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Week 23 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.

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All statistics are updated through Saturday, Sept. 3.

Catcher

The catcher position saw the biggest influx of talent when rosters expanded on Sept. 1. Top prospects Jesus Montero, Devin Mesoraco and Wilin Rosario are all finally in the big leagues and should all get at least part-time at-bats with their respective teams -- which is all any catcher gets, really. Of the three, Montero and Mesoraco are the most attractive for Fantasy purposes, with Montero worth a pickup even in mixed leagues given the availability of the DH spot with the Yankees.

Must-Start Options: Brian McCann, Carlos Santana, Victor Martinez, Alex Avila, Mike Napoli, Joe Mauer, Miguel Montero, Matt Wieters

Heating up
Matt Wieters: .383 (18 for 47), 5 HRs, 15 RBI, 1.281 OPS, 7 BBs, 6 Ks in 13 games
Miguel Montero: .370 (17 for 46), 2 HRs, 12 RBI, 1.050 OPS during 12-game hit streak
Salvador Perez: .341 (14 for 41), 1 HR, .937 OPS, 3 BBs, 4 Ks in 11 games

Cooling off
Brian McCann: .111 (4 for 36), 3 HRs, .599 OPS, 6 BBs, 10 Ks in 10 games
Alex Avila: .150 (3 for 20), one extra-base hit, .492 OPS in six games
Russell Martin: .158 (3 for 19), one extra-base hit, .411 OPS in six games
John Buck: .071 (1 for 14), .330 OPS in five games

Worth a second look
Chris Iannetta (46 percent started): This is one of those weeks that makes Iannetta worth owning in Fantasy. Sure, the Rockies are playing only six games, but all six are at home, where Iannetta is batting .316 with a 1.012 OPS. He should also feast on the three left-handed pitchers, against whom he has a .968 OPS. Considering he's batting .164 with a .558 OPS on the road and has just a .724 OPS against righties, you can understand how those splits might make a difference. Get him active in mixed leagues.
Jesus Montero (8 percent): Well, well, well ... rarely will you see a player recommended here before he even gets an extra-base hit in the big leagues. But Montero is a special talent who probably should have been in the majors as far back as a year ago. The Yankees immediately inserted him at DH upon his promotion Thursday, and they might keep him there given Jorge Posada's struggles this year. With four games against the Orioles to begin the week, Montero should make a good enough first impression to start in mixed leagues.

Approach with caution
Jonathan Lucroy (44 percent started): Lucroy has just four homers and a .640 OPS in 245 at-bats since the beginning of June, which is probably reason enough to sit him in standard mixed leagues. But just in case you're among that stubborn 44 percent, you should note he's facing Chris Carpenter, Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Vance Worley on five consecutive days this week. Come on. You can do better than that.
Ramon Hernandez (19 percent): Not only does Hernandez face the prospect of losing at-bats to up-and-comer Devin Mesoraco, but his splits couldn't be any more unfavorable this week. The Reds are on the road for all six of their games and face nothing but right-handed pitchers. Hernandez is batting .229 with a .660 OPS on the road (compared to .358 and .948 OPS at home) and .272 with a .778 OPS against righties (compared to .340 and .825 against lefties). Honestly, he might be done as a mixed-league contributor -- and not just for this season.

Injury concerns
A.J. Pierzynski, who had been out since Aug. 12 with a fractured wrist, returned from the disabled list Friday, but manager Ozzie Guillen said he wouldn't necessarily give Pierzynski full-time at-bats right away. That's good news for Tyler Flowers, who has the higher upside of the two at this stage of their careers. Until you have a better idea what Pierzynski's role will be going forward, you can keep him reserved in mixed leagues ... Yadier Molina was out of the lineup for a second straight game with a strained calf Sunday, and manager Tony La Russa didn't sound especially optimistic about his chances of returning Monday, using the word "hopeful." His tone wasn't exactly ominous either, though, so you should probably keep Molina active in leagues that require the use of two catchers. In standard mixed leagues, on the other hand, he might not be worth the gamble.

