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This "Week" In Streaming Strategy: October 1-3

Three more days.  Three days in October.  Three days of the Condor (pretend my nickname is "The Condor").  If you're in a fantasy league that ended on a usual weekly deadline and didn't include Monday thru Wednesday, well, that's weak sauce.  If your league doesn't run the full 162-game slate, then you're missing out on the utter PANIC of the last few days as managers race to stream players like crazy to use up their remaining games and innings.  I, for instance, am a good 60 innings under my cap in one league and thus am streaming one or two different starters per day, to great results!  Thank you, Marco Estrada!  

Let's look over the remaining MLB schedule and pick out some of the best streaming options for the the last-minute frenzy...

* Hisashi Iwakuma.  The Mariners are at home for their final series, and while they're facing a hard-charging Angels team, I'd still favor Safeco Field over a team fighting for their postseason lives.  The M's are starting Felix Hernandez, Iwakuma and Blake Beavan over the series.  I'm guessing King Felix probably isn't available for a quick streaming start and while Beavan's home ERA (4.12) is almost a full run lower than his road ERA (5.11), his unimpressive peripherals don't merit a pickup.  Iwakuma, on the other hand, is not only a beast in Seattle --- a 2.70 ERA in 16 home games, as opposed to a 4.20 ERA on the road --- but he also has owned the Angels, posting a 3-0 record and a 1.54 in four games against them this year, three of them starts.  Iwakuma is available in a measly 27% of Yahoo leagues and he's arguably the best streaming pitching option of the week.

* Justin Smoak.  If you heard some weird sounds emanating from the Pacific Northwest over the last month, it may have been the sound of the Smoak Monster tearing the cover off the ball.  Smoak is hitting .343/.418/.614 in September and has an .842 OPS in 138 plate appearances since returning from a stint in the minors.  It's almost like he's a different person....okay, fine, I'll stop with the LOST references, but I would've had a field day had his Yahoo ownership percentage matched one of the Numbers.  Still, Smoak is owned in just 14% of Yahoo leagues and he's facing a good opponent, as he has a 1.004 OPS in (small sample size alert!) 45 at-bats against the Angels this season.  It's usually not a good move to recommend a Mariners hitter for a home series but for Smoak in this series, I may have found a loophole.

* Jim Thome, Chris Davis.  HIS NAME IS JI.... The Orioles finish their dream season with a huge three-game set in Tampa Bay, and the Rays are sending three right-handers (Alex Cobb, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson) to the mound.  Who better to combat those arms than two big left-handed bats like Thome and Davis, the former a long-time destroyer of right-handed pitching and the latter one of the game's hottest hitters in September?  HIS NAME IS CHR...  Davis just launched his 30th homer of the season on Saturday night but is still available in 42% of Yahoo fantasy leagues, while the great Thome is available in a stunning 98% of leagues.  Of the two, I'd actually say that Davis is the lesser bet given his home-road splits (.891 OPS at Camden Yards, .721 OPS elsewhere), so pretend it's 2001 and go hard into the last week with old man Thome.

* Jonny Gomes and Chris Carter.  Gomes and Carter have picked a bad time to go into slumps, but for this all-important series against the Rangers and with southpaws Martin Perez and Matt Harrison scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, the A's are likely to turn to their lefty-mashers at 1B and DH.  This may come at the expense of benching the scalding-hot Brandon Moss, however, so keep an eye on those A's lineups to make sure they're actually putting Moss on the bench before making any changes.  It wouldn't surprise me if the A's play the hot hand and keep Moss in the lineup at the expense of other Gomes or Carter.  Moss is, in any case, a great pickup for Wednesday's game against righty Ryan Dempster.

* Paul Maholm.  This going to stun you, but the Pirates aren't very good against left-handed pitchers.  I know!  The Pirates!  The modern-day Murderer's Row!  The Bucs only have a .697 team OPS against southpaws this season and that number is probably dropping given the absolute rock-bottom status of the Pittsburgh nine right now.  I wouldn't like their chances against a Little League team right now, let alone the Braves in their season-ending series.  (Note to the MLB schedule-maker: having this year's Bucs wrap up their collapse against the Braves, of all teams, was just cruel.  What next, is Francisco Cabrera going to throw out the first pitch?)  Maholm has pitched well since coming to Atlanta, and minus two blowout starts against the Phillies and Brewers, has a 1.95 ERA over his other eight outings as a Brave.  Maholm, of course, spent his first seven seasons in Pittsburgh and apparently knows how to handle his old teammates, judging by his 2.08 ERA in two starts against the Bucs this year.  On the bright side for the Bucs, at least Maholm won't no-hit them....probably.

* Benchings.  This is just a general end-of-season reminder that lineup maintenance is more important than ever at this time of year.  If you have any stars who play on the Reds, Giants, Nationals, Braves or (almost) the Cardinals, don't just assume they'll be starting as per usual over the last three days, as managers may want to give their regulars a break before the playoffs.  The only thing worse than picking a bad streaming player is picking a good streaming player....and then leaving him on your bench since you just couldn't bear to sit, say, Jay Bruce, who ended up taking the night off while your streaming player had three hits. 

* Dan Johnson.  That's right, Dan Johnson!  Forget the stats, I love superstition!  Since last we left Tampa Bay's Mr. Clutch, he was outrighted by the Rays in November and he chose free agency, eventually signing a minor league contract with the White Sox.  Johnson is currently on the Sox big-league roster and has been seeing some pinch-hitting appearances lately.  With this AL Central race going right down to the wire, there could be another chance for Johnson to create some more late-season magic.  If you (against all common sense) picked up Johnson for your fantasy team and he actually delivered a big hit that helped both Chicago win the division and you win your league, you could tell that story on message boards for the rest of your life.  And imagine if the guy who finished behind you was a Red Sox fan?  Oh man, this is too crazy NOT to work.


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