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Week 9 Fantasy Hitting Planner

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The Fantasy Baseball Hitting Planner is your guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming scoring period. Every week, we'll give you the latest on injuries, lineup changes, streaks and matchups, highlighting the players at each position who might surprise or disappoint as a result. NOTE: The Planner will be updated with the latest information every Sunday prior to lineup deadlines.

Any players not listed here fall into the "status quo" category, meaning you should take your usual approach with them.

All statistics are updated through Saturday, May 28.

Catcher

Buster Posey made the unfortunate decision to stand his ground in a collision at the plate Wednesday, and the result was a broken left leg and ligament damage in his ankle. He could potentially miss only two months, but he'll likely miss the rest of the season, which is of course a crushing blow to his Fantasy owners. He was one of the few catchers selected in the early rounds on Draft Day, and though he had yet to live up to his draft status, the probability of him eventually doing so was reason enough for his owners to remain optimistic. Now, they'll have to make do with whatever they can find on the waiver wire. Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart, the two players expected to start in his absence, shouldn't be on anybody's radar. Both are light hitters unlikely to make an impact even in NL-only leagues.

Must-Start Options: Victor Martinez, Brian McCann, Carlos Santana, Russell Martin

Heating up
Jonathan Lucroy: .396 (21 for 53), 4 HRs, 18 RBI, 1.127 OPS in 16 games
Miguel Olivo: .414 (12 for 29), 2 HRs, 1.176 OPS in eight games
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: .320 (8 for 25), 4 HRs, 1.233 OPS, 3 BBs, 4 Ks in seven games
Brian McCann: .417 (10 for 24), 2 HRs, 1.292 OPS in six games

Cooling off
Mike Napoli: .120 (6 for 50), 1 HR, 1 SB, 15 Ks in 18 games
John Buck: .154 (8 for 52), 1 HR, .478 OPS in 15 games
Carlos Santana: .083 (2 for 24), 5 BBs in nine games

Worth a second look
Jonathan Lucroy (65 percent started): You wouldn't know it by his ownership percentage, but Lucroy is the highest-scoring catcher in Fantasy over the last three weeks. He had emerged as a decent prospect by the time the Brewers promoted him to the big leagues, and now he's showing why, hitting for both average and power. Lucroy will be a hot pickup among Buster Posey owners and is a worthy starter for anyone with a need at the position.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (22 percent): Saltalamacchia still isn't starting consistently, which is why he probably won't get any looks outside of deeper leagues just yet, but the Red Sox's plan all along was to make him the everyday catcher. He just hit so poorly to begin the season that they had no choice but to involve Jason Varitek more. Saltalamacchia's recent power surge could get things back to the way they should be, making him a sleeper in Fantasy again. You could do worse than to take a flier on him now.

Approach with caution
John Buck (47 percent started): Buck hasn't done much the last two weeks and isn't likely to get back on track with the pitchers the Marlins face this week. Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Yovani Gallardo have all pitched well recently. Unless you're desperate for a power-hitting catcher, you can look elsewhere.
Ramon Hernandez (33 percent): Hernandez has had a nice run in May, batting .339 (19 for 56) with five homers, but because he splits at-bats almost evenly with Ryan Hanigan, he has to be red hot to deserve a starting nod in Fantasy. Chances are Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley will be enough to silence him this week, assuming he even gets to play against them.

Injury concerns
Geovany Soto, who had missed more than two weeks with a strained groin, came off the disabled list Sunday. He wasn't hitting particularly well before the injury, but with so few high-end catchers in Fantasy right now, you'll probably want to start him anyway. His return forces Koyie Hill to the bench, not that he had any measure of Fantasy appeal ... Joe Mauer has begun playing in extended spring training games, but the Twins still don't have a timetable for his return. He has been out since April 12 with weakness in his legs. Continue to stash him in all formats ... Nick Hundley, who is on the DL with an oblique injury, is aiming to return June 2, but you wouldn't want to activate him for just the weekend. Besides, he was slumping before his injury ... Miguel Olivo scraped up his face on an attempted head-first slide Saturday and got a day off Sunday, but he was in good spirits before the game and should be fine going forward.

First base

Juan Rivera has emerged as the replacement for Adam Lind in Toronto. He has started 10 straight games at first base, effectively bumping Edwin Encarnacion to the bench. Encarnacion still spells rookie Eric Thames at DH against tougher left-handed pitchers, but he's unusable even in AL-only leagues in such a capacity. Rivera has some low-end appeal given his recent performance, but his ceiling is still too low for mixed-league use. The Orioles appeared to have settled on a Luke Scott-Brandon Snyder platoon at first base with Derrek Lee sidelined by a strained oblique, but then Jake Fox and Mark Reynolds got in on the action this weekend. The player whose Fantasy value changes the most here is Scott, who had some mixed-league appeal when he was playing every day. Now, he's looking like strictly an AL-only option. Russell Branyan, who was released by the Diamondbacks on May 20, signed with the Angels on Thursday. He might get occasional starts at DH and first base, but you shouldn't bother with him outside of AL-only leagues.

