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Week 17 Fantasy Hitting Planner

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The Fantasy Baseball Hitting Planner is the essential guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming week. Every week, we provide you with news and notes for each team, tracking hot and cold players, injuries and lineup changes.

All statistics are up to date as of Friday, July 23.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Schedule: @PHI3, @NYM3
Heating Up: He's still striking out at a ridiculous rate, but at least Justin Upton is doing some good along with the bad, batting .444 (16 for 36) with two home runs and two stolen bases during a nine-game hitting streak. His five-category potential makes him a must-start.
Cooling Off: After looking like a world-beater when he first came back from knee surgery, Miguel Montero has slipped into a part-time role and has struggled with the at-bats he does get, batting .167 (7 for 42) over his last 11 games. He no longer qualifies as a must-start. Stephen Drew is at least getting full-time at-bats, but he also isn't living up to his potential, batting .136 (3 for 22) over his last seven games. Until he hits for more power, he's just a marginal option in mixed leagues.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Diamondbacks face two left-handed pitchers this week, which means Gerardo Parra will sit twice for Cole Gillespie. You can leave both for NL-only leagues.
Lineup Changes: None.

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Atlanta Braves
Schedule: @WAS3, @CIN3
Heating Up: Jason Heyward, who was enduring his worst stretch of the season before going on the DL in late June, seems to be coming around, batting .450 (9 for 20) over his last five games. He's safe to activate again. Matt Diaz isn't an everyday player, but he has been performing like one lately, batting .500 (8 for 16) with three homers over his last five games.
Cooling Off: Martin Prado hasn't been playing like his All-Star self lately, batting .159 (7 for 44) over his last 10 games. He has proven to be one of the better contact hitters in baseball, though, so you can't expect him to stay down for long.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Braves don't face a single left-handed pitcher this week, so they might have trouble getting Diaz's hot bat into the lineup. He's back to platooning with Nate McLouth, who recently returned from a concussion.
Lineup Changes: None.

Baltimore Orioles
Schedule: @TOR3, @KC4
Heating Up: Luke Scott has returned from the DL with a bang -- actually, a couple on Tuesday. He's batting .438 (7 for 16) with two homers in four games and is hot enough to activate in deeper leagues.
Cooling Off: Ty Wigginton is batting just .207 (37 for 179) since May 23 and hasn't gotten any better lately, batting .174 (4 for 23) over his last six games. He's hardly worth using in mixed leagues anymore. Nick Markakis still is even though he has been a disappointment this year and even though he's batting .111 (2 for 18) over his last four games.
Injury Concerns: After missing most of spring training and the better part of the regular season with a herniated disc in his back, Brian Roberts is finally set to return from the DL. The Orioles could opt to hold him out until after they get through their series on artificial turf at Toronto beginning Monday, but if he has his way, he'll come back this weekend. He has elite potential when healthy, but considering how much time he has missed with the injury, you might want to let him prove up to speed before activating him. Matt Wieters, who has been out with a hamstring injury since before the All-Star break, is set to return Sunday. He hasn't exactly set the world on fire this season, though, so you should let him prove his health before you active him.
Platoon Possibilities: The Orioles face one left-hander this week, but their lineup is constantly changing and doesn't seem to rely on lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: Jake Fox is the main player losing playing time with Scott back from the DL, but his versatility gives him semi-regular at-bats -- enough for him to matter in AL-only leagues.

Boston Red Sox
Schedule: @LAA3, DET3
Heating Up: Adrian Beltre, who was one of the biggest surprises of the first half, has yet to show the first sign of slowing down in the second, batting .400 (12 for 30) with three home runs in seven games. He's a must start. So is Kevin Youkilis, who seems to be back on track with a .448 (13 for 29) batting average over his last seven games.
Cooling Off: David Ortiz is batting .161 (5 for 31) over his last eight games, though facing a bunch of left-handers during that stretch couldn't have helped. With more righties on the schedule this week, he's worth a shot. J.D. Drew probably isn't, though. He's batting .192 (10 for 52) over his last 15 games and doesn't have quite the same upside.
Injury Concerns: Victor Martinez, on the DL with a broken thumb, is trying to avoid a rehab assignment. He has been hitting and catching and could potentially return this week. His status is a little too up in the air to make a determination on him just yet, but if he seems likely to return, you'll want to get an elite player like him active at a weak position like catcher.
Platoon Possibilities: The Red Sox face one left-hander this week, which will likely send Jeremy Hermida to the bench in favor of Darnell McDonald.
Lineup Changes: When Hermida returned from fractured ribs Thursday, the Red Sox optioned Daniel Nava to the minors, opening the door for Hermida to start against right-handed pitchers. Hermida has done nothing but disappoint throughout his major-league career, so you shouldn't bother with him in Fantasy. Jed Lowrie is also off the DL and got a start at shortstop Wednesday. His exact role is unknown, but he deserves a flier in AL-only leagues based on his potential.

