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Week 24 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.

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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 Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Catcher

After long teasing the move, the Rockies finally promoted prospect Wilin Rosario on Tuesday and have started him in both of their games since. They seem committed to using him down the stretch, which doesn't seem to be the case for Devin Mesoraco with the Reds, so if you need a second catcher, Rosario is the preferred choice. He homered in his second game, so you know he's at least capable of that. Whether his lack of plate discipline comes back to bite him at the major-league level remains to be seen.

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

Heating up
Matt Wieters: .368 (21 for 57), 6 HRs, 17 RBI, 1.218 OPS, 7 BBs, 7 Ks in 16 games
Ryan Doumit: .526 (10 for 19), 1 HR, 1.392 OPS in seven games
Victor Martinez: .476 (10 for 21), 2 HRs, 12 RBI, 1.427 OPS, 2 BBs, 1 K in five games

Cooling off
Brian McCann: .128 (6 for 47), 3 HRs, .587 OPS, 9 BBs, 14 Ks in 14 games
Geovany Soto: .095 (4 for 42), 1 HR, .382 OPS, 4 BBs, 14 Ks in 14 games
John Buck: .103 (3 for 29), one extra-base hit, .325 OPS, 11 Ks in nine games
Carlos Santana: .115 (3 for 26), 2 2Bs, 1 SB, .526 OPS, 8 BBs, 7 Ks in eight games

Worth a second look
Wilson Ramos (21 percent started): Ramos has had an uneven rookie season, but he seems to be ending it on a high note, batting .368 with two homers during a 10-game hitting streak. In a seven-game week without a clear ace on the schedule -- the best two pitchers he's facing are R.A. Dickey and Anibal Sanchez -- Ramos is a solid sleeper even for mixed leagues.
Jesus Montero (20 percent): Montero's career started with a bang -- two, actually -- when he hit a pair of opposite-field homers against the Orioles on Monday. The long-awaited prospect has given Fantasy owners every reason to believe he can be an immediate contributor out of the DH spot. Even if he sits against some righties, the three lefties on the schedule this week are justification enough to start him at catcher.

Approach with caution
Geovany Soto (47 percent started): Soto's disappointing season is only getting worse and worse. Not only is his season batting average down to .226 with his continued slide, but his batting average against right-handed pitchers is down to .216. You shouldn't have high hopes for him this week with six righties on the schedule. Chances are you can do better off the waiver wire.
A.J. Pierzynski (22 percent): Pierzynski hasn't done much since returning from a fractured wrist on Sept. 2, batting .130 (3 for 23) in six games, and rookie Tyler Flowers apparently made enough of an impression during Pierzynski's absence that he's now splitting at-bats with the veteran. The White Sox seem to be going lefty-righty with them, so with three lefties on the schedule this week, Pierzynski figures to make only four starts. That's not enough for him to factor in mixed leagues.

Injury concerns
None.

First base

Chris Parmelee -- a prospect known more for his batting eye than his power potential -- is up in the majors and making starts at first base with Justin Morneau sidelined by a concussion. Morneau could potentially return as the DH over the weekend, but given his year-long struggles and the uncertainty that goes along with any concussion, you wouldn't want to go anywhere near him in Fantasy. The cure to all that has plagued the Giants at first base has come in the form of a pill -- Brett Pill, specifically, who arrived from the minors at the beginning of September. He started both Tuesday and Wednesday, homering in each game, and could continue to start with Aubrey Huff nursing a sore back. Pill isn't as big of a prospect as Brandon Belt -- who, for now, has been placed on the back burner -- but he clearly has power and could make an impact in NL-only leagues down the stretch.

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

Heating up
Eric Hosmer: .385 (25 for 65), 6 HRs, 13 RBI, 3 SBs, 1.124 OPS in 16 games
Miguel Cabrera: .451 (23 for 51), 3 HRs, 14 RBI, 1 SB, 1.282 OPS in 13 games
Albert Pujols: .406 (13 for 32), 3 HRs, 1.238 OPS, 3 BBs, 1 K in eight games
Derrek Lee: .500 (10 for 20), 2 HR, 7 RBI, 1.324 OPS in five games

Cooling off
Mitch Moreland: .135 (7 for 52), 3 2Bs, .374 OPS, 3 BBs, 20 Ks in 15 games
Brandon Allen: .128 (5 for 39), two extra-base hits, .424 OPS, 6 BBs, 17 Ks in 10 games
Mike Carp: .087 (2 for 23), .290 OPS, 1 BB, 9 Ks in six games

