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, June 18.
After missing two months with bilateral leg weakness, Joe Mauer was activated from the 60-day disabled list Thursday and has immediately resumed starting duties. The Twins may give him a little more rest than usual in the beginning, but they were careful to make sure he could handle the everyday grind before activating him. You have to expect some rust at first, but even so, Mauer at 80 percent is better than any replacement catcher at 100 percent. Get the former AL MVP active in all leagues. The Tigers play three more games in an NL park this week, which means the dilemma between Victor Martinez and Alex Avila is once again in effect. The Tigers have at least considered the possibility of moving Avila to third base for some of those games, though, so they might be able to keep both players' bats in the lineup. Even if Martinez and Avila have to take turns during the three-game series, neither figures to lose more at-bats than the average catcher would in a given week anyway, so you can keep both active in Fantasy. The Yankees also open the week with three games in the NL, which means Jorge Posada will once again have an extended break. Because he figures to start no more than three games, you should probably bench him.
Jorge Posada: .444 (16 for 36), 3 2Bs, .989 OPS in 11 games
Yorvit Torrealba: .417 (15 for 36), 3 2Bs, .975 OPS in 10 games
Victor Martinez: .471 (16 for 34), 9 RBI, 1.147 OPS in nine games
Miguel Montero: .387 (12 for 31), 2 HRs, 10 RBI, 1.180 OPS in eight games
Jonathan Lucroy: .111 (3 for 27), 4 RBI, 7 Ks in 11 games
Miguel Olivo: .140 (6 for 43), 4 HRs, 0 BBs, 15 Ks in 11 games
Nick Hundley: .069 (2 for 29), 2 BBs, 15 Ks in nine games
Yadier Molina: .179 (5 for 28), .179 OBP, 6 Ks in eight games
Worth a second look
Geovany Soto (46 percent started): Soto hasn't done much since returning from a strained groin, which is probably why he's inactive in so many Fantasy leagues. But with favorable matchups this week against hittable pitchers like Mark Buehrle, Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar, he has a good chance of making good on his potential. Now might be the time to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Yorvit Torrealba (12 percent): As disappointing as the Mike Napoli injury was to Fantasy owners, the silver lining was the collateral effect it had on Torrealba, who is now more or less the everyday catcher in Texas. He doesn't have much upside, but as hot as he is now, he's a useful sleeper at a weak position. The Rangers' six games at home this week should help keep him that way, especially against the Astros and Mets pitching staffs.
Approach with caution
Yadier Molina (76 percent started): Molina's high-contact bat has kept him relatively high in the Head-to-Head rankings and relatively active in Fantasy leagues. But he hasn't been making much contact lately, and against Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt at the beginning of the week, that doesn't figure to change. You might want to see what's available on the waiver wire.
John Buck (38 percent): Just when Buck finally seems to be getting his season back on track, posting a .816 OPS with three homers and eight RBI in June, he runs into all the good pitching the AL West has to offer. Thank you, interleague play, for making Buck all but useless in a week he faces both Jered Weaver and Felix Hernandez, along with Ervin Santana, Joel Pineiro, Jason Vargas and Doug Fister.
Rod Barajas went on the 15-day DL on Sunday because of an ankle injury, freeing up at-bats for Dioner Navarro behind the plate for the Dodgers. But with Navarro's .067 (2 for 30) average in June, A.J. Ellis might steal some starts while Barajas sits idle. Even owners in NL-only leagues can do better on waivers than Navarro and Ellis.
No changes to report at first base, but interleague play does at least create the possibility for a one-week sleeper in Colorado. The Rockies play all six of their games in AL parks this week, which means some lucky winner could end up getting consistent at-bats at DH. The guess here is Jason Giambi, but since it's little more than a guess, you wouldn't want to roll the dice on him outside of NL-only leagues.
