Fantasy Baseball: 5 Tips for Managing Your Team in the Early Playoff Rounds

Eric MatulaContributor IIAugust 29, 2012

Eric Chavez has been a top 10 third baseman over the last month.
Eric Chavez has been a top 10 third baseman over the last month.Leon Halip/Getty Images

The fantasy baseball playoffs are right around the corner. If your leagues are anything like my 14-team keeper league, then there are tight races all across the board.

How do you make sure you get in the playoffs? What should you do to win the regular-season championship and earn that No. 1 seed?

Here are a few simple tips that will help you make the postseason and go on a deep playoff run.


No. 1: Know How/When to Stream Pitchers

Streaming can be a vital key to winning a matchup. I'm not a huge fan of streaming, but if I need help in wins or strikeouts, then I won't hesitate to do it. Here are some tips to maximize your streaming success:

  • ONLY stream when your ERA has skyrocketed to a level that cannot win you the category. We've all had those weeks where every pitcher seems to get lit up and your ERA sits at 6.00 on Thursday. That's when it's time to stream. You have nothing to lose in the ERA/WHIP departments, so you might as well try to pick up some wins and strikeouts.
  • Just don't look at overall season stats. Filter the waiver pool to stats in the last 14 or 30 days. Someone like J.A. Happ has a 4.68 ERA on the season, but his ERA is 1.35 over his last three starts.
  • Look at the matchups. I try to pick a pitcher throwing at home. There are only 12 teams with a winning record on the road, and the majority of those are only a few games over .500.
  • Also pay attention to who will be pitching against your streamer. Kyle Kendrick might be pitching against the Mets, but make sure he's not squaring off against R.A. Dickey.


No. 2: Streaming Isn't Just For Pitchers

While streaming pitchers is way more common, streaming a hitter can be just as beneficial. If it's getting late in the week and one of your outfielders is hitting .091 with zero home runs and one run scored, streaming could become useful.

  • Look for players who are playing doubleheaders. If you can find a regular starter whose team is playing two games, you should be getting a two-for-one. There's no better chance at catching up in most offensive stats with more at-bats.
  • Like pitchers, look for good matchups. If Tyler Colvin is playing the next four games at home in Coors, then pick him up. He's hitting .320 at home compared to .261 on the road.


No. 3: Scope Out the Free-Agent List

Look back at the previous champions of your fantasy league. Chances are they added a key player late in the season that made a huge impact. Here is a list of hot players that are most likely available in your league.

  • Ryan Ludwick: He's hitting .337 with eight homers over the last month.
  • Carlos Gomez: He's entering his prime. He has six homers and nine steals over the last 30 days.
  • Eric Chavez: He's filled in nicely for Alex Rodriguez. He's hitting .391 with five homers in the last month.
  • Kris Medlen: Has been strong since joining the rotation. He has allowed just three runs in 32.2 innings as a starter.
  • Hisashi Iwakuma: The M's are on a roll, and he's certainly helping that. He's posted a 2.32 ERA and an 8.82 K/9 over the last month.


No. 4: Play Only Favorable Matchups

If you're like me, you try to win as big as possible in the regular season. Because of this, I'll take the risk of starting someone like C.J. Wilson on the road against the Rangers.

Once the playoffs start, though, I look for favorable matchups. If I have Wilson, who owns an 8.78 ERA over the last month, I think twice about starting him. Same goes for Lance Lynn, Tommy Hanson and others.

It doesn't matter if you win 6-5 or 12-0 in the playoffs. You're moving on regardless. Take the chance of missing out on a few K's and try to preserve the ERA and WHIP.


No. 5: Prevent Your Opponent From Getting Better

If your opponent elects to stream, make it harder for him/her.

Even if you have no plans of streaming, pick up a favorable matchup for the next day and just have him sit the bench. Make the streaming pool shallower for your opponent.

Same thing goes for position players. If the guy you're battling with for the top spot has a struggling shortstop, go to the wire and add the best available SS and have him ride the pine.

Obviously, you should only do this if you have expendable players. If you have the luxury of owning a superfluous player, make the most of it by frustrating your opponent or main competitor.