Must-Start Options: Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Howard, Lance Berkman, Paul Konerko

Heating up
Michael Morse: .405 (15 for 37), 4 HRs, 1.216 OPS in 12 games
Juan Rivera: .385 (15 for 39), 2 HRs, 1.095 OPS in 10 games
Mark Teixeira: .270 (10 for 37), 6 HRs, 13 RBI, 1.106 OPS in nine games
Juan Miranda: .400 (10 for 25), 3 HRs, 1.460 OPS, 4 BBs, 5 Ks in seven games

Cooling off
Adam Dunn: .106 (5 for 47), 1 HR, 10 BBs, 22 Ks in 14 games
Paul Konerko: .188 (9 for 48), 0 HRs, 11 Ks in 13 games
Mark Trumbo: .111 (3 for 27), 1 HR, 1 SB in eight games

Worth a second look
Justin Smoak (51 percent started): Smoak has had a quiet month of May, batting .176 (12 for 68) over his last 18 games, but if his matchups this week are any indication, it's about to get a whole lot louder. For starters, the Mariners are at home all week, where Smoak has an .854 OPS compared to .769 on the road, and they get to face low-end pitchers like Jake Arrieta, Jeremy Guthrie, Wade Davis and Alex Cobb in four of their seven games. If you've been wondering when to get Smoak active again, now would be a good time.
Michael Morse (26 percent): Morse has been starting at first base with Adam LaRoche on the DL with a shoulder injury and is clearly taking advantage of the opportunity, homering in four straight games over the weekend. As he showed this spring and late last season, when he powers up, it can last a while. If you're looking for a sneaky sleeper this week, he certainly fits the bill, especially since the Nationals face three left-handers in their seven games this week. He's a career .299 hitter with an .863 OPS against lefties.

Approach with caution
Todd Helton (41 percent started): Helton has struggled since his bout with back spasms last week, batting .176 (3 for 17) over his last six games, and with the Rockies facing the Dodgers and Giants pitching staffs away from Coors Field this week, he's unlikely to turn it around all of a sudden. Plus, he's likely to lose some at-bats to the hot-hitting Jason Giambi. Clearly, Helton is a candidate to sit in mixed leagues.
Matt LaPorta (28 percent): LaPorta's modest power numbers have tempted Fantasy owners at various points this season, but you wouldn't want to start him with four left-handers on the schedule this week. LaPorta is batting .176 with a .551 OPS against lefties compared to .282 with an .878 OPS against righties. Plus, he's batting just .194 (6 for 31) against both righties and lefties over his last 10 games.

Injury concerns
Adam Lind is making progress in his recovery from lower back tightness, but he's only now ready to begin playing in extended spring training games. He may be ready to return before the end of Fantasy Week 9 (May 30-June 5), but he's way too much of a gamble outside of deeper AL-only formats.

Second base

The Tigers traded Scott Sizemore to the Athletics on Saturday and will play Ryan Raburn at second base going forward. We've waited all year for Raburn to have an everyday role with the Tigers. Now that he finally has it, he's hitting too poorly to contribute much in Fantasy. He has enough power potential that he'll likely make an impact once he gets going, but you don't necessarily need to rush out and add him in standard mixed leagues. As for Sizemore, he's back in the minors, where the Athletics will groom him to play third base. On Friday, the Rockies promoted Eric Young from Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he was hitting .363 with a .462 on-base percentage and 17 stolen bases. Those numbers are plenty attractive for Fantasy purposes, but the Rockies have been hesitant to use Young as an everyday player in the past. He should see plenty of time at second base, especially with Jose Lopez out of the picture, but Jonathan Herrera will likely continue to get some starts as well. Perhaps Young's ability to play the outfield will give him enough at-bats to make an impact, particuarly in Rotisserie lagues, but keep a lid on those expectations for now. Allen Craig has continued to get starts at second base for the Cardinals even with Skip Schumaker back from a triceps injury. If it continues, he could emerge as an attractive sleeper in Fantasy. His minor-league numbers are impressive for an outfielder, much less a middle infielder, and he has begun to hit for both average and power at the major-league level as well. Of course, he'll have to play every day as opposed to every other day for it to pay off in Fantasy. You can leave Craig for NL-only leagues for now. The injury to Juan Uribe has allowed Jamey Carroll to keep playing with Rafael Furcal off the DL, only now at second base instead of shortstop. He has been surprisingly productive with his contact hitting and base stealing, but he's still not worth using outside of deeper leagues.

