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.
As we head into this week's schedule of games, here's the nitty-gritty on a handful of notable names:
- On Saturday, Tampa Bay speed demon Carl Crawford suffered a mild ankle sprain. X-rays were negative, but the prominent fantasy first rounder was seen limping and wearing an air brace. Crawford did sound optimistic about a quick recovery stating, "I don't think it's bad … it's just day to day right now. It didn't swell up, it's just sore." For those of you in daily transaction leagues, bench him until he returns, probably Tuesday or Wednesday. With eight swipes in his past eight games, the damaged tire could briefly halt Crawford's prolific stolen base production, but, as mentioned in last week's "Bringin' the Noise," he still remains a superstar bargain buy – he was dealt straight up for Carlos Pena, Curtis Granderson and Francisco Cordero in Plus leagues over the weekend. Masher Jonny Gomes (4-for-his-past-9) will roam left with Crawford sidelined.
- Dodgers bullpen behemoth Jonathan Broxton befuddled the Mets on Saturday striking out three in 1.2 IP to earn his second save of the season. Default closer Takashi Saito was unavailable due to tightness in his right shoulder. The 37-year-old Saito received acupuncture treatment on his ailing shoulder on Friday, but has not yet fully recovered. With two minor shoulder setbacks and a superficial hamstring injury this season, Saito's nicks are a sign of age wear. When healthy, Saito he is undoubtedly one of the elite closer's in fantasy. However, the injuries, albeit meager, are alarming. Broxton could be called upon for another save opportunity or two early in the week if Grady Little feels compelled to give Saito extended rest. Even when Saito returns, Broxton, available in 63 percent of Y! leagues, will continue to be a terrific source of ERA, WHIP and Ks (10.5 K/9) as one of baseball's top setup men. Eventually, he'll develop into a premiere stopper, possibly sooner than most think.
- In other closer news, converted starter Brett Myers registered between 91-93 mph in his one-inning rehab appearance for Single-A Clearwater on Friday. Phillies manager Charlie Manual said he will pitch again on Monday and could be activated as early as July 26. With Tom Gordon and Myers shelved, Antonio Alfonseca has enjoyed a brief resurrection as an adventurous end-game option, saving seven games in 10 chances. Myers will return to ninth-inning duties when activated and is a top-flight buy-low target for those in search of saves. He should be good for 11-14 saves down the backstretch.
- Out since early July with a fractured wrist, Baltimore crusher Miguel Tejada could return much earlier than originally anticipated. Last week, Tejada pronounced that he was "pain-free" after he worked extensively in the cage and took 100 ground balls to test his wrist. He is scheduled to meet with a doctor on Tuesday to determine how well his left wrist has healed. If the prognosis is positive, Tejada could begin a minor league rehab assignment sometime this week with a possible return to the Orioles lineup in 8-10 days. Because wrist injuries tend to sap player power production, don't anticipate Tejada to regain his homer stroke. However, if you're in search of a reputable BA and RBI contributor at short, Tejada is certainly worth purchasing at a discount – he's attracted recently DL'ed Michael Cuddyer and Jason Isringhausen in one-for-one Plus league swaps.
- Controversial Yankees slugger Jason Giambi stepped into the cage on Saturday for the first time since May 31 and believes he could return "a little sooner" than expected. Giambi said he has "no pain" and hopes to return sometime in early August. Wasting away on waivers in over 55 percent of Yahoo! leagues, Giambi could be a power numbers savior during the most crucial months of the fantasy baseball season. Stash him away in all 12-team leagues. Hitting in the middle of arguably the most potent lineup in baseball, Giambi could amass roughly 10 HR and 35 RBI in August and September. Dunder-Mifflin hero Shelley Duncan will return to Triple-A Scranton when Giambi is activated.
- Blog barker Curt Schilling whiffed six batters, scattered two hits and walked none over three scoreless innings during his rehab stint at Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday. Schilling will take the mound once more for Pawtucket on Thursday before rejoining the Red Sox rotation. Kason Gabbard (2.5 percent owned) has pitched magnificently in Schilling's absence, collecting three wins while sporting a dynamite 1.93 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and .133 BAA in four July starts. Reminiscent of Kenny Rogers, Gabbard deceives hitters with his plus breaker and variable speeds, which has helped him generate numerous groundball outs (55.6 GB%). However, his high number of walks (3.72 BB/9) and .223 BABIP suggest his current 2.97 ERA is a mirage. Based on his recent string of stellar performances, he could force Julian Tavarez to the pen when Schilling returns. Deeper leagues in search of a flexible starter should temporarily employ Gabbard, but expect his ERA to climb near 4.00 soon.
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.
Remaining AL Two-Start Pitchers: Miguel Batista (at Tex, Oak), Jose Contreras (Det, Tor), Julian Tavarez (at Cle, at TB), Andy Sonnanstine (at Bal, at Bos), Horacio Ramirez (at Tex, Oak), Odalis Perez (NYY, Tex), Scott Elarton (NYY, Tex)
Remaining NL Two-Start Pitchers: Matt Morris (Atl, Fla), Chris Capuano (at Cin, at StL), Jeff Suppan (at Cin, at StL), Doug Davis (Fla, Atl), Livan Hernandez (Fla, Atl), Kyle Kendrick (Was, Pit), Jason Jennings (LAD, SD), Jason Bergmann (at Phi, at NYM), Chris Sampson (LAD, SD), Mike Maroth (ChC, Mil), Matt Chico (at Phi, at NYM), Shane Youman (at NYM, at Phi), Matt Belisle (Mil, ChC), Ubaldo Jimenez (SD, LAD)
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 20:
|BEST AND WORST AT CATCHING BASE THIEFS (and this week's opponents)|
|BOTTOM 5 (Worst)||CS||ATT||CS%|
|Jason Phillips, Tor – (Minnesota, at Chi White Sox)||4||47||0.085|
|Michael Barrett, SD – (at Colorado, at Houston)||13||70||0.185|
|Johnny Estrada, Mil – (at Cincinnati, at St. Louis)||11||56||0.196|
|Jason Kendall, ChC – (at St. Louis, at Cincinnati)||15||74||0.202|
|Brian McCann, Atl – (at San Francisco, at Arizona)||12||55||0.218|
|TOP 5 (Best)||CS||ATT||CS%|
|Joe Mauer, Min – (at Toronto, at Cleveland)||14||25||0.560|
|Yadier Molina, StL – (Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee)||13||24||0.541|
|David Ross, Cin – (Milwaukee, Chicago Cubs)||20||45||0.444|
|Gerald Laird, Tex – (Seattle, at Kansas City)||29||70||0.414|
|Ronny Paulino, Pit – (at NY Mets, at Philadelphia)||22||59||0.372|
AL Steals Shopping: Jason Bartlett, Min, SS (11.2% owned), Jerry Owens, ChW, OF (0.05%), Jason Tyner, Min, OF (0.17%)
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 21.