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This Week In Streaming Strategy, July 2-8

The favorite fantasy column of both Kenny Rogers AND Dolly Parton, it's This Week In Streaming Strategy!  Okay, well, I can't guarantee that.  Kenny probably prefers the Silver League updates, the silver-bearded son-of-a-gun that he is.  Anyway, onto this week's best and worst streaming options...

* Homer Bailey.  It was only back in 2007 that Baseball America tapped Bailey as the fifth-best prospect in baseball, followed up by his #9 placement the next season.  The former seventh-overall pick hasn't converted on that potential yet but he's at least turned into a capable big league starter and this week, even a good fantasy streaming option.  This season, Bailey's homer-friendly stadium in Cincinnati hasn't been very Homer-friendly, as he owns a 5.22 ERA in eight starts at the Great American Ballpark.  On the road, however, Bailey has a 3.09 ERA in seven outings, and this week will pitch in the very hurler-friendly confines of Petco Park and Dodger Stadium.  Hey, speaking of which....

* Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Wade Miley, Josh Collmenter, Trevor Cahill, Trevor Bauer.  Of these six, Cueto, Miley and Cahill are almost certainly gone in your league, but check to see if the others are hanging around on the waiver wire -- only 46% of Yahoo fantasy owners have picked up promising rookie Bauer, and Leake & Collmenter are owned by just 12% and 4% of owners, respectively.  Why am I hyping these six starters, plus Bailey?  Because they're all scheduled to face the ice-cold Los Angeles Dodgers this week.  L.A. has lost 11 of their last 12 games and have been shut out an embarrassing five times in their last six games.  With Matt Kemp still on the DL and Andre Ethier struggling, the weak Dodgers lineup has lost their two tentpoles, leaving behind an offense that scored only 83 runs in 28 June games and hit just six homers.  I repeat, the ENTIRE TEAM COMBINED hit six homers in a FULL MONTH.  Twenty-nine individual players hit six or more homers in June, for pete's sake.  Needless to say, the Dodgers have surpassed even the Mariners and Padres as the ideal opponent to stream a pitcher against.  Things won't improve for the men in blue until Kemp returns, Ethier gets it going or maybe if Carlos Lee decides to come aboard.  That must be a fun recruiting call for Ned Colletti.  "Hey Carlos, remember the 1906 White Sox?  They won the World Series!  Lightning can strike twice, baby!"

* Ricky Romero.  I need to advise against Romero this week just to get the bad taste out of my mouth from his three-inning, eight-run disasterpiece last Wednesday in Boston.  I own Romero in a league and had every intention of sitting him since he's been struggling and Boston is his worst opponent.  A no-brainer benching, right?  Well, it is unless you forget the game was a matinee start, so I had the fun experience of checking the box score in mid-afternoon and seeing my life flash before my eyes.  Romero is a two-start option this week and if you haven't already given up on the Blue Jays ace, it may be safe to do so now.  Romero has a 4.94 ERA and is on pace for a career-low K/9 and a career-high BB/9.  (His record, however, is 8-2, which is yet more evidence to prove that win-loss records are a mirage.)  The southpaw was pegged by some as a regression candidate after his strong 2011 season due to unimpressive peripherals and sure enough, Romero has fallen back to earth with a thud.  He's scheduled to start this week on the road against the Royals and White Sox, and while neither club hits lefties particularly well, I wouldn't start Romero against a high school team at this point.  Streaming tip: don't forget, that second start against Chicago is an AFTERNOON GAME.

* Tim Lincecum.  Freak owners everywhere were ecstatic following Lincecum's seven shutout innings against the Dodgers last Wednesday, as it was the type of vintage-Timmy performance that has been all too rare in this rough season for the Giants ace.  Lincecum is set to make two starts this week, but I wouldn't quite jump back on his bandwagon yet.  As noted, his Wednesday start was against the punchless Dodgers.  That game was also in San Francisco, where Lincecum has been okay this season (3.99 ERA in eight starts), whereas his two starts this week are on the road, where Lincecum has a horrid 7.59 ERA in eight outings this season.  Lincecum is slated to face two ostensibly weak lineups in Washington and Pittsburgh (more on that in a second), but I'd keep the Freak on a leash for Tuesday just to see if he's really back or not.

* Neil Walker, Michael McKenry.  In my last column of May, I advised against having any Pirate besides Andrew McCutchen on your fantasy roster given how the Bucs were collectively delivering a terrible offensive season.  Naturally, the Pirates then went on to score the most runs (146) of any Major League team in the month of June.  It's been a stunning turn of events for the Pirates, who have benefited from McCutchen continuing his MVP-caliber performance as well as streaky hitters like Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez (a streaming pick from last week) both heating up at the same time.  I want to focus on McKenry and Walker, however, as the former is a good streaming pick and Walker is a better longer-term answer.  McKenry has hit well while filling in for the injured Rod Barajas and if he keeps it up, may win at least a share of the starting job given that Barajas hasn't produced much this season.  McKenry has a solid .265/.357/.453 career line in six minor league seasons and at age 27, who knows, he could be a breakout candidate if given the playing time.  If not, then you can at least ride him for another six or seven days until he cools off.  As for Walker, he posted just a .620 OPS over his first 38 games of 2012 but a .284/.358/.411 line in 36 games since, returning to his status as a quality fantasy option at second base.  Walker is owned in just 46% of Yahoo leagues, so there's still opportunity to snatch him up.

* Jim Thome.  Finally, we can't forget the newest Baltimore Oriole, whose fantasy value has skyrocketed since yesterday's trade.  Thome will once again see regular at-bats as Baltimore's DH against right-handed pitching, and as fate would have it, the Orioles are set to face righty starters in six of seven games this week.  It's worth noting that the O's are in two pitcher-friendly parks this week (three games at Safeco Field, four at Angel Stadium) but even still, if you're looking for a big bat on the waiver wire, try to grab Thome unless another manager in your league has beaten you to the punch.

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