First base

Derrek Lee, who had been out since Aug. 9 with a fractured left wrist, returned to the lineup with a home run Saturday, giving him three in six games as a Pirate. Clearly, he still has some appeal in Fantasy, but as an injury-prone 35-year-old, he's on the lower end of viable mixed-league options. His returns means Garrett Jones is nothing more than a part-timer, so he's looking like strictly an NL-only option going forward. Recognizing that retreads like Scott Hairston and Jason Pridie weren't any sort of long-term solution, the Mets recently moved Lucas Duda back to the outfield, giving semi-prospect Nick Evans a chance to play first base every day. Much like Duda did earlier in the year, Evans has made the most of his opportunity so far, putting together a similar OPS to the one he had in the minors. He probably doesn't have quite enough power to hang with the average first baseman in a mixed league, but in a deeper NL-only league, he deserves a look. The Nationals have taken a similar approach with Chris Marrero, moving Michael Morse back to the outfield to give their first-round pick in the 2006 draft a chance to make an impression. Marrero isn't the prospect he once was, but his upside could be somewhere in the Gaby Sanchez range. He's also worth a look in NL-only leagues.

Must-Start Options: Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard, Paul Konerko, Alex Gordon, Lance Berkman, Michael Young, Billy Butler

Heating up
Carlos Lee: .444 (24 for 54), 3 HRs, 1.249 OPS, 6 BBs, 4 Ks during 14-game hit streak
James Loney: .463 (25 for 54), 4 HRs, 14 RBI, 1.342 OPS, 5 BBs, 5 Ks in 13 games
Eric Hosmer: .383 (18 for 47), 5 HRs, 2 SBs, 1.117 OPS, 5 Ks in 12 games
Miguel Cabrera: .444 (16 for 36), 2 HRs, 1 SB, 1.237 OPS in nine games

Most Added Hitters
* as of Sept. 4
Player % increase
1. Dayan Viciedo, 3B, White Sox 15
2. James Loney, 1B, Dodgers 14
3. Lucas Duda, 1B, Mets 13
4. Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers 11
5. Mike Trout, OF, Angels 9
6. David Murphy, OF, Rangers 9
7. Alejandro De Aza, OF, White Sox 7
8. Jesus Montero, C, Yankees 6
9. Aaron Hill, 2B, Diamondbacks 4
10. Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers 4

Cooling off
Mitch Moreland: .105 (4 for 38), two extra-base hits, .329 OPS, 3 BBs, 15 Ks in 11 games
Michael Cuddyer: .152 (5 for 33), one extra-base hit, .382 OPS, 1 BB, 10 Ks in nine games
Brandon Allen: .103 (3 for 29), no extra-base hits, .316 OPS, 4 BBs, 14 Ks in seven games

Worth a second look
Eric Hosmer (74 percent started): The Royals are scheduled to face three left-handed pitchers this week, which would normally be bad news for the left-handed hitting Hosmer. But he's so hot right now that the splits hardly make a difference. The 21-year-old appears to have found his power stroke, and as long as that's working, he can compete with any player at the deep first base position. Plus, 13 of his 15 homers this season have come on the road, where the Royals play all seven of their games this week.
Freddie Freeman (73 percent): Remember how hot Freeman was from the middle of May to the end of July? He had a quiet month of August -- too quiet for a player hitting .291 on the season. He's due for another surge, and with eight games on the schedule this week, he doesn't need much of one to be a worthy starter in mixed leagues. He is dealing with a minor quadriceps injury, but it's nothing the Braves don't think they can manage by giving him days off here and there.

Approach with caution
Mark Trumbo (72 percent started): Even with 25 homers, Trumbo's .296 on-base percentage makes him just a borderline mixed-league option, so the matchups have to be in his favor for you to start him. With both Felix Hernandez and CC Sabathia on tap, that's clearly not the case this week. Besides, of the six pitchers the Angels face, half of them are lefties, against whom Trumbo is batting .235 with a .682 OPS.
Mitch Moreland (40 percent): Moreland's mid-August hot streak was too short-lived for him to regain any of his traction in Fantasy. With five righties on the schedule this week, he should get to play just about every day, but considering those righties are James Shields, Jeff Niemann, Brandon McCarthy, Trevor Cahill and Rich Harden, he might not play particularly well. And oh yeah, the one lefty is David Price.