Worth a second look
Eric Hosmer (79 percent started): Hosmer's starting percentage has been on the rise for several weeks now, but he still deserves a mention here to emphasize the fact that you need to be starting him. He was arguably the best pure hitting prospect entering the season. He endured his rookie struggles and is all the better for it. This late-season surge might be the start of something special. If nothing else, you can trust he won't slow down with five righties on the schedule this week. He has a .881 OPS against them compared to .574 against lefties.
Carlos Pena (60 percent): Pena seems to be back on the right side of streaky with three homers and 13 walks (compared to five strikeouts) over his last eight games, and he has the matchups this week to continue the run. Left-handers are what usually hold him back -- he's batting only .143 against them -- but the Cubs have only one on the schedule. Against righties, he's batting a respectable .254 with a .383 on-base percentage. If you need power, he's worth a shot.

Approach with caution
Carlos Lee (75 percent started): Lee has been on a nice little run in the second half, but it'll likely come to a screeching halt this week with Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster on the schedule. Notice all the right-handers? Lee is batting only .254 with a .709 OPS against them compared to .344 and 1.009 against lefties. Better look elsewhere in mixed leagues.
Freddie Freeman (63 percent): Freeman has been in and out of the lineup a little more than usual lately, and on Thursday, the Braves revealed why. He has a strained hip flexor and might have to play through it for the rest of the season. He's also dealing with a sore quadriceps. Clearly, he could have more off days in his future. Considering he's batting .267 with a .680 OPS over his last 19 games, you don't have much incentive to start him at a deep position.

Injury concerns
Adam Lind has missed a couple games with a sore wrist -- an injury that has bothered him since the middle of August -- but he's expected to return to the lineup Friday. The injury might explain why he has been in such a slump in the second half, so unless he lights it up over the weekend, you'll want to steer clear of him in mixed leagues ... The 38-year-old Todd Helton is once again suffering from a sore back, which is more or less the story of his career. The Rockies are out of contention, so they have no reason to push him down the stretch and might actually prefer to see some younger options. He'll probably return over the weekend -- he's aiming for Friday, actually -- but the back issue is reason enough to distrust him with a championship on the line.

Second base

Jason Kipnis, who had been out since Aug. 12 with a hamstring injury, returned to the lineup Tuesday. If he's able to pick up where he left off -- hitting .333 (17 for 51) with six homers and two steals in his final 12 games before the injury -- he'll be worth activating even in mixed leagues, so keep a close eye on him over the weekend. Taylor Green was a surprise contributor for the Brewers at Triple-A Nashville this year, hitting .336 with 22 homers and a .997 OPS, and he'll get a chance to show if he can translate at least some measure of that ability to the majors with Rickie Weeks still working his way back from an ankle injury. Weeks is off the DL, but he'll be limited to pinch hitting until he's able to run the bases with ease, so Green could be an interesting short-term fill-in in NL-only leagues.

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

Heating up
Dan Uggla: .302 (16 for 53), 6 HRs, 1.082 OPS, 21 Ks in 16 games
Aaron Hill: .463 (19 for 41), 1 HR, 1.221 OPS, 3 BBs, 3 Ks in 10 games
Ian Kinsler: .310 (9 for 29), 7 HRs, 1 SB, 1.486 OPS, 4 BBs, 4 Ks in seven games

Cooling off
Neil Walker: .170 (8 for 47), 2 HRs, .617 OPS, 9 BBs, 10 Ks in 14 games
Ben Zobrist: .135 (7 for 52), two extra-base hits, 1 SB, .340 OPS, 2 BBs, 13 Ks in 13 games
Gordon Beckham: .115 (3 for 26), no extra-base hits, .322 OPS in nine games

Worth a second look
Dustin Ackley (64 percent started): After hitting his first rookie speed bump, Ackley seems to be back on track, batting .417 with a homer, two steals and a 1.102 OPS over his last 10 games. For whatever reason, he likes hitting at home, putting together a .907 OPS there compared to .796 on the road, so he should like the Mariners' six games at home this week. And so should you.
Jemile Weeks (58 percent): Weeks is still red hot, batting .387 (24 for 62) with seven stolen bases over his last 14 games, and if his splits are any indication, he won't be slowing down anytime soon. The Athletics play seven games at home and face nothing but right-handers this week. Weeks is batting .331 at home and .315 against righties. Unless you absolutely need homers from your second baseman, he's as good of an option as any.