Scott's top sleepers for Week 17
Player Start %
1. Gordon Beckham, 2B, White Sox 65
2. Carlos Quentin, OF, White Sox 65
3. Angel Pagan, OF, Mets 57
4. Yunel Escobar, SS, Blue Jays 58
5. Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs 35
6. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Blue Jays 10
7. John Buck, C, Blue Jays 60
8. Scott Podsednik, OF, Royals 46
9. Adam Lind, OF, Blue Jays 62
10. Neil Walker, 2B, Pirates 14
* Sleepers are players started in less than 70 percent of CBSSports.com leagues

Chicago Cubs
Schedule: @HOU3, @COL3
Heating Up: Hard to find a Cub who isn't. Aramis Ramirez has gone from being waiver fodder to a must-start option in the span of three weeks. He's batting .415 (22 for 53) with nine home runs over his last 13 games. Derrek Lee hasn't demonstrated quite the same power, but he has renewed his mixed-league appeal as well, batting .417 (15 for 36) over his last eight games. Geovany Soto, who nearly lost his starting job with a cold May and June, is back performing like an elite catcher, batting .400 (12 for 30) with five home runs over his last nine games. And rookie Starlin Castro, recently moved up to the No. 2 spot, is racking up enough multi-hit games to deserve a flier at the weak shortstop position, batting .459 (17 for 37) over his last nine.
Cooling Off: The only Cub who even comes close is Alfonso Soriano, who's batting .200 (4 for 20) over his last six games. Not any reason to stop the presses, really.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Cubs face two left-handed pitchers this week, which means Xavier Nady figures to start twice in place of Tyler Colvin. Probably not the time to take a flier on Colvin.
Lineup Changes: Colvin seems to have displaced Kosuke Fukudome as the starter in right field once and for all. His pop is legit, but as an inconsistent platoon player, he has minimal mixed-league appeal.

Chicago White Sox
Schedule: SEA4, OAK3
Heating Up: The Gordon Beckham from a year ago has finally shown up, batting .500 (18 for 36) with two home runs and five doubles over his last 10 games. Between second and third base, you can find a spot to start him. His double-play partner, Alexei Ramirez, is looking serviceable as well, batting .357 (10 for 28) with a homer and two steals over his last eight games.
Cooling Off: A.J. Pierzynski, who was showing some signs of life right before the All-Star break, has gone cold to begin the second half, batting .056 (1 for 18) over his last five games. You can probably do better in mixed leagues.
Injury Concerns: Carlos Quentin has missed some time with a bruised hand, but the White Sox have been overly cautious with him already. He'll return over the weekend and remains a must-start based on his performance in July.
Platoon Possibilities: The White Sox face three left-handed pitchers this week. The platoon at DH seems to be in order again, so you can expect Mark Kotsay to sit three times for Andruw Jones.
Lineup Changes: Omar Vizquel started his fifth straight game at third base Wednesday, and manager Ozzie Guillen recently said he would keep starting him "until he dies." If you own Dayan Viciedo in an AL-only league, you can't be too happy.

