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Week 26 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, Sept. 24.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Schedule: @SF3, @LAD3
Heating Up: Kelly Johnson has homered in three straight games and five of his last eight, batting .375 (12 for 32) during that stretch. Of course, this week's road trip might put a stop to all that. Entering play Thursday, his OPS was .956 at home compared to .736 on the road.
Cooling Off: Miguel Montero is 1 for 17 (.059) with six strikeouts over his last six games, but most of his slumps this season have been short-lived. He's still worth starting at the weak catcher position in most leagues. Mark Reynolds is batting .059 (3 for 51) over his last 16 games, bringing his season batting average right to the Mendoza line. The home runs hardly seem worth it in standard mixed leagues.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Diamondbacks face four left-handers this week, making Gerardo Parra and Brandon Allen poor choices in NL-only leagues. They've been sitting for Ryan Roberts and Cole Gillespie against lefties.
Lineup Changes: None.

Atlanta Braves
Schedule: FLA3, PHI3
Heating Up: Derrek Lee, who has been banged up since coming over from the Cubs, is looking plenty healthy now, batting .429 (9 for 21) with a homer over his last six games. You shouldn't expect him to hit a bunch of homers this week, but he's clearly capable of helping your Fantasy team.
Cooling Off: The Braves' two out-of-nowhere All-Stars, Martin Prado and Omar Infante, are choking down the stretch, with Prado batting .171 (6 for 35) over his last nine games and Infante batting .161 (5 for 31) over his last eight. Prado has established himself as a must-start, but Infante is giving you a good reason to look into other options.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Braves face two left-handers this week. Matt Diaz and Melky Cabrera will likely start those games, filling in for Nate McLouth and Rick Ankiel.
Lineup Changes: None.

Top 10 Hitters Added
* as of Friday, Sept. 24
Player % Change
1. Mike Aviles, 2B, Royals 23
2. David Murphy, OF, Rangers 13
3. Wilson Betemit, 3B, Royals 11
4. Danny Valencia, 3B, Twins 9
5. Brayan Pena, C, Royals 8
6. Drew Stubbs, OF, Reds 7
7. Melvin Mora, 3B, Rockies 7
8. Ryan Raburn, OF, Tigers 5
9. Logan Morrison, OF, Marlins 5
10. Raul Ibanez, OF, Phillies 4

Baltimore Orioles
Schedule: @TB3, DET4
Heating Up: Luke Scott is heating up just in time for championship week, batting .500 (7 for 14) with a homer over his last four games. When he gets hot, he can carry a Fantasy team, so you might want to take a flier on him now.
Cooling Off: Matt Wieters is batting .111 (2 for 18) over his last five games. If you play in a shallow enough league, you can probably find a worthwhile alternative.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Orioles face one left-hander this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: Robert Andino has been getting most of the starts at third base over Josh Bell lately, but he profiles as a utility player and isn't worth using outside of deeper AL-only leagues.

Boston Red Sox
Schedule: @CHW4, NYY3
Heating Up: Victor Martinez is doing his best to make sure Buster Posey doesn't leapfrog him as the second-best catcher in Fantasy, batting .424 (14 for 33) with three homers over his last eight games. He's an obvious must-start. Jed Lowrie isn't playing every day but is taking advantage of the playing time he gets, batting .318 (7 for 22) with two homers over his last six games. He's worth a look if you need help at the weak shortstop position.
Cooling Off: Mike Lowell is getting most of the playing time at first base, but he isn't doing much to deserve it, batting .103 (3 for 29) over his last nine games.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Red Sox face two left-handers this week, but they're mixing and matching as much as possible right now and don't have any clear lefty-righty platoons. Chances are Bill Hall and Darnell McDonald will start those games against the lefties, though.
Lineup Changes: None.

Chicago Cubs
Schedule: @SD4, @HOU3
Heating Up: Nobody is exceeding expectations right now.
Cooling Off: Starlin Castro had two hits Thursday but is still batting just .158 (6 for 38) with no extra-base hits over his last 12 games. When playing up to his standards he's a serviceable option in mixed leagues, but you can probably do better right now.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Cubs face two left-handers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: Geovany Soto had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Monday and is out for the season. Koyie Hill will start in his place but is no more than an NL-only option. Tyler Colvin is also out for the season after a piece of a broken bat punctured him in the chest. Kosuke Fukudome gets to play every day in his absence, but he's too inconsistent for mixed-league use.