Must-Start Options: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist, Rickie Weeks, Brandon Phillips, Martin Prado, Michael Young

Heating up
Freddy Sanchez: .417 (20 for 48), 6 2Bs, .994 OPS in 12 games
Allen Craig: .462 (12 for 26), 2 HRs, 1 SB, 1.231 OPS in nine games
Kelly Johnson: .343 (12 for 35), 3 HRs, 11 RBI, 2 SBs, 1.093 OPS in nine games

Cooling off
Dan Uggla: .073 (3 for 41), .207 OPS in 11 games
Ben Zobrist: .088 (3 for 34), 1 BB, 8 Ks in eight games
Neil Walker: .115 (3 for 26), 8 Ks in six games

Worth a second look
Kelly Johnson (64 percent started): Johnson seems to land on this list every other week, but this time, he's more than just a roll of the dice. This time, you should try your absolute hardest to get him in your lineup. He's putting together his first legitimate hot streak of the season and has especially favorable matchups against the Marlins and Nationals pitching staffs. Plus, he gets to play all seven games at home, where he had a .976 OPS last year compared to .754 on the road. He has a reputation as one of the streakiest players in baseball, blowing up for three weeks at a time before going silent for four, so it's now or never for him.
Adam Kennedy (4 percent): This one only applies to deeper leagues, though Kennedy has had his moments of mixed-league viability in the past. He has been relatively productive as the better half of a lefty-righty platoon with Jack Wilson in Seattle, contributing four homers and five steals, and figures to play almost every game this week with six right-handers on the schedule. And considering those right-handers include the Orioles rotation and the back end of the Rays rotation, he should be able to do some damage.

Approach with caution
Maicer Izturis (71 percent started): Izturis is finally beginning to slow down in his first look as an everyday player, batting .158 (6 for 38) over his last 11 games, and could find himself getting squeezed out of the lineup from time to time as a result. He's still worth using if you have a need at shortstop or third base, but at second base, you can probably do better.
Darwin Barney (68 percent): The magical ride of multi-hit games for Barney may finally be nearing an end. He's batting .190 (8 for 42) over his last 10 games. Because he offers little in the way of power or speed, he pretty much has to hit over .300 to make a worthwhile Fantasy contribution. Feel free to look into other options in mixed leagues.

Injury concerns
Gordon Beckham got hit in the left eye by a throw Friday and hasn't played since. He didn't suffer any fractures though, so chances are he'll be able to return for the start of Fantasy Week 9 (May 30-June 5). He's off to a terrible start this season but was just beginning to pick it up at the time of his injury, batting .389 (7 for 18) with one stolen base in eight games. Now wouldn't be the worst time to roll the dice on him ... Orlando Hudson was off the DL no less than a week when he strained his left groin and had to go right back on. He has been a surprising contributor of stolen bases this season, but he's not worth stashing outside of deeper NL-only leagues. Alberto Gonzalez and Logan Forsythe will likely split time in his absence, for all you desperate NL-only owners out there.

Most Added Hitters
* as of May 26
Player % increase
1. Justin Turner, 2B, Mets 27
2. Ryan Ludwick, OF, Padres 24
3. Jonathan Lucroy, C, Brewers 23
4. J.P. Arencibia, C, Blue Jays 16
5. Michael Brantley, OF, Indians 14
6. Seth Smith, OF, Rockies 13
7. Brett Lawrie, 2B, Blue Jays 11
8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Red Sox 11
9. Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals 10
10. Darwin Barney, SS, Cubs 9

Third base

Among their flurry of moves over the weekend, the Rockies pulled the plug on Jose Lopez, designating him for assignment Thursday. With him out of the picture, Ty Wigginton has free reign to play third base on an everyday basis. He has been a 20-homer man in the past, including last year, so he's likely to make an impact even in mixed leagues now, especially since he's eligible at so many positions.

