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This Week In Streaming Strategy

A few days ago, my friend Don tweeted the following: "I just realized I'm looking for fantasy baseball advice on a blog written by the guy I'm against this week. Damn."  Truly a proud moment of my tenure at Roto Authority. Let's see if I can keep the good vibes going and plant a bunch of trojan horses to fool my fantasy opponents uncover some good and bad streaming options for the upcoming week ...

* Chris Getz. Six of the Royals' seven games this week will be against right-handed pitching, thus giving plenty of opportunity for the left-handed-hitting Getz. Kansas City's second base situation is not exactly a platoon, but you'd think that Getz would be a logical pick to see the lion's share of starts this week over Yuniesky Betancourt, a right-handed bat.  The Royals have been regularly starting Betancourt due to his hot bat, but this is the same player who has a career .685 OPS, he'll come back down to earth soon.

* Henderson Alvarez. Owned in just 16% of Yahoo fantasy leagues, Alvarez allowed six runs in 6 1/3 innings against Tampa Bay on Thursday but pitched well in his first two outings of the season. One of those outings was against the Orioles, whom he'll face again on Tuesday at Camden Yards. Alvarez's other start this week will come against the light-hitting Mariners on Sunday at Rogers Centre. This is kind of a borderline recommendation, since Alvarez has been victimized a bit by the long ball this year (four HR in 19 1/3 IP) and has middling peripherals. With two of the AL's weaker teams on the slate this week, however, Alvarez stands out as the best widely-available two-start pitcher.

* Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Sweeney. The Red Sox are set to face righties in six of seven games this week, thus making these two into quality streaming plays. The switch-hitting Saltalamacchia has much better career splits against right-handed pitching (.768 OPS) than he does against left-handed pitching (.601 OPS), so this might the week where the catcher breaks out of his early-season slump. Sweeney is Boston's one healthy left-handed outfielder, so he'll be the one lineup constant this week as the Sox try to cobble together a decent outfield out of a collection of second-stringers.

* Marlon Byrd, Darnell McDonald, Jason Repko, Cody Ross. And hey, while we're at it, here are those second-stringers!  All four are right-handed hitters, so they're in tough against the steady diet of right-handed pitching against whom Boston is scheduled this week. The newly acquired Byrd will probably see the most playing time, but the other three will be fighting for at-bats. It's best to just stay away from Boston's outfield this week, aside from Sweeney.

* Philip Humber. Let's not go nuts over one legendary game. Unheralded pitchers who toss perfect games or no-hitters always see a bump in ownership following their big starts, but in most cases, there's a reason these guys are unheralded in the first place. Humber is the same pitcher he was before Saturday's perfect game; a solid fifth starter option with decent peripherals (a 2.83 K/BB in 2011 and a 16:3 K:BB ratio in 14 innings this year). Let's also not overlook the fact that his masterpiece took place at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field and against the woeful Mariners' lineup. Humber's next start will be back at U.S. Cellular Field against the Red Sox, so not only can Johnny Vander Meer rest in peace, it's up in air as to whether Humber can even deliver a quality start. I'd pass on Humber this week, but perhaps keep an eye on him for a spot start later in the year if he continues his good form.

* The Phillies.  From 102-game winners in 2011 to a team that I can just list as general stay-aways for an April fantasy week and everyone understands. The Phils have scored just 42 runs (second-lowest in baseball) in 15 games this season and have been especially atrocious against right-handed pitching, posting a team OPS of just .606 against righties. The Phillies will face at least four right-handed starters in their six games this week, and while only a couple of those names (Josh Collmenter, Trevor Cahill, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija) are particularly challenging, it might be best to just give your phantasy Phillies a break en masse this week. Even the better bats like Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino or Jimmy Rollins have fared worse in their careers against righties, and of this trio, only Victorino is performing anywhere close to his usual standards. There's nothing worse than a team-wide malaise to drag down individual fantasy stars, and such a slump might be occurring in Philadelphia.


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