Chicago White Sox
Schedule: BOS4, CLE3
Heating Up: A.J. Pierzynski is batting .375 (9 for 24) over his last six games and .383 (46 for 120) since Aug. 12. He isn't hitting for a ton of power, but at a weak position like catcher, he doesn't need to for you to use him in Fantasy.
Cooling Off: Paul Konerko is hitless in his last 17 at-bats, but he's in the middle of a career season and is an obvious must-start.
Injury Concerns: Gordon Beckham, who has been dealing with a bruised hand since Aug. 30, hasn't started a game since Sept. 15 and might not start another one this year. He has performed better in the second half, but you should still avoid him in Fantasy.
Platoon Possibilities: The White Sox face one left-hander this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: Brent Morel seems to have taken over at third base for Omar Vizquel, but so far, that's been a downgrade offensively. Morel does have some upside, but he's looking like just an AL-only option. Brent Lillibridge has been getting most of the starts at second base with Beckham sidelined, but he has proven to be a light hitter at the major-league level and doesn't matter in Fantasy.

Scott's Sleepers for Week 26
* Sleepers are players started in less than 70 percent of CBSSports.com leagues
Player Start %
1. Ryan Raburn, OF, Tigers 52
2. Angel Pagan, OF, Mets 65
3. Chris Johnson, 3B, Astros 46
4. Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets 61
5. Logan Morrison, OF, Marlins 44
6. Neil Walker, 2B, Pirates 55
7. Luke Scott, OF, Orioles 62
8. Gaby Sanchez, 1B, Marlins 53
9. Mike Aviles, 2B, Royals 31
10. Danny Valencia, 3B, Twins 19

Cincinnati Reds
Schedule: HOU3, MIL3
Heating Up: Jonny Gomes has hit safely in eight straight games, batting .355 (11 for 31) with a homer during that stretch. With 17 homers on the season, he's not enough of a power hitter to make up for his poor walk rate and so-so batting average, so you can leave him for NL-only leagues. Drew Stubbs, on the other hand, is valuable in all leagues as a new 20-20 man. He's batting .340 (18 for 53) with five homers over his last 15 games.
Cooling Off: Brandon Phillips is batting .152 (12 for 79) with no homers and one steal so far in September, making a fourth straight 20-20 season the longest of long shots. Still, he's good enough to start in virtually all Fantasy leagues. Orlando Cabrera, who has been in and out of the lineup with an oblique injury this month, is batting .167 (4 for 24) over his last six games. Given his lack of upside, you should avoid him right now.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Reds face three left-handers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

Cleveland Indians
Schedule: DET3, @CHW3
Heating Up: Trevor Crowe is batting .405 (15 for 37) over his last 11 games, but he's good for nothing more than the occasional stolen base. Don't bother with him in mixed leagues.
Cooling Off: Matt LaPorta and Jayson Nix both continue to see regular at-bats, but neither is doing much with them. LaPorta is batting .120 (6 for 50) over his last 16 games and Nix is batting .107 (6 for 56) over his last 17. You can leave both for AL-only leagues.
Injury Concerns: Asdrubal Cabrera hasn't started since Monday because of a sprained wrist. The injury isn't considered serious, but he is seeing a specialist. As poorly as he has hit lately, you're better off avoiding him. Jason Donald has also missed a few games with a bruised hand, but he's the kind of player you should avoid regardless of his health.
Platoon Possibilities: The Indians face one left-hander this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

Colorado Rockies
Schedule: LAD3, @STL4
Heating Up: Carlos Gonzalez is batting .436 (17 for 39) with a homer and two stolen bases during a 10-game hitting streak, but what else is new?
Cooling Off: Miguel Olivo is really scuffling to end the season, batting .192 (23 for 120) with no homers since the beginning of August. In standard mixed leagues, you could probably do better off the waiver wire.
Injury Concerns: Eric Young, who has been playing second base and batting leadoff on an everyday basis, has been out all week with a shin injury. He was able to pinch hit Thursday, so his return is probably close. Assuming he does return over the weekend, he's a decent sleeper for stolen bases in the season's final week.
Platoon Possibilities: The Rockies face one left-hander this week, which means Seth Smith should get the lion's share of the at-bats in left field. He typically platoons with Ryan Spilborghs.
Lineup Changes: Ian Stewart returned from an oblique injury Thursday, but after such a long layoff, the Rockies aren't so anxious to throw him back in the lineup in the middle of a pennant race. Melvin Mora is the safer Fantasy option right now, but you should probably avoid both in mixed leagues.

