Fantasy Baseball 2021: Hidden Gems to Stream for Injured MLB Players for Week 1

Martin FennFeatured Columnist IApril 2, 2021

Fantasy Baseball 2021: Hidden Gems to Stream for Injured MLB Players for Week 1

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The 2021 MLB season is now in full swing, which means fantasy baseball seasons are underway as well.

    Unfortunately, plenty of managers are likely to have injury issues. Whether it's position players like George Springer, Kyle Lewis and Eloy Jimenez or pitchers such as Zac Gallen and Nick Anderson, managers could well be after some streaming options to start the season.

    Here are three deep streaming options to consider in the early stages of the new campaign.

Enrique Hernandez

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Enrique Hernandez can be a valuable asset to fantasy managers for a variety of reasons.

    Firstly, Hernandez has positional versatility. He should see time both at second base and in the outfield for the Boston Red Sox. That infield-outfield designation is especially valuable and lends a lot of flexibility to fantasy managers needing to mix things up.

    Additionally, Hernandez has some upside as a guy who can hit for some power. He had a 21-homer season and .806 OPS in 2018. The 29-year-old hit just .230 with a .680 OPS in 2020 but actually ranked in the 71st percentile in hard-hit rate. 

    Lastly, Hernandez is coming off a tremendous spring. He hit .327 with three homers and a 1.042 OPS and enters the new season with a ton of confidence.

    Granted, spring training is not the best indicators of future success, but he looks energized to be in a situation where he should see more at-bats.

    One more thing to consider: Hernandez has a career .823 OPS in April, the best of any single month in that department.

Yusei Kikuchi

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Managers reading this might take a glance at Seattle Mariners left-hander Yusei Kikuchi's 2020 ERA and think "pass." But those numbers are deceptive.

    Kikuchi did indeed have a 5.17 ERA in his second season in the majors last summer. However, he struck out 9.0 hitters per nine innings and posted a strong 3.30 fielding independent pitching (FIP) mark. He also had a 3.37 expected ERA (xERA). 

    Two important things with Kikuchi: he avoids barrels and projects as a swing-and-miss type. The 29-year-old ranked in the 82nd percentile in expected slugging (xSLG) and 86th percentile in barrel rate last season. He also ranked in the 71st percentile in whiff rate.

    Kikuchi seems like a prime candidate to expand upon some of the improvements he saw in his sophomore season. He looked pretty strong in camp and will get the start for the M's on Friday against the San Francisco Giants.

    Kikuchi was rostered in just 12 percent of all ESPN leagues as of Thursday morning. He could be a solid arm to pursue for a start or two.

Tejay Antone

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    Looking for a strikeout reliever? Search no further than Cincinnati Reds right-hander Tejay Antone.

    The 27-year-old was fantastic in his big-league debut in 2020, making 13 appearances (including four starts) and striking out 45 batters in 35.1 innings. Antone also strung together a strong 1.02 WHIP.

    The advanced numbers were all the more encouraging. Antone ranked in the 94th percentile in xSLG and the 87th percentile in whiff rate. He has good velocity and elite spin rates, with exceptional breaking stuff to boot.

    Antone followed a strong 2020 with a terrific spring. He struck out 13 in 7.2 innings of work and even competed for a rotation spot.  Although the Oklahoma City native will begin the season in the bullpen, he will be a critical relief arm with the potential to slide into the rotation at some point down the line.

    Antone was rostered in just six percent of ESPN leagues as of Thursday morning. He might not get a ton of saves with Amir Garrett holding down Cincy's closer role, but he is still worth a play as a strikeout guy who should still see plenty of usage.


    All stats obtained via Baseball Reference or Baseball Savant, unless otherwise noted. All fantasy information via ESPN