Approach with caution
Ben Zobrist (84 percent started): Zobrist is batting .135 (7 for 52) over his last 13 games, which would be an excusable slump if he didn't just miss two games with a neck issue much like the one he had last year. The Rays say it's not as serious, and maybe Zobrist's return to the lineup supports their claim. But he was able to play through the injury last year as well and ended up hitting .177 in the second half. You could do worse than Zobrist in Fantasy, obviously, but if you play in a league shallow enough that players like Dustin Ackley and Jemile Weeks are available, he's benchable.
Kelly Johnson (60 percent): The pixie dust seems to have worn off from the ever-streaky Johnson's arrival in Toronto. He's batting just .091 (2 for 22) over his last six games. Maybe that's too small of a sample size to mean anything, but with the Blue Jays scheduled to play only five games this week, Johnson is a long shot to make a big Fantasy impact anyway. You're better off avoiding him.

Injury concerns
Chase Utley took a pitch off the head Wednesday and eventually left with concussion-like symptoms. The Phillies don't consider the issue to be serious, but they plan to sit him for a couple games. Given the unpredictable nature of concussions and the fact that the Phillies have more or less secured the top seed in the NL, Utley could end up sitting longer than expected. If he doesn't return over the weekend, you're taking a chance by starting him in mixed leagues, even with the team's favorable matchups this week.

Third base

The Reds apparently want to see what they have in Juan Francisco, starting him five of the last seven games at third base. Todd Frazier and Miguel Cairo had previously been splitting time there, and both will likely continue to see starts on occasion. Francisco has some power, as he showed by hitting 15 homers in 300 at-bats at Triple-A Louisville, but his lack of plate discipline could prevent him from becoming an everyday player. You can leave him for deeper NL-only leagues. The Rockies have been experimenting with converted catcher Jordan Pacheco at third base, which limits Kevin Kouzmanoff's already limited appeal. Pacheco isn't considered a high-upside player, though. Chris Davis, back after a stint on the DL to rest his ailing shoulder, is playing third base for the Orioles instead of first. He still hasn't proven he can hit at the major-league level, though, so you can leave him for AL-only leagues.

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

Heating up
Chipper Jones: .372 (29 for 78), 6 HRs, 13 RBI, 1.079 OPS, 8 BBs, 9 Ks in 23 games
Brett Lawrie: .340 (18 for 53), 5 HRs, 5 SBs, 1.228 OPS in 15 games
Brent Morel: .333 (8 for 24), 1 HR, .907 OPS in seven games

Cooling off
Mark Reynolds: .179 (5 for 28), 1 HR, 1 SB, .660 OPS, 5 BBs, 16 Ks in eight games
Ryan Zimmerman: .172 (5 for 29), no extra-base hits, .398 OPS in seven games
Mike Moustakas: .100 (2 for 20), .243 OPS, 1 BB, 2 Ks in five games

Worth a second look
Emilio Bonifacio (79 percent started): Bonifacio just keeps on producing, batting .419 (13 for 31) with three stolen bases over his last seven games. He's averaging 21.2 Head-to-Head points over the last 10 weeks, which means his starting percentage is embarrassingly low. At either third base or shortstop, you have to find away to get him in your lineup, especially with the Marlins scheduled for eight games this week.
Chipper Jones (50 percent): Jones gets regular days off at age 39, but as hot as he's been since the All-Star break, you might want to think about activating him if you need help at third base. Even with the reduced at-bats, he has scored at least 19 Head-to-Head points in three of the last four weeks. Plus, he's facing low-end pitchers like Chris Volstad, Brad Hand, Miguel Batista and Dillon Gee this week.

Approach with caution
Mark Reynolds (78 percent started): In some cases, you might have no choice but to start Reynolds, but if you have options, this week would be a good time to sit him. Not only has he cooled off from his late-August hot streak, but he's batting just .176 at home, where the Orioles play all six of their games this week. And oh yeah, he's facing Jeff Niemann, David Price, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana in four of those games.
Danny Valencia (37 percent): The Twins play only five games this week, which is reason enough to lean against starting a borderline player like Valencia. The fact that four of the five pitchers he's facing are righties pretty much clinches it. He's batting .228 with a .641 OPS against righties compared to .308 and .841 against lefties.

Injury concerns
None.