Detroit Tigers
Schedule: @CLE3, @BAL4
Heating Up: Ryan Raburn is making a case for everyday at-bats next year, batting .368 (25 for 68) with four homers over his last 19 games and .342 (55 for 161) with 12 homers over his last 43 games. With good matchups this week, he's almost too obvious of a sleeper pick.
Cooling Off: Johnny Damon is batting .172 (5 for 29) over his last eight games and is sitting some against left-handers. He's hardly worth using in mixed leagues anymore. Jhonny Peralta had a nice little run at the end of August and the beginning of September, but he's now batting .129 (4 for 31) over his last eight games. He's pretty much just a desperation play in mixed leagues.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Tigers face one left-hander this week, meaning Damon, Brennan Boesch and Will Rhymes should all get nearly a full week of at-bats. Casper Wells and Scott Sizemore often spell them against lefties.
Lineup Changes: None.

Florida Marlins
Schedule: @ATL3, PIT4
Heating Up: As if Dan Uggla's season couldn't get any better, the slugging second baseman is currently riding an 11-game hitting streak during which he's batting .366 (15 for 41). He has a good shot at 100 RBI and 100 runs scored to go along with his 30-plus homers, making him an elite Fantasy option.
Cooling Off: Just when you're ready to trust Michael Stanton, his bat goes silent again. The all-or-nothing rookie is batting .160 (4 for 25) over his last eight games and is too unreliable for most Fantasy formats.
Injury Concerns: Hanley Ramirez tried playing with a sore left elbow Tuesday and simply felt too much pain to remain in the lineup. He hasn't made much progress over the last week-plus, which means he very well could miss the rest of the season. If you're still playing for something, you should probably look into other options this week, painful as that may be. None of them will even come close to Ramirez's potential, obviously. Emilio Bonifacio, who was thriving as the team's leadoff man, hasn't played since Sunday because of a hamstring injury, but he plans to return over the weekend. He'll have to get hot all over again for you to trust him in mixed leagues, though.
Platoon Possibilities: The Marlins face four left-handers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

Houston Astros
Schedule: @CIN3, CHC3
Heating Up: After a brief cold stretch at the end of August, Chris Johnson is on fire again, batting .309 (17 for 55) with five homers over his last 15 games. From spring training to Triple-A Round Rock to the major leagues, he has proven he can maintain a batting average over .300. He deserves to be starting in most Fantasy leagues.
Cooling Off: Hunter Pence, who for the most part has had a huge second half, is batting .182 (6 for 33) over his last nine games. Still, he has been too productive across the board for you to consider sitting him now. Jason Castro is 0 for 12 over his last five games, but by now, you should know better than to start him.
Injury Concerns: Michael Bourn hasn't played since Sunday because of a strained right oblique. He has been slow to recover and might not return this season, according to manager Brad Mills, so even if you're desperate for steals, you can probably do better.
Platoon Possibilities: The Astros don't face a single left-handed pitcher this week, so rookie Brett Wallace should get significantly more playing time than he has recently. He typically sits for Jason Michaels against lefties.
Lineup Changes: Jason Bourgeois has been starting in center field with Bourn sidelined. He's a pretty good speedster in his own right and is perhaps a worthwhile fallback option for Fantasy owners who were expecting to get some steals from Bourn over the final week.