Injury concerns
Just when you thought you had finally heard the last of Justin Morneau's concussion, it's back -- or at least another version of it is. Morneau banged up his shoulder Sunday and began experiencing severe headaches thereafter. He's out indefinitely, and considering the effect concussions have already had on his career, he could conceivably miss the rest of the season ... The Mariners did finally bring Justin Smoak back from a broken nose Friday and have managed to find regular at-bats for him. Considering the way Mike Carp performed in Smoak's absence, though, the two could cut into each other's at-bats going forward. You might not want to start either outside of deeper Fantasy leagues right now.

Second base

Alexi Casilla, who was beginning to emerge as a Fantasy sleeper at the time of his hamstring injury in late July, suffered another setback at the start of his rehab assignment with Class A Fort Myers on Monday. The Twins say he'll give it another go in a few days, but considering he has tried and failed to come back from this injury twice now, you can pretty much dismiss him as a lost cause for this season, at least in standard mixed leagues.

Must-Start Options: Dustin Pedroia, Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Chase Utley, Michael Young, Dan Uggla, Brandon Phillips

Heating up
Brandon Phillips: .429 (27 for 63), 1 HR, 11 RBI, 2 SBs, 1.066 OPS in 15 games
Dan Uggla: .333 (13 for 39), 5 HRs, 1.202 OPS, 8 BBs, 14 Ks in 12 games
Robinson Cano: .359 (14 for 39), 2 HRs, 13 RBI, 1.048 OPS, 2 BBs, 10 Ks in 10 games
Kelly Johnson: .435 (10 for 23), 2 HRs, 2 3Bs, 1 2B, 1.432 OPS, 4 BBs, 5 Ks in six games

Cooling off
Gordon Beckham: .154 (10 for 65), 3 2Bs, 1 SB, .425 OPS in 20 games
Darwin Barney: .119 (5 for 42), two extra-base hits, 1 SB, .322 OPS in 12 games
Ben Zobrist: .125 (5 for 40), one extra-base hit, 1 SB, .317 OPS, 2 BBs, 10 Ks in 10 games

Worth a second look
Jemile Weeks (58 percent started): Weeks has been on fire recently, batting .370 (17 for 46) with seven stolen bases during an 11-game hitting streak. The Athletics play only six games this week, which immediately puts him at a disadvantage, but considering their first three games are against the weak Royals rotation and their last three are at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Weeks should continue to produce well enough for mixed-league use.
Aaron Hill (44 percent): Low and behold, Hill has thrived with the move from Toronto to Arizona, at least by the earliest indications. He's batting .552 (9 for 16) with a homer over his last six games -- the first four at home. The Diamondbacks begin this week in another hitter's park -- Coors Field -- against three pitchers the Diamondbacks should wallop -- Esmil Rogers, Jason Hammel and Kevin Millwood -- and end it with four more games at home. That's reason enough to give Hill another shot in mixed leagues.

Approach with caution
Danny Espinosa (58 percent started): With the Nationals at home for seven games and facing three left-handed pitchers, you could actually make a case for Espinosa being a sleeper this week. He hits better at home and against lefties. But as little as he has had to offer Fantasy owners since the All-Star break, batting .201 (34 for 169) with three homers and one steal, I'm not about to predict a bounce-back week. Keep him reserved in mixed leagues.
Darwin Barney (43 percent): Do we have to go over this every week? Barney can be a serviceable contributor in Fantasy when he's racking up singles by the dozen, but when his batting average comes back down to earth, as it has over his last 12 games, he has nothing else to fall back on. With the Cubs playing only six games this week, you can do better than him.

Injury concerns
Ben Zobrist left Friday's game with neck stiffness and hasn't played since. Joe Maddon said the injury bothers Zobrist when he swings and even compared it to the one that limited the 30-year-old second baseman last year, condemning him to a .238 batting average. Of course, Maddon also said the injury isn't nearly as serious as last year's. Still, knowing how much that injury affected Zobrist and knowing how many viable sleepers are available at second base in mixed leagues, Zobrist is a player you might want to avoid this week.