Shortstop

Most Added Hitters
* as of Sept. 9
Player % increase
1. David Murphy, OF, Rangers 22
2. Cliff Pennington, SS, Athletics 18
3. Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers 14
4. Dexter Fowler, OF, Rockies 13
5. Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers 12
6. Jesus Montero, C, Yankees 11
7. James Loney, 1B, Dodgers 8
8. Lucas Duda, 1B, Mets 8
9. Aaron Hill, 2B, Diamondbacks 6
10. Alex Presley, OF, Pirates 6

Not much happening at the shortstop position now that Hanley Ramirez has been ruled out for the season. Edgar Renteria has been getting the majority of the starts for the Reds lately and has performed surprisingly well, batting .429 (9 for 21) with a homer over his last five games. Still, he has been irrelevant for too long for you to look into using him outside of deeper NL-only leagues.

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

Heating up
Elvis Andrus: .364 (16 for 44), 1 HR, 3 SBs, 1.059 OPS, 11 BBs, 5 Ks in 12 games
Troy Tulowitzki: .364 (8 for 22), 2 HRs, 9 RBI, 1.122 OPS in six games
Derek Jeter: .375 (9 for 24), 1 HR, 2 SBs, .965 OPS in six games
Marco Scutaro: .563 (9 for 16), 4 2Bs, 9 RBI, 1.444 OPS, 3 BBs, 1 K in four games

Cooling off
Asdrubal Cabrera: .143 (8 for 56), 2 HRs, .486 OPS, 4 BBs, 17 Ks in 14 games
Darwin Barney: .079 (3 for 38), two extra-base hits, 1 SB, .254 OPS in 12 games
Sean Rodriguez: .167 (5 for 30), 1 HR, 1 SB, .606 OPS in 10 games
J.J. Hardy: .167 (5 for 30), one extra-base hit, .394 OPS in seven games

Worth a second look
Jimmy Rollins (29 percent started): Jimmy Rollins, who had been out since Aug. 21 with a groin injury, was activated from the disabled list Thursday. He's not ready to return to the starting lineup just yet, but if you've been struggling to find a replacement for him since his injury, he might just be worth the gamble this week. The Phillies play eight games. If Rollins can return for even four or five of them, starting him will have been worth your while. Honestly, what's Alex Gonzalez or Jason Bartlett going to do for you?
Dee Gordon (21 percent): On the other hand, if Gordon is still available in your league, you might want to go with him instead. The speedy prospect and second-generation major-leaguer is beginning to show flashes -- that's a pun on multiple levels -- of his potential, batting .462 (12 for 26) with four steals in six games since returning from a shoulder injury. He still doesn't walk enough, but if he continues to steal bases at this rate, he'll be good enough for mixed-league use.

Approach with caution
Yunel Escobar (67 percent started): Escobar missed a couple games recently with a jammed wrist, and though he looked fine in his return Tuesday, the likelihood of such an injury having a lingering effect is high enough that you should at least weigh your alternatives. Even if Escobar has a huge weekend and renders the argument moot, the fact that the Blue Jays are scheduled for only five games this week makes him less than an automatic start.
Darwin Barney (38 percent): Barney has been nothing short of miserable over the last couple weeks, and as a slap-hitter with minimal base-stealing ability, he has to be nothing short of excellent to make a real impact in mixed leagues. Your only incentive to start him right now is desperation.

Injury concerns
None.

Outfield

The uncertainty and frustration of Andre Ethier's season is finally over. After attempting to play through a knee injury for several weeks, the Dodgers outfielder will miss the rest of the season, presumably to have surgery. He had been a disappointment in Fantasy because of his loss of power -- something he at least partially attributed to the injury -- so the finality of this decision might come as a relief to some Fantasy owners. Rookie Jerry Sands could see increased at-bats in Ethier's absence, but he hasn't performed consistently enough for mixed-league use. Reds prospect Yonder Alonso, normally a first baseman, has been getting more time in left field ahead of Chris Heisey and Dave Sappelt, apparently proving his bat is too valuable to keep out of the lineup. Given his OPS potential, he's certainly worth adding in NL-only leagues, but his at-bats still aren't consistent enough for mixed-league use. The situation certainly bears watching, though. Joe Benson, another high-OPS guy in the minors, has been getting starts in the Twins outfield, but he isn't quite as polished as Alonso and might have some struggles to begin his career. You can leave him for AL-only leagues.

