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This Week In Streaming Strategy: Sept. 10-16

Football?  Football?!  It's fantasy baseball playoffs time, son!  The NFL can wait until your fantasy baseball bragging rights have been settled.  Leagues could literally be decided by a single point in the coming weeks so every streaming recommendation is critical.  Take heed....

* Delmon Young.  While Young has largely been a fantasy disappointment this season, you'll want him in your lineup in the early part of the week.  Young's saving grace this season has been a .305/.327/.532 line against left-handed pitching, and the Tigers will face lefties in all but one (Jake Peavy on Tuesday) of their four-game set against the White Sox.  If you're looking for a fellow Tiger to stream Young with, look no further than....

* Andy Dirks.  The Tigers face Peavy on Tuesday and are scheduled to face three right-handed starters during their weekend set in Cleveland.  This provides plenty of opportunity for you to stream Dirks in Young's spot, as the Dirkster has a snazzy .884 OPS against right-handed pitching this season.  Dirks is owned in just seven percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues, so there's no excuse to not snag him for your roster for your critical playoff or end-of-season games. 

* Garrett Jones.  This one is mostly for my friend Dave, who owns and often wears a Garrett Jones jersey t-shirt, thus making him arguably the most visible Pirates supporter in all of Winnipeg, Manitoba.  But really, my recommendation of Jones directed towards the Yahoo fantasy community, as Jones is still available in two out of every five Yahoo leagues.  What the deuce, people?  Jones is one of the great streaming options in the game today, hitting .301/.343/.576 with 21 homers against right-handed pitching heading into Saturday's play.  The Pirates will face righty starters in five of six games this week so Jones is a must-play for each of those occasions.  Wear those jersey shirts with pride, people!  Jump on the Jones bandwagon!

* Rob Brantly.  One of my fantasy leagues has 16 managers and two starting catcher slots per team, so there is literally not enough catching depth to go around.  In this league, just having a warm body in a catcher spot is enough to get by, as some managers who risk a spot on a minor leaguer may just be wasting space; for instance, I think catcher-eligible Wil Myers has been picked up and dropped about six different times over the season.  If you're in a similar bind for catching help, give Brantly a shot.  The Marlins have been playing out the string for weeks now and are giving young talent like Brantly more playing time.  The rookie has started seven of Miami's last nine games and has a .967 OPS over those 24 plate appearances.  Miami is scheduled to face right-handed starters in five of six games this week so it stands to reason that the left-handed Brantly will start those games ahead of right-handed hitting veteran John Buck.

* Ryan Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum.  The Giants begin the week with a three-game series in Colorado, so beware the Coors Field effect.  Frankly, benching any of these three might be overdue.  Vogelsong had some Cy Young buzz earlier in the season but he's posted a whopping 10.13 ERA over his last five starts.  Lincecum has somewhat righted the ship after his terrible start to 2012, but given his inconsistency and his career 4.08 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 12 starts at Coors, do you want to risk your fantasy season on Lincecum being in good form?  Bumgarner has pretty solid career numbers at both Coors Field and Chase Field (where the Giants will travel next weekend) but he's also been shaky as of late, with a 6.48 ERA over his last three outings.  It's tough to sit a rotation stalwart like Bumgarner in crunch time but given that he's pitching in two very hitter-friendly stadiums, it might be necessary.

* Eric Stults.  (Yes, I did initially type "Eric Stoltz" out of habit.) If you're a Stephen Strasburg owner looking to fill a void in your rotation, you might be tempted by the Padres southpaw with a 1.66 ERA over his last six starts.  And hey look, Stults has two home starts at Petco Park this week, why surely he's a great streaming choice, right?  Wrong.  Stults has a 2.38 ERA but his advanced metrics are terrible -- a 4.81 SIERA, 4.01 FIP and 4.54 xFIP, topped off by a .250 BABIP and just 35 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings.  Stults may be at Petco this week, but it's against the Cardinals and Rockies, two of the league's best-hitting lineups against left-handed pitching.  Just like Robert Zemeckis bumping Eric Stoltz from Back To The Future, I'm going to have to bump Stults from your fantasy options.  Great scott!   

* Mark Reynolds.  True, nine homers over nine games does have a way of trumping my fancy in-depth stats, but it would be very surprising if Reynolds' power burst continues into this next week.  Reynolds has feasted on the Yankees' and Blue Jays' beleaguered pitching staffs, but this week he'll be facing the much stiffer test of the Rays' and Athletics' rotations.  That latter series is in Oakland, where A's pitchers have allowed just 56 homers all season long, the third-lowest home total of any AL team.

* Neil Walker.  The Pirates' second baseman has that most irritating type of injury for fantasy owners --- the 'out of action but not on the DL' kind of ailment that leaves you unable to fill Walker's spot on your roster.  If it weren't September the Pirates would surely have DL'ed Walker by now but they (unlike your fantasy team) have roster spots to spare.  Walker has missed the Bucs' last 11 games with his bad back and it's unclear as to when he'll return, given that he still can't swing from the left side without feeling pain and still hasn't taken full batting practice.  Since it's that time of year, I'd recommend simply dropping Walker outright and picking up another second baseman.  If you're entering a playoff scenario, you simply have no room for error, nor any room for a guy that's just taking up space in your lineup.  It's tough to just outright cut one of the NL's best second basemen but nobody ever won a fantasy title without making a tough choice.


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