Kansas City Royals
Schedule: MIN3, TB4
Heating Up: Billy Butler is doing his best to remind people he does have a little power, batting .422 (19 for 42) with four homers over his last 11 games. He had a similar power surge last September, which helped create some of the hype coming into this season. He's been a viable option much of the season, so you'd need an awfully deep roster to bench him now. Mike Aviles has taken off with Chris Getz (concussion) out of the picture, batting .422 (19 for 45) with five homers over his last 10 games. He's had success at this level before, so if you need a shortstop, take a flier on him.
Cooling Off: Alex Gordon, on the other hand, continues to have no success at this level, batting .115 (3 for 26) over his last eight games.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Royals face two left-handers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: Speedster Jarrod Dyson has been cutting into Gregor Blanco's playing time, limiting Blanco's appeal in AL-only leagues. If you need steals in a deeper Rotisserie league, though, Dyson might be worth a look himself.

L.A. Angels
Schedule: OAK3, @TEX4
Heating Up: Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui are both playing like mixed-league options right now, with Abreu batting .417 (10 for 24) with two homers and two steals over his last six games and Matsui batting .367 (18 for 49) with three homers over his last 17. Unfortunately, the lefty-loaded schedule this week doesn't work in either player's favor.
Cooling Off: Alberto Callaspo is batting .107 (6 for 56) over his last 13 games and is losing playing time to Kevin Frandsen. Clearly, he's not the third baseman for you this week.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Angels face six left-handed pitchers this week. They don't have any lefty-righty platoons, but Abreu and Matsui have both struggled enough against lefties that you might want to steer clear of them.
Lineup Changes: None.

L.A. Dodgers
Schedule: @COL3, ARI3
Heating Up: Nobody is exceeding expectations right now.
Cooling Off: Matt Kemp, who has been on a downward spiral since May, isn't exactly redeeming himself in September, batting .194 (13 for 67) for the month. You could do worse than the likely 20-20 man, but he's certainly no must-start. James Loney is batting .143 (4 for 28) over his last seven games and .214 (47 for 220) since the All-Star break. He has never been a power hitter, so he has absolutely nothing to offer right now. Ryan Theriot is batting .087 (4 for 46) over his last 13 games, further establishing himself as just a last resort in mixed leagues.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Dodgers face two left-handers this week, which means Jay Gibbons will likely sit twice for Reed Johnson. Both are just NL-only options.
Lineup Changes: None.

Milwaukee Brewers
Schedule: @NYM4, @CIN3
Heating Up: Rickie Weeks has already set career highs in home runs, RBI and runs scored. Now, he's setting his sights on batting average, batting .455 (15 for 33) with two homers over his last eight games. Clearly, he's one of the best second basemen in Fantasy.
Cooling Off: Alcides Escobar is batting .083 (3 for 36) over his last 10 games and has been losing playing time to Craig Counsell and Luis Cruz. Surely, you can do better in Fantasy. Prince Fielder is batting .139 (5 for 36) over his last 11 games, but he's still one of the best sluggers in baseball. You have to keep him active.
Injury Concerns: Ryan Braun left Wednesday's game after getting hit by a pitch in the left elbow and remained out Thursday. The injury isn't considered serious, so you should probably keep him active. Just be sure to have a backup plan in place in case a less favorable report comes out over the weekend.
Platoon Possibilities: The Brewers face two left-handers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

Minnesota Twins
Schedule: @KC3, TOR4
Heating Up: Jim Thome is batting .389 (14 for 36) with seven homers and a silly 1.560 OPS over his last 12 games. He's already worth using in Rotisserie leagues, and if he played every day, he would matter in Head-to-Head leagues as well. Danny Valencia, who has maintained a batting average well over .300 throughout his rookie season, has begun to hit for power as well, batting .318 (7 for 22) with three homers over his last six games. If you need a sleeper over the final week, you can at least trust him not to hurt you.
Cooling Off: Orlando Hudson is batting .174 (8 for 46) over his last 11 games, but his lack of power and speed makes him just a last resort in mixed leagues anyway.
Injury Concerns: Joe Mauer is dealing with inflammation in his left knee and will likely sit out through the weekend. You have to think the Twins will want to give him a few at-bats before the playoffs, though, and half a week from him is better than a full week from most catchers. Unless you have an awesome backup, roll the dice on Mauer. J.J. Hardy hasn't played since Monday because of a migraine headache, but since he's not the power hitter he used to be, you can leave him for AL-only leagues.
Platoon Possibilities: The Twins face three left-handers this week, but they don't have any lefty-right platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