Michael Morse: .359 (37 for 103), 9 2Bs, 11 HRs, 31 RBI, 1.193 OPS, 8 BBs in 26 games
Adrian Gonzalez: .421 (24 for 57), 5 HRs, 16 RBI, 1.350 OPS in 15 games
Adam Lind: .437 (31 for 71), 11 HRs, 23 RBI, 1.423 OPS in 20 games
Michael Cuddyer: .500 (13 for 26), 3 HRs, 10 RBI, 3 SBs, 1.563 OPS in eight games
Eric Hosmer: .172 (5 for 29), no extra-base hits, .445 OPS in seven games
Mark Trumbo: .192 (5 for 26), 1 BBs, 7 Ks in nine games
Anthony Rizzo: .050 (1 for 20), 8 Ks in six games
Mitch Moreland: .229 (8 for 35), no extra-base hits, 1 RBI, 9 Ks in nine games
Worth a second look
Adam Dunn (62 percent started): Don't look now, but the sleeping giant is beginning to stir. Dunn hasn't exactly put his season-long slump behind him, but he's showing what could be the first signs of doing so, batting .278 (5 for 18) with two homers and six RBI in his last seven games. The danger in sitting a streaky slugger like him is you could end up missing one of the monster four- or five-homer weeks that made him an early-round pick in the first place. Maybe now the safe approach is to go ahead and get him active.
Justin Smoak (58 percent): Smoak isn't exactly hot right now, but he has maintained a nice homer pace throughout the month of June. The arrival of top prospect Dustin Ackley should at least put a few more runners on base for the first baseman and at most revitalize the entire Mariners lineup, so it's good news for Smoak either way. And it comes right at a time he has matchups to exploit, opening the week against a mediocre Nationals rotation and closing it against an injury-ravaged Marlins rotation.
|1.||Dustin Ackley, 2B, Mariners||29|
|2.||Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies||21|
|3.||J.J. Hardy, SS, Orioles||20|
|4.||Miguel Olivo, C, Mariners||15|
|5.||Alcides Escobar, SS, Royals||15|
|6.||Danny Espinosa, 2B, Nationals||11|
|7.||Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies||11|
|8.||Dayan Viciedo, 3B, White Sox||9|
|9.||Michael Cuddyer, 1B, Twins||8|
|10.||Brennan Boesch, OF, Tigers||9|
Approach with caution
Aubrey Huff (51 percent started): Huff is showing faint signs of getting his season back on track, batting .379 (11 for 29) over his last eight games, but a week with six home games probably isn't the time to buy into him. He's a career .254 hitter at AT&T Park (compared to .283 everywhere else) and has hit only .222 with a .580 OPS there this year.
Anthony Rizzo (24 percent): After making a quick splash with a home run in his third game, Rizzo has only one hit in his last four. The 21-year-old rookie has struck out at least once in eight of his first nine games and is perhaps showing why the Padres were so hesitant to call him up. It's too early to write him off, of course, but the odds are against him righting the ship this week against the Red Sox and Braves rotations. You should probably leave the rookie on your bench.
Fantasy owners everywhere cringed Sunday when Albert Pujols left the game against the Royals with a wrist injury. Pujols immediately went to the ground after a collision at first base and appeared in serious pain while being checked out by trainers. He was helped off the field and diagnosed with a sprained left wrist. Lance Berkman will likely get the majority of playing time at first base if Pujols is sidelined, but it's clear that Fantasy owners need to consider alternative options for Week 12 unless we hear positive news before weekly lineups lock on Monday ... After attempting to play through a sore left wrist off and on for more than a week, Justin Morneau finally had to go on the 15-day DL. Though he has no structural damage in the wrist, the Twins will immobilize it for 10 games in an effort to relieve the pain once and for all. Morneau's stay on the DL is expected to be a short one. This latest injury might tempt you to dismiss his season as a lost cause, but he still has too much potential for you to cut him in Fantasy. In his absence, Luke Hughes will probably get most of the starts at first base (when the versatile Michael Cuddyer isn't starting there) and has enough pop for AL-only use ... Matt LaPorta ended up on the 15-day DL this weekend because of a sprained right ankle. The Indians will probably use this time to get Carlos Santana out from behind the plate, and save some wear and tear on his legs by playing him at first. Recalling Nick Johnson from the minors could also been an option.
