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 OFFBehind every darkened corner of the waiver wire a fantasy ninja lurks. Though underappreciated by shallow leaguers, these masters of the mound, not the martial, arts are fearsome commodities who can aid owners in their attempt to sneak up on the competition.
Barely old enough to legally imbibe an adult beverage, the cherub-faced 21-year-old has already earned a green belt. Flying way under-the-radar (16 percent-owned), the rookie has posted six-straight quality outings, yielding three earned runs or less in each. Despite unspectacular strikeout totals, minimal run support and team-wide defensive gaffes, he's netted an admirable yield over the past month -- 37.1 IP, 2 W, 2.65 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 5.58 K/9. Per Baseball Monster, that output has turned the once undependable righty into a trustworthy back-of-the-rotation staple. During that stretch, he's even outperformed rotation anchors Carlos Zambrano(notes), Cliff Lee(notes) and Chad Billingsley(notes).
He's benefited greatly from fortunate circumstances, indicative in his .269 BABIP, 3.66 BB/9 and 5.07 FIP. But the most important factor behind his rapid advancement is the inclusion of a front-door sinker. A similar pitch Greg Maddux(notes) mastered during his legendary career, the gravity ball has drawn abundant groundballs (1.54 GB/FB) and confounded lefties, hitters who've historically befuddled Cahill.
Unquestionably serviceable in eight Coliseum starts this year (3-4, 3.67 ERA, 1.18 WHIP), he's a hurler worth serious pick-up consideration. With home matchups this week against the Rockies and offensively-challenged Giants, Cahill is primed to drive his fist through a stack of cinder blocks.
• Ignoring his 2.00 WHIP, demonstrative Detroit rookie Alfredo Figaro(notes) was impressive in his big league debut against the Brewers. Tossing 96 pitches over five innings for the W, Fernando Rodney's(notes) cousin surrendered two runs on eight hits and two walks. He also punched out seven.
Effectively wild, the 24-year-old righty, who's a harder throwing version of Jose Lima(notes), showcases two plus pitches, a sharp-moving change and an electric 93-97 mph heater. His secondary weapons -- a slider and curve -- are still a work in progress but can bewilder hitters when drawing white. However his 1.06 HR/9 at Double-A means he could be long-ball prone with the senior club. Today, Ryan Braun deposited a Figaro 82 mph changeup into Comerica's left field bleachers.
With Dontrelle Willis(notes) logging additional time on the psychologist's couch, Figaro will take the ball every fifth day over at least the next two weeks. Based on his quality strikeouts history in the minors (7.81 K/9 at Erie), improving command (2.25 BB/9) and offensive support, he could cement a permanent rotation spot with a couple more quality starts. Consider him near-term useful in AL-only and very deep mixed leagues.
• Another product from the deep recesses of the waiver wire that's suddenly proved very productive is Cleveland's Luis Valbuena(notes). Filling in for injured starter Asdrubal Cabrera(notes), the slick-fielding infielder clubbed two homers Saturday against the Cubs -- his second and third of the series. Scorching in Interleague action, he has slapped eight hits and driven in eight in his past 19 at-bats.
Per Baseball America, the lefty-swinger is a contact hitter with an above average line-drive stroke. He also possesses low double-digit upside in power and speed. Last year between two levels in the Mariners system, he totaled a respectable .303 BA with 11 homers, 60 RBI and 18 steals.
Valbuena has looked overpowered at times, evident in his 31.6 strikeout percentage, but with Cabrera not expected to return until at least Saturday, and with tasty matchups against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, he is employable in leagues where free agent options are exhausted.
• Battered, bruised or should not be used: Grady Sizemore(notes) (elbow, revving up baseball activities), Joey Votto(notes) (stress, rehabbing in minors, could return midweek), Ryan Howard(notes) (flu, day-to-day), Jermaine Dye(notes) (strained calf, day-to-day), Carlos Beltran(notes) (knee, precautionary MRI scheduled this week), Xavier Nady(notes) (elbow, rehabbing on the farm; about 10-14 days from activation), Chris Young (Ari) (groin, will only miss weekend, but awesome .204 BA worthy of permanent deactivation), Denard Span(notes) (inner ear infection, scheduled to return Friday), Ervin Santana(notes) (forearm, positive flat ground exercise; could toe the rubber for Angels Tuesday), Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes) (destined to be served with side of wasabi; rotation turn will be skipped)
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: None
Other NL Double Dippers: Joel Piniero, StL (at NYM, Min)
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 June 19:
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