N.Y. Mets
Schedule: MIL4, WAS3
Heating Up: Carlos Beltran, who is working his way back from knee surgery, finally seems to have regained his power stroke, homering three times over his last 10 games. He's batting .345 (19 for 55) with a .600 slugging percentage over his last 14 games, suggesting the time has finally come to get him active in Fantasy. Lucas Duda, who got off to a slow start when he first came up from the minors, is batting .500 (8 for 16) with two homers over his last six games. He put up big numbers in the minors and is worth a flier in NL-only leagues.
Cooling Off: Josh Thole is batting .172 (5 for 29) over his last 10 games, but his lack of pop limits his appeal to NL-only leagues regardless.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Mets face one lefty this week. Nick Evans could start that game instead of Duda.
Lineup Changes: None.

N.Y. Yankees
Schedule: @TOR3, @BOS3
Heating Up: Derek Jeter, who hit .119 (7 for 59) from Aug. 23 to Sept. 8, is batting .327 (17 for 52) during a 12-game hitting streak. He has only four extra-base hits during that stretch -- all doubles -- but at least you don't have to feel like you're doing something wrong by starting him.
Cooling Off: Mark Teixeira is batting .131 (8 for 61) with no homers over his last 17 games. He's playing with a broken toe and a sore thumb and will likely need a couple days off heading into the playoffs. Hate to say it since he was probably your first-round pick, but he's a risky start this week.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Yankees face one left-hander this week. Austin Kearns and Marcus Thames could get to start that game, filling in for Brett Gardner and Lance Berkman.
Lineup Changes: None.

Oakland Athletics
Schedule: @LAA3, @SEA4
Heating Up: Rajai Davis, who is back hitting leadoff with Coco Crisp sidelined, is batting .357 (10 for 28) with two stolen bases over his last seven games. If you're looking for steals off the waiver wire, don't forget about him.
Cooling Off: Cliff Pennington, who has had one roller-coaster ride of a season, is back to being unusable in Fantasy, batting .180 (11 for 61) in September.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Athletics face one left-hander this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: Crisp fractured his left pinkie Sept. 18 and is expected to miss the rest of the season, which is a shame since he had emerged as a viable mixed-league option with a big second half. Chris V. Carter has been getting regular playing time in his absence and deserves a look in AL-only leagues because of his power potential.

Best Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Tigers @CLE3, @BAL4
2. Rays BAL3, @KC4
3. Mets MIL4, WAS3
4. Marlins @ATL3, PIT4
5. Pirates @STL3, @FLA4

Philadelphia Phillies
Schedule: @WAS3, @ATL3
Heating Up: Jayson Werth, whose power numbers had been lagging for much of the season, is trying to correct that over the last couple weeks. He's batting .364 (12 for 33) with five homers over his last nine games and is obviously a must-start. Season-long disappointment Raul Ibanez is looking for a statistical correction of his own, batting .464 (13 for 28) with a homer over his last seven games. Even with three lefties on the schedule this week, he's looking like a good sleeper.
Cooling Off: The pain of a fractured elbow might finally be catching up to Placido Polanco. He's batting .190 (11 for 58) over his last 13 games and isn't beyond sitting if you have viable alternatives. Ryan Howard is batting .229 (8 for 35) over his last 11 games, but you'd be crazy to sit one of the game's most feared sluggers in the season's final week.
Injury Concerns: Jimmy Rollins hasn't played since Sept. 8 because of a hamstring injury, and with the Phillies on the verge of clinching the NL East, you have to wonder if he'll get more than a few warmup at-bats at the end of the week. Despite his upside, you should probably avoid him.
Platoon Possibilities: The Phillies face three left-handers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Schedule: @STL3, @FLA4
Heating Up: Neil Walker isn't exactly hot, but he's doing his best to show his success isn't a fluke, batting .318 (7 for 22) with two homers over his last six games. He deserves more credit than he's getting.
Cooling Off: Pedro Alvarez has proven he has good power, but he can never sustain it for long. He's batting .182 (8 for 44) over his last 12 games and is strictly an NL-only option.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Pirates face one left-hander this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: John Bowker has begun getting the majority of the starts in right field, with Ryan Doumit replacing Chris Snyder more often behind the plate. Bowker has hit well for the Pirates, but success is usually short-lived for him.