Dustin Ackley is the latest of the high-profile hitting prospects to make his major-league debut, getting the call late Wednesday. He was the second overall pick to Stephen Strasburg in 2009 and was the MVP of the Arizona Fall League this offseason, which should tell you everything you need to know about his upside. He's worth owning in all Fantasy leagues. His arrival leaves the Adam Kennedy-Jack Wilson platoon without a place to play, but no big loss there. Season-long overachiever Darwin Barney finally hit a snag Tuesday, but it had nothing to do with his performance. Instead, he hurt his right knee Monday and had to go on the DL. Blake DeWitt, who had been filling in for Alfonso Soriano in left field, and rookie DJ LeMahieu, who was hitting .358 at Double-A Tennessee, will likely split time in his absence, but since neither is guaranteed full-time at-bats, you can leave both for NL-only leagues.
Dustin Pedroia: .362 (17 for 47), 1 HR, 12 RBI, 1.066 OPS, 12 BBs in 12 games
Rickie Weeks: .400 (16 for 40), 3 HRs, 1.165 OPS in nine games
Robinson Cano: .414 (12 for 29), 2 HRs, 1 SB, 1.175 OPS in seven games
Chase Utley: .346 (9 for 26), 2 HRs, 1 3B, 4 2Bs, 9 RBI, 1.259 OPS in seven games
Ryan Raburn: .182 (4 for 22), 1 HR, .217 OBP, 1 BB, 9 Ks in eight games
Kelly Johnson: .121 (4 for 33), .398 OPS, 17 Ks in eight games
Maicer Izturis: .240 (6 for 25), .259 OBP in seven games
Worth a second look
Jemile Weeks (16 percent started): Weeks' minor-league numbers didn't exactly demand a promotion the way Anthony Rizzo's did, but you can't complain about his major-league performance so far. Everything he was doing well in the minors he's doing now in the majors, hitting for average with extra-base pop and speed, and with only three strikeouts in 40 at-bats, he doesn't seem the least bit overmatched. If you've been desperate for a middle infielder, he might be the answer to your prayers. He's worth activating as long as he's hitting well.
Dustin Ackley (25 percent): Ackley's numbers at Triple-A Tacoma, while impressive, weren't other-worldly, which might cause some Fantasy owners to overlook him. But his impressive batting eye (.421 on-base percentage and more walks than strikeouts) should make him an immediate success. He has always been an excellent contact hitter and has added power to his game this year with nine homers in 271 at-bats. He could make a Eric Hosmer-like impact, only at a weaker position. With the Mariners facing pitchers like Livan Hernandez, John Lannan, Jason Marquis and Chris Volstad this week, you should have no reservations about starting Ackley right away.
Approach with caution
Kelly Johnson (75 percent started): What goes up must come down. It's the story of Johnson's career, and it's happening again in an especially dramatic way. After a couple weeks of performing like the top second baseman in Fantasy, he's back to looking like he doesn't belong in the majors. His track record suggests this slump could last a while, and the six games away from Chase Field this week don't help his cause. You should bench him if you're able.
Alexi Casilla (22 percent): Casilla might seem like a decent enough sleeper considering he's batting .355 (11 for 31) with two steals over his last eight games, but like many switch-hitters, he isn't as comfortable batting from the right side of the plate, hitting only .232 against left-handed pitchers. The Twins face three lefties this week and also play all six of their games on the road, where Casilla is hitting only .200. Now isn't the time to take a chance on the relative unknown.
Orlando Hudson returned from a groin injury this weekend, coming off the 15-day DL, but you probably wouldn't want to activate him outside of NL-only leagues, though. Even in his prime, he wasn't a high-end Fantasy option, and like many hitters before him, he has struggled to perform at PETCO Park.
