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Weekly Rundown: Even Somali pirates fear Mike Hampton

Brad Evans
Roto Arcade

Known as the Sacagawea of fantasy primers, the Weekly Rundown guides head-to-head owners through a forest of obscure stats and exploitable matchups in an attempt to help solve lineup conundrums. While reading, keep in mind matchups are subject to change due to managerial moves, unforeseen injuries and Mother Nature's influences.

Note: Due to BBQ/family committments, this week's Rundown is slightly condensed. Have a safe, but explosive Fourth!

LEADING OFF

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Stepping away from the geek machines this holiday weekend, several fantasy owners will likely engage in a variety of risky behaviors. Diet beer consumption, Roman candle wars and whiffle ball games a handful of days removed from surgical sterilization are sure to jeopardize the health of many.

The virtual masses would universally agree plucking Mike Hampton(notes) off waivers is also a perilous activity. But the seemingly ancient hurler is in a prime position to post explosive numbers this upcoming week.

Umm, yes, you read that correctly.

In his past four starts, the former All-Star has been stealthily effective. Though matched against infirm opponents (Pit (2), Ari, SD), he's emerged victorious twice and tallied a 2.16 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 25 innings. More impressively, he's accumulated a 64.9 groundball percentage over that stretch. According to ‘Stros pitching coach Dewy Robinson, Hampton's sudden resurrection is primarily due to a renewed emphasis on his four-seam fastball:

"We felt some of the teams were just sitting on his off-speed stuff, his sinker, his changeup, his curveball and slider. He needed to speed up the bats because they were sitting on the off-speed."

Playing hot potato with a short-wicked M-80 might seem less endangering than trusting an over-the-hill starter in an unforgiving ballpark, but with home matchups against Pittsburgh and Washington, he's unmistakably user-friendly.

In three starts this season against the Bucs (20 IP), he's dominated, racking an impeccable 3-0 record with a 0.90 ERA, 0.70 WHIP and ridiculous 16:2 K:BB split. The southpaw has yet to face the Nationals this year, but the perpetual basement dwellers have batted .244 and averaged a mere 3.6 runs/game since June 1, the fifth-worst mark on the senior circuit.

Obviously, he's a one-week rental in 14-team mixed leagues, but based on his gracious slate, the six percent-owned Astro is a terrific roll-of-the-dice option.

Fearless Forecast (this week): 14 IP, 2 W, 1.93 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 10 K

Battered, bruised or should not be used: Aramis Ramirez(notes) (rehabbing in low minors, returns Monday), Erik Bedard(notes) (smooth simulated game Friday, may start Tuesday), Kevin Slowey(notes) (DL'ed with strained right wrist), Scott Downs(notes) (should be activated by Monday), Josh Hamilton(notes) (rehabbing at Triple-A Oklahoma City, will suit up for Texas sometime this week), Edinson Volquez(notes) (started throwing session, probably 2-3 weeks away), Raul Ibanez(notes) (rehab assignment now won't start until Sunday, late-week activation likely), Ryan Doumit(notes) (participated in first rehab game without restriction, back right after break), Juan Pierre(notes) (Man-Rammed)

DOUBLE DIPPERS

For stream conscious owners who want to push the innings-pitched envelope this is the list for you. Run support, ballpark factors, historical and recent trends, opposing offenses, opposing SPs, managerial tendencies and meteorological influences are painstakingly taken into account to give you the top double dippers of each week.

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Other AL Double Dippers: Brett Anderson(notes), Oak (at Bos, at TB), Jeremy Sowers(notes), Cle (at ChW, at Det)

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Other NL Double Dippers: Barry Zito(notes), SF (Fla, SD), Sean West(notes), Fla (at SF, at Ari), Jordan Zimmermann(notes), Was (at Col, at Hou), Jason Hammel(notes), Col (Was, Atl), Jon Garland(notes), Ari (SD, Fla), Walter Silva(notes), SD (at Ari, at SF), Virgil Vasquez(notes), Pit (at Hou, at Phi), Craig Stammen(notes), Was (at Col, at Hou)

FEAST OR FAMINE?

Torn between two stat-similar infielders this week? Use the pitching and hitting staff sorters below to help you decide whether or not Adam LaRoche or Rick Porcello is fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through July 3:

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