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This Week In Streaming Strategy

Here are a few names to slot into your lineup (or keep on the bench) in order to maximize your fantasy points over the next seven days...

* Regular Designated Hitters.  Interleague play begins on Friday, with the Rangers, Orioles, Twins, Angels, Mariners, Athletics, Red Sox and White Sox all playing three games in NL parks.  This means that lineup regulars like David Ortiz, Kendrys Morales or Adam Dunn may lose some playing time. On the other hand, if their managers put them into the field, that could mean that other notable stars will hit the bench for a game or two. The lineup permutations are endless, so if you have any players from any of those eight AL teams going on the road this weekend, give your fantasy roster a quick look 30 minutes before first pitch so you can properly adjust for who's starting and who isn't.

* National League bench bats.  The Marlins, Pirates, Reds, Diamondbacks, Mets, Reds and Braves will be playing in AL parks this weekend, meaning that some of their platoon or bench players will see some DH at-bats. For instance, Chris Young is expected to return from Arizona's DL this week, so the D'Backs can just slot him into the lineup without having to remove Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra. Or, since the Braves are scheduled to face right-handers James Shields and Jeff Niemann in Tampa Bay this weekend, Eric Hinske or Juan Francisco are good plays as left-handed hitters who could be Atlanta's DH.

* Derek Lowe.  The veteran righty sports a 2.47 ERA, a 63.6% groundball rate and has delivered quality starts in six of his seven outings.  His return to the American League has gone much better than anyone expected ... and yet Lowe's numbers contain more red flags than a Stanford pep rally. In 43 2/3 innings pitched, Lowe has just 13 strikeouts and an equal number of walks, plus a WHIP of 1.51.  His FIP and xFIP stand at 3.94 and 4.36, respectively, indicating that he's gotten some good fortune.  (While Lowe has a .317 BABIP, that metric is somewhat skewed given that he's such an extreme groundball pitcher.)  Given that Lowe gives you next to no value in strikeouts and WHIP, you're forced to rely on just his wins and ERA to help your fantasy team, and there's plenty of evidence to suggest that the bubble could burst any start now. Lowe may be a tempting two-start option this week since he's facing the Twins and Marlins, but I wouldn't risk picking him up.  In fact, if you do have him in your rotation, I hope you're trying like mad to trade him while his value is probably peaking.

* Jason Hammel. Just so we're keeping track, I'm advising you to avoid the risk of Derek Lowe, and yet throwing caution to the wind by inviting everyone aboard the Hammel bandwagon.  (You can grab a seat next to Roto Authority's Tom Warman.)  Hammel's breakout season has been a big reason for the Orioles' early success, as the Rockies' castoff has pitched like an ace through his six starts.  Hammel is scheduled to face the light-hitting Nationals in interleague action next weekend, and while that's a very enticing start, his scheduled start for Monday against the Yankees is a fair reason for pause.  Hammel did pitch well against New York on April 30 at Yankee Stadium and has allowed just a single run in 15 innings at Camden Yards this season.  Hammel's great start has gotten him lots of attention as he's owned in 72% of Yahoo fantasy leagues, so if you're in one of the other 28%, absolutely grab him if he's still available.  I'd hesitate to say he'll keep pitching like Jim Palmer the rest of the season, but Hammel still looks like a quality rotation hand.

* Gordon Beckham.  I hope nobody was injured during the Great Gordon Beckham Fantasy Evacuation of '12. Beckham was seen a dark-horse breakout candidate and was a popular selection in the later rounds of fantasy drafts, but after a rough .153/.231/.203 line in April, Beckham was waived by many a manager -- he is currently owned in just 8% of Yahoo fantasy leagues. For those eight-percenters who hung onto Beckham, however, you have been rewarded with some solid play, as Beckham headed into Saturday's action with a .302/.354/.512 line in May.  A two-week sample size isn't enough to tell if Beckham has really the corner or not, yet as a bench option, he's worth keeping on your fantasy roster.

* Rickie Weeks.  If you had kept Beckham in May, you could have started him ahead of Weeks, whose slump is reaching critical mass.  Weeks carried a .600 OPS into Saturday's play thanks to a lack of contact (a 28.1% strikeout rate, which would be the highest of his career should it continue the rest of the season) and not doing much with the ball when he does make contact (an 11.4% line drive rate).  At this point it might be a good idea to go a week without Weeks and give a hot waiver wire second baseman a try, or elevate someone from your bench.  Weeks does have an abnormally low .211 BABIP and he's drawing more walks than ever before, so there are definitely signs that he can return to form, but it will save you fantasy points if you wait until he does start showing that form before again slotting him into your lineup.  Of course, this could all be a moot point if Weeks is forced to miss any extra time with an injured wrist.

* Raul Ibanez.  The Yankees brought in Ibanez to feast on right-handed pitching and the veteran slugger has done just that during his short time in the Bronx.  Ibanez is hitting .293/.349/.640 against righties this season and thus could be in for a big week with the Yankees scheduled to face right-handed starters in six of seven games.  Four of those games are on the road, and while Ibanez's away OPS is over 250 points lower than his home OPS, I'd still consider him worthy of a fantasy lineup spot against a righty even without the comfort of Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch.


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