Third base

The Rangers activated Adrian Beltre from the 15-day DL and immediately put him in the starting lineup Thursday. Beltre had been out since July 22 with a strained hamstring. He'll likely play more DH going forward to avoid another injury, but as long as his bat is in the lineup, it's good news for Fantasy owners. As a power-hitting third baseman in the heart of the Rangers lineup, Beltre should be active in just about all Fantasy formats. Another high-end third baseman, Kevin Youkilis, returned from the disabled list Friday. He had been out since Aug. 17 with back soreness. Like Beltre, Youkilis is a player you'll want to activate right away given his upside at a weak position, so don't let his relatively quiet weekend discouraging you. Kevin Kouzmanoff seems to be getting everyday at-bats in Colorado, relegating Ty Wigginton to a bench role. Kouzmanoff still doesn't have the plate discipline to be much of a factor in mixed leagues. Obviously, you can forget about Wigginton.

Must-Start Options: Albert Pujols, Jose Bautista, Evan Longoria, Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright, Michael Young, Aramis Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval

Heating up
Brett Lawrie: .349 (15 for 43), 4 HRs, 3 3Bs, 3 2Bs, 3 SBs, 1.229 OPS, 2 BBs, 11 Ks in 11 games
David Wright: .483 (14 for 29), 2 HRs, 1.441 OPS, 8 BBs, 5 Ks in nine games
Dayan Viciedo: .381 (8 for 21), 1 HR, 1 SB, 1.030 OPS, 2 BBs, 3 Ks in six games

Cooling off
Alberto Callaspo: .176 (9 for 51), two extra-base hits, 2 SBs, .448 OPS, 4 Ks in 15 games
Placido Polanco: .160 (4 for 25), no extra-base hits, .374 OPS in six games
Kyle Seager: .105 (2 for 19), one extra-base hit, .332 OPS, 2 BBs, 1 K in six games

Worth a second look
Ryan Roberts (70 percent started): For some reason, Roberts' starting percentage has never quite matched up with his production. He ranks seventh among third basemen in standard Head-to-Head scoring this season, and though he hasn't been especially hot lately, that figures to change this week with three games at Coors Field against the back end of the Rockies rotation and four games against the Padres staff away from PETCO Park. Time to give Roberts the credit he deserves.
Dayan Viciedo (20 percent): Granted, Viciedo doesn't actually play third base anymore, but that's the only place he's eligible in Fantasy right now. Between DH and right field, he figures to play every day for the White Sox now that he's in the big leagues, giving them the production Adam Dunn couldn't. Considering his numbers in the minors and his five homers in 104 major-league at-bats last season, you know Viciedo is capable of hitting for power, and he should do enough damage for mixed-league use in an eight-game week against the depleted Twins and Indians rotations.

Approach with caution
Casey McGehee (59 percent started): McGehee's good work since the All-Star break has helped him regain some of his lost value -- his starting percentage was down to 37 at one point -- but he hasn't been hitting the ball particularly well over the last few days. That doesn't figure to change this week, with Chris Carpenter, Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Vance Worley on the schedule. In deeper leagues, McGehee might still be the best option you have, but he's certainly no sleeper this week.
David Freese (38 percent): Not only has Freese been underwhelming at the plate recently, batting .213 (10 for 47) over his last 12 games, but he hasn't been too stellar at home all season, hitting .279 there compared to .329 on the road. The Cardinals play all six of their games at home this week -- and against some especially tough pitchers in Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke and Tim Hudson. Given Freese's track record as a consistent .300 hitter, he's sure to get hot at some point, but this week won't be the week.

Injury concerns
Casey Blake, who has been dealing with a pinched nerve in his neck for the better part of the season, will have season-ending surgery next week. Aaron Miles will get most of the at-bats in his place, with rookie Justin Sellers potentially stealing some starts. None of these players have been viable mixed-league contributors this season.

Shortstop

Dee Gordon, who had been out since Aug. 9 with a bruised shoulder, returned to the lineup Thursday, bumping fellow rookie Justin Sellers to the bench. Gordon is clearly the Dodgers' shortstop of the future and will most likely get most of the playing time there over the final month, but manager Don Mattingly likes Sellers enough that he could continue to give him some starts there as well. If you need steals in a categorical league, Gordon is worth owning, but he'll have to hit with more consistency to earn widespread appeal.