Cincinnati Reds
Schedule: @MIL3, ATL3
Heating Up: Orlando Cabrera, whose batting average dipped below .250 at the end of June, is getting back on track, batting .387 (12 for 31) over his last eight games. He's just a marginal Fantasy option, but he's a worthy stopgap this week if you're looking for middle-infield help.
Cooling Off: Brandon Phillips, who's kind of an odd fit as the leadoff hitter, would be an odd fit anywhere in the lineup given his recent performance. He's batting .136 (6 for 44) over his last 10 games. Still, you shouldn't bench a five-category performer like him. Jay Bruce has yet to emerge as an impact player in Fantasy and is far from it right now, batting .161 (10 for 62) over his last 17 games.
Injury Concerns: Scott Rolen missed his sixth straight game with a hamstring injury Thursday. The Reds hope to avoid placing him on the DL, but if he doesn't return over the weekend, you can't afford to roll the dice on him in Fantasy.
Platoon Possibilities: The Reds face two left-handers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: Ramon Hernandez returned from the disabled list Thursday after missing two weeks with a sore left knee, but he doesn't offer enough pop at this stage of his career to matter much in Fantasy. Miguel Cairo has been filling in for Rolen at third base, but he's a light hitter whose status hinges on Rolen's.

Cleveland Indians
Schedule: NYY4, @TOR3
Heating Up: Jhonny Peralta has a six-game hitting streak during which he's batting .364 (8 for 22) with two home runs. It may not seem like much, but shortstops that hit for power always have some value in Fantasy.
Cooling Off: Carlos Santana hasn't exactly been at his best in July, batting .220 (13 for 59). But with 19 walks to give him a .407 on-base percentage for the month, he remains a must-start in Fantasy.
Injury Concerns: Shin-Soo Choo, who has been out of the lineup since July 2 with a sprained right thumb, is set to return against the Rays over the weekend. He has chosen to put off surgery, allowing him to beat the initial timetable by several weeks, so you'll want to take a good look at him before deciding whether or not to activate him. Michael Brantley has missed a couple games with a shoulder injury, but with Choo set to return, he won't be the starter for much longer anyway.
Platoon Possibilities: The Indians face three left-handers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: Asdrubal Cabrera, who missed two months with a fractured right forearm, returned to the lineup Tuesday, moving Jason Donald over to second base and bumping Jayson Nix to the bench. Cabrera is by no means a must-add in mixed leagues, but he might have the ceiling of a Martin Prado. Nix, who had become an intriguing AL-only option because of his power, is essentially worthless.

Top 10 Hitters Added
Player % Change
1. Gordon Beckham, 2B, White Sox 14
2. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates 14
3. Andres Torres, OF, Giants 12
4. Matt Diaz, OF, Braves 9
5. Delmon Young, OF, Twins 8
6. Geovany Soto, C, Cubs 7
7. Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs 6
8. Drew Stubbs, OF, Reds 6
9. Jeff Keppinger, 2B, Astros 6
10. Domonic Brown, OF, Phillies 6

Colorado Rockies
Schedule: @PHI1, PIT3, CHC3
Heating Up: Jason Giambi, who has been getting the majority of the starts at first base lately, is batting .467 (14 for 30) over his last nine games. This is no time to ignore him in NL-only leagues.
Cooling Off: Dexter Fowler, who was on fire when he first returned from the minors in late June, has gone silent of late, batting .036 (1 for 28) over his last 10 games. He does have nice matchups this week, though.
Injury Concerns: Troy Tulowitzki, who has been out since mid-June with a broken left wrist, has begun a rehab assignment and could potentially return Wednesday. Considering he's rushing back from an especially difficult injury for hitters, you'll want to see him play a little before you activate him. Carlos Gonzalez has missed two of the last three games with swelling in one of his left fingers. As long as he returns over the weekend, he should be fine. Todd Helton, who has been out since July 4 with back and hamstring injuries, was originally going to begin a rehab assignment Thursday, but he wants to strengthen his legs first. His return is up in the air.
Platoon Possibilities: The Rockies face three left-handed pitchers this week, making it a bad time to start Seth Smith. He typically sits for Ryan Spilborghs against lefties. With Helton out, Giambi and Brad Eldred have been platooning at first base, but both are just NL-only options.
Lineup Changes: Brad Hawpe has started only three of the team's seven games since the All-Star break, showing you just how far he has fallen. Can you say part-timer?

