By Fred Zinkie
Special to Yahoo Sports
Let’s face it — the time for a measured, patient approach to your fantasy season is coming to an end. With just over two months remaining, many gamers now need to get aggressive with their streaming options as they look to make up ground in pitching categories or reach their innings limit. But even with an aggressive approach, there is still room for thoughtfulness.
For those looking to use a starter against an American League squad, here are the details you’ll want to know. Next week I’ll follow up with a National League version of these tips.
With a top-5 overall OPS (.818), the New York Yankees are an offense to avoid overall. And Yankee Stadium is not their biggest reason for success, as the Bronx Bombers have been stellar at home (.800 OPS) and on the road (.839 OPS). The one glimmer of opportunity is to take them on with a lefty, against whom they have logged a mediocre .757 OPS.
Summary: Generally avoid, but consider occasionally with lefties.
Like their biggest rivals, the Red Sox boast a top-5 offense (.806 OPS) that should be avoided in most situations. And their splits are similar to those possessed by New York, as Boston’s one blemish on their record is a .751 OPS against southpaws. Also, they have been dominant at home (.827 OPS) and merely very good on the road (,789 OPS).
Summary: Avoid with righties and at Fenway Park, consider with lefties.
The success of the Rays has been mostly based on pitching, as the club sits near the middle of the pack in most offensive metrics. Tampa Bay has been slightly better against righties than lefties, and they have had more success on the road than at their pitcher-friendly home park. The biggest reason to stream against the Rays is that they sit third in the Majors with 989 strikeouts.
Summary: A neutral matchup that could provide plenty of strikeouts.
The youthful Blue Jays have some of the smallest splits in baseball, and their numbers are poor in almost every situation. This makes Toronto one of the best clubs to blindly stream against. They also have a healthy strikeout total (942), which increases the odds of an opposing starter having a memorable outing.
Summary: One of the best streaming matchups.
Not surprisingly, the lowly Orioles are among the best streaming matchups. Their lefty/righty splits are minimal, and they are abysmal on the road (.678 OPS) while being respectable at home (.741 OPS). And the win potential for opposing starters is terrific, as Baltimore is 29th in baseball with a .317 winning percentage.
Summary: Use a little bit of care at Camden Yards, but generally stream away.
If there is one lineup to avoid, it might be the Twins. The club leads the Majors with an .838 OPS and possesses an OPS over .800 in all types of splits that we are discussing today. They are also one of the best in baseball at limiting whiffs.
Summary: Avoid, avoid, avoid.
After doing little to upgrade their lineup during the winter, the Indians are reaching the expectations of a middling offense. Their home/road splits are balanced, and they are also a more desirable matchup for lefties (.725 OPS) than righties (.754 OPS).
Summary: A neutral option that is fine to stream against.
The rebuilding White Sox have had some success against lefties (.736 OPS) and at home (.738 OPS). They have been weaker vs. righties (.705 OPS) and among the worst in baseball on the road (.691 OPS).
Summary: Stream aggressively with righties and when they are on the road.
Kansas City Royals
The speedy Royals have been one of the weakest lineups in baseball, especially against southpaws (.684 OPS). With an OPS under .740 in all situations being discussed today, they are always an appetizing matchup.
Summary: Stream aggressively.
By most metrics, the Tigers have the worst offense in the American League. To be more specific, they have been completely inept against righties (.663 OPS) and at home (.646 OPS). They should also provide plenty of whiffs while being limited on the scoreboard.
Summary: A streamer’s dream.
The Astros trail only the Twins in overall OPS (.822), and fantasy gamers would be within their rights to consider this group to be baseball’s scariest lineup. Beyond being very effective at producing offense in all situations, the Astros are one of two lineups (along with the Angels) who are exceptional at limiting strikeouts.
Summary: If there is one lineup to avoid, this is it.
The surging A’s are a lineup to avoid with lefties (.810 OPS) but at least consider with righties (.749 OPS). The club has balanced home/road splits, and they don’t strike out often.
Summary: Mostly avoid, although righties can be considered.
The Rangers present all sorts of boom-or-bust potential. On one hand, this is the most strikeout-prone group in baseball (1029 whiffs) and they aren’t especially good against lefties (.723 OPS) or on the road (.735 OPS). On the other hand, Texas does damage against righties (.781 OPS) and at their hitter-friendly home park (.793 OPS).
Summary: Avoid when they are at home, go for the whiffs when they are on the road.
Los Angeles Angels
With a Major League-low 726 strikeouts, the Angels don’t offer opposing starters much of a chance for a memorable outing. And the club sits with an OPS between .755 and .795 in all areas of our examined splits, which means that they are never a great matchup.
Summary: This is generally a group to avoid.
The Mariners have faded offensively after a hot start, and they are now a reasonable group to target. Their high strikeout total (1011) and balanced splits mean that gamers can pretty much just close their eyes and stream away.