It was a good news/bad news week for Albert Pujols owners. Pujols played his fifth game at third base Wednesday, making him eligible there in standard Fantasy leagues. Third base has been one of the weakest positions in Fantasy this year, so if you've been getting by with some scrub there, move Pujols across the diamond and see what kind of options you have at first base. However, he suffered a sprained left wrist on Sunday, so you might have to hold off from starting Pujols at third base until he is 100 percent.
Kevin Youkilis: .318 (7 for 22), 2 2Bs, 2 HRs, 9 RBI, 1.082 OPS in six games
Scott Sizemore: .387 (12 for 31), 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1.021 OPS in 10 games
Alex Rodriguez: .323 (10 for 31), 2 HRs, 8 RBI, 1 SB, 1.060 OPS in nine games
Placido Polanco: .125 (3 for 24), 1 RBI, .321 OPS in seven games
Juan Uribe: .125 (4 for 32), one extra-base hit, 1 SB, .356 OPS in nine games
Jayson Nix: .080 (2 for 25), 1 SB, 1 BB, 6 Ks in eight games
Worth a second look
Pablo Sandoval (69 percent started): Fantasy owners have been a little hesitant to activate Sandoval since his return from a fractured wrist. Granted, he isn't quite as high-end as Ryan Zimmerman, who also returned from the disabled list Tuesday, but he was hitting well before the injury, putting his disappointing 2010 behind him. You have to like his chances of making a splash this week with six games at home against the Twins and Indians. He's a career .340 hitter with a .927 OPS at AT&T Park. No sense holding him out any longer.
Scott Rolen (26 percent): Rolen has had an up-and-down, injury-plagued season, which is no surprise for a 36-year-old, but he seems to be coming around over his last six games, batting .323 (10 for 31) with seven extra-base hits. He should be able to do some damage this week against pitchers like Ivan Nova, Brian Gordon, Freddy Garcia and Chris Jakubauskas, especially batting in the middle of the Reds lineup. If you're starving for a third baseman, give him a look.
Approach with caution
Chase Headley (50 percent started): Headley has gotten his bat going during a recent road trip, but the Padres return home for three games this week, where Headley is batting .235 with a .669 OPS. If that's not bad enough, he'll be facing pitchers like Josh Beckett, Jair Jurrjens and Tim Hudson. Headley has his uses, but this week is a perfect reminder why he's not an every-week option.
Ty Wigginton (36 percent): Wigginton has done an admirable job as the Rockies' third baseman, but with reports Ian Stewart could be back on his way to Colorado, Wigginton's days of everyday duty may be nearing an end. The Rockies play all six of their games away from Coors Field this week, so the potential reward for starting him probably isn't high enough to justify the risk.
Chipper Jones left Thursday's game with a strained adductor. The Braves say the injury is day to day, but considering Jones has also been putting off arthroscopic knee surgery, this injury might give him the excuse he needs to shut down for a few weeks and get the procedure done. He is expected to be limited to pinch-hitting duties to begin Week 12, so Jones is clearly a risky start ... Danny Valencia went down this weekend with a strained biceps injury, but he is hoping to be back in the lineup by Tuesday. He has homered in his last two games after slumping in most of June, so this injury comes at an unopportune time. Valencia is a low-end option anyway, so you might consider less risky options for Week 12 ... The Angels hope to get Alberto Callaspo in the lineup early this week, but hamstring injuries are tricky, so there is still a lot of risk to starting him in shallow formats ... Brandon Inge is due back late in Week 12, but he is not worth activating in any Fantasy format just yet. There is talk that he might lose some PT to Don Kelly, who has filled in admirably while Inge has been out with mono ... David Freese is set to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday, but he is not expected back until Week 13.
