Perhaps the most discussed topic in fantasy baseball this season has been the lack of offense across the Majors. The league-wide batting average (.231) is 13 points lower than it was last season, and the overall OPS (.675) is the lowest mark in 50 years.
The lack of offense is dramatically impacting fantasy leagues, making every positive offensive event more valuable than ever before. For this reason, successful fantasy managers will be the ones who find ways to churn out as much offense as possible without tearing apart their pitching staff by making a series of pitching-for-hitting deals.
The best way to find offense right now, however, is to stream players who are facing the Majors’ worst pitching staffs. There are a few teams who are giving up runs as though it was still 2021, and those are the teams to target. Here are the details:
Cincinnati has logged by far the highest ERA in baseball (5.76). Their rotation has been awful, with every pitcher who has made multiple starts in possession of an ERA north of 5.25. The bullpen also lacks anchors, and as a staff, the Reds have issued the most walks per game. Great American Ball Park isn’t going to do this staff any favors either and they can be streamed against for all home games and road contests.
The Nats own the second-highest ERA in the Majors (5.16). The plan for streaming against Washington is simple: Avoid the days when Josiah Gray (4.05 ERA) toes the rubber and target every other starter. Beyond Gray, every other Nats starter has an ERA of 4.91 or higher, and three of their rotation members have an ERA of 6.00 or worse. The backend of their bullpen has been solid, but getting to those hurlers has been a major problem.
The rebuilding Pirates are arguably the least surprising team on this list. The Bucs have endured an ERA of 6.00 or more from three of their five starters, with only Jose Quintana (3.86 ERA) having had any notable success. Pittsburgh has had some solid relief performances from Will Crowe, David Bednar, Chris Stratton and Dillon Peters, but they will be a team to stream against until they find rotation options.
Managers who need a home run will want to stream players who are facing the Rangers, as Texas has given up more long balls than any other team while also ranking near the bottom in ERA (4.84). The Rangers aren’t a total mess in the rotation, as Martin Perez (3.86 ERA) has been solid, and Glenn Otto (2.89 ERA) has shown potential in two starts. Streaming against pitchers other than Otto or Perez is the plan here.
The Rockies have been equally inept at home and on the road this season, which is an unusual phenomenon for a Colorado staff. The starting staff has had some bright (or at least slightly bright) spots with Chad Kuhl and Austin Gomber, but the bullpen ranks last in baseball and is unlikely to improve. The plan to stream hitters at Coors Field remains intact but we can now also stream against the Rockies at other venues.
Don’t believe the hype
The following teams have been disappointing thus far but have the potential to pick things up in the coming weeks. I wouldn’t aggressively stream against them:
The Phillies bullpen (4.22 ERA) has been among baseball’s worst. But their rotation has been solid and should be even better when Zack Wheeler (8.53 ERA) finds his stride. As their starters build more stamina and work deeper into games, the Phillies should have a mid-level pitching staff.
The Braves have had some unfortunate results from good pitchers such as Charlie Morton and Collin McHugh, who have pitched better than their results suggest. Atlanta has had some struggles in their bullpen but has plenty of talent to turn things around and is not a team to stream against.
Teams to target for steals
Los Angeles Angels
The Halos have allowed the most steals of any team (16) despite having had a league-average staff thus far. The plan here is to stream anyone with speed against Noah Syndergaard, who has had career-long problems with holding baserunners and has allowed more steals (7) this year than any other hurler.
The Reds have done a decent job at throwing out baserunners but have still allowed the second-most steals of any team. The amount of steals is not surprising, since Cincinnati has allowed the most baserunners, and this is yet another reason to stream heavily against the Reds.
The Braves have been awful at throwing out baserunners, allowing 13 swipes on 15 attempts. If I have noticed their ineptitude at preventing steals, you can bet that Major League managers are aware of these numbers as well. My guess is that teams test Atlanta’s catchers (Travis d’Arnaud, Manny Pina) often in the coming weeks.