Must-Start Options: Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Starlin Castro, J.J. Hardy

Heating up
Erick Aybar: .327 (16 for 49), 3 3Bs, 3 2Bs, 2 SBs, .881 OPS, 4 BBs, 2 Ks during 13-game hit streak
Cliff Pennington: .395 (17 for 43), 2 HRs, 4 SBs, 15 RBI, 1.073 OPS in 10 games
Elvis Andrus: .476 (10 for 21), 2 3Bs, 1 HR, 1 SB, 1.434 OPS, 5 BBs, 3 Ks in six games
Trevor Plouffe: .385 (10 for 26), 1 HR, 1.064 OPS in six games

Cooling off
Yuniesky Betancourt: .130 (9 for 69), 1 HR, .413 OPS, 2 BBs, 7 Ks in 18 games
Asdrubal Cabrera: .164 (9 for 55), 2 HRs, .542 OPS in 14 games
J.J. Hardy: .143 (3 for 21), one extra-base hit, .333 OPS in five games

Worth a second look
Erick Aybar (70 percent started): After a prolonged slump that caused many Fantasy owners to turn their backs on him, Aybar is once again showing his value with his recent hitting streak. The Angels don't have the greatest matchups this week, but given the discrepancy between Aybar's starting percentage and his ability, he's still more likely to exceed expectations than not.
Cliff Pennington (32 percent): It takes a lot for a player like Pennington to gain the attention of Fantasy owners, but quite frankly, he has done a lot since the start of the second half, scoring the fifth-most Head-to-Head points by a shortstop during that stretch. Of course, when you consider he has been at his absolute hottest during that stretch, you probably wouldn't want to have anything to do with him once he cools off. Still, in a deeper league, you could do worse right now at the weak shortstop position.

Approach with caution
Yuniesky Betancourt (38 percent started): Yup, Betancourt is still coasting on the fumes of his early-August hot streak even though he has been a non-factor in Fantasy since then. He doesn't walk at all. He doesn't steal bases. When he's not hot enough to pop the occasional homer, he's worthless. The Brewers' matchups this week pretty much guarantee he won't get hot all of a sudden. They're facing the Cardinals rotation for three games and the Phillies rotation for four.
Rafael Furcal (27 percent): Given the dearth of Fantasy-relevant talent at the shortstop position, you'd think Furcal would be an obvious choice to start after he homered in three straight games over the weekend. But weigh your options carefully before automatically inserting him into your lineup. Whatever momentum he has gained by batting .346 (9 for 26) over his last seven games will likely evaporate against the Brewers and Braves rotations. You can probably do better than Furcal in standard mixed leagues this week.

Injury concerns
Jed Lowrie has renewed soreness in his left shoulder, which is the same one that forced him to the DL for two months earlier this season. The Red Sox don't consider this particular injury to be all that serious, but considering third baseman Kevin Youkilis just returned from the DL, Lowrie will likely have to split time at shortstop with Marco Scutaro going forward. He's not looking like much of a mixed-league option anymore ... Hanley Ramirez, who appeared to be on the verge of returning from a shoulder injury, had his shoulder pop out of place in a rehab game on Tuesday and will need season-ending surgery. Clearly, you'll want to hold on to him in keeper leagues, but in seasonal formats, he's safe to drop. Emilio Bonifacio will continue to play shortstop in his absence.

Outfield

Nelson Cruz had to go on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a strained left hamstring and will miss at least the next two weeks. Given his injury history, you had to think something like this would happen sooner or later, but it comes at the worst possible time for Head-to-Head owners. To help fill the void, the Rangers called up Cuban defector Leonys Martin, who still has plenty of upside even though he sputtered at Triple-A. David Murphy has actually been getting most of the starts in Cruz's place, though, so he looks like the better pickup in AL-only leagues right now. Alex Presley is back and seems to be playing every day in left field for the Pirates, keeping Jose Tabata in right. The Pirates will have a tough decision to make, though, when Ryan Ludwick (back) returns from the disabled list Wednesday. Presley picked it at the plate over the weekend, perhaps securing at the least the majority of a timeshare. Until this situation sorts itself out, you can leave Presley for deeper leagues.