Derek Jeter was forced to go on the DL with a strained calf Tuesday, opening the door for Eduardo Nunez to get regular at-bats at shortstop. The rookie, who had been getting some starts against left-handers recently, has performed well in the role and is a good enough contact hitter and base-stealer to factor even in deeper mixed leagues with Jeter out. The Diamondbacks are in AL parks for all six of their games this week, which could present them with an opportunity to get Willie Bloomquist's bat back in the lineup. We've seen him do a good job of getting on base and stealing bases when given regular at-bats in the past, so if you're desperate for a sleeper at the shortstop position, he could surprise.
Jose Reyes: .402 (43 for 107), 7 2Bs, 6 3Bs, 2 HRs, 13 RBI, 10 SBs, 1.065 OPS in 24 games
J.J. Hardy: .361 (22 for 61), 5 HRs, 11 RBI, 1.075 OPS in 15 games
Troy Tulowitzki: .381 (16 for 42), 2 HRs, 13 RBI, 2 SBs, 1.065 OPS in 10 games
Alcides Escobar: .500 (20 for 40), 5 2Bs, 5 RBI, 6 SBs in 11 games
Cliff Pennington: .192 (5 for 26), 1 2B, 2 RBI, .250 OBP in seven games
Ronny Cedeno: .125 (4 for 32), 1 2B, .308 OPS in 10 games
Brandon Crawford: .111 (3 for 27), 1 BB, .143 OBP in eight games
Worth a second look
J.J. Hardy (62 percent started): The lack of attention a former All-Star like Hardy has gotten is perplexing considering the number of Fantasy owners who desperately need a shortstop. He's arguably the hottest player -- at least in terms of power -- at his position, and he's still in his prime at age 28. Even if you somehow can't find a way to start him right now, you should at least make sure he's owned.
Alcides Escobar (24 percent): Pretty simple here. Escobar is the hot hand, and you ride the hot hand, particularly at a position as weak as shortstop. Besides, it's not completely unfathomable for Escobar to perform at this level. He's a former top prospect who hit .293 over his minor-league career. If anything, you could say he was overdue. He might turn out to be more than just a one-week option, especially if you need steals.
Approach with caution
Erick Aybar (52 percent started): Aybar appeared on the verge of a breakout with his high batting average and aggressive baserunning early, but he has been a non-factor recently, batting .154 (8 for 52) with no steals over his last 14 games. It might just be a cold stretch, but he wasn't hot enough for long enough for you to continue to ride him.
Ryan Theriot (42 percent): Theriot doesn't do anything particularly well, but he's generally safe enough for Fantasy owners to stick with him. This week might be an exception. You can't expect any hitter to perform well against the top of the Phillies rotation, and with Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero on tap for the Blue Jays series to end the week, Theriot probably won't get his usual collection of singles. If he's not a slam dunk for that, what's the point?
Jed Lowrie, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury for the entire month of June, aggravated the injury Thursday and was placed on the DL on Friday. Marco Scutaro, who is batting .371 in nine games since returning from the DL, will take over as the everyday shortstop ... Ian Desmond took another day off Sunday to rest a sore left thigh that has bothered him for about a month. The Nationals plan is to give him two days' rest coupled with Monday's off-day in hopes it will help him prepare to play Tuesday against Seattle. Desmond is a low-risk start for Week 12.
Matt Holliday returned to the Cardinals lineup Thursday after serving a DL stint for a strained quadriceps. Holliday has already homered twice since returning to the lineup, so feel safe in starting him in all formats again ... Andres Torres has struggled since returning from a strained Achilles', particularly against left-handers, which has allowed Aaron Rowand to steal some starts from him lately. Of course, the Giants face only one lefty this week, but it's a situation to monitor regardless. Once again, the Rays are having success with a career minor-leaguer in left field. Justin Ruggiano is holding his own out there, delaying top prospect Desmond Jennings' return to the big leagues, but you have to think Ruggiano will spend most of his time on the bench this week with the Rays playing six games in NL parks. Mike Carp, who doesn't have quite the same pedigree as Dustin Ackley but had numbers just as impressive at Triple-A Tacoma, is also up in the big leagues and will get occasional starts in left field for the Mariners, splitting time with Carlos Peguero. He's an intriguing enough player for AL-only use even if he doesn't have a full-time role.