Must-Start Options: Jose Bautista, Evan Longoria, Kevin Youkilis, Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre, Martin Prado, Michael Young

Heating up
Alex Rodriguez: .396 (19 for 48), 3 HRs, 1 SB, 1.024 OPS in 11 games
Wilson Betemit: .345 (10 for 29), 1 HR in seven games
Daniel Descalso: .385 (10 for 26), 1 SB, .923 OPS in six games

Cooling off
Chipper Jones: .194 (12 for 62), 1 HR, .656 OPS, 17 Ks in 16 games
Chone Figgins: .123 (7 for 57), one extra-base hit, 0 SBs in 13 games
Casey McGehee: .170 (8 for 47), 1 HR, .465 OPS, 3 Ks in 12 games
Chris Johnson: .143 (3 for 21), .317 OPS in six games

Worth a second look
Mark Reynolds (60 percent started): King of the all-or-nothing players, Reynolds still has yet to have that breakthrough week that makes his Fantasy owners glad they drafted him, but he's slowly coming around, batting .240 (12 for 50) with an .856 OPS over his last 14 games. He also has three homers during that stretch, and with three lefties on the schedule this week, he could add a few more. The splits don't tell the story this year, but last year, he had a .913 OPS against lefties compared to .694 against righties.
Wilson Betemit (27 percent): The continued intrusion of Mike Aviles has made Betemit hard to rate in Fantasy, but the 29-year-old has started 12 of the last 13 games at third base. He has put up respectable power numbers over the last couple years and should be able to take advantage of his matchups against Tyler Chatwood, Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn and Brian Duensing this week. If you need a sleeper at third base, look no further.

Approach with caution
Scott Rolen (40 percent started): Rolen has had his sleeper moments this season, like when he first came off the DL in mid-May, but he's batting .211 (8 for 38) over his last nine games and might continue to struggle against the best the Brewers and Dodgers have to offer. You should probably look elsewhere.
Chone Figgins (37 percent): Figgins' days of Fantasy usefulness are about over. He had a stretch of multi-hit games earlier in the month but wasn't especially productive even then. Now, he's back to hardly getting on base again. With his steals joining his batting average in an across-the-board decline, you don't have much incentive to start him.

Injury concerns
None.

Shortstop

Yankees manager Joe Girardi recently said he wants to begin playing up-and-coming infielder Eduardo Nunez against lefties, allowing Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and perhaps even Robinson Cano to move to DH every now and then. Nunez is a good contact hitter with decent base-stealing ability and potentially the organization's shortstop of the future. The small increase in at-bats doesn't help him much in most Fantasy leagues, but it's enough to give him value in deeper Rotisserie leagues, where he'll contribute a handful of steals at a weak position. The Giants promoted Brandon Crawford with Mike Fontenot sidelined by a strained groin and put him in the starting lineup Friday. Crawford responded with a grand slam but was out of the lineup the very next day, replaced by Emmanuel Burriss. Crawford has some power optential but had never played a game above Double-A before his arrival. Until the Giants buy into him as an everyday player, you can leave him for deeper NL-only leagues.

Must-Start Options: Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jimmy Rollins, Starlin Castro, Alexei Ramirez, Elvis Andrus

Heating up
Jhonny Peralta: .393 (22 for 56), 7 HRs, 16 RBI, 1.316 OPS in 17 games
Brendan Ryan: .536 (15 for 28), 1.254 OPS during eight-game hit streak
Jose Reyes: .406 (13 for 32), 3 SBs, .955 OPS, 0 Ks in seven games
Cliff Pennington: .429 (12 for 28), one extra-base hit, 1 SB during seven-game hit streak

Cooling off
Jed Lowrie: .214 (6 for 28), no extra-base hits, .529 OPS in eight games
Rafael Furcal: .115 (3 for 26), 1 SB, 0 BBs, 5 Ks in six games
Hanley Ramirez: .067 (1 for 15), 2 SBs, 6 BBs, 4 Ks in five games

Worth a second look
Ian Desmond (49 percent started): It may be a little bit of a stretch, but if you're looking for an excuse to start Desmond with his recent string of multi-hit games -- he had four in five games before going hitless in his next three -- the Nationals are facing three left-handers this week. He has been slightly better against lefties than righties so far, with an OPS 126 points higher against them this year and 95 points higher for his career. His streakiness can be frustrating, but at a weak position like shortstop, he may be your best choice.
Trevor Plouffe (3 percent): If you want to dig really deep, Plouffe may be able to make a surprisingly worthwhile Fantasy contribution this week with the Twins' favorable matchups against pitchers like Brad Penny, Sean O'Sullivan, Danny Duffy, Luke Hochevar and Jeff Francis. Plouffe has shown some power in both the majors and minors (with nine homers in 133 at-bats between the two this year), making him a sleeper even with Alexi Casilla dipping into his at-bats lately.