Detroit Tigers
Schedule: @TB4, @BOS3
Heating Up: Austin Jackson, whose batting average has been steadily declining since April, has come back around lately, batting .387 (12 for 31) over his last seven games. Despite his lack of home-run pop, he's once again a worthy sleeper in mixed leagues.
Cooling Off: After batting over .330 for much of the season, rookie Brennan Boesch has fallen into his first real slump, batting .103 (3 for 29) over his last eight games. He's not beyond benching, but you'd need to have a pretty good reserve to consider it. Carlos Guillen's potential at second base is intriguing, but you wouldn't want to use him now. He's batting just .154 (4 for 26) over his last seven games. Magglio Ordonez is batting .148 (4 for 27) over his last seven games, but he's a must-start as long as he's healthy.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Tigers face two left-handers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: The Tigers placed Brandon Inge on the disabled list with a broken left hand Tuesday and called up Scott Sizemore to take his place at third base. Sizemore, who began the season as the starting second baseman, was batting .329 with a .907 OPS at Triple-A Toledo, so he clearly has potential, but based on his poor performance earlier this season, you can leave him for AL-only leagues.

Florida Marlins
Schedule: @SF4, @SD3
Heating Up: After a 24-game stretch during which he hit only .181 (17 for 94), Jorge Cantu seems to be righting the ship again, batting .350 (7 for 20) over his last six games. He remains a borderline starter in mixed leagues.
Cooling Off: Dan Uggla, who finished the first half hitting .285 -- impressive considering he had hit .249 over the last three seasons -- has begun regressing to the mean after the break, batting .083 (2 for 24) in seven games. He remains a must-start, but he might be a sell-high candidate. Cody Ross is batting just .135 (5 for 37) over his last 11 games. Now clearly isn't the time to start the streaky outfielder.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Marlins face four lefties this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

Houston Astros
Schedule: CHC3, MIL3
Heating Up: Chris Johnson has hit safely in all six games since the All-Star break, batting .391 (9 for 23) with two home runs. His poor plate discipline makes him streaky, but he looks like a viable stopgap right now.
Cooling Off: Lance Berkman is batting just .115 (3 for 26) over his last seven games, but he has eight walks for a .324 on-base percentage during that stretch. At least he does something while he's struggling. Michael Bourn is batting .143 (4 for 28) with three walks over his last seven games, giving him few opportunities to steal bases and contribute in Fantasy.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Astros face three left-handed pitchers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

Kansas City Royals
Schedule: MIN3, BAL4
Heating Up: Scott Podsednik has hit safely in 14 of 15 games in July and even better than that since June 21, batting (36 for 103) with seven stolen bases over his last 24 games. His steals always make him attractive in Rotisserie leagues, but he's worth a look even in Head-to-Head formats with numbers like that.
Cooling Off: Mike Aviles is playing virtually every day but not well enough to garner any mixed-league consideration. He's batting .188 (6 for 32) over his last nine games. Billy Butler hasn't been playing up to his standards recently, batting .231 (9 for 39) over his last 10 games. Considering the Royals' matchups this week, you wouldn't want to bench him.
Injury Concerns: David DeJesus left Thursday's game with a sprained left thumb and will miss at least the rest of the weekend. He's just a borderline mixed-league option when healthy, so he's too much of a risk for you to start him this week.
Platoon Possibilities: The Royals face three left-handed pitchers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: The Royals traded Alberto Callaspo to the Angels on Thursday, creating an opening at third base. Wilson Betemit, who has excellent numbers in a part-time role, got the first crack at the job and deserves a roster spot in AL-only leagues. Rick Ankiel, who had been on the DL since early May with a quadriceps injury, finally returned Thursday. He wasn't in the starting lineup, but DeJesus' injury opens up a spot for him. His power potential makes him worth a flier in AL-only leagues.

