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.
As we head into this week's action, here's the nitty-gritty on a handful of notable names:
• Beleaguered Twinkie Francisco Liriano took a major step forward in his attempt to recapture the hearts and minds of the Minnesota and fantasy faithful. Pitching for Triple-A Rochester on Saturday, the gun-slinging southpaw hurled 6.1 dynamite innings against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He punched out a rehab-high seven batters, walked one and yielded one run on three hits. Red Wings skipper Stan Cliburn summarized Liriano's encouraging outing by simply stating, "He keeps getting better and better."
Including his six earned run shellacking on May 26, the once dazzling Dominican has posted a 3.60 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and, most importantly, a 18:4 K:BB in 30 IP. If he can string together another 2-3 quality starts, Ron Gardenhire and company will be hard-pressed to leave Liriano toiling in Western New York through the end of June.
Whispers have circulated in Minnesota about possibly moving the maligned starter back into a relief role. But Gardenhire squashed those rumors telling MLB.com May 27:
"He's going to start. He's been through enough. Coming off a surgery like that, that's not something you want...Down the road, if it looks like he can't be a starter, then you start considering that. But there has been no talk about that."
With his velocity and craftiness improving with each appearance, it's time for owners to seek out the 24-year-old's services immediately. It's impossible to accurately project what he could accomplish when promoted, but with his velocity creeping close to pre-TJ levels and his control harnessed it's not implausible he could notch a sub-4.00 ERA, 7.00-plus K/9 and appreciable WHIP numbers after the break. If you're leaning on say, Scott Olsen, to be the caboose of your rotation, Liriano, owned in less than a third of Y! leagues, is someone to stash pronto.
• The lights are slowly dimming on the National's Zim. Powerful hot corner Ryan Zimmerman acknowledged in the Washington Post on Saturday that shoulder pain will likely be a persistent issue for him the remainder of the season.
The shoulder is feeling better each day, he said. He can't foresee a trip to the disabled list. He added, though, that he sometimes feels a "sharp pain" when he swings. "I wouldn't say it's all the way back," he said. "I don't know if it will be back all the way until the season is over and I have a chance to rest it for more than a week. But, you know, that's me: I want to play, and if I have to play through a little pain I don't see a problem with that. It's just a matter of making sure I can't hurt anything else further."
Considering Don Zimmer's Mesozoic-aged wing is probably in better shape than Washington's Zim, it's necessary for Zimmerman owners to install a contingency plan. The 23-year-old is on pace for a career-best 25 homers, but his dwindling BB% ('07: 8.5, '08: 4.2), lack of run-driving opportunities and shoulder woes are flashing red signs that he will greatly underachieve in several key fantasy categories (BA, R, RBI). A few recommended insurance policies owned in less than 25 percent of Y! leagues: Jorge Cantu (21.5%), Ty Wigginton (19.5%), Ramon Vazquez (7.9%), Melvin Mora (6.9%) and Ian Stewart (0.36%).
• Carlos Guillen may stockpile more eligible positions this season than boxes of Preparation H. The 1B/3B/SS qualifier will make his first start of the season in left field today. Leyland explained to MLB.com that Guillen's booty-vicious problems prompted the move:
"I really believe that Carlos Guillen, when this hemorrhoid problem gets over, I think he'll play third base very well," Leyland said after announcing the move Friday night. "Will he be [as good as] Inge? No, he won't. There aren't many of those. But I think he'll play third base plenty good enough to have that bat in the lineup and play third base. I believe that. I really do. I think he'll be fine.
For the sake of Guillen's sphincter, Jeremy Bonderman's sinking fastball better be on-point against the Mariners.
The versatile Tiger must log five starts in the outfield to gain eligibility in Y! leagues, but for those in leagues with more favorable requirement rules this is a notable designation. In terms of outfielders, classify him alongside Jeff Francoeur, Jeremy Hermida and Matt Kemp.
Hidden lumberjacks (Last 7 days): Cody Ross, Fla, OF (7-18, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 0.11% owned), Cliff Floyd, TB, OF (5-14, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 0.85%), Ryan Spilborghs, Col, OF (9-26, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 0.19%), Luis Gonzalez, Fla, OF (9-22, HR, 9 RBI, 0.34%), Jesus Flores, Was, C (6-19, HR, 7 RBI, 0.32%)
Whiffers 'o the weak (Last 7 days): Carlos Pena, TB, 1B (5-25, 13 K, 95.0%), Dan Uggla, Fla, 2B (5-28, 12 K, 99.9%), Edwin Encarnacion, Cin, 3B (4-28, 10 K, 73.9%), Justin Upton, Ari, OF (4-21, 10 K, 94.7%), Matt Kemp, LAD, OF (5-25, 8 K, 98.9%)
Inconspicuous thieves (Last 7 days): Lastings Milledge, Was, OF (7-25, 6 SB, 8.8%), Jason Bartlett, TB, SS (6-22, 5 SB, 2.7%), Jerry Hairston, Cin, 2B/SS/3B/OF (12-30, 4 SB, 3.1%), Fred Lewis, SF, OF (6-24, 4 SB, 3.9%), Alexi Casilla, Min, 2B (10-24, 2 SB, 0.71%)
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: Jake Westbrook, Cle (at Tex, at Det), Jeremy Guthrie, Bal (Bos, at Tor), Livan Hernandez, Min (NYY, at ChW), Dontrelle Willis, Det (at Oak, Cle), Doug Mathis, Tex (Cle, TB)
Other NL Double Dippers: Kyle Kendrick, Phi (Cin, at Atl), Mark Hendrickson, Fla (at Atl, Cin), Kyle Lohse, StL (at Was, at Hou), Tom Gorzelanny, Pit (at StL, at Ari), Jason Marquis, ChC (at SD, at LAD), Odalis Perez, Was (StL, SF), Adam Eaton, Phi (Cin, at Atl), Greg Reynolds, Col (at LAD, Mil), Wil Ledezma, SD (ChC, NYM), Cha Seung Baek, SD (ChC, NYM)
*Players highlighted in orange are this week's Big Noise Shocker Specials
TO CATCH A THIEF
Unrelated to the "Dateline NBC" predator stories, the "Rundown" investigates the best and worst base burglar matchups for the upcoming week. Stats reflect numbers through May 30:
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 Scott Olsen is fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through May 31: