Weekly Rundown

Brad Evans
Yahoo! Sports

The Sacagawea of fantasy primers, the Weekly Rundown guides owners through a forest of obscure stats and exploitable matchups to help the indecisive resolve 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
As we head into this week's schedule of games, here's the nitty-gritty on a handful of notable names:

  • Oh, Sheets. On Saturday, Milwaukee ace Ben Sheets suffered a sprained middle finger on his pitching hand. After the game, Sheets sounded cautiously optimistic that the injury would not sideline him for an extended period and was hopeful he could make his next start July 19 versus Arizona. X-rays were negative, but if the pain persists into Monday an MRI will be performed. Yovani Gallardo (23.3 percent owned), aka El Chupacabra, pitched 4.2 brilliant innings (0 ER, 1 H, 4:0 K:BB) in relief of Sheets. If Sheets were to miss a start, Gallardo would fill the void. The 21-year-old Mexican marvel has dazzled this season with a 2.83 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 8.6 K/9 in 28.2 IP. Shockingly still available in over three-fourths of Yahoo! leagues, Gallardo, a superior source of ERA, WHIP and K numbers in long relief, must be owned in all 12-team formats even if Sheets isn't forced out of action.
  • The odds of St. Louis repeating as World Series champs just got longer. On Friday, Cards ace Chris Carpenter suffered a significant setback in his recovery from elbow surgery after he experienced renewed stiffness and swelling after a 39-pitch rehab appearance for High-A Palm Beach. Carpenter was slated to return to the St. Louis rotation in late July, but, obviously, his return date is now shrouded in uncertainty. Team doctors have expressed concerns about Carpenter's arthritic condition in his elbow, which could potentially sideline him for the remainder of the season. For those optimistic Carp owners who have him stashed on the DL, the forecast sounds gloomy. Cut ties with him and scour the wire for Yankees super prospect Phil Hughes (9.1 percent owned), who is expected back July 23 versus Kansas City, as a DL slot replacement.
  • With Moises Alou, Endy Chavez and Carlos Gomez disabled, top Mets prospect Lastings Milledge (0.34 percent owned), promoted from Double-A Binghamton on Friday, will play everyday in left for the next couple of weeks. In his first three games, the scrappy 22 year-old has collected three hits, a homer and two RBI. Equipped with a lightning-quick bat, above-average speed and plus-power, the free-swinging Milledge, in statistical speak, is an unpolished version of Vernon Wells. Although he's slapped a .303 career average in the minors, Milledge is a reckless swinger who's tallied a 22.7 K% in 181 big league at-bats. Owners in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues (14-team and greater) in search of a short-term outfield sparkplug should give the youngster an audition.
  • Since the Rangers are an insurmountable 17 games back in the AL West, rumors have begun to swirl that along with Kenny Lofton and Mark Teixeira, slammin' Sammy Sosa is being shopped, possibly to the Yankees or Twins. Although he's hit a paltry .241, the 38-year-old Sosa has blasted 14 homers and driven in 63 RBI this season. The Twins inadequate throng of designated hitters – Mike Redmond, Jason Kubel, Jason Tyner, Garrett Jones and Jeff Cirillo – has yielded three homers and 38 RBI in 81 games, which would make Sosa an excellent fit. Likely sandwiched in between Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter, Sosa's chances of reaching 30-plus homers would improve dramatically. Meanwhile, in Texas, Sosa's potential departure would finally open the door for Jason Botts to receive regular at-bats. The switch-hitting 6-foot-5, 250-pound Botts has monstrous power and has improved his patience at the plate this season (16.2 BB% at Triple-A). In 334 at-bats at Oklahoma City, Botts has tallied a .320 BA with 13 homers and 71 RBI. Botts (0.02 percent owned) is an older prospect (27) with big league experience (77 career at-bats), who's one to watch in the second-half for those looking for an outfield power boost.
  • Fragile Oakland stopper Huston Street, out since May 13 with ulnar nerve irritation, is scheduled to throw to hitters on Monday and plans to begin a rehab assignment later this week. If his assignment goes smoothly, he could return to end-game duty on July 20. Street, a top-flight injury buy low candidate, has commanded Chad Billingsley, Kenny Rogers and J.J. Hardy in recent Plus league solo trades. Barring a setback, he should be good for 11-14 saves over the remainder of the season.