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

Heating up
Jacoby Ellsbury: .360 (18 for 50), 2 HRs, 1 SB, 1.128 OPS, 7 BBs, 8 Ks during 12-game hit streak
David Murphy: .449 (22 for 49), 4 HRs, 17 RBI, 2 SBs, 1.287 OPS in 12 games
Dexter Fowler: .412 (14 for 34), 4 HRs, 1 SB, 1.503 OPS, 3 BBs, 3 Ks in eight games
Angel Pagan: .345 (10 for 29), 1 3B, 2 2Bs, 2 SBs, .828 OPS in seven games
Alex Rios: .367 (11 for 30), 1 HR, 1 SB, .810 OPS in seven games
Alex Presley: .414 (12 for 29), 1 HR, 2 SBs, 1.141 OPS in seven games
Jay Bruce: .360 (9 for 25), 1 HR, .949 OPS, 3 BBs, 9 Ks in six games
Jeff Francoeur: .385 (10 for 26), 2 HRs, 8 RBI, 1 SB, 1.115 OPS, 0 BBs, 8 Ks in six games
Jon Jay: .611 (11 for 18), 2 HRs, 1.743 OPS, 0 BBs, 0 Ks in five games

Cooling off
Chris Young: .133 (18 for 135), 3 HRs, 7 SBs, .497 OPS, 39 Ks in 40 games
Martin Prado: .130 (7 for 54), one extra-base hit, .338 OPS, 4 BBs, 5 Ks in 14 games
Adam Jones: .128 (6 for 47), 1 HR, 1 SB, .423 OPS in 14 games
Michael Cuddyer: .122 (5 for 41), one extra-base hit, .309 OPS, 1 BB, 12 Ks in 12 games
Desmond Jennings: .114 (4 for 35), 1 HR, 1 SB, .405 OPS in nine games
Nick Swisher: .115 (3 for 26), 1 HR, .438 OPS in seven games
Eric Thames: .091 (2 for 22), one extra-base hit, .336 OPS, 1 BB, 7 Ks in seven games
Mike Trout: .158 (3 for 19), one extra-base hit, .483 OPS, 2 BBs, 3 Ks in seven games
Marlon Byrd: .056 (1 for 18), no extra-base hits, 1 SB, .237 OPS in five games

Worth a second look
Carlos Beltran (74 percent started): Fantasy owners have been slow to come around on Beltran since his return from a hand injury that never seemed to heal completely, but he's batting .632 (12 for 19) with two doubles, a triple and a homer over his last five games. Numbers like that don't happen by accident, so you can assume he's healthy enough. And with four games at Coors Field to end the week -- including two against rookie pitchers -- you can assume he'll keep delivering.
Angel Pagan (65 percent): Pagan continues to put up 15-to-20-point weeks in Head-to-Head leagues, and Fantasy owners continue to overlook him. He's off to a hot start in September and is batting .324 (44 for 136) with three homers and 10 steals since the beginning of August. With good matchups against Brad Peacock, Chien-Ming Wang, Ross Detwiler and Tommy Milone to kick off the week, he deserves to be starting in mixed leagues.
Juan Pierre (63 percent): After a slow start this season, Pierre has become a reliable Fantasy option, scoring at least 10 Head-to-Head points in nine of the last 10 weeks. With good matchups this week against the Twins and Royals rotations, he should come closer to 20. With so little risk attached to him, why not take a chance on him?
Coco Crisp (50 percent): Crisp returned from a bruised right foot with a double and a steal Wednesday, so he seems to be a-OK, which means I'm back to touting his underratedness. Among the outfielders he has outscored this year: Michael Morse, Josh Hamilton and Drew Stubbs. The Athletics face nothing but right-handers in their seven-game week, and he's batting .298 against righties compared to .223 against lefties. Whether you need steals or not, he's worth starting.
Logan Morrison (36 percent): OK, so Morrison hasn't hit the cover off the ball since returning from his 10-day exile in the minors. But he has regained the batting eye that made him such a highly-regarded prospect in the first place, walking nine times in 10 games for a .378 on-base percentage (compared to a .222 batting average). With matchups against Mike Minor, Randall Delgado, John Lannan and Chien-Ming Wang this week, his stroke could come around as well, and even if it doesn't, he could still make a worthwhile contribution with eight games on the schedule.

