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Head-to-Head Hitter Streamers & Starts Week 1


Welcome back to fantasy baseball, and welcome to the hitting streamers column for the week of 4/1 - 4/7.

Whether you're looking to maximize the number of games played, exploit favorable matchups, or fill in for injured players, streaming hitters can be a fruitful strategy for those willing to put in a little work every week.

Keep in mind that this column highlights players owned in fewer than 50% of Yahoo leagues who could present nice streaming options for the upcoming week.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Bats to Stream and Start in Week 1

Seven Game Weeks: Boston Red Sox, Oakland Athletics, Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays

The Rangers have a three-game series with the Astros, the Blue Jays have a four-game series with Cleveland, and the Athletics have a four-game series against the Red Sox, which means these teams will face mostly quality pitching in those games and make their hitters less desirable compared to those on the other teams.

 

Stream of the Week

Kike Hernandez (1B/2B/SS/OF, LAD) 26% owned

The Dodgers announced that Hernandez will move out of his super-utility role and serve as the primary second baseman to begin the season. This promotion comes off the heels of a career year for Hernandez, who cut his strikeout rate to 17% last season and posted career highs in home runs (21), OPS (.806), and ISO (.214). Hernandez also did his best to shed his reputation as a lefty-masher, as he put up a higher OPS (.833) against righties compared to lefties (.780).

This week Hernandez starts off with a three-game series at home against the Giants, and while the Giants haven’t announced their full rotation order yet, Hernandez will at least face one lefty in Madison Bumgarner in this series. He may also face another, as the Giants will have Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz in their rotation to start the season. The real treat comes later in the week, as the Dodgers have a three-game weekend series in Coors Field. Hernandez is lined up to face one lefty in this series, Tyler Anderson, and will also face a weaker right-hander in Chad Bettis. His multi-position eligibility is just gravy on top of these matchups, making him the top stream of the week.

 

Behind the Plate

Robinson Chirinos (C, HOU) 26% owned

It’s slim pickings for those in need of a catcher, but if forced to rely on the waiver wire then Chirinos isn’t a bad choice. He starts his week with a three-game series in Texas against three questionable pitchers, including two left-handers. Chirinos has hit lefties well throughout his career, owning a .835 OPS and .226 ISO against southpaws all time. He then gets three games at home against Oakland, and while their rotation hasn’t been set yet, none of Oakland’s potential starting pitchers should scare anyone off Chirinos.

Also Consider: Tucker Barnhart (C/1B, CIN) 32% owned

At the Corners

Jake Bauers (1B/OF, CLE) 40% owned

Bauers didn’t exactly light the world on fire during his 2018 debut with Tampa Bay. The former top prospect put up a .201 AVG and .700 OPS in 388 PA, and struck out a whopping 26.8% of the time. His minor league profile was much more favorable, as Bauers consistently maintained a strikeout rate below 22% and an OBP above .350. Perhaps Bauers was overpowered by major league pitching last season, but he’ll get a good chance to find his bearings next week as Cleveland has six games at home, two against the White Sox and four against the Blue Jays. The only lefties he’d potentially face are Carlos Rodon or Clayton Richard, neither of which strike fear in the hearts of opposing hitters. Bauers is better in points and OBP formats but is a fine stream in any league type.

Greg Bird (1B, NYY) 11% owned

Bird is getting a chance to prove his worth thanks to Aaron Hicks’ injury, and he couldn’t ask for a better opportunity as the Yankees take on Detroit and Baltimore next week, two of the worst pitching staffs in all of baseball. One would think Bird, being a towering, left-handed first baseman, would feast on right-handed pitching. That hasn’t been the case so far in his career, as he has a better OPS against lefties (.809) than against righties (.715). With under 500 career PA against righties, it seems like a possible fluke that Bird has only hit .205 against them, as his power production has been similar against both right- and left-handed pitching. The only lefty Bird will have to face next week is Matt Boyd, and he might take a seat in that game, but otherwise, he’ll get his chance to shine in a prime spot. He’s the type of guy that could be picked up to stream and stay on your team long term, or he could fall flat on his face and wind up in the minors in a month. Early in the season is the perfect time to take a shot on a player like this.

Also Consider: Justin Bour (1B, LAA) 9% owned, Mitch Moreland (1B, BOS) 3% owned, Hanley Ramirez (1B/DH, CLE) (Utility-only in some formats) 1% owned, Rowdy Tellez (1B, TOR) 1% owned

Up the Middle

Troy Tulowitzki (SS, NYY) 11% owned

Kike Hernandez would be the top option at either second base or shortstop, but in the event that he’s owned Troy Tulowitzki could be a decent alternative. Tulowitzki missed all of 2018 with injury, and he hasn’t really been a good option since 2016 when he posted 24 home runs and a .761 OPS with Toronto. It’s clear that Tulowitzki is past his prime, and it seems unlikely that he’ll last all year as the Yankees’ shortstop, but for one week he’s a fine streamer considering the matchups. The Yankees start their week with a three-game home series against Detroit, and finish it with a three-game series in Baltimore. The best starting pitcher he’ll face would be someone like Dylan Bundy or Matt Boyd. Even though Tulowitzki will bat ninth most of the time, he should at least get decent run production since the lineup will turn over behind him. He is not a long-term option at shortstop or middle infielder, but for next week he’s a good streaming option.

Chad Pinder (2B/3B/OF, OAK) 8% owned

The Athletics made a trade for Kendrys Morales to fill in for the injured Matt Olson, however, Pinder should be in the lineup against left-handed pitching. The Athletics are currently lined up to face four left-handers next week, and Pinder has a career .812 OPS against southpaws all time. He isn’t helpless against righties either and actually has a higher ISO (.202) against righties compared to lefties (.181). Watch how Oakland’s lineup shakes out this weekend before committing to Pinder all week, but he’s a good player to add in H2H leagues with daily lineup changes.

Also Consider: Brandon Lowe (2B/OF, TB) 11% owned, Zack Cozart (2B/3B/SS, LAA) 9% owned

In the Outfield

Randal Grichuk (OF, TOR) 45% owned

Grichuk flashed monster power in 2018, posting a .257 ISO and 25 home runs in 462 PA in his first season with Toronto. A four-game series in Cleveland might be tough, but Grichuk could do plenty of damage at home against Baltimore and the trio of Mike Wright, David Hess, and Andrew Cashner. All three of those pitchers had a HR/9 above 1.25 and a FIP above 4.80 last season. For those who desire power there may not be a better option on waivers this week.

Brett Gardner (OF, NYY) 19% owned

Despite posting his lowest batting average in a decade last year, Garnder will still hit leadoff for the Yankees to begin the season. Even with some disappointing results in 2018, the veteran outfielder did some things right last year, including a 10.7% walk rate and double-digit home runs and steals for the fourth time in the last five seasons. Perhaps most impressive is Gardner’s 94th percentile sprint speed at age 35. He is a good short-term option in points and OBP leagues thanks to his walk rate, and could provide a steal or two next week.

Kole Calhoun (OF, LAA) 4% owned

The Angels have some nice matchups this week thanks to a four-game home series against the Rangers, who have one of the worst rotations in the majors. Calhoun is batting leadoff for the Angels, and despite being left-handed he does not sit against left-handed pitching nor does he perform significantly worse against southpaws. He should get plenty of pitches to hit and have lots of run-scoring opportunities with Mike Trout hitting directly behind him. Calhoun is a good alternative in leagues where Randal Grichuk and Brett Gardner are not available.

Also Consider: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, TOR) 5% owned, Scott Schebler (OF, CIN) 4% owned, Leonys Martin (OF, CLE) 1% owned

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