Hidden lumberjacks (Last 7 days): Pat Burrell, Phi, OF (4-9, HR, 6 RBI, 48.9%), Jose Guillen, Sea, OF (7-15, HR, 2 RBI, 18.2%), Andre Ethier, LAD, OF (7-12, HR, 6 RBI, 3.8%), Billy Butler, KC, OF/DH (6-11, 2 RBI, 0.53% owned), Kevin Kouzmanoff, SD, 3B (5-11, HR, 2 RBI, 0.79%)

Whiffers o' the weak (Last 7 days): Jack Cust, Oak, OF (1-12, 7 K, 27.0% owned), Garrett Atkins, Col, 3B (1-12, 5 K, 97.4%), Casey Blake, Cle, 1B/3B/OF (1-14, 5 K, 87.0%), Magglio Ordonez, Det, OF (1-11, 5 K, 100%), Raul Ibanez, Sea, OF (2-17, 4 K, 73.2%)

Inconspicuous thieves (Last 7 days): Julio Lugo, Bos, 2B/3B/SS (9-15, 3 SB, 72.2% owned), Edwin Encarnacion, Cin, 3B (0-9, 2 SB, 7.6%), Jerry Owens, ChW, OF (4-15, 2 SB, 0.04%), Esteban German, KC, 2B/3B/OF (3-8, 2 SB, 0.79%)

This Week's Two-Start Pitchers
For those steadfast, 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 weather influences are painstakingly taken into account to give you the top double dippers of each week.

Top 15 Two-Start Pitchers – American League
1 Roy Halladay at NYY Sea
Trust him despite 6.98 ERA in last four
2 Roger Clemens Tor TB
2.22 ERA, 0.85 WHIP at home
3 Andy Pettitte Tor TB
Post-ASB career – 3.51 ERA, 1.29 WHIP
4 Tim Wakefield KC ChW
Won 5 of last 6 with a 4.97 ERA
5 James Shields LAA at NYY
ERA rising, but 9.9 K/9 in last 4 starts
6 Jon Garland at Cle at Bos
Last 3 road starts – 3 W, 1.28 ERA
7 Paul Byrd ChW at Tex
Byrd flyin' high again – 3 QS in L4
8 Matt Garza Det LAA
6 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 6 K, 0 ER in first '07 start
9 Cliff Lee ChW at Tex
3 ER or fewer in 5 of last 6
10 Nate Robertson at Min KC
Respectable 4.44 ERA in L3; tons of RS
11 Ervin Santana at TB at Min
Evil Ervin – 8.59 ERA, 1.83 WHIP away
12 Brian Bannister at Bos at Det
Quietly won last 5 of 7 with a 3.12 ERA
13 Brian Burres at Sea at Oak
Last three starts – 4.73 ERA, 1.31 WHIP
14 John Danks at Cle at Bos
4.38 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 2 W in 9 road starts
15 Kei Igawa Tor TB
Are you desperate? 7.24 ERA at home
Top 15 Two-Start Pitchers – National League
1 Jake Peavy NYM Phi
Ignore sore biceps; 5 W, 3.04 ERA at home
2 Brad Penny Phi NYM
Only 15 ER since May 23; 2.13 home ERA
3 Orlando Hernandez at SD at LAD
3.88 ERA, .213 BAA on road
4 Dave Bush Ari SF
Bush burning – 4 W, 2.56 ERA L5
5 Rich Hill SF Ari
1 QS in L4; 4.35 ERA, 1.27 WHIP at home
6 Tim Lincecum at ChC at Mil
Toxic Tim – 2 W, 1.35 ERA, 25:7 K:BB L3
7 Sean Marshall SF Ari
Cubs surging – 4 W in last 7 starts
8 David Wells NYM Phi
Boomin' at home – 2.91 ERA, 1.19 WHIP
9 Bronson Arroyo at Atl at Fla
Ks down, but has four straight QS
10 Byung-Hyun Kim StL Cin
Shocker special – 3 ER, 10 K in last 12.2 IP
11 Jamie Moyer at LAD at SD
Old Man River – 6.27 ERA, 1.62 WHIP L3
12 Micah Owings at Mil at ChC
Tattooed for 13 ER in last 8.2 road IP
13 Barry Zito at ChC at Mil
Boo Barry – 25 ER in last 26.1 IP
14 Mark Hendrickson Phi NYM
Last two starts – 3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
15 Claudio Vargas Ari SF
Since June 20 – 7.31 ERA, 1.50 WHIP