Approach with caution
Brett Gardner (81 percent started): Gardner regained the confidence of Fantasy owners with a hot May and June, but since about the beginning of the second half, he has struggled, batting .221 (36 for 163) in 45 games. His performance against left-handers has been a struggle all season. In fact, he has gone back to sitting against them much of the time in favor of Andruw Jones. With three lefties on the schedule in a six-game week for the Yankees, you should probably look into other options in mixed leagues.
Chris Young (71 percent): Finally, we have an explanation for why Young is batting .147 since the All-Star break. He has been bothered by a wrist injury -- and apparently a strained ligament in his thumb -- during that time. While it's good to know and all, it also likely condemns him to even more struggles. You shouldn't expect him to bounce back this week, especially with the Diamondbacks on the road.
Michael Cuddyer (63 percent): Cuddyer had a run not too long ago when he was a must-start Fantasy option, but he can't seem to stay healthy now, sitting out most recently with a wrist injury. Between it and the sore neck, he might be in and out of the lineup over the last couple weeks. With the Twins playing only five games this week, that doesn't leave him much playing time.
Alfonso Soriano (50 percent): The all-or-nothing Soriano seems to be cooling off again with only one extra-base hit in his last six games. With six right-handers on the schedule, the odds are against him bouncing back this week. He's hitting .237 against righties with an OPS 100 points lower than against lefties. Now isn't the time to start him in mixed leagues.
Seth Smith (38 percent): Between Eric Young and Ty Wigginton, Smith is clearly back to being a platoon player for the Rockies. While he can still be useful in such a role, the matchups have to be in his favor for you to consider starting him in a mixed league. Clearly, that's not the case this week, when the only three righties on tap are near-aces Zack Greinke, Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain.

Injury concerns
A couple of early-round outfielders -- Nelson Cruz (hamstring) and Shin-Soo Choo (oblique) -- are both aiming to return Tuesday after minimum stays on the 15-day DL, rushing back from injuries that typically require more than two weeks of recovery. If all goes according to plan, they'll get to play a full week, so should you start them in Fantasy or not? You wouldn't be crazy if you decide to go that route. In fact, given their potential, you could be richly rewarded. But if you feel good about your backup options and feel they could at least come close to matching a best-case scenario for either Cruz or Choo, you should stick with them for one more week. Cruz and Choo would be beating the timetable, remember. A setback in the first game back could mean the end of your season ... Jason Kubel has had to sit recently with soreness in his left foot -- the same one he sprained back in May, costing him about two months. Any recurrence of an injury that significant -- no matter how mild it may seem at first -- is reason for concern in Fantasy, especially with the season so close to being over. Kubel hasn't been hitting well enough for mixed-league use lately anyway ... Mike Stanton has been out since Sept. 3 with a hamstring injury, but he was aiming to return Friday. Considering he has been able to pinch hit with the injury, that's a likely scenario. As long as he returns at some point during the weekend, you'll want to get him active with the Marlins' good matchups coming up ... Jose Tabata, who had been attempting to play through what the team called a wrist injury, was diagnosed with a broken bone in his left hand Tuesday. The team will reevaluate him in a week or so, but for Fantasy purposes, his season is more or less over. The good news is Alex Presley should get consistent at-bats as a result, making him a viable sleeper.