Must-Start Options: Jose Bautista, Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Carlos Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, Lance Berkman, Andrew McCutchen, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Curtis Granderson, Justin Upton, Jay Bruce, Carlos Quentin, Drew Stubbs, Andre Ethier, Nelson Cruz, Ben Zobrist
Justin Upton: .438 (32 for 73), 7 2Bs, 3 HRs, 4 SBs, 1.202 OPS in 19 games
Matt Kemp: .431 (22 for 51), 7 HRs, 17 RBI, 2 SBs, 1.499 OPS in 15 games
Andrew McCutchen: .397 (23 for 58), 1 HR, 3 SBs, 1.020 OPS, 9 BBs, 11 Ks in 17 games
Chris Young: .345 (19 for 55), 5 HRs, 2 SBs, 1.092 OPS, 8 BBs, 9 Ks in 15 games
Jacoby Ellsbury: .386 (22 for 57), 2 HRs, 4 SBs, .988 OPS in 13 games
Carlos Gonzalez: .417 (20 for 48), 2 HR, 2 SBs, 1.119 OPS, 6 Ks during 11-game hit streak
Justin Ruggiano: .405 (15 for 37), 2 HRs, 1 SB, 1.016 OPS, 0 BBs, 8 Ks in 11 games
Curtis Granderson: .410 (16 for 39), 4 HRs, 12 RBI, 1 SB, 1.248 OPS in 10 games
Nick Markakis: .400 (16 for 40), 1 HR, 2 2Bs, 7 RBI, .967 OPS during nine-game hit streak
B.J. Upton: .138 (12 for 87), 1 HR, 4 RBI, 9 SBs, .431 OPS, 27 Ks in 26 games
Torii Hunter: .185 (5 for 27), 1 2B, .464 OPS, 5 Ks in seven games
Michael Brantley: .148 (4 for 27), 2 3Bs, 1 SB, 4 Ks, .200 OBP in seven games
Matt Joyce: .114 (5 for 44), .336 OPS, 11 Ks in 11 games
Rajai Davis: .091 (4 for 44), two extra-base hit, 0 SBs, 13 Ks in 13 games
Laynce Nix: .233 (7 for 30), 1 HR, 4 RBI, 9 Ks in nine games
Jay Bruce: .138 (4 for 29), 1 SB, .403 OPS in nine games
Jose Bautista: .255 (12 for 47), 1 HR, 6 RBI, 10 Ks in 14 games
Nelson Cruz: .154 (6 for 39), 1 HR, 4 RBI, 16 Ks in 10 games
Worth a second look
Brennan Boesch (79 percent started): Boesch has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball this month, batting .388 (26 for 67) with five homers over his last 16 games, and the four left-handers on the Tigers' schedule this week are no reason to think he'll slow down. Even though he bats left-handed, Boesch has had most of his success against lefties this year, hitting .333 with an .842 OPS against them compared to .274 with a .804 OPS against righties. Fantasy owners in all but the shallowest of leagues should be able to find a starting spot for him.
Brett Gardner (61 percent): One side effect of the Derek Jeter injury is the return of Gardner to the leadoff spot -- at least against right-handed pitchers. Gardner's initial move to the leadoff spot was part of what made him such an attractive breakout candidate entering the season, and he might be better prepared to handle the role now with a .442 (19 for 43) batting average over his last 14 games and a .350 (49 for 140) batting average since April 26. The Yankees still insist on sitting him against left-handers, but with only one of those on schedule this week, Gardner has plenty of sleeper appeal.