Approach with caution
Jed Lowrie (67 percent started): Not only is Lowrie struggling, but the splits are working against him as the Red Sox face five right-handed pitchers in a six-game week. Lowrie has done most of his damage against left-handers over his career, batting .350 with a .991 OPS against them, and the trend is even more dramatic this year, with his batting average 204 points higher against lefties than righties and his OPS 537 points higher. He still has plenty of potential, but he's looking like a player to platoon in Fantasy until he shows more consistency.
Rafael Furcal (25 percent): OK, maybe rushing Furcal back into your lineup fresh off his return from a broken thumb wasn't such a smart idea. It's just so hard to find a shortstop capable of high-end production. You wouldn't be crazy to stick with him now, not wanting to miss out on a sudden turnaround, but you'd rather let him shake off the rust from your bench if you can find a halfway productive alternative off the waiver wire.

Injury concerns
Elliot Johnson, who was just beginning to earn more starts at shortstop in place of the struggling Reid Brignac, ended up spraining his knee and going on the disabled list Wednesday. Brignac was on bereavement leave at the time and has apparently gotten skipped over for Sean Rodriguez, who had played mostly second base this season. Rodriguez has some measure of power and speed, but he's only worth a flier in deeper leagues. He hasn't been especially productive over his big-league career ... Hanley Ramirez, who was already a little banged up after fouling a ball off his foot earlier in the week, left early Sunday with a sore back, but unless the Marlins give some indication of the severity of the injury before the lineup deadline Monday, you should probably just stick with him in Fantasy. Shortstop is an awfully hard position to fill on short notice.

Outfield

The return of top prospect Brandon Belt to the majors is the silver lining on the Buster Posey injury. Belt, who struggled when he made the team out of spring training, was tearing it up at Triple-A Fresno, hitting .337 with a .994 OPS. The natural first baseman was in the minors partially to gain more experience in the outfield, but the Giants apparently don't trust him there yet, sticking him on the bench rather than replacing Pat Burrell in left field or Nate Schierholtz in right. Eventually, the Giants will realize they have to get Belt's bat in the lineup -- he's one of their few high-upside players with Posey out -- so if you have the roster space for him, he's worth stashing in Fantasy. Andy Dirks, who recently came up from the minors himself, is apparently going to start against right-handers for the Tigers. Dirks was hitting for average and power in the minors, but he doesn't have much of a pedigree. You can leave him for AL-only leagues. Nolan Reimold is back in the big leagues and may have earned everyday at-bats with his two-homer game Thursday. Of course, the Orioles have faced mostly left-handers recently, so whether or not they prefer Felix Pie against righties remains to be seen. At age 27, Reimold is running out of opportunities to make a name for himself in the big leagues, but if nothing else, he's at least worth a flier in AL-only leagues.

Must-Start Options: Jose Bautista, Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Josh Hamilton, Carl Crawford, Shin-Soo Choo, Andrew McCutchen, Lance Berkman, Justin Upton, Ichiro Suzuki, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ben Zobrist, Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Carlos Quentin, Drew Stubbs, Jayson Werth, Nelson Cruz

Heating up
Matt Joyce: .422 (57 for 135), 8 HRs, 3 SBs, 1.189 OPS in 41 games
Curtis Granderson: .289 (26 for 90), 8 HRs, 5 SBs, 1.040 OPS in 22 games
Raul Ibanez: .311 (14 for 45), 2 HRs, .956 OPS in 11 games
Jay Bruce: .400 (18 for 45), 6 HRs, 15 RBI, 1.293 OPS in 10 games
Hunter Pence: .395 (15 for 38), 1 HR, 1 SB, 1.004 OPS during nine-game hit streak
Torii Hunter: .353 (12 for 34), 2 HRs, 8 RBI, 1.068 OPS in nine games
Alex Gordon: .310 (9 for 29), 3 HRs, 1.113 OPS in six games
Carl Crawford: .579 (11 for 19), 3 HRs, 1 SB, 1.987 OPS in five games
Jacoby Ellsbury: .400 (6 for 15), 2 HRs, 3 SBs, 1.417 OPS, 5 BBs, 2 Ks in four games

Cooling off
Nick Swisher: .171 (18 for 105), 2 HRs, .567 OPS, 16 BBs, 34 Ks in 30 games
Ichiro Suzuki: .179 (10 for 56), two extra-base hits, 1 SB, 6 BBs, 5 Ks in 14 games
David Murphy: .135 (7 for 52), 1 HR, .468 OPS, 12 Ks in 14 games
Colby Rasmus: .152 (5 for 33), 1 SB, 9 BBs, 10 Ks in 11 games
Cameron Maybin: .147 (5 for 34), no extra-base hits, 1 SB, 1 BB, 14 Ks in 11 games
Andres Torres: .162 (6 for 37), three extra-base hits, 3 SBs, 1 RBI, 5 BBs, 13 Ks in 10 games
Justin Upton: .129 (4 for 31), 4 SBs, .411 OPS in nine games
Martin Prado: .194 (6 for 31), .500 OPS in eight games
Ryan Ludwick: .111 (2 for 18) in five games