Best 5 Hitting Schedules for Week 24
Team 9/12 9/13 9/14 9/15 9/16 9/17 9/18
Phillies @HOU @HOU @HOU FLA (x2) STL STL STL
vs. Myers vs. Happ vs. Norris vs. Nolasco, Sanabia vs. Garcia vs. Westbrook vs. Lohse
Doubleheader gives Phillies eight games, with a struggling Jaime Garcia the best pitcher on schedule.
White Sox DET DET DET @KC @KC @KC @KC
vs. Porcello vs. Verlander vs. Penny vs. Francis vs. Paulino vs. Teaford vs. Chen
Verlander is obviously a challenge, but the others aren't even guaranteed rotation spots next year.
Marlins @ATL @ATL @ATL @PHI (x2) @WAS @WAS @WAS
vs. Beachy vs. Minor vs. Delgado vs. Lee, Kendrick vs. Lannan vs. Strasburg vs. Wang
Even with three top pitchers here, Marlins have five games to tee off. Aren't eight-game weeks great?
Rays @BAL @BAL @BAL @BOS @BOS @BOS @BOS
vs. Britton vs. Simon vs. Guthrie vs. Miller vs. Bedard vs. Lester vs. Wakefield
Another case of a clear ace and little else. Rays rank lower because Britton, Bedard at least decent.
Giants SD SD SD @COL @COL @COL @COL
vs. Harang vs. Luebke vs. Latos vs. Chacin vs. White vs. Pomeranz vs. Rogers
These matchups not exactly cupcakes, but you'll take four games at Coors Field in a seven-game week.
-----------------------------
Worst 5 Hitting Schedules for Week 24
Team 9/12 9/13 9/14 9/15 9/16 9/17 9/18
Red Sox -- TOR TOR TB TB TB TB
-- vs. Morrow vs. Romero vs. Hellickson vs. Shields vs. Niemann vs. Price
Yes, Morrow and Niemann are slumping, but if they even halfway rebound, Red Sox will be in trouble.
Astros PHI PHI PHI -- @CHC @CHC @CHC
vs. Oswalt vs. Hamels vs. Halladay -- vs. Garza vs. Lopez vs. Dempster
Three games against Phillies staff is hard enough without throwing Garza and Dempster into the mix.
Orioles TB TB TB -- LAA LAA LAA
vs. Niemann vs. Price vs. Davis -- vs. Haren vs. Santana vs. Pineiro
It actually could be worse for the Orioles. They could have Shields and Weaver on the schedule as well.
Rockies -- @MIL @MIL SF SF SF SF
-- vs. Greinke vs. Narveson vs. Vogelsong vs. Bumgarner vs. Surkamp vs. Cain
Rockies get four games at home, but considering the arms they'll be facing there, it won't help much.
Twins -- @KC @KC -- CLE CLE CLE
-- vs. Chen vs. Hochevar -- vs. Carmona vs. Jimenez vs. Masterson
Surprisingly, this is the most difficult of the three five-game weeks. An off day hurts more than an ace.

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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Angel Pagan starts rookie-level rehab assignment
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(1:30 am ET) Giants outfielder Angel Pagan began a minor-league rehab assignment Thursday with the rookie-league Giants. He played the field for five innings and finished 2 for 3 with a pair of doubles.

Pagan has been out since June 14 with a back injury. It remains to be seen how many at-bats he'll need in the minors before rejoining the big-league club.

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Over his last two starts covering eight innings, Collmenter has allowed nine earned runs. He owns a 4.07 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP over 119 1/3 innings of work. His next start will come Wednesday at home against Kansas City.

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(1:16 am ET) Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke was blasted by the Diamondbacks on Thursday, dropping to 2-3 on the year. The right-hander permitted six runs -- four earned -- on nine hits and two walks while striking out five over 5 1/3 innings of a 7-4 defeat.

Over his last three starts covering 18 innings, Locke has allowed 13 runs. He owns a 3.77 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP over 11 starts (74 innings). He will make his next start Wednesday at home against Miami.

Chasen Shreve sent down to Triple-A Gwinnett
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(1:12 am ET) The Braves optioned left-hander Chasen Shreve down to Triple-A Gwinnett following Thursday's game against the Dodgers. Shreve allowed one run in five innings of relief this season.

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(1:10 am ET) Braves pitcher Julio Teheran went the distance but was pegged with a tough-luck loss Thursday night in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. The right-hander yielded two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out nine over eight innings of a 2-1 defeat.

Over his last three starts covering 21 innings, Teheran has allowed six earned runs. He owns a 2.69 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP over 23 starts (157 1/3 innings). He will make his next start Wednesday in Seattle.

Clayton Kershaw goes the distance in dominant win over Braves
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(1:06 am ET) Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw turned in another dominant effort and went the distance on Thursday against the Braves, improving to 13-2 on the year. The left-handed ace allowed one run on nine hits and no walks while striking out nine over nine innings of a 2-1 victory.

Since June 1, Kershaw is 10-0 with a 0.94 ERA and a 104:8 K:BB ratio in 11 starts. The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner is somehow managing to improve his numbers from last season. He has four complete games and owns a 1.71 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP over 121 1/3 innings of work. His next start will come Tuesday at home against the Angels.

Andrelton Simmons playing through shoulder issue
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(12:59 am ET) Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons aggravated a right shoulder injury Wednesday, but is expected to play through the pain, MLB.com reports. He is hitting .254 with five homers and 36 RBI in 386 at-bats.

"It's not that bad, but it's definitely a nagging thing," Simmons said. "But it's not to where I can't play. If I need to put a little extra on my throws, I'll feel it a little bit."

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