Weekly Rundown: Matt Palmer knows how to work the opposition, Garden Weasel

Brad Evans

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.

LEADING OFF

Angels pitcher Matt Palmer(notes) might be the only person in the major leagues who could accurately note the genus, origin and proper pronunciation of amorphophallus paeoniifolius.

The 30-year-old career minor leaguer, who graduated from Missouri State with a degree in horticulture, is an amazing story of persistence and perseverance. After failing to sip a cup of coffee with the Giants, he almost ditched baseball entirely in 2005 to pursue a career in landscape design. But pushed by his wife to continue chasing his big league dream, Palmer, who signed a minor league with LAA this past offseason, fulfilled his ultimate fantasy after injuries and tragedy paved the way for a promotion from Salt Lake.

Surely, his terrific tale will one day be retold in a film starring Dennis Quaid.

Recalled April 22, Palmer has flowered into a valuable rotation caboose for the Angels and fantasy owners in deep mixed leagues. In four starts, he's posted an unblemished 4-0 mark, notching a respectable 3.38 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Wednesday night against Boston, he impressively tossed a complete game, retiring the final 19 batters. The pitcher's immediate success isn't a surprise to Giants backstop Bengie Molina(notes) who always believed Palmer had the stuff to make a splash in the bigs. Per MLB.com:

"I always thought he was good. He moved the ball -- sinkers, cutters, curveballs. It's great to see him doing well over there."

Checking under the hood, Palmer must be carrying a four-leaf clover. His very fortunate .191 BABIP and field independent pitching forecast suggests his ERA should be well north of 4.00. His lack of overpowering stuff (86-89 mph fastball, 5.58 K/9), spotty command (3.38 BB/9), high contact rates (86.0 CT%) and mediocre minor league track-record are all harbingers of rough outings to come.

But because he's still fresh on the scene, pitching with supreme confidence and coaxing an admirable amount of grounders (1.23 GB/FB), another week of serviceable returns are possible.

With matchups this week against the powerless Mariners (4.0 rpg) and Manny-less Dodgers in two very forgiving parks, the 22 percent-owned Angel could be a heavenly stream option in 12-team and deeper mixed formats. But if Lady Luck again watches over him, selling high in deeper formats is a sage move.

Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 130 IP, 7 W, 4.88 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 76 K

QUICK HITTERS

Garrett Atkins(notes) has been temporarily placed in a travel-sized cooler. The slumping third basemen, who is mired in 4-for-42 nosedive, hasn't registered a multi-hit game since April 27. He also hasn't reached the bleachers in 16 straight contests. Clint Hurdle is understandably exhausted by Atkins' lack of production:

"We tried everything, including the old 'forget everything and just hit' approach. I've tried to find different ways to catch a fuse for him, and yesterday it was putting him in the cleanup spot based on a matchup and faith...Right now, we've got to go out there the best way we can to win a ballgame. He understands that. I told him I'm not going to ice him, but I'm going to get him involved when I think it's the right fit."

The move to demote Atkins is appropriate. When provided opportunity Ian Stewart(notes) has flashed game-changing power and deserves routine playing time.

The super-chilled third basemen experienced a similar horrific start in '07, but rapidly turned things around. That season, after hitting .223 in April/May, he rebound with a .338-22-91-66 line from June 1 on.

Obviously, the veteran's misfortune makes him expendable in shallow mixed leagues. But for those in deep-benched 12-team formats and larger he shouldn't be banished to free agency just yet.

St. Louis area native Randy Wells(notes), only 42.2 innings short of tying Orel Hershiser for the major league's consecutive scoreless innings record, extended his untouched streak to 16.1 after tossing six brilliant innings against Houston on Saturday. Unfortunately, Kevin Gregg(notes) surrendered the lead in the ninth, preventing Wells from netting his first career victory.

Known for his sharp command and cool demeanor, the converted catcher has generated an impressive 2.11 GB/FB ratio and 7.36 K/9 in two starts. He doesn't possess blow-away stuff, but his three-pitch rotation -- 90-91 mph sinking fastball, slider and change -- have proven deadly when mixed effectively.

Lou Piniella will decide after Sean Marshall's(notes) start Thursday whether the southpaw or Wells will remain the rotation when Carlos Zambrano(notes) returns. Because the Cubs lack lefties in the pen, it appears the budding righty, who is owned in just seven percent of Y! Plus leagues, is the frontrunner. He's officially a player of interest in 14-team mixed leagues.

• Battered, bruised or should not be used: Frank Francisco(notes) (biceps, DL'ed; C.J. Wilson(notes) will continue to net short-term save opps), Joe Crede(notes) (back, out until at least Monday), Josh Fields(notes) (temporarily benched), Hiroki Kuroda(notes) (oblique, expected to start rehab assignment soon), Elijah Dukes(notes) (hammy, day-to-day), Carlos Delgado(notes) (hip, on 15-day DL), Pat Burrell(notes) (neck, could return Monday), Luke Scott(notes) (should, placed on 15-day DL), Jose Reyes (calf, day-to-day), Carlos Quentin(notes) (heel, day-to-day), Magglio Ordonez(notes), (personal matter, will miss next few games), Kevin Youkilis(notes) (oblique, will begin two-game rehab stint Monday), David Ortiz(notes) (mental vacation)

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.


Other AL Double Dippers: Brandon McCarthy(notes), Tex (at Det, at Hou), Jeff Niemann(notes), TB (Oak, at Fla), Dontrelle Willis(notes), Det (Tex, Col), Sean Gallagher(notes), Oak (at TB, Ari), Josh Outman(notes), Oak (at TB, Ari), Clayton Richard(notes), ChW (at Tor, Pit), Brad Bergesen(notes), Bal (at NYY, at Was)


Other NL Double Dippers: Mike Hampton(notes), Hou (Mil, Tex), Braden Looper(notes), Mil (at StL, at Min), Bryan Augenstein(notes), Ari (at Fla, at Oak), Jason Hammel(notes), Col (at Atl, at Det), Tim Redding(notes), NYM (at LAD, at Bos), Jeff Karstens(notes), Pit (at Was, at ChW), Jason Marquis(notes), Col (at Atl, at Det)

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(notes) is fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through May 16:


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Image courtesy of US Presswire