Carlos Lee (80 percent): El Caballo still lacks the home run power we seek from the 34-year-old slugger, but at least he is making consistent contact again after an awful April, batting .327 (52 for 159) in 41 games since May 1. The Astros open Week 12 in one of Lee's old stomping grounds -- Rangers Ballpark at Arlington. Lee is a career .338 hitter with a .596 slugging percentage in 67 games at Texas' home park. Lee also gets to face two left-handed starters -- Derek Holland and C.J. Wilson. Lee is batting .333 with a .901 OPS off lefty starters in 2011.
Charlie Blackmon (22 percent): Blackmon hasn't been getting many extra-base hits, but so far everything else he was doing in the minors has translated to the majors. He's batting .481 (13 for 27) with five steals in his last seven games, so if you need help in those categories in a Rotisserie league, stop ignoring him and make a move already. The Rockies certainly believe in him, suggesting they'll stick with him even when Dexter Fowler (abdominal) is ready to come off the DL.
Seth Smith (33 percent): Staying in the Rockies' outfield, take a look at Smith, who is batting .327 in June, as a potential sleeper this week. The Rockies face five right-handers -- Smith owns a .338 average and .588 slugging percentage against righties this season -- and play six games in AL parks -- which include three at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium -- so Colorado will have the at-bats to give the left-handed slugger with the DH rule in play.
Approach with caution
Colby Rasmus (69 percent started): So far, this year looks pretty familiar for Rasmus. He got off to a great start, looking like he was finally making good on his elite potential, but has since faded into oblivion with only two homers in his last 51 games. He's batting .215 (39 for 181) during that stretch. You wouldn't want to give up on him in Fantasy, but you can't expect this week to be the week he bounces back -- not with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero on the schedule.
Matt Joyce (63 percent): Just a couple weeks ago, Joyce was a must-start Fantasy option. One slump later, he's starting in only two-thirds of all leagues. Not only is his recent performance an issue, but the Rays have gone back to sitting him against left-handed pitchers. With three lefties on the schedule this week, he might not get enough playing time to factor in mixed leagues, especially since the Rays will be down a DH spot for each of those games.
Angel Pagan (59 percent): Pagan has been swinging a hot bat lately, batting .343 (12 for 35) with a homer and three steals over his last 10 games, so you might feel tempted to get him active in Fantasy. But this week, with four left-handed pitchers on schedule, probably isn't the best time. The switch-hitter has struggled against lefties in recent years, putting up a .424 OPS against them this year after a .692 mark last year.
Torii Hunter (54 percent): With a .233 batting average on the season, Hunter is showing clear signs of regression at age 35. His recent slump is only the latest. He's clearly not a player you can trust on a week-to-week basis, and the threat of him losing at-bats as the Angels visit NL parks makes him especially risky this week. Without the DH, the Angels don't have room for all of Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos, Bobby Abreu and Hunter. They'll each probably take turns sitting.
Michael Brantley (65 percent): The return of Travis Hafner means the Indians outfield situation just got a little bit more crowded since Grady Sizemore will no longer be starting every day at DH, and now Brantley will not only be fighting for playing time in center field but also left field with Austin Kearns and recently recalled Travis Buck. On top of Brantley's recent cold streak, the Indians finish Week 12 on the road in an NL park -- losing the DH -- and face a pair of tough lefties in Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner, so the left-handed hitter could end up losing some starts.
