERA, xFIP, BABIP, HR/9, LOB%, and compare all of these (qualitatively) to the pitcher’s past performances. You use those (along with with ZIPS ROS projections) to get a general idea of what kind of pitcher the guy really will be in the future. It even works for minor leaguers if you just skew the peripherals a bit in your head.

    Using those underlying numbers has landed me a lot of FA SPs the rest of the league was not focusing on: Niese, Doubront, Morales, Fiers, Smyly (until recently). It’s helped me recover immensely from a horrendous start in the starting pitching department — and made me desperate to trade away Jarrod Parker!

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @Jay29, if I were evaluating the long-term worth of a player I would go to those lengths. Right now, I feel the weight of quality of parks and quality of opponents as more telling for single matchups. I always have an open mind. I don’t doubt that the extra research would help refine the overall projections even better; something would have to go to fit all of that in. Some days it just feels like: who’s at SD?

      I see (and have considered several of your targeted stats) as very applicable to preparing a list of SP for the draft–if a person were drafting SP.

      Do you have a formula? I might try it to see how I feel about my lonely 0-Swing%.

      The current era/whip is mostly just a way of telling if a pitcher is ‘hot’ or ‘cold’.

      • Jay29 says:
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        @simply fred, You’re right, it’s more of a long term method, but that’s generally how I try to acquire pitchers — not for the next start but for the rest of the year. If I were streaming like you do I would definitely focus more on matchups and park factors. Just a matter of how any given league is set up.

        No, no formula, really. It’s just a way to assess whether his ERA/WHIP should tend to rise, fall, or stay around the same, and to see how much he’ll help in Ks. If you had to check one stat I would recommend SIERA [http://www.fangraphs.com/library/index.php/pitching/siera/]. It encompasses a lot of the deeper peripherals that FIP and xFIP don’t use.

        ERA/WHIP can mean a pitcher is hot/cold, but they can also be very deceiving. Checking it against SIERA might put a red flag up for some SPs with good face value (e.g. Parker), and it also open your options up to guys that you’d normally pass over, like say Alex Cobb and his 4.89 ERA and 3.49 SIERA.

        With that said, there still seem to be some guys that consistently beat their xFIP or SIERA (Hellickson, Weaver, Cain) so it’s not an exact science.

        • Simply Fred

          simply fred says:
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          @Jay29, you’ve convinced me. i need to look into this further. thanks!

  21. Joe says:
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    Very interesting post. I love it, thanks! but, how do you go about deciding whether to sit Aces? guys such as greinke tomorrow. By your analysis, I think greinke should get sat tomorrow, but is that feasible with the way he’s pitching this year? Thanks!

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @Joe, ace or not. analysis is the same: the way he’s pitching this year:
      Has given up 11 ER in last 15 IP. That’s the way he has pitched recently. No headsup this year vs. PIT; but, last year vs. PIT in 25 IP had a 5.76 era. A miracle may happen and he shuts ‘em out. More likely gives up 5 ER.

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @Joe, Greinke’s 0-Swing% 28.2. Poor.

  22. Morse and BJ Upton for Adrian Gonzalez?

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @kR Express, wrong guy. check with Grey another post.

  23. Moustakas free agent, dump Butler and pick him up for DH?

  24. Terrence Mann says:
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    Very nice.

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @Terrence Mann, Thank you, sir. I respect your posts!

  25. lankydank says:
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    Simply Fred,
    Thank you for your insightful contribution. Are you willing to post a couple of probables each day or so based on your recommendations? No commentary necessary. I want to learn to reverse engineer your methodology. Thanks again.

  26. Marty says:
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    Am I missing something? Is there a Grey’s Picks daily stream/sit column that I am not seeing?