Remaining AL Two-Start Pitchers: Shane Komine (Tex, Bal), Kason Gabbard (KC, ChW), Josh Towers (at NYY, Sea), Horacio Ramirez (Bal, at Tor), Jamey Wright (at Oak, Cle)

Remaining NL Two-Start Pitchers: Braden Looper (at Fla, at Atl), Woody Williams (at Was, at Pit), Jorge Sosa (at SD, at LAD), Kyle Davies (Cin, StL), Brad Thompson (at Fla, at Atl), Yusmeiro Petit (at Mil, at ChC), Taylor Buchholz (at Pit, at Was), John Van Benschoten (Col, Hou), Mike Bacsik (Hou, Col), J.D. Durbin (at LAD, at SD), Tim Redding (Hou, Col)

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 July 13:

BEST AND WORST AT CATCHING BASE THIEFS (and this week's opponents)
Jason Phillips, Tor – (at New York Yankees, Seattle) 4 47 0.085
Michael Barrett, SD – (New York Mets, Philadelphia) 11 61 0.180
Jason Kendall, Oak – (Texas, Baltimore) 14 72 0.194
Brian McCann, Atl – (Cincinnati, St. Louis) 9 45 0.200
Jason Varitek, Bos – (Kansas City, Chicago White Sox) 8 37 0.216
TOP 5 (Best) CS ATT CS%
Joe Mauer, Min – (Detroit, L.A. Angels) 13 24 0.541
Yadier Molina, StL – (at Florida, at Atlanta) 11 22 0.500
David Ross, Cin – (at Atlanta, at Florida) 18 41 0.439
Ronny Paulino, Pit – (Colorado, Houston) 22 57 0.385
Yorvit Torrealba, Col – (at Pittsburgh, at Washington) 10 28 0.357

AL Steals Shopping:Corey Patterson, Bal, OF (50.0% owned), Joey Gathright, KC, OF (0.25%), Jerry Owens, ChW, OF (0.04%)

NL Steals Shopping: Edwin Encarnacion, Cin, 3B (7.6% owned), Lastings Milledge, OF, NYM (0.31%), Michael Bourn, Phi, OF (0.24%)

Feast or Famine?
Torn between two stat-similar corner infielders this week? Use the pitching staff sorter below to help you decide whether or not Adam LaRoche is fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through July 14.

Tampa Bay 5.79 LAA at NYY
Texas 5.07 at Oak Cle
Chi. White Sox 4.61 at Cle at Bos
Oakland 3.70 Tex Bal
Boston 3.79 KC ChW
LA Angels 4.05 at TB at Min
Philadelphia 4.88 at LAD at SD
St. Louis 4.81 at Fla at Atl
Washington 4.76 Hou Col
San Diego 3.16 NYM Phi
LA Dodgers 3.80 Phi NYM
NY Mets 3.87 at SD at LAD