San Diego Padres
Schedule: CHC4, @SF3
Heating Up: Miguel Tejada is turning up the power for the pennant race, homering three times in his last 10 games. He's batting .366 (15 for 41) during that stretch and is plenty usable as a stopgap at shortstop. Free-swinging power-speed threat Will Venable is actually hitting for average for once, batting .609 (14 for 23) over his last seven games. Unfortunately, he faces three lefties this week, which puts a damper on his sleeper appeal.
Cooling Off: Chase Headley continues to drag through September, batting .179 (14 for 78) for the month. He has been useful at times this season, but now isn't one of those times.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Padres face three left-handers this week, so you can expect Venable to sit three times, most likely for Chris Denorfia.
Lineup Changes: None.

Worst Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Diamondbacks SF3, STL3
2. Indians DET3, @CHW3
3. Mariners @TEX3, OAK4
4. Giants ARI3, SD3
5. Nationals PHI3, @NYM3

San Francisco Giants
Schedule: ARI3, SD3
Heating Up: Jose Guillen seems to have his stroke working now, batting .409 (9 for 22) with two homers over his last seven games. When he gets hot, he can make a serious impact in Fanatsy, so he's worth a flier now. Freddy Sanchez is batting .429 (12 for 28) over his last seven games, bringing his season average up to .296 after being down to .255 as recently as Aug. 11. If power and speed aren't a big deal to you, he could be a nice little find off the waiver wire. Buster Posey is making a late-season push for 20 homers, batting .311 (14 for 45) with five homers over his last 12 games. He's an obvious must-start.
Cooling Off: Aubrey Huff is batting .161 (5 for 31) over his last nine games, but the slugger has been too reliable all season for you to bench him now.
Injury Concerns: Andres Torres is miraculously on the verge of returning from an appendectomy this weekend -- less than two weeks after the procedure. He still isn't swinging at full force and could easily suffer a setback, so you should probably avoid him in Fantasy. Edgar Renteria has missed about a week with a sore right elbow, but he's just a platoon player at this stage of his career and doesn't matter in mixed leagues.
Platoon Possibilities: The Giants face one left-hander this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: Cody Ross has been getting the majority of the starts in center field with Torres out, so his status is obviously up in the air with Torres on the verge of returning. Better leave him for NL-only leagues.

Seattle Mariners
Schedule: @TEX3, OAK4
Heating Up: Jose Lopez homered three times Wednesday, but he's still batting .236 on the season. He'd need to homer a few more times over the weekend for you to give him in a look in mixed leagues.
Cooling Off: Michael Saunders is batting .140 (8 for 57) in 20 games since returning from a bruised shoulder in late August. When hot, he offers decent power potential, but you can leave him for AL-only leagues.
Injury Concerns: Russell Branyan, who has battled back problems all year, hasn't played since Sept. 15 because of a bruised tailbone. He's a good source of power when healthy, but unless he returns over the weekend, he's too risky for mixed-league use.
Platoon Possibilities: The Mariners face five left-handed pitchers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: Justin Smoak is back up from the minors and getting consistent playing time at first base, replacing Casey Kotchman. He has huge upside, but until he does something at the major-league level, you can leave him for AL-only leagues.

St. Louis Cardinals
Schedule: PIT3, COL4
Heating Up: Colby Rasmus is batting .406 (13 for 32) with two homers over his last nine games, but with three left-handers on the schedule this week, he might cool off again. He has some sleeper appeal but is far from a must-start. Matt Holliday has hit safely in 15 straight games, batting .436 (24 for 55) with two homers during that stretch. He's an obvious must-start.
Cooling Off: Jon Jay is 1 for 14 over his last five games and 10 for 51 (.196) over his last 18. Despite his hot start, he's clearly not worth using in mixed leagues. It's not like his power numbers are especially good anyway.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Cardinals face three left-handers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: Yadier Molina has been ruled out for the year with a knee injury, leaving Matt Pagnozzi and Bryan Anderson to split time behind the plate. Neither has the upside to matter in Fantasy. Daniel Descalso has spelled Pedro Feliz at third base recently, but he also lacks upside and is strictly an NL-only option.

