This installment of ‘Combing for Catchers’ is perhaps the exact opposite of the previous edition. By some sort of fantasy baseball miracle multiple catching options have sprung from nowhere. Great streaming options are here, and they may be good enough to stick around. Speaking of which, even if one of these options becomes an everyday starter for fantasy squads, please continue to check in. Because we all know the fantasy gawds can giveth but they certainly can taketh away.
Streaming recap (5/20-5/30)
|Gary Sanchez||.250 BA||1 HR||9 runs+RBI||86 wRC+||25 fantasy points|
|Yadier Molina||.222 BA||0 HR||4 runs+RBI||74 wRC+||14 fantasy points|
|Curt Casali||.222 BA||1 HR||4 runs+RBI||118 wRC+||10 fantasy points|
|Tucker Barnhart||.091 BA||0 HR||1 runs+RBI||-58 wRC+||-1 fantasy points|
|Christian Bethancourt||.227 BA||0 HR||4 runs+RBI||47 wRC+||10 fantasy points|
Backstops with hot bats
Mitch Garver, Texas Rangers (~36-percent rostered)
Mitch Garver has had a very strong May after he returned to the Rangers lineup. The catcher hit .300, hit four homers, drove in nine runs, and even swiped one bag. Texas continues to put Garver at the top of their lineup and he is producing. There are some encouraging indicators in his production profile worth getting pumped about. In May, Garver posted a 10.5-percent Barrel Rate, 42.1-percent HardHit Rate, and a 23.7-percent Line Drive Rate.
The Rangers’ upcoming schedule is a bit of a mixed bag. So Garver will face off against the Seattle Mariners and the Chicago White Sox. Both of their pitching staffs fall in the bottom 12 in team ERA and bottom eight in HR/9 over the past couple of weeks. He will also see the Cleveland Guardians who have been great lately and the Houston Astros and they have one of the best staffs in the league. Two favorable matchups and currently on a heater? Yeah, Garver is worth adding to your starting roster.
Alejandro Kirk, Toronto Blue Jays (~58-percent rostered)
Alejandro Kirk has been in the Jays’ lineup six out of the last seven of their games. He has been on fire in the span as well. Kirk has posted a .409 ISO, .577 wOBA, and 45 fantasy points. After his recent come-up, Kirk now has the second-best catcher batting average, on-base percentage, and third highest wRC+. The Toronto slugger has cracked the top ten at the catcher position according to FantasyPros’ Player Rater. His .302 BABIP is more than the projection systems had but he doesn’t make a lot of contact so that metric does have the potential to remain high. I have no issues adding Kirk to the lineup and it is not because we share similar body shapes.
As it turns out, Kirk qualifies for all three of the categories mentioned. He is on fire, he is a must-add, and he has a favorable upcoming schedule. Kirk and the Blue Jays will square off with the Twins, Royals, Tigers, and Orioles. Minnesota is the only staff that has an xFIP below four and Detroit, Kansas City, and Baltimore all give up a ton of hard contact. Get Kirk before it is too late, and you may have more than a catcher streamer on your roster.
Favorable matchups ahead
Christian Vázquez, Boston Red Sox (~52-percent rostered)
Over their next 13 games, the Red Sox will take on the AL West excluding the Astros. Six games against Oakland and three versus Seattle. Both pitching staffs find themselves in the bottom ten for team ERA and team xFIP since the beginning of May. As Boston’s primary catcher, Christian Vazquez will see a number of plate appearances against some weaker competition.
Not only is Vázquez’s upcoming schedule on the easy side, but he has also been very productive as of late. The Sox backstop is bating .444 with five extra-base hits and ten ribbies over his last ten games started. He now is on pace to set career highs in Barrel-percentage and Line Drive-percentage. Vázquez’s expected stats also support his current surface numbers which is encouraging. His BABIP does call for some negative regression but given the soft upcoming schedule, Vázquez is looking like a good streaming option.
MJ Melendez, Kansas City Royals (~23-percent rostered)
The young catcher was called up to the Royals big league roster in early May. At first, he did not perform at a level that would ensure his future playing time. But when veteran Sal Perez went on the shelf with an injury, Melendez was granted the gift of time. The 23-year-old did not disappoint. Matter of fact, Kansas City has been playing the youngster in the outfield to keep his bat in the lineup. Which is a maneuver that will come up again.
In 85 professional plate appearances, Melendez is batting .259, has bashed four home runs, and has posted a 125 wRC+. His Statcast data is very exciting. Melendez has connected for 7 barrels (10.8-percent), 33 hard-hit balls (50.8-percent), and has hit a baseball 110.8 miles per hour which is the 84th-percentile at the catching position. Every rookie is prone to slumps but there isn’t anything overly concerning in his profile that suggests what he’s done is a fluke. The catcher’s BABIP doesn’t look like a bubble and his strikeout metrics are under control. Melendez is a great streaming option at the very least.
William Contreras, Atlanta Braves (~39-percent rostered)
The Atlanta Braves are treating William Contreras very similarly to how the Royals are using Melendez. Contreras continued to produce with the limited at-bats that he received. Now the Braves are doing their best to get him everyday at-bats by playing him in the outfield as well as behind the dish. Contreras now has 71 ’22 plate appearances he is batting .302 with a .413 ISO, .462 xwOBA, and 197 wRC+. It is important for Atlanta to keep this guy in their lineup and it’s becoming more and more important to roster Contreras in fantasy baseball.
There are many reasons for team builders to be encouraged by what he’s doing at the plate. He is setting a career-best pace in Barrel Rate (15.9-percent), HardHit Rate (50-percent), and BB/K Ratio (0.42). There is a little swing and miss in his game (26.8-percent K Rate) and 31.4-percent CSW-percentage. The improvements to his O-Swing Rate and Walk Rate, it will mitigate the down periods. All that plus the increase in playing time, it is time to roster Contreras in most 12-15 team leagues.
So I have rolled out the top options. Presented reasons why these catchers could be worth streaming. Now here are my top five catchers to stream heading into the week.
- Alejandro Kirk
- William Contreras
- MJ Melendez
- Mitch Garver
- Christian Vazquez
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