Monday
By the Numbers: Al Melchior examines BABIP trends that forecast potential long-term trends
Tuesday
Fantasy Update: Audio | Video
Sliders: Scott White highlights his risers and fallers
Wednesday
Fantasy Update: Audio | Video
LIVE writer chat: Our writers answer your questions about prospects, rotations, lineups and much more every Wednesday
Dear Mr. Fantasy: Scott White touches on some of the hot topic issues facing owners
By the Numbers: Al Melchior breaks down compelling Fantasy data to assist owners in predicting future production
Thursday
Fantasy Update: Audio | Video
Friday
Prospects Report: Eric Mack spotlights top prospects on the brink of making an impact in Fantasy
Hitting Planner: Scott White analyzes the state of all 30 lineups and shares his top sleepers for the week
Saturday
Splitsville: Jeff Lippman highlights some statistical splits that owners should take advantage of
Sunday
Fantasy Update: Audio | Video
Pitching Planner: Eric Mack addresses all 30 rotations and highlights two-start pitchers
LIVE writer chat: Scott White spends 90 minutes fielding your questions every Sunday at 5 p.m. ET
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L.A. Angels
Schedule: BOS3, TEX3
Heating Up: Mike Napoli, who was losing at-bats during a cold stretch last week, has come around at the plate and regained everyday at-bats as a result. He's batting .417 (10 for 24) with four home runs over his last six games, making him worth starting at the weak catcher position in all Fantasy leagues. Juan Rivera, who recently had a vision problem corrected, has been visibly different since returning, batting .417 (15 for 36) with a homer over his last 10 games. He'll need a longer hot streak than that to garner mixed-league consideration, though.
Cooling Off: Howard Kendrick is batting .182 (4 for 22) over his last five games. His power numbers have improved somewhat this year, but he still isn't enough of a power hitter for you to start him when he isn't red-hot.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Angels don't face a single left-handed pitcher this week. Of course, with Napoli swinging the bat well again, they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: The Angels acquired Alberto Callaspo from the Royals on Thursday, presumably to give him the majority of the starts at third base. You have to figure Maicer Izturis and maybe even Brandon Wood and Kevin Frandsen will cut into his at-bats a bit, so you shouldn't rush out to grab him in mixed leagues.

L.A. Dodgers
Schedule: @SD3, @SF3
Heating Up: Rafael Furcal has been streaking for so long that he now leads the NL in batting average. Over his last seven games alone, he's batting .385 (10 for 26) with a homer and two steals. Clearly, he's back to being one of the top shortstops in Fantasy.
Cooling Off: Andre Ethier, who seemed to get back on track right before the All-Star break, has gone cold again, batting .050 (1 for 20) over his last six games. He's too good of a run producer for you to consider sitting him, though.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Dodgers face two left-handers this week. Ronnie Belliard and Jamey Carroll figure to replace Blake DeWitt and Xavier Paul for those games.
Lineup Changes: The Paul-Carroll platoon is in place in left field because Manny Ramirez had to go on the DL with a calf injury. Carroll is a slap hitter with little to offer even in NL-only leagues. Paul at least has some speed.

Milwaukee Brewers
Schedule: CIN3, @HOU3
Heating Up: Rickie Weeks homered again Thursday and is finally establishing himself as one of the top Fantasy options at the second-base position. He's batting .378 (14 for 37) with four homers over his last nine games and is clearly a must-start in Fantasy. Prince Fielder has four homers in his last six games and seems to be rounding into form after a sluggish start.
Cooling Off: Ryan Braun continues to fall short of his first-round potential, batting .200 (7 for 35) over his last eight games. Still, that potential remains too high for you to consider benching him.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Brewers face two left-handers this week, so you can expect Jim Edmonds to sit twice for Carlos Gomez, not that either has much mixed-league appeal.
Lineup Changes: None.

Minnesota Twins
Schedule: @KC3, SEA3
Heating Up: Michael Cuddyer is finally looking like the player who put together an .862 OPS last year, batting .391 (18 for 46) with three home runs over his last 12 games. Given his versatility, you have to have him in your starting lineup right now. Delmon Young isn't showing any signs of slowing down, batting .421 (16 for 38) over his last nine games and .400 (28 for 70) for the month of July. He still isn't a huge home-run threat, but when he's hitting this well, why does it matter? Orlando Hudson is showing he still has something to offer mixed-league owners, batting .370 (20 for 54) over his last 13 games.
Cooling Off: Denard Span, whose batting average has been declining steadily since May, hasn't gotten any better lately. He's batting .208 (10 for 48) over his last 11 games and isn't beyond sitting in Fantasy.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Twins face two lefties this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