Tampa Bay Rays
Schedule: BAL3, @KC4
Heating Up: Dan Johnson has been getting most of the starts at DH and has been hitting for power, if nothing else. He's batting .344 (11 for 32) with five homers over his last 12 games and is worth a flier in deeper leagues. Carl Crawford is batting .419 (13 for 31) with three steals over his last seven games, but is that really anything new for him? Just keep running him out there like you always do.
Cooling Off: Carlos Pena is batting only .118 (6 for 51) in September and is getting a couple days off to "rearrange" his thinking. Unless he blows up this weekend, you should rearrange your lineup.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Rays face one left-hander this week, but their ever-changing lineup isn't a product of lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

Texas Rangers
Schedule: SEA3, LAA4
Heating Up: David Murphy has made the most of regular playing time, batting .353 (30 for 85) with three homers and four steals over his last 20 games. But with Josh Hamilton aiming to return, Murphy's playing time is too up in the air for you to trust him in mixed leagues.
Cooling Off: Elvis Andrus is batting .077 (2 for 26) over his last seven games, and Michael Young is batting .138 (4 for 29) over his last seven. Both play relatively weak positions, so you should probably just keep them active. The return home this week should help.
Injury Concerns: Hamilton, who has been out since Sept. 4 because of fractured ribs, is hoping to get a tuneup for the playoffs over the final three games of the season. So yeah, he'll probably return, but for half a week at best and after a month-long layoff. You'd have to be pretty desperate to start him in Fantasy.
Platoon Possibilities: The Rangers face two left-handers this week. Mitch Moreland and Julio Borbon will likely sit out those games in favor of Jorge Cantu and Jeff Francoeur.
Lineup Changes: None.

Toronto Blue Jays
Schedule: NYY3, @MIN4
Heating Up: As impossible as it seemed even when he was homering left and right in May, Jose Bautista has reached the 50-homer mark, homering four times in his last seven games to accomplish the feat. Obviously, he should be starting. Adam Lind is batting .438 (7 for 16) with five doubles over his last four games, but after the way he has disappointed all year, you'd need some serious guts to take a flier on him now.
Cooling Off: Aaron Hill and Yunel Escobar have been viable mixed-league options all year, but both are begging for you to bench them in the season's final week. Hill is batting .114 (5 for 44) over his last 13 games, and Escobar is batting .059 (1 for 17) over his last five.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Blue Jays face three left-handers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: Fred Lewis is out for the season with a foot injury, clearing the way for Travis Snider to play every day. He's not hot enough for mixed-league use, though.

Washington Nationals
Schedule: PHI3, @NYM3
Heating Up: Mike Morse, a career reserve, has taken off with regular at-bats, batting .421 (8 for 19) with three homers over his last six games. If he keeps it up through the weekend, he might be worth a look even in mixed leagues. Danny Espinosa has homered three times in his last five games. His batting average is still iffy, but if you need power from a middle infielder, he'll provide it.
Cooling Off: Nobody is performing below expectations right now.
Injury Concerns: Ryan Zimmerman missed Thursday's game with an intercostal strain. The injury reportedly isn't serious, but we've seen similar injuries sideline players for weeks at a time. If Zimmerman doesn't return over the weekend, you might have no choice but to consult the waiver wire. Adam Dunn was also out Thursday after taking a pitch off the right elbow Wednesday, but his injury should only require a day or two of rest. Unless something changes over the weekend, you'll want to keep him active.
Platoon Possibilities: The Nationals face two left-handed pitchers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: Nyjer Morgan is eligible to return from his eight-game suspension Saturday, so if you need steals, he's worth activating. He has been frustratingly inconsistent this year, though.

You can e-mail us your Fantasy Baseball hitting questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com. Be sure to put Hitting Planner in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state. Be aware, due to the large volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee personal responses to all questions.

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Player News
Curtis Granderson back in Mets' starting lineup
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:15 pm ET) Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson returned to the starting lineup Thursday against the Brewers after sitting out two games due to an illness. Granderson is batting .250 (16 for 64) with three doubles, three home runs and seven RBI in 16 July games.

