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This Week In Streaming Strategy, July 23-29

This week's streaming tips could very easily be thrown off by the July 31st trade deadline. There's nothing like a deal to completely alter a platoon situation, rotation matchups or bullpen usage, so keep a close eye on your fantasy lineups in case you're hearing one of your guys is on the trade block. Of course, the best way to track the rumor mill heading up to the deadline and beyond is to make MLB Trade Rumors a daily (or hourly) visit, but odds are I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

Here are some of the week's dos and don'ts for fantasy streaming options....

* Tyler Colvin, Dexter Fowler. It's a very tiny silver lining amidst Colorado's pitch-black cloud of a season, but one thing the Rockies do well is hit right-handed pitching.  The Rockies' .775 team OPS against righties is the third-best mark in baseball.  Five of the Rockies' six games next week are against right-handed starters, providing opportunity for Colvin (.935 OPS vs. RHP) and Fowler (.909 OPS vs. RHP and almost the same mark against lefties) to be big contributors.  Colvin has spent the last week cooling off after his hot start to the season, and while his .327 OBP is a sign that he isn't quite developed as an offensive threat yet, Colvin has been mashing the ball to the tune of a .583 slugging percentage.  He's owned in just 42% of Yahoo fantasy leagues so there's still time to grab Colvin in case he heats up again.  As for Fowler, he's on pace for by far the best season of his five-year career and yet even he is owned in just 66% of Yahoo leagues.  The trick is to only put Fowler in your lineup when the Rockies are at Coors Field (home-road splits) though this week the road splits shouldn't be quite as pronounced as the Rockies play three games at Arizona's hitter-friendly Chase Field.

* Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez. The Yankees have been rumored to be looking for outfield help in the wake of Brett Gardner's likely season-ending surgery, so this is one of those situations that could change within the next week.  Until we hear otherwise, however, presume the Yanks will stick with their platoon of Ibanez and Andruw Jones in left, with the other usually part of a DH platoon with whomever isn't playing third base between Chavez and Alex Rodriguez.  I'll single out Chavez and Ibanez because they both have very good numbers against righty pitchers this season (.878 OPS for Chavez, .794 OPS for Ibanez) and New York is set to face four right-handed starters this week, including three in a row in Seattle from Monday through Wednesday.  You'll have to check the daily lineup to make sure exactly how the platoon shakes out (especially with Jayson Nix and Dewayne Wise also in the mix for "give the veterans a break in the field" spot starts) but Chavez and Ibanez are both good bets to see action.  It doesn't hurt that they're also two of the few human beings on Earth who enjoy hitting at Safeco Field --- Chavez has a career .860 OPS in Seattle while former Mariner Ibanez has a career .285/.357/.474 at his old haunt.

* Justin Masterson.  I drafted Masterson in two different leagues last spring hoping he would duplicate his solid 2011 season as a fourth starter in my fantasy rotation, though I've long since dropped him due to his inconsistency.  Few pitchers this season have swung from terrific to horrible as quickly as Masterson, who has okay overall numbers (4.29 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 7.1 K/9, 1.82 K/BB ratio) but is prone to one horrible start every few weeks that can just torpedo a fantasy owner in a weekly matchup.  In four July starts alone, Masterson tossed seven innings of one-run ball against the Orioles and seven shutout innings against the Blue Jays combined with two shellackings at the hands of the Rays.  You're never going to feel totally comfortable with Masterson on the mound but for this week, he's a good two-start streaming option.  He has the Orioles (a measly .689 team OPS against right-handed pitching) at home on Monday, where Masterson's ERA is almost two points lower than it is for road starts.  The second outing is on the weekend in Minnesota, and though Masterson's road numbers and career splits against the Twins are shaky, you can roll the dice if you're in need of some counting stats to win your weekly pitching matchups.  I'd definitely start Masterson on Monday and then play the wait-and-see game.

* Jeff Samardzija.  I like the guy just because his nickname is "Shark" (a.k.a. the nickname I've been trying to give myself since the third grade) and because he was a fantasy darling over the first two months of the season.  The Shark then hit rough waters over in June when he posted a 12.27 ERA over four starts and was dropped from many a team.  Samardzija has gotten back on track in three July starts --- a 2.37 ERA and 24 strikeouts against six walks over 19 innings --- but I still don't love him as a two-start option this week.  He first faces the hot-hitting Pirates in an away start, and Samardzija has a 5.40 ERA on the road this season.  The Cubs go back home to take on the Cardinals over the weekend, and while Samardzija has pitched better at Wrigley Field, he's had mixed results in two starts against St. Louis this year.  It's basically the opposite of my Masterson recommendation; while I can predict one quality start for Masterson and one question mark outing, Samardzija seems in line for one tough outing and then a who-knows affair against the Cards.  The Shark could prove he's all the way back and shut down two of the NL Central's top teams this week and if he does, I promise, I'll let Samardzija keep the nickname.

* Daniel Nava.  The legend of the undrafted Santa Clara product coming an out-of-nowhere star for the Red Sox in the first half of the season has taken a turn for the worse.  Nava owned a .979 OPS following Boston's June 22 game; over his next 23 games, Nava has hit just .145/.270/.263 in 89 plate appearances.  Surely Nava wasn't going to keep up his early-season success, but I'm not sure anyone quite expected such a sudden plummet back to earth, either.  His struggles have naturally led to a massive dropping in fantasy leagues and if you've kept him around just because you're tempted by his still-solid .380 OBP, do nothing more than keep him on the bench on the off-chance he gets his mojo back.  The Red Sox are still making room for Nava in the lineup due to David Ortiz's DL stint and have even been putting him at or near the top of the batting order.  It seems like the Sox are making a mistake putting a guy this ice-cold into a key spot in their lineup; don't make the same mistake with Nava in your fantasy league.

* Jay Bruce.  The dirty little secret keeping Bruce from being a true fantasy asset is that he's only good against right-handed pitching and is nigh-unplayable (career .650 OPS) against lefties.  Unfortunately for Bruce owners, the second-level dirty secret is that he's also not very good away from the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark.  Bruce has a healthy .275/.350/.539 career line in his home stadium, but on the road, he's a pedestrian .235/.309/.417.  Both struggles could clash this week as Bruce faces six road games, at least three of which will be against left-handed starters.  So, even though he's facing the batting practice-level pitching staffs of the Astros and Rockies this week, I'm going to recommend that you put Bruce on the bench this week.  The bright side is that despite these two dirty secrets, Jay still has a long way to go to take over the title of Most Secrets Possessed By A Bruce.  This guy probably has it clinched for eternity.


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