Hunter Pence is headed for an MRI on Monday for his hyperextended elbow. If we don't hear positive news about his status before lineups lock, then owners must consider replacing the high-end Fantasy outfielder ... We finally have a reason for Mike Stanton's June slump -- he is dealing with a right-eye infection. Stanton missed a few games over the weekend and his status is day day. Since this problem has plagued him for weeks, you might consider alternative options for the upcoming week in shallower formats. It still might be worth the risk to owners in deeper formats to roll the dice with Stanton since he is a big-time power threat when active ... Carl Crawford added another chapter to his up-and-down first season with the Red Sox by landing on the DL this weekend with a strained left hamstring. Boston skipper Terry Francona is likely to mix-and-match outfielders in left while Crawford is idle, using the likes of Darnell McDonald, Mike Cameron and Josh Reddick ... Jose Tabata has picked a bad time to go down with a thumb injury. He is finally starting to hit for consistent contact again, batting .362 (17 for 47) in his last 11 games, after trying to be too much of a power hitter earlier this season. Also, the Pirates are home for six games in Week 12. Tabata is a .301 hitter at home, as opposed to .230 on the road. His day-to-day status means Fantasy owners might want to start a healthier option this week ... Luke Scott is dealing with back spasms, but his status is improving, leaving him as a low-risk start for the deepest of formats ... Josh Willingham is also improving with an Achilles' injury and could be ready to play again by Tuesday, but you probably should look to healthier alternatives in deeper formats given that Willingham is slumping on top of being injured ... Nate McLouth, who had been out since May 22 with a strained oblique, returned to the lineup Sunday. He hasn't done much to prove his miserable 2010 season was a fluke, though, batting just .238 before the injury, so you wouldn't want to activate the former 20-20 man outside of NL-only leagues. It looks like the Braves' plan is to start McLouth in left field and Jordan Schafer in center until Martin Prado comes off the DL ... Rick Ankiel landed on the DL this weekend because of a left intercostal strain, which opens the door for Roger Bernadina to be a deeper sleeper again ... Cameron Maybin is back from a knee injury, which might actually be bad news for Fantasy owners since it forces Chris Denorfia back into a platoon with Brad Hawpe. Then again, with Hawpe nursing a sore elbow, Denorfia retains some of his deeper sleeper appeal for now.
|vs. Nova||vs. Gordon||vs. Garcia||--||vs. Matusz||vs. Jakubauskas||vs. Arrieta|
|Best pitcher on schedule is Matusz, and he isn't even pitching well. Missing Sabathia a stroke of luck.|
|vs. LeBlanc||vs. Latos||vs. Richard||--||vs. Maholm||vs. Karstens||vs. Morton|
|Padres aren't such a challenge out of their home park. Pirates still bad, no matter what their ERAs say.|
|vs. Floyd||vs. Buehrle||vs. Peavy||--||vs. Chen||vs. Duffy||vs. Hochevar|
|Even if good version of Peavy shows up in White Sox series, Cubs should do plenty of damage in K.C.|
|vs. Happ||vs. Lyles||vs. Myers||--||vs. Pelfrey||vs. Niese||vs. Gee|
|Six games at home should lead to good numbers even if the Rangers can't solve red-hot Niese and Gee.|
|--||vs. Hernandez||vs. Lannan||vs. Marquis||vs. Nolasco||vs. Volstad||vs. Sanchez|
|Maybe if Nolasco was pitching better, M's would be off list, but Sanchez the only real challenge here.|
|--||vs. Halladay||vs. Lee||vs. Oswalt||vs. Morrow||vs. Villanueva||vs. Romero|
|Phillies trio obviously imposing. Romero enough for Blue Jays to hold up their end of the bargain.|
|vs. Miller||vs. Beckett||vs. Lackey||--||vs. Lowe||vs. Jurrjens||vs. Hudson|
|If Miller is for real and the early-season Lowe shows up, Padres could be in for a rough six games.|
|vs. Weaver||vs. Santana||vs. Pineiro||--||vs. Hernandez||vs. Vargas||vs. Fister|
|Two aces in Weaver and Hernandez enough to carry quartet of so-so options. No weak links in the bunch.|
|--||vs. Bumgarner||vs. Vogelsong||vs. Lincecum||vs. Wolf||vs. Gallardo||vs. Narveson|
|With Vogelsong and Wolf pitching so well of late, Twins might have to save it all for Narveson.|
|vs. Nicasio||vs. Chacin||vs. Hammel||--||vs. Sanchez||vs. Cain||vs. Bumgarner|
|No true aces here, but Chacin, Sanchez, Cain, Bumgarner not far off. Nicasio is pitching well too.|
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