Must-Start Options: Jose Bautista, Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Curtis Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Holliday, Josh Hamilton, Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, Shane Victorino, Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Lance Berkman, Melky Cabrera, Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence

Heating up
Ryan Braun: .378 (31 for 82), 4 HRs, 17 RBI, 10 SBs, 1.099 OPS in 22 games
Alex Gordon: .365 (23 for 63), 6 HRs, 4 SBs, 1.161 OPS, 7 BBs, 20 Ks in 17 games
Corey Hart: .381 (24 for 63), 5 HRs, 16 runs scored, 2 SBs, 1.108 OPS during 15-game hit streak
Eric Thames: .378 (14 for 37), 1 HR, 1 SB, 1.016 OPS in nine games
Mike Trout: .500 (12 for 24), 3 HRs, 1.545 OPS, 4 BBs, 2 Ks in nine games
Andre Ethier: .435 (10 for 23), 1 HR, 1.144 OPS, 5 BBs, 3 Ks in eight games
David Murphy: .469 (15 for 32), 3 HRs, 11 RBI, 2 SBs, 1.313 OPS during eight-game hit streak
Austin Jackson: .552 (16 for 29), 2 HRs, 3 3Bs, 2 2Bs, 2 SBs, 1.586 OPS, 0 BBs, 5 Ks in six games
Dexter Fowler: .438 (7 for 16), 2 HRs, 1 SB, 1.651 OPS, 2 BBs, 2 Ks in four games

Cooling off
Chris Young: .142 (18 for 127), 3 HRs, 7 SBs, .525 OPS in 38 games
Curtis Granderson: .160 (8 for 50), 4 HRs, 1 SB, .754 OPS, 12 BBs, 19 Ks in 14 games
Nick Markakis: .125 (5 for 40), 1 HR, 2 2Bs, 1 SB, .577 OPS, 12 BBs, 7 Ks in 12 games
Adam Jones: .083 (3 for 36), one extra-base hit, 1 SB, .257 OPS in 11 games
Martin Prado: .135 (5 for 37), one extra-base hit, .362 OPS, 4 Ks in 10 games
Casper Wells: .029 (1 for 34), .167 OPS, 3 BBs, 14 Ks in 10 games
Josh Willingham: .148 (4 for 27), 2 2Bs, .503 OPS, 4 BBs, 9 Ks in seven games
Brandon Belt: .091 (2 for 22), no extra-base hits, 1 BB, 9 Ks in seven games
Lance Berkman: .105 (2 for 19), no extra-base hits, .425 OPS, 5 BBs, 6 Ks in six games

Worth a second look
Angel Pagan (64 percent started): Pagan is coming off a month of August in which he hit .318 with three homers and eight steals, reaffirming his status as a recommended starter in mixed leagues. Yet Fantasy owners remain cautious with him. With eight pitchers no better than Javier Vazquez and Matt Garza on the schedule this week, time to throw caution to the wind.
Juan Pierre (61 percent): Even with the decline in steals, Pierre has managed to score 20 Head-to-Head points more often than not since the beginning of July. He has hit safely in 19 of his last 21 games and has excellent matchups against pitchers like Anthony Swarzak, Scott Diamond, Liam Hendriks, David Huff and Jeanmar Gomez in an eight-game week. Get Pierre active in mixed leagues.
Jason Kubel (42 percent): Kubel has been a little up and down since returning from a foot sprain in late July, but after a mid-August funk, he seems to be getting back on track, homering in three of his last six games. Though he has shown improvement against left-handed pitchers this season, the six righties on tap this week should help his cause, as should the matchups against Philip Humber, Zach Stewart and Brad Penny. If you a need a sleeper in a mixed league, Kubel is a good bet.
Lucas Duda (35 percent): Duda might not be the most exciting option of the waiver wire, but you can't really argue with his production since he began playing every day. He has averaged 18.4 Head-to-Head points over the last seven weeks. His OPS-friendly approach should lead to some safe production in an eight-game week against pitchers like Chris Volstad, Clay Hensley, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Casey Coleman and Randy Wells.
Nolan Reimold (3 percent): It hardly registered for most Fantasy owners given his almost nonexistent ownership percentage, but back in Fantasy Week 21 (Aug. 22-28), Reimold scored 27 Head-to-Head points. He did it by taking advantage of favorable matchups against pitchers like Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing, Kevin Slowey and A.J. Burnett. He has similarly favorable matchups this week against Freddy Garcia, Phil Hughes, Burnett, Brett Cecil, Henderson Alvarez and Luis Perez. That's not to say he'll score 27 points again, but he does deserve a little more attention now that he's playing every day. In deep leagues, he's worth a shot this week.

