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  • Art Tornabene

Catcher and Stolen Base Streamers for the Week of 4/12-4/18

Introduction

I think I need a new name for my article. Something snappy that draws the eyes. Honestly, I am all for just describing what you’re doing. It saves time to interpret. But, a column is nothing without a good title - Especially something like this. “Catch a Steal” popped into my head, and popped right out again because it stinks. And beyond that, my creativity runneth out. Please give me any suggestions. I’ll attribute it to you and will ever hold you in high regard. Onward to the recap:


The Recap

Stolen Base Picks: Tim Locastro and Chris Owings

It is fun to see Tim Locastro cause all kinds of havoc on basepaths. Saturday, versus Cincinnati, the threat of his speed led a strong defensive catcher like Tucker Barnhart to whiff on catching the ball because Locastro had taken off. Michael Fulmer threw a wild pitch to move him to third, and a sacrifice fly brought him home. It is an un-quantifiable thing to measure, the effect a fast runner has on the defense, but you can not deny that it exists. Locastro’s four for four on Saturday (at the time of this writing) has saved the weekly batting average, and the plate appearances appear to be locked in with the injury to Ketel Marte. Though he has been consistently leading off, his power deficit makes him strictly a speed play. Given how well he runs (28 for 28 in stolen base attempts during his career) however, I would still recommend rostering him for a speed play. This upcoming week, Locastro faces Oakland and Washington. Though Gomes began his career as a strong-armed backstop, neither he nor Oakland’s Sean Murphy is among the better throwing catchers today.


Chris Owings has extra-base hits in his last four plate appearances. The only downside to that fact is that he has only received five plate appearances all week. A loss on the stolen base front softened by a four for five with two runs and two runs batted in. Though he has been hot all season, his playing time has not carried from the first week to the next, and I can’t recommend keeping him in your lineup.


Catcher Picks: Victor Caratini, Jose Trevino, Dom Nunez

Victor Caratini got more publicity this week for his defense by catching the first no-hitter in San Diego history on Friday, though his offense has been productive. A time split narrowly favoring Caratini over Luis Campusano may be emerging, and the volume may not be as strong as hoped. Regardless, Caratini produced five runs-plus-rbi’s in his ten plate appearances this week, including a home run. No firm platoon tendencies have emerged, though that is worth monitoring.


In many ways, Jose Trevino is having the beginning to a season that many hitters would love. Seven singles in twenty at-bats, with strong average exit velocity and max exit velocity, show that Trevino is seeing the ball well. What Trevino can’t do is make the other hitters around him better. His twenty at-bats have produced only two runs and no runs batted in. Jonah Heim has received some playing time lately and produced more pop. While it is worth monitoring, until Trevino is losing significant plate appearances, I believe he is their mainstay behind the plate.


Elias Diaz’s struggles out of the gate have opened the door a crack for Dom Nunez to grab plate appearances, and he has succeeded in his opportunity. While both Diaz and Nunez have struck out over thirty-five percent of the time, when they have made contact, Nunez is cracking the ball. With hits in three of his last nine plate appearances, his home games in Coors, as well as three home runs already, Nunez is worth noticing. I would be holding until further clarity on playing time, at the very least.


For my picks, I remind you that I am going off of those owned in less than 50% of NFBC Roto leagues


Streaming Steals

As mentioned above, it was not a banner week for streaming steals, so far only one from the two recommendations, however, the selections were not total duds. For some background on the stolen base landscape, there were ten teams who had not thrown out any attempted base stealers coming into Saturday’s games. Of these ten, the most victimized have been Tampa Bay (8), Toronto (7), San Diego (5), Seattle (5), and Atlanta (4). Remember this week, as well, that a few of the bigger pickups have speed components to their game. Akil Baddoo from Detroit has sprint speed in the ninety-second percentile, and even though Tyler Naquin’s sprint speed does not impress, he has swiped a bag this season and shown a willingness to dirty the uniform.


Danny Mendick, White Sox (0% Rostered)

Receiving full-time plate appearances due to the injuries to Tim Anderson and Leury Garcia, Mendick has begun his 2021 on a hot streak with four hits in his first two games. But can he steal? Mendick may not be blessed with blazing speed, but he seems to have a knack for stealing bases. In 2018 and 2019, while in double and triple-A, Mendick stole nineteen, then twenty bases. Full-time plate appearances should give him the opportunity to translate that willingness to run to success on the Major League Basepaths. White Sox opponents this week are Cleveland and Boston. While neither has seen many attempts, I believe that Mendick will provide a good opportunity this week for plate appearances and may convert that into steals for your team.


Mike Tauchman, Yankees (12% Rostered)

This is a long shot, but there are some good reasons to think that the Yankees might have one of their best running weeks of the season and I believe that Tauchman is the best way to get in on it. For starters, Tauchman has already shown a willingness to take off this season, swiping two bases on opening day against Toronto. It so happens that Toronto is on the schedule for three games at the beginning of the week. The team to end the week? Tampa Bay. If you’d like one low-owned player that might have a show based solely on good conditions, it is Mike Tauchman. Add in that he received his first start of the season on Friday, and there might be something there.


Streaming Catchers

I wish strength and courage to those owners of Willson Contreras, Sean Murphy, Alejandro Kirk, and other catchers who are brutalizing your faith in the position to begin the season. It is especially tough to know if and when to move on from these catchers. I think Contreras will be fine, and Kirk was a late enough pick that a cut won’t be devastating. By my thinking, Murphy is the biggest mystery. He did not have the track record of success that grants comfort. With a one for four Saturday, Murphy has now one hit in his first twenty-two plate appearances on the season. Thankfully, his backup, Aramis Garcia, is not hitting any better so there should be a decent length leash.


Victor Caratini, San Diego (46% Rostered)

I have to recommend Caratini again. Even with the timeshare, the Padres have seven games this week which leaves enough to go around. I expect four of the starts to go to Caratini.


Luis Torrens, Seattle (34% Rostered)

Torrens has been quicker to wrestle a larger bulk of the playing time from Tom Murphy this season than even I had expected and is quickly looking like a strong add with potential for full season keeping. I have been on Luis Torrens since I researched him over the off-season, and I am a fan of his approach at the plate as well as his batted ball skills. Thus far I have noticed that Tom Murphy has started against both of the most recent left-handed pitchers, though that is not yet enough to make a platoon split call. This week the Seattle Mariners play seven, with four in Baltimore. It appears that Seattle may line up to face both of Baltimore’s left-handed starters, however, the weekend series at home against Houston should be all right-handed.


Tucker Barnhart, Cincinnati (22% Rostered)

Barnhart has come out of the gates red hot to start the season, and this could be the only time to cash in on that goodness before he turns back into a pumpkin. Cincinnati has six games this week: three at San Francisco and three at home versus Cleveland could be a tough slog, but the Cincinnati offense has been rolling. It is worth a try, especially in that home series versus Cleveland, to see if Tucker can turn in another strong week.