  27. BluePulaski says:
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    I took over a team in a young keeper league…1st fantasy baseball exp…H2H…big rosters…not much pitching to stream consistently…have to basically look for potential value and keep if more potential detected..anyway…I learned a lot from the article…AWESOME STUFF!…don’t know if there is a there is a CAPS rule…but had to say IT…I’ll be joining a public league (or two) next year…roto..to try this stuff out…”so I guess this dude Grey knows his stuff too” (said in a sarcastic Grey tone)…good to hear…but seriously…

    …great incite!

  28. BluePulaski says:
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    oops…lol “insight” …had to correct…didn’t want to “incite” anything by leaving it like that! ;o)

  29. Simply Fred

    simply fred says:
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    Yikes! Double Yikes!! This was supposed to be “Teach a person how to fish” kinda deal.

    First things first. We need to get our expectations in check:

    For Roto, the goal is season-long totals. Streaming is very much dependent upon the MLB schedule:
    Example:
    SD #29 and SEA #30 HOME
    COL #21 and AZ #23 AWAY
    So, for a week when SD and SEA are HOME and COL and AZ are AWAY, there are plentiful ops for average pitchers to perform well.

    SD #18 and SEA #12 (can you believe it?) AWAY
    COL #1 and AZ #3 HOME
    So, when this is the schedule, not so many ops.

    The point is, we can have a week with ONE nice streamer and another week with 13 nice streamers.

    Point being: need to adjust thinking to not expect a ‘streamer per day.’

    You are killing me with all of this love. Some of it may temper when today’s picks blow. :-)

    Bottom line: I will look into posting my roto streamers (apparently via forums). Expect some sort of qualifier that you can’t count on me every day, nor even every week. I may be off to El Carib spending my anticipated 2nd place money. :-) The Living Legend is nearly a lock for #1. (shout out to Retro Vertigo) :-)

    I don’t understand H2H enough to know if the principles can somehow help in that format. If so, you would need to look to someone with that experience to get up to speed with the process and do the posting, since I think you would want daily/weekly streamers that will just out-perform your opponent, not necessarily provide great periphs.

    • VinWins

      VinWins says:
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      @simply fred, Yeah, you taught me to fish, but I heard you can get fish at the store.

      I started looking at Saturday’s probables yesterday, but I soon realized it was more work than I was willing to do. I’m even more impressed by what you do, now.

  30. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    playing in a few leagues with him,ill testify to his unrelenting work,top class guy and fearsome foe,hats off for your secrets Fred

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @AL KOHOLIC, You taught me half of what I know. AND, you snagged Doolittle! You are Yoda!

      • Eddy says:
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        @simply fred, Fred, I’m curious, how many moves are you up to in the RCL? I got a guy in ours (Big Magoo) who is racking up the moves with a similar MR strategy.

        • Simply Fred

          simply fred says:
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          @Eddy, 582. Retro Vertigo in first place, 385. I have dropped to #2. :-(

  31. Eddy says:
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    On the H2H note that I’ve seen asked, there are very few differences.

    Unlike Fred in roto, H2H is no place to stream MR every day. You’d have to stick strictly to starters, and this goes double if you have weekly move limits. Standard limits are about 6-7 moves per week. I think that’s doable. You should already have five solid starters and sometimes they’ll be starting twice a week.

    Using 5-6 shouldn’t be hard on anyone. I’ve been doing it all season in my H2H.

    Now those who are in leagues that cap transactions at a set number for the YEAR, I’m not sure what to tell you other than my condolences. No reason to limit a manager like that.

    So yeah, H2H= Yes on starters, no on MR
    Roto=Yes on starters and MR.

  32. FIlthyRich says:
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    Excellent article and I’m going to try using the strategy. I’m curious on your thoughts on Travis Wood’s outing last night. I had him in my lineup as he looked like a ggod STREAM – facing MIA at CHN. Marlins are #26 OPS on road, #25 vs RHP. Wood’s O-Swing% is 30.0, and he has pitched well of late, so looks like good matchup, yet he gave up 8 ER in 4 2/3 IP. Just one of those days or did I miss a warning sign?

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