Approach with caution
Drew Stubbs (70 percent started): Stubbs is coming off a month of August in which he hit .226 and struck out an almost comical 40 times. He still offers an attractive combination of power and speed, but he's clearly not an automatic start in mixed leagues. In a six-game week with no left-handed pitchers on the schedule, you might want to steer clear of him. He does most of his damage against lefties, batting .337 with a .921 OPS compared to .230 and .650 OPS against righties.
Coco Crisp (57 percent): Crisp has been one of the most underappreciated players in Fantasy this season, so cautioning against him always seems counterintuitive. But in a six-game week, he becomes a little iffy, and when three of those games are against left-handed pitchers, he becomes a disappointment waiting to happen. He's batting .221 against lefties this season compared to .296 against righties, so unless you need his steals, now probably isn't the time to use him.
Matt Joyce (53 percent): For some reason, a certain percentage of the Fantasy-playing community remains loyal to Joyce even though his splits clearly make him less than an every-week starter. Once again, the Rays face three lefties this week, so once again, Joyce's .224 batting average against them will surely prevent him from having a good week. And now that Brandon Guyer is up from the minors, Joyce might not even start those games. Manager Joe Maddon said he wants to give the young right-handed hitter a good look.
Peter Bourjos (46 percent): Back to normalcy, eh? Bourjos' August power surge earned him plenty of looks in Fantasy, but now that he's batting .182 (8 for 44) over his last 11 games, he probably belongs back on the waiver wire in most mixed leagues. Even if you want to hold on to him, you wouldn't want to start him with aces Felix Hernandez and CC Sabathia on the schedule in a six-game week.
David Murphy (9 percent): Murphy seems like an attractive sleeper given his performance in the absence of Nelson Cruz, and in the right circumstances, he is. But keep in mind his recent production has come with the Rangers mostly playing at home, where his OPS is 133 points higher than on the road. This week, they open on the road and against high-end pitchers James Shields, Jeff Niemann and David Price. And even when they return home, their matchups against Brandon McCarthy, Trevor Cahill and Rich Harden aren't so hot. Better leave Murphy for AL-only leagues.

Injury concerns
Mike Stanton left Saturday's game with tightness in his right hamstring and was out of the lineup Sunday as well. Manager Jack McKeon doesn't expect him to miss much time, but as cautious as the Marlins have been with their other star players in the second half (see Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson), you have to believe they'll hold Stanton out until he's 100 percent. He's normally a must-start option in Fantasy, but in shallower leagues, you should think about benching him this week ... Eric Thames, who left Saturday's game with dizziness, was still feeling weak Sunday and remained out of the lineup. The illness doesn't sound serious, but it's reason enough not to gamble on him in standard mixed leagues this week, despite his hot hitting of late ... Brennan Boesch has been dealing with torn ligaments in his right thumb for the better part of two weeks now, missing 10 straight games. He'll eventually need surgery and is no certainty to return this season. The Tigers will try having him swing with a special appliance on the thumb, but even so, his status is up in the air. Keep him reserved in mixed leagues ... Cameron Maybin hasn't had an at-bat since Aug. 26 because of a wrist injury, and the Padres still have no timetable for his return. He has shown some improvement since getting a cortisone shot, so he has a reasonable chance of returning this week. Still, you wouldn't want to start him unless you're desperate for steals ... Nate Schierholtz, who has been out since Aug. 21 with a hairline fracture in his right foot, has looked good in batting practice and is set to return from the disabled list Tuesday. Where exactly he fits into the Giants' crowded outfield is uncertain at this point, but if nothing else, you have to figure he'll steal some at-bats from Brandon Belt. Because Schierholtz doesn't figure to get everyday at-bats himself, you can leave him for deeper Fantasy leagues ... The Indians finally gave in and put Shin-Soo Choo on the DL with an oblique injury Thursday. Choo hasn't played since Aug. 28, but even so, you have to figure he'll miss at least another week with this injury. Shelley Duncan has been starting in his place, but he has no value outside of AL-only leagues ... Grady Sizemore, who is working his way back from abdominal surgery, began a rehab assignment with Double-A Akron on Wednesday, which is at least some indication that he could be on the verge of returning. The Indians still don't have a clear timetable for him, though, and as much as he was struggling before the injury, you wouldn't want to activate him right away anyway.