Worth a second look
Jason Kubel (65 percent started): Kubel has lost some of his luster in Fantasy since his late April hot streak, but based on his matchups this week, he's about to blow up again. The Twins miss Justin Verlander in a three-game series against the Tigers to open the week and face the weak Royals rotation four times to close the week. Best of all, only two of the pitchers they face are left-handers. Kubel is batting .331 with an .896 OPS against righties compared to .246 with a .634 OPS against lefties. Get him active if he isn't already.
Jose Tabata (50 percent): After slumping due to what manager Clint Hurdle described as a "big" swing, Tabata has been concentrating on hitting the ball back up the middle and appears to have rediscovered the stroke that allowed him to hit .299 last year, batting .385 (10 for 26) over his last seven games. His quest to hit more homers may officially be over, but his natural development might cause him to do that anyway. He's a high-upside player worth activating in mixed leagues again.
Juan Pierre (48 percent): Pierre is batting .356 (16 for 45) over his last 10 games, but because he has only two stolen bases during that stretch, it hasn't led to many Fantasy points. Still, if recent history is any indication, he should continue to rattle off hits, giving him more opportunities to correct his numbers on the base paths. Pierre got off to a slow start in both 2009 and 2010 before turning it on in May, batting .425 during a 20-game stretch in 2009 and .349 during a 20-game stretch in 2010. He's a sleeper even in Head-to-Head leagues this week.
Mitch Moreland (39 percent): After slumping earlier in May, Moreland appears to have gotten back on track, batting .571 (8 for 14) with a homer over his last four games. And though a string of left-handers, considering Moreland's .178 batting average against them, would likely bring an end to that streak, the Rangers have only one on the schedule this week. Moreland's .349 batting average and 1.039 OPS against righties should give you a pretty good idea about his potential for this week.
David DeJesus (13 percent): DeJesus normally doesn't offer much in Fantasy, but when he gets hot, even mixed-league owners have reason to take notice, as he showed by hitting .356 during a 57-game stretch last season. He appears to be hot now, batting .417 (10 for 24) with two homers and two doubles over his last seven games, so if you're desperate for outfield help, now wouldn't be the worst time to roll the dice on him. The A's do sit him against left-handers from time to time, but fortunately, they face only one of those this week.

Approach with caution
Matt Joyce (92 percent started): Here we go. This is the big test we've been waiting for since Joyce began to knock the cover off the ball in mid-April. He's batting only .182 with a .598 OPS against lefties, and the Rays face four this week. They have had a tendency to sit him against lefties, so for that reason alone, you wouldn't be crazy to bench him in Fantasy. That said, if he plays this week and continues to hit well, he'll be a must-start option going forward.
Alfonso Soriano (75 percent): Not only does Soriano have just one homer in his last 20 games, experiencing his usual midseason power drought, but he and the Cubs don't face a single left-hander this week. He does most of his damage against lefties, batting .391 with a 1.146 OPS against them compared to .236 with a .730 OPS against righties. It's a split that has become more and more pronounced over his career and yet another incentive to bench him in mixed leagues.
Michael Brantley (63 percent): Brantley's early-May hot streak earned him plenty of looks, but he's batting .211 (8 for 38) over his last 10 games and is unlikely to turn it around with four left-handers on the schedule this week. The left-handed hitter is batting .264 with a .612 OPS against lefties compared to .290 with an .797 OPS against righties. Unless you need steals in a Rotisserie league, you can do better.
Nick Swisher (30 percent): Most Fantasy owners have cooled on Swisher by now, but to the ones who haven't, it's going to get worse before it gets better. The Yankees have arguably the worst matchups in baseball this week, facing what looks like an early Cy Young ballot in Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Jered Weaver and Dan Haren. A streaky player like Swisher is hardly a lost cause, but you want him on your bench right now.
Andres Torres (27 percent): Torres was one of the biggest surprises in Fantasy last season, breaking out as a 32-year-old journeyman. But that's even more reason to approach him with skepticism now. His current slump might just be a matter of him shaking off the rust after missing a month with an Achilles' injury, or it might be an indication he performed over his head last year. You shouldn't necessarily give up on him, particularly in Rotisserie leagues, but you don't have much incentive to start him right now either.