N.Y. Mets
Schedule: STL3, ARI3
Heating Up: Angel Pagan seems to have adjusted well to an everyday role -- perhaps because he's been in it all along. He's batting .385 (5 for 13) with two home runs over his last three games and isn't getting nearly the attention he deserves in mixed leagues.
Cooling Off: David Wright was cruising just before the All-Star break, but he has fallen on hard times lately, batting .194 (7 for 36) over his last 10 games. You wouldn't sit the five-category stud, though. Jason Bay might be another story just because his struggles have persisted all year. They've been especially bad over his last 10 games, during which he's batting .111 (4 for 36).
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Mets face one left-hander this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

N.Y. Yankees
Schedule: @CLE4, @TB3
Heating Up: The deeper into this season we get, the more Nick Swisher looks like a changed player. He's batting .377 (23 for 61) with four homers over his last 14 games and still has yet to have one of his usual slumps. Consider him a must-start in all formats. Mark Teixeira has always been a must-start and continues to play like one, batting .457 (16 for 35) with three homers over his last nine games.
Cooling Off: Brett Gardner's season batting average has dipped below .300 with his recent performance. He's batting .059 (1 for 17) over his last seven games and .150 (6 for 40) over his last 13. Since his value hinges on his stolen bases, he's not really worth using when he's not getting on base.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Yankees don't face a single left-handed pitcher this week, which means Marcus Thames won't get to play much. The Yankees have been platooning him with Juan Miranda at DH on the days when Jorge Posada doesn't need to rest his legs.
Lineup Changes: None.

Oakland Athletics
Schedule: @TEX3, @CHW3
Heating Up: Jack Cust has homered four times in his last seven games, batting .292 (7 for 24) during that stretch. He's unreliable, of course, but he has been known to hit home runs in bunches and might actually be worth a flier this week. Kurt Suzuki is batting .409 (9 for 22) over his last six games, but he's a must-start at the weak catcher position.
Cooling Off: Cliff Pennington, who recently had a 26-game stretch in which he hit .424 (36 for 85), looks like he might be back on the wrong side of streaky, batting .227 (5 for 22) over his last seven games. Considering how cold he was at the end of May, that's a scary thought. Coco Crisp hasn't been getting on base at the top of the Athletics lineup, batting .129 (4 for 31) over his last seven games. Leave him for AL-only leagues.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Athletics face three left-handers this week, but they're rotating so many outfielders in and out of the lineup that they don't have any clear lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: The Athletics did lose one of those outfielders in Ryan Sweeney, who has opted for season-ending knee surgery. Gabe Gross is likely to take most of his at-bats in the outfield, with Cust starting at DH virtually every day. Cust has some low-end appeal because of his power, but Gross has been miserable this season.

Best Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Rockies @PHI1, PIT3, CHC3
2. Blue Jays BAL3, CLE3
3. Royals MIN3, BAL4
4. White Sox SEA4, OAK3
5. Yankees @CLE4, @TB3

Philadelphia Phillies
Schedule: COL1, ARI3, @WAS3
Heating Up: Ryan Howard seems to have saved his best for the second half again. He's batting .406 (13 for 32) with five homers over his last eight games.
Cooling Off: Jimmy Rollins has yet to rediscover his form since coming back from a calf injury in late June, and he doesn't seem to be getting any closer. He's batting just .125 (4 for 32) over his last eight games. Still, who else are you going to start at shortstop?
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Phillies don't face a single left-hander this week, not that they have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: Placido Polanco returned to third base when he came off the disabled list July 17 instead of second base as hoped. Greg Dobbs is back to being a bench player, meaning he's hardly worth owning even in NL-only leagues.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Schedule: @COL3, @STL3
Heating Up: The Pirates' future has become their present lately, with several players in their early 20s blowing up with big numbers. Pedro Alvarez recently had back-to-back two-homer games and is batting .361 (13 for 36) with five homers over his last nine. Jose Tabata looks like a legitimate leadoff hitter, batting .366 (15 for 41) with three stolen bases over his last 10. Neil Walker has maybe been the hottest of all, batting .593 (16 for 27) over his last six. Even Lastings Milledge, already considered a bust, is showing some potential, batting .371 (13 for 35) with two homers over his last nine. None of these players are trustworthy enough to start in mixed leagues, but all of them bear watching because of their sleeper appeal.
Cooling Off: No player is significantly underachieving right now.
Injury Concerns: Andrew McCutchen has been out all week with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder and will likely remain out through the weekend. He's a risky start for this week, but if the Pirates seem confident he'll return Tuesday, you should probably keep him active in Fantasy.
Platoon Possibilities: The Pirates face two lefties this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: Ryan Doumit had to go on the DL with a concussion Thursday, opening the door for Erik Kratz and Jason Jaramillo to split time at catcher. Neither has the upside to matter in mixed leagues.