Best 5 Hitting Schedules for Week 23
Team 9/5 9/6 9/7 9/8 9/9 9/10 9/11
White Sox @MIN (x2) @MIN @MIN CLE CLE CLE CLE
vs. Swarzak, Diamond vs. Hendriks vs. Pavano vs. Huff vs. Gomez vs. Jimenez vs. Carmona
The best of three eight-game schedules this week. Five of these pitchers unrecognizable in Fantasy.
Mets @FLA @FLA @FLA ATL (x2) CHC CHC CHC
vs. Vazquez vs. Volstad vs. Hensley vs. Minor, Teheran vs. Coleman vs. Wells vs. Garza
Not much here after Vazquez and Garza. Mets fortunate to get two rookies in doubleheader vs. Braves.
Orioles @NYY @NYY @NYY NYY @TOR @TOR @TOR
vs. Garcia vs. Hughes vs. Burnett vs. Nova vs. Cecil vs. Alvarez vs. Perez
No Sabathia means Yankees rotation not such a challenge. Neither is Jays' with no Romero or Morrow.
Diamondbacks @COL @COL @COL SD SD SD SD
vs. Rogers vs. Hammel vs. Millwood vs. Luebke vs. Latos vs. Stauffer vs. LeBlanc
Three games at Coors vs. worst Rockies have to offer should make up for whatever Padres series brings.
Braves @PHI @PHI @PHI @NYM (x2) @STL @STL @STL
vs. Lee vs. Worley vs. Oswalt vs. Gee, Misch vs. Garcia vs. Jackson vs. Westbrook
Phillies a tough way to start the week, but with eight games, Braves will have time to make up for it.
Worst 5 Hitting Schedules for Week 23
Team 9/5 9/6 9/7 9/8 9/9 9/10 9/11
Brewers @STL @STL @STL PHI PHI PHI PHI
vs. Westbrook vs. Lohse vs. Carpenter vs. Hamels vs. Halladay vs. Lee vs. Worley
Seven-game week, yes, but four games vs. Phillies is torture, especially when preceded by Carpenter.
Rangers @TB @TB @TB -- OAK OAK OAK
vs. Shields vs. Niemann vs. Price -- vs. McCarthy vs. Cahill vs. Harden
The way Niemann is pitching, that's three aces to begin week. If good Cahill, Harden show up, watch out.
Cardinals vs. MIL vs. MIL vs. MIL -- vs. ATL vs. ATL vs. ATL
vs. Wolf vs. Gallardo vs. Greinke -- vs. Delgado vs. Lowe vs. Hudson
Would be worse without injuries to Braves staff, but Cards still facing two of deepest rotations in NL.
Giants @SD @SD @SD -- LAD LAD LAD
vs. Stauffer vs. LeBlanc vs. Harang -- vs. Kershaw vs. Kuroda vs. Lilly
Names not exactly intimidating, but three games at PETCO to open week. Plus, Kuroda, Lilly pitching well.
Angels FLA FLA FLA -- NYY NYY NYY
vs. Vasquez vs. Hernandez vs. Furbush -- vs. Colon vs. Sabathia vs. Garcia
Two aces in six-game week make up for Vasquez and Furbush. Colon, Garcia both wild cards at this point.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Scott on Twitter ( @cbsscottwhite ) and can e-mail us your questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com . Be sure to put Hitting Planner in the subject field.

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Alvarez is leading the major leagues in errors, including 21 on bad throws, and owns a stat line of .238/.309/.437.


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