Streaming Starting Pitchers

In two leagues I am in, there has been some complaining of teams streaming starting pitchers this last week of the season. Streaming is using as many starting pitchers as you can to try to accumulate as many counting stats as possible (Wins and Ks). It is a method to make up make up quite of bit of ground quickly, with little draw back.

Is Streaming Wrong?

There is nothing wrong with streaming, if the leagues rules were to allow it. It could be done by any owner during the season. It usually comes to the fore front at the end of the season for a couple of reasons. First, owners are able to dump starters that are done for the season. These pitchers have no value in the 2011 season. Dumping these pitchers is especially done in single season leagues. In keeper leagues, the dumped pitchers can be picked up for next year, so streaming is limited.

The second reason for the increase complaints is that teams are now in the finals and there is pride, banners and possibly money on the line. Teams may be seeing an entire season of work lost to an owner that is able to start a stable full of pitchers over the last few days.

While I can see why some owners may be frustrated. The rules are the rules and there is no reason to change them at the end of the season. It may not seem “fair”, but every owner had the same opportunity. The end game is just another part of the season and should be taken as seriously.

How to Stop/Limit Streaming

For leagues that want to stop streaming, here are some possible solutions.

Required Action – It must be decided at the beginning of the season that the rules need to be changed. If someone is complaining in the last couple of weeks, it is way to late. People won’t blame others of making up rules on the fly or not honoring gentleman agreements between certain owners. Make a league rule against it.

1. Add/Drop Limits – Setting a season or weekly roster change limit is probably the best option. Six moves a week once the season starts, to me, seems the ideal balance. An owner is able to make needed changes to the tune of over 100 moves a season. Also a seasonal limit of 50 to 75 moves is a reasonable option.

2. One option I love is to add Losses as a category. The pitchers that the owner is picking up usually suck (that is why other teams don’t own them) and Losses will offset the additional Wins.

3. Manipulate the rest of the league into streaming. Once in a league, I saw my opponent was streaming in our H2H match-up. It was a keeper league and I really didn’t want to put my players on the WW. Instead, I posted a comment on the Bulletin Board complaining about it. While I got the tough luck comment I expect, all the other teams started streaming and took away many of my opponents options. Pointing out a loop hole someone is manipulating, and you can’t, is the best way to close it up.

4. Yearly IP limits. While these should be mandatory in any Roto leagues, some leagues don’t have them. They are a great way to stop SP streaming by making sure only the most valuable pitchers are used.

5. Locking down rosters for the post season. While drastic, if the rosters are larger enough, this seems like a viable option.

I absolutely don’t believe in changing the league rules at the end of the season. There are ways to limit streaming and those rules should be implemented at the beginning of the season, not at the end.

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Jeff writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first season in Tout Wars, he won the H2H league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Babip Avengers
Babip Avengers

I’d add that a smart owner can grab the best daily options, simply to keep them away from a streaming owner. There’s no need to use them, or to stream yourself, but it will force your competitor into poorer choices.


That would be impeding, and is absolutely cheating.


It isn’t impeding according to ESPN:

C: Impeding other owners
Certain transactions made solely to impede other owners is not allowed. “Tanking games”, or losing for the sole purpose of denying another player’s chance to make the playoffs is against the rules. In particular, cycling through players in free agency to put them on waivers and make them unavailable to other teams in your league is strictly prohibited and is grounds for expulsion from the game.

Grabbing the best option each day is a lot different than grabbing each eligible every day and putting them on the waiver wire.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there are no ethical considerations. However, if you figure that on any given day there are thirty starting pitchers and the top 15 (or so) are already owned that means you are grabbing the 16th best option to block a streamer forcing him into the 17th best option. That doesn’t sound entirely horrible to me. Especially when you consider that the original question was whether streaming itself is ethical…

Brad Johnson

Why is it impeding to acquire potentially valuable players and then opt not to use them?


When you decide not to use them within minutes of picking them up! That’s when!

The A Team

Why does that matter when considering impeding? An owner has the right to field the best roster that they can. In a league where streaming is a viable option, that is usually going to include rostering starting pitchers even if they don’t intend to use them. Because it’s a streaming league, that Ted Lilly benched start is worth more than Jason Bourgeois on the bench.

Clearly you think rostering players for purely bench roles is impeding. Do you support streaming? Because I really don’t understand this if you do. Those two positions are logically inconsistent.