San Diego Padres
Schedule: LAD3, FLA3
Heating Up: Jerry Hairston, who continues to get regular at-bats for the Padres, clearly deserves some kind of attention in Fantasy, even if only in deeper leagues. He's batting .357 (10 for 28) over his last seven games.
Cooling Off: Adrian Gonzalez seems to have fallen into another one of his slumps. He's batting .118 (2 for 17) with eight strikeouts over his last four games. How can you sit him, though?
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Padres don't face a single left-handed pitcher this week, but between Scott Hairston, Tony Gwynn, Will Venable, Chris Denorfia and Aaron Cunningham, their starting outfield has little to do with the handedness of the opposing pitcher.
Lineup Changes: David Eckstein is back out of the lineup with a calf injury, creating an opening for Jerry Hairston to play every day. He'll deliver a handful of home runs and steals.

Worst Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Athletics @TEX3, @CHW3
2. Padres LAD3, FLA3
3. Diamondbacks @PHI3, @NYM3
4. Red Sox @LAA3, DET3
5. Rays DET4, NYY3

San Francisco Giants
Schedule: FLA4, LAD3
Heating Up: Buster Posey isn't homering at the rate he was before the break, but he's still plenty hot, batting .438 (28 for 64) with six home runs during a 16-game hitting streak. Obviously, he's a must-start.
Cooling Off: Freddy Sanchez, who was batting over .300 as recently as June 27, is batting .175 (7 for 40) over his last 10 games, lowering his season average to .272. He offers no speed and little power, so if he's not hitting for average, he's hardly worth using in Fantasy.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Giants face one left-hander this week. Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz will certainly sit out that game, but neither is a sure bet to start against right-handers either.
Lineup Changes: The Giants keep shuffling Aubrey Huff between the outfield and first base, creating occasional playing time for Ishikawa, Schierholtz, Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand. Until one becomes a legitimate full-timer, they're all just NL-only options.

Seattle Mariners
Schedule: @CHW4, @MIN3
Heating Up: No player is exceeding expectations right now.
Cooling Off: Ichiro Suzuki, who took a 13-game hitting streak into the All-Star break, has been disappointing since the break, batting .156 (5 for 32) in eight games. Even with the hitting streak, he's batting .229 (22 for 96) over his last 23 games, so he's clearly in a funk. Given his track record, though, you pretty much have to stick with him. Justin Smoak, on the other hand, has almost no track record to speak of, so you're free to bench him and his .095 (2 for 21) batting average over his last five games. Chone Figgins should probably already be on your bench unless you really need stolen bases. He's batting .167 (5 for 30) over his last eight games.
Injury Concerns: Russell Branyan has already missed three games with back spasms and will likely miss more over the weekend. The alarming part is he missed the end of last season and the beginning of this season with a herniated disc in his back. Back injuries have a tendency to linger, so you have to wonder if Branyan will be in and out of the lineup the rest of the year. He's already competing for playing time with Smoak in town, so he might not be worth the trouble in mixed leagues. Michael Saunders missed his sixth straight game with a jammed middle finger Thursday, but he's too inconsistent to matter in mixed leagues.
Platoon Possibilities: The Mariners face three left-handers this week, but they don't any clear lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

St. Louis Cardinals
Schedule: @NYM3, PIT3
Heating Up: Matt Holliday continues to make up for lost time, batting .375 (18 for 48) with seven homers over his last 13 games. He's back to being an elite Fantasy option.
Cooling Off: Colby Rasmus' up-and-down sophomore season continues. He's batting .059 (1 for 17) over his last six games, showing why he's not an automatic start in Fantasy. Albert Pujols is batting .208 (5 for 24) over his last seven games, but he most certainly is an automatic start.
Injury Concerns: Ryan Ludwick, who is on the DL with a calf injury, has started a rehab assignment, but manager Tony La Russa has indicated the Cardinals don't want to rush him back. Given his streaky nature, you'll want to see him put up some numbers before you activate him in Fantasy.
Platoon Possibilities: The Cardinals face four lefties this week, which is bad news for Rasmus, who not only struggles against left-handers but quite often sits against him. Clearly, you have no business starting him this week.
Lineup Changes: None.

