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Fantasy Baseball Weekend Preview: Streamer rankings and matchups to target

Fantasy managers need to tread carefully during the early days of the season. Each campaign has its own identity, and some players or teams who were easy matchup targets last year will be less appealing this time around. Luckily, there are a handful of MLB franchises who seemed disinterested in putting a quality product on the field this year, which makes them easy targets for managers who wish to stream players.

And of course, stats generated in early April matter just as much as the ones that will be added to totals later in the year. Let’s take a look at some terrific streamers on both the hitting and pitching side for the coming weekend.

Matchups to Target

Rays at Rockies

The Rays are the best team to target for weekend hitters, as they’ll enjoy the offense-inducing benefits of Coors Field while facing a Rockies pitching staff that underwent no notable improvements after finishing last in the Majors in ERA last season. José Siri (38%) is a great option from the waiver wire, while José Caballero (4%) and Harold Ramírez (7%) can be considered in deep leagues. Colorado hitters are less appealing but still warrant consideration in 12-team formats, with Charlie Blackmon (9%) and Brendan Rodgers (4%) leading the list.

Orioles at Pirates

Baltimore could struggle against rookie righty Jared Jones before thriving against a pair of subpar southpaws in Bailey Falter and Marco Gonzales. Ryan Mountcastle (70% rostered) should be streamed in all shallow leagues, while Jordan Westburg (51%) and Austin Hays (16%) belong in most lineups on Saturday and Sunday.

Braves vs. D-backs

Atlanta will face Arizona’s two weak links (Tommy Henry, Ryne Nelson) in addition to a reasonable matchup with Brandon Pfaadt. This offensive juggernaut should continue to shine, which makes Orlando Arcia (16%) a waiver wire option. Travis d’Arnaud (12%) is a great streaming option at catcher.

Phillies at Nationals

The Nats will deploy three starters who produced an ERA over 4.40 last year, with two of the hurlers throwing from the left side. Most members of Philadelphia’s lineup are highly rostered, but right-handed hitters Whit Merrifield (31%) and Johan Rojas (7%) are a threat to get on base and swipe a bag this weekend (more on that duo below). Brandon Marsh is much less appealing though, as he may sit against the southpaws.

Royals vs. White Sox

Among the six starters in this three-game series, five either posted an ERA over 5.00 last season or didn’t pitch in the Majors at all. While neither offense is a juggernaut, the stage may be set for the likes of Nelson Velázquez (10%), Andrew Vaughn (38%) or Andrew Benintendi (5%) to have a productive weekend.

Matchups to Avoid

Pirates vs. Orioles

The Pirates will miss Corbin Burnes this weekend but will face three solid right-handers and a quality Orioles relief corps. Aside from Oneil Cruz and Jack Suwinski, players in Pittsburgh are best left on the bench for this series.

Twins vs. Guardians

These two teams get Friday off, which always presents a tough dilemma for fantasy managers. Stars such as José Ramírez need to stay on rosters, but those who are looking at Cleveland or Minnesota hitters on the waiver wire should leave them alone for a few days.

Marlins at Cardinals

Miami and St. Louis are the other teams who are set to play just two games this weekend, which makes their players who aren’t stars poor options to pluck off the waiver wire.

Seeking Steals

Whit Merrifield (2B/OF, 31%), Johan Rojas (OF, 7%)

As was mentioned earlier, Merrifield and Rojas could have success against the Nats this weekend. Their Friday matchup against Patrick Corbin is an especially juicy one, as the southpaw starter posted a 5.20 ERA last season and ranked third among pitchers in steals allowed. Additionally, Washington catcher Keibert Ruiz allowed 33 more steals than any other catcher last year.

Maikel García (3B/SS, 74%)

Aside from superstar Bobby Witt Jr., García is the Royals player who is most likely to run wild this weekend. The infielder is scheduled to face unremarkable right-handed starters in two of the three games, and the White Sox should have catcher Martín Maldonado behind the plate during those contests. Maldonado allowed the second-most steals of any catcher in 2023.

Streaming Starters (Yahoo roster rate in parentheses)

Jack Flaherty vs. OAK (Sunday, 63%)

Jordan Hicks vs. SD (Friday, 64)

Kenta Maeda vs. OAK (Saturday, 41%)

Tanner Houck @LAA (Sunday, 27%)

Garrett Whitlock @LAA (Saturday, 38%)

Tyler Wells @PIT (Saturday, 55%)

Brady Singer vs. CWS (Friday, 42%)

Dean Kremer @PIT (Sunday, 21%)

Ranger Suárez @WSH (Saturday, 32%)

Gavin Stone @CHC (Saturday, 57%)

Steven Matz vs. MIA (Saturday, 5%)

MacKenzie Gore vs. PHI (Sunday, 44%)

Luis Gil vs. TOR (Sunday, 28%)

Alec Marsh vs. CWS (Sunday, 2%)

Ronel Blanco @ TEX (Sunday, 29%)

Max Meyer @STL (Sunday, 48%)

J.P. Sears @DET (Friday, 8%)

Trevor Rogers @ STL (Saturday, 7%)