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Injury concerns
Matt Holliday hasn't started in a week because of a strained quadriceps, though he has appeared a couple of times as a pinch hitter. Considering it's the second stint he has missed with the same injury, the Cardinals will probably be extra careful with him. By using him as a pinch hitter, the Cardinals have indicated they don't plan to put him on the DL, but you'd be taking a major leap of faith by starting him now. Jon Jay has been starting and hitting well enough for NL-only use in Holliday's absence ... Seth Smith was out of the lineup for a third straight game Sunday because of a strained groin. He is reportedly available to pinch hit and likely won't need a DL stint, but muscle strains have a tendency to linger. Because Smith is more or less a platoon player, you probably shouldn't take a chance on him in mixed leagues ... Corey Hart sat out both Saturday and Sunday with flu-like symptoms. Typically, those go away after a couple days, though, so Hart has a good chance of playing all of Fantasy Week 9 (May 30-June 5). As well as he has been hitting the ball lately, you'll want to keep him active in Fantasy ... Grady Sizemore, who missed about two weeks with a sprained knee, returned to the lineup at DH on Friday. He'll probably stay at DH for a while, but as long as he's in the lineup, he has the potential to contribute for your Fantasy team. Because he didn't go on a rehab assignment, though, you might want to wait until he heats up to activate him in Fantasy ... After more than one setback, Angel Pagan finally returned from a strained oblique this weekend, forcing Jason Pridie to the bench. He's off to a quick start too, going 3 for 8 with two steals in two games. He's still a candidate to slump after such a long layoff, but if you need steals, no sense in waiting to get him active ... Shane Victorino (hamstring) began a rehab assignment Saturday and could potentially return midway through Fantasy Week 9 (May 30-June 5). You know the drill here, though. You wouldn't want to activate him if he's only going to play half the week. Chances are John Mayberry will be the one that goes back to the bench when Victorino returns now that rookie Domonic Brown has begun to hit a little ... Cameron Maybin was out of the lineup for a second straight game Sunday with continued soreness in his right knee, which might be an explanation for his recent struggles. The Padres aren't suggesting he'll go on the DL yet, but it's certainly possible. Rookie Blake Tekotte had a nice first start in Maybin's absence Saturday, but he's strictly an NL-only option ... The Angels finally gave in and put Howard Kendrick on the DL with a hamstring injury Thursday. Alexi Amarista and Reggie Willits will continue to split at-bats in his absence, but neither is productive enough for mixed-league use ... Nate McLouth has an oblique injury and is likely to miss a few weeks. The Braves called up former prospect Jordan Schafer to play in his stead, but Schafer's minor-league numbers have been so unimpressive over the last couple years that you shouldn't bother with him outside of NL-only leagues ... Reed Johnson had to go on the DL with a sore back Sunday, allowing Tony Campana to make a fourth straight start in his absence. Campana has enough speed to make a Sam Fuld-like impact, but like Fuld, he doesn't have especially high upside. You can leave him for deeper Rotisserie leagues.

Best 5 Hitting Schedules for Week 9
Team 5/30 5/31 6/1 6/2 6/3 6/4 6/5
Twins @DET @DET @DET @KC @KC @KC @KC
vs. Penny vs. Scherzer vs. Porcello vs. O'Sullivan vs. Duffy vs. Hochevar vs. Francis
Four games against the Royals always a good thing. Outside of Scherzer start, Twins should do serious damage.
Diamondbacks FLA FLA FLA WAS WAS WAS WAS
vs. Volstad vs. Sanchez vs. Vazquez vs. Zimmermann vs. Maya vs. Hernandez vs. Marquis
D-Backs get weak end of Marlins rotation, and Nats obviously don't offer much. Full week at home always good.
Astros @CHC @CHC @CHC @SD @SD @SD @SD
vs. Lopez vs. Zambrano vs. Davis vs. Stauffer vs. Moseley vs. Harang vs. Latos
Trip to San Diego could present some challenges, but no high-end pitchers on schedule, unless Latos counts.
Royals LAA LAA LAA MIN MIN MIN MIN
vs. Santana vs. Pineiro vs. Chatwood vs. Liriano vs. Pavano vs. Blackburn vs. Duensing
If Santana, Liriano, Pavano go bad, it'll be a great week. If not, other arms should at least make it good.
Mariners BAL BAL BAL TB TB TB TB
vs. Arrieta vs. Guthrie vs. Matusz vs. Shields vs. Hellickson vs. Davis vs. Cobb
Shields and Hellickson could be tough, but enough weak spots to make up for it, especially in seven-game week.
Worst 5 Hitting Schedules for Week 9
Team 5/30 5/31 6/1 6/2 6/3 6/4 6/5
Yankees @OAK @OAK @OAK -- @LAA @LAA @LAA
vs. Cahill vs. Anderson vs. Gonzalez -- vs. Weaver vs. Haren vs. Santana
Amazing how often teams draw A's, Angels in same week. Amazing how often they face same fearsome five.
Reds MIL MIL MIL -- LAD LAD LAD
vs. Narveson vs. Greinke vs. Marcum -- vs. Kuroda vs. Kershaw vs. Billingsley
With Greinke coming around, two of these pitchers are clear aces, and all six are relevant Fantasy options.
Athletics NYY NYY NYY -- @BOS @BOS @BOS
vs. Colon vs. Garcia vs. Burnett -- vs. Buchholz vs. Beckett vs. Lester
Athletics miss Sabathia, but Boston trio more than makes up for it. Besides, Colon and Burnett are not so bad.
Rockies @LAD @LAD @LAD -- @SF @SF @SF
vs. Billingsley vs. Lilly vs. Garland -- vs. Cain vs. Bumgarner vs. Vogelsong
Not only do Rockies have to leave Coors Field, but they have to face two of deepest rotations in baseball.
Marlins @ARI @ARI @ARI -- MIL MIL MIL
vs. Saunders vs. Kennedy vs. Hudson -- vs. Wolf vs. Gallardo vs. Narveson
Kennedy, Hudson and Gallardo have pitched like aces recently. Wolf and Narveson solid enough to fill in gaps.