Tampa Bay Rays
Schedule: DET4, NYY3
Heating Up: Reid Brignac is batting .467 (7 for 15) with three home runs in four games since the All-Star break, earning more playing time over Sean Rodriguez and becoming a viable middle infielder in deeper mixed leagues. Jason Bartlett is doing his best to regain his mixed-league viability, batting .367 (11 for 30) over his last six games. Evan Longoria is batting .414 (12 for 29) over his last seven games, but he's a must-start through thick and thin.
Cooling Off: Rodriguez, who had a respectable June, has gone silent again, batting .048 (1 for 21) over his last eight games and losing playing time as a result. Avoid him.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Rays face one left-hander this week, which means Matt Joyce should again play virtually every day. He typically sits for Gabe Kapler against lefties.
Lineup Changes: Other than the recent favoritism of Brignac over Rodriguez, none.

Texas Rangers
Schedule: OAK3, @LAA3
Heating Up: Ian Kinsler, who had already regained elite status in Fantasy with the return of his power and speed, is only improving his stock with his current 15-game hitting streak during which he's batting .323 (21 for 65) with three homers. Nelson Cruz is healthy again and swinging like it, batting .444 (16 for 36) with a homer and three stolen bases over his last eight games. Josh Hamilton is still hot as ever, batting .424 (14 for 33) since the All-Star break.
Cooling Off: As bad as Chris Davis was when he opened the season as the Rangers' starting first baseman, he's even worse now, batting .129 (4 for 31) over his last eight games. Even if he was stealing bases, Julio Borbon wouldn't be worth starting in Fantasy. He's batting .161 (5 for 31) over his last nine games.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Rangers face two left-handers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

Toronto Blue Jays
Schedule: BAL3, CLE3
Heating Up: Looks like a trade was all Yunel Escobar needed. The Atlanta pariah, who hit .238 with no home runs in 75 games for the Braves, is batting .429 (9 for 21) with two home runs in five games for the Blue Jays. He has the talent to matter in all Fantasy formats. If you get him active now, you might never have to remove him. John Buck seems to have found consistency during his time in Toronto. He's batting .375 (18 for 48) over his last 12 games and has enough power to start in mixed leagues. Edwin Encarnacion continues to battle inconsistency but is contributing something now, batting .360 (18 for 50) over his last 13 games. Vernon Wells, whose batting average recently dipped below the .270 mark, seems to be back on track now, batting .345 (10 for 29) over his last seven games, but he never lost must-start status.
Cooling Off: No player is significantly underachieving right now.
Injury Concerns: Fred Lewis twisted his right ankle Wednesday and was out of the lineup Thursday. He probably won't miss an extended period of time, but you should avoid him if he's not at full capacity by the end of the weekend. He's just a borderline mixed-league option even when healthy.
Platoon Possibilities: The Blue Jays face one left-hander this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

Washington Nationals
Schedule: ATL3, PHI3
Heating Up: Nyjer Morgan is playing a little more like he did in the second half last year, batting .333 (12 for 36) with five stolen bases over his last nine games. If you're in a league that values stolen bases, don't forget about him. He has the ability to hit over .300 the rest of the way.
Cooling Off: The infinitely streaky Adam Dunn has hit a rough patch, batting .056 (1 for 18) over his last five games, but his power potential makes him too valuable to sit. Josh Willingham, the second of the team's streaky sluggers, has also cooled off, batting .118 (2 for 17) over his last five games. Ivan Rodriguez is looking every bit of 38 years old, batting .050 (1 for 20) over his last six games and .169 (15 for 89) over his last 25. Avoid him in mixed leagues.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Nationals face one left-hander this week, which means Roger Bernadina will sit only once for Mike Morse. He's worth a look in NL-only leagues this week.
Lineup Changes: None.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can e-mail us your Fantasy Baseball questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com . Be sure to put Hitting Planner in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.

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