Andre Rienzo gets the call Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:15 pm ET) White Sox pitcher Andre Rienzo has been called up Thursday.

Rienzo will take Zach Putnam's spot on the team's roster. Putnam was placed on the disabled list Thursday. Rienzo has been used as a starter and a reliever over his career. He has a 5.87 ERA over 61 1/3 innings this season. 


Rubby De La Rosa chased early
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:13 pm ET) Red Sox pitcher Rubby De La Rosa entered Thursday's start at Toronto with a 2.64 ERA in seven major-league starts, but he was unable to keep it going. The Blue Jays knocked him around for for nine hits and seven runs (six earned) in four innings, though they also benefitted from shoddy defense.

De La Rosa walked two batters and struck out one in what was easily his worst start this year. He'll get another crack at Toronto on Tuesday at Fenway Park.


Zach Putnam hits the disabled list
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:12 pm ET) White Sox pitcher Zach Putnam has been placed on the disabled list with a shoulder issue.

Putnam is dealing with right shoulder inflammation. Putnam had a stretch from late-June to mid-July where he gave up a run every other outing, but is coming off three straight scoreless appearances. Putnam has a 2.35 ERA over 38 1/3 innings. 


Jonathan Papelbon nets save after being serenaded by boos
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:09 pm ET) Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon jogged onto the field in the ninth inning Thursday against the Giants to a onslaught of boos after sending Philadelphia to a loss Wednesday night. By the end of his outing Thursday he was being cheered, as he picked up his 24th save in a 2-1 win.

Papelbon, who was pitching for a third day in a row, needed just 10 pitches to retire the side in order, which included a strikeout of Joaquin Arias. The veteran reliever, who has been mentioned in trade rumors, had allowed four runs in his first two appearances against the Giants.


David Ortiz considered day-to-day
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:07 pm ET) Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is considered day-to-day with a back injury, according to WEEI.

Ortiz left Thursday's game with back spasms, according to manager John Farrell. He injured himself while trying to check his swing, and was removed from the game. Farrell characterized Ortiz as day-to-day.


Eric Hosmer out with hand injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:06 pm ET) Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer was not in the lineup Thursday after being removed Wednesday with a hand problem. Hosmer had "decreased grip strength," according to the Kansas City Star.

It's not clear when he'll return to the lineup.


Cole Hamels strikes out 10 in win against Giants
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:03 pm ET) Cole Hamels struck out 10 batters Thursday, leading the Phillies to a 2-1 win against the Giants. The left-hander allowed one run on six hits and one walk in eight innings.

Hamels (5-5) was extremely efficient with his pitches, throwing 90 of 116 pitches for strikes. He retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced, allowing just a two-out single to Adam Duvall in the second inning during that span.

Hamels did load the bases in the fourth inning with a pair of singles and a hit batter, but he worked out of the jam unscathed. The Giants got their only run on Ehire Adrianza's two-out RBI single in the fifth inning, which tied the game at 1.

Hamels has struck out at least 10 batters four times this season. His season high is 11. He is 3-0 over his last four starts and has allowed just one earned run in each of the wins. 

Hamels will make his next scheduled start Tuesday against the Mets. He is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts against New York this season.


Juan Francisco drives in four, just misses cycle
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:58 pm ET) Blue Jays first baseman Juan Francisco narrowly missed hitting for the cycle in Thursday's 8-0 win over the Red Sox. He hit a two-run homer, a two-run single and a triple, finishing with four RBI and two runs scored.

Francisco only needed a double to complete the cycle. He's batting .242 with 15 homers and 39 RBI in 215 at-bats.


Marcus Stroman toys with no-hit bid
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:53 pm ET) Blue Jays rookie Marcus Stroman threw six no-hit innings Thursday before Shane Victorino's bloop single leading off the seventh. Stroman went seven scoreless innings in the 8-0 victory, striking out seven and walking two and allowing no other hits.

Stroman (6-2) improved to 5-1 with a 1.54 ERA in seven home starts and lowered his overall ERA to 3.21. He's allowed no runs over his last two starts covering 14 innings. Stroman will face the Red Sox again on Tuesday at Fenway.


 
 
 
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