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
Report: Adam Wainwright 'should have normal offseason'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:34 pm ET) Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright had his elbow examined following the team's elimination, and it checked out "optimistically," general manager John Mozeliak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wainwright "should have a normal offseason," Mozeliak added.

Michael Morse to DH in World Series
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:14 pm ET) Giants outfielder Michael Morse will serve as the team's designated hitter in the World Series games in Kansas City, manager Bruce Bochy told the San Jose Mercury News. Morse batted .279 with 16 homers and 61 RBI in 131 games.

He missed the NLDS with an oblique injury, but hit a tying homer in Game 5 of the NLCS.


Giants announce World Series rotation
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/18/2014) Giants manager Bruce Bochy will maintain his current rotation for the World Series, which means Madison Bumgarner and Jake Peavy will start Games 1 and 2 in Kansas City, the San Francisco Chronicle reports Saturday. Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong will pitch Games 3 and 4 at home.

Bochy is also expected to keep veteran Tim Lincecum on the roster. Lincecum has yet to make an appearance this postseason for San Francisco.


Royals tab Shields, Ventura for World Series Games 1, 2
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/18/2014) The Royals will start pitchers James Shields in Game 1 and Yordano Ventura in Game 2 of the World Series, Yahoo! Sports reports. The Royals are making their first World Series appearance in 29 years.

Cord Phelps elects free agency
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/18/2014) Orioles infielder Cord Phelps has elected free agency. Phelps hit .259/.361/.388 with seven home runs, 51 RBI and two stolen bases in 343 at-bats with Triple-A Norfolk.

Kelvin De La Cruz elects free agency
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/18/2014) Orioles pitcher Kelvin De La Cruz has elected free agency. He delivered a 5.98 ERA and 49:31 K:BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings with Triple-A Norfolk.

Julio DePaula elects free agency
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/18/2014) Orioles pitcher Julio DePaula has elected free agency. DePaula, whose only work as a major-league game in 2007 with the Twins, posted a 4.97 ERA and 43:13 K:BB ratio in 38 innings with Double-A Bowie.

Reds pitcher Trevor Bell elects free agency
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10/17/2014) Reds pitcher Trevor Bell has elected to become a free-agent.

Bell pitched just two-thirds of an inning in the majors last season due to elbow inflammation. He'll seek a deal with another club during the offseason.


Cardinals may not be able to keep Pat Neshek
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10/17/2014) Cardinals reliever Pat Neshek may have to test the open market this winter, according to MLB.com.

After his performance last season, there's a sense that Neshek has priced himself out of St. Louis' bullpen. Neshek was exceptional with the club, posting a 1.87 ERA over 67 1/3 innings. The performance earned him a trip to the All-Star Game. The team will likely attempt to re-sign Neshek, but there's a sense he can get a more lucrative deal elsewhere. 


Report: Former Orioles infielder Brian Roberts to retire
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10/17/2014) Former Orioles infielder Brian Roberts is set to retire, according to MASN.

Roberts played 14 seasons in the majors, all but one of which came with Baltimore. He finished out his career with the Yankees last season. Roberts was elected to two All-Star teams during his tenure in Baltimore. He finished 18th in the MVP voting in 2005 after hitting .314/.387/.515. Injuries kept him down the last few seasons of his career. Roberts suffered two concussions, which contributed to him missing time in both 2010, 2011 and 2012. 

He retires with a career .276/.347/.409 batting line over 5,531 at-bats. 


 
 
 
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