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:
• Twenty-year-old fantasy heartthrob Justin Upton (81.5 percent owned) smacked his league-leading third homer of the young season off Rockies ace Jeff Francis in Arizona's 7-2 victory on April 5. The D-Back's No. 7 hitter has collected eight hits in his first 20 at-bats, despite posting a hideous 26.4 K%. The green youngster is a strong 20-20 candidate this season but, due to his free-swinging ways, a .275 BA seems more realistic. Upton, who was recently traded straight up for Rafael Soriano, Lastings Milledge and Rick Ankiel in Y! Plus league solo deals, is someone you might want to advertise if his torrid streak continues.
• According to Reds talent destroyer Dusty Baker, utility man Jeff Keppinger is "seizing the opportunity" with Alex Gonzalez shelved. Baker spoke highly of his starting shortstop in theCincinnati Enquirer on April 4, boasting that he is "an ideal No. 2 hitter." It's apparent that the 2.3 percent owned Keppinger will likely remain the everyday Reds shortstop if he continues to sear at the dish. So far 7-for-20 with a homer and three runs scored, the 27-year-old infielder could be in store for a breakout year. Last season, in 241 at-bats, he slapped a .332 BA and posted a lowly 5.0 K%. Ignoring RBIs and SBs, he could accumulate similar numbers in a full-time role as Michael Young did last season (.315 BA, 9 HR, 80 R).
• Overlooked by many, Cubs slugger Alfonso Soriano was shifted from left field to second base late in Friday's tango with Houston. Although he's a frigid 1-for-22 to start the season, Soriano's added eligibility in several leagues is a major value boost. Consider him the second-best two-bagger behind Chase Utley if he qualifies at the four in your league. Oh, and don't be overly concerned about Soriano's slow start. Last season, he had a similar stumble out of the gates, compiling a .205 BA during the first half of April.
• Seattle libido-driver Erik Bedard was scratched from his Sunday start due to a mild hip injury he suffered in pre-game workouts on Saturday. If Bedard is unable to take the ball on Tuesday in Tampa, the Mariners will likely promote R.A. Dickey from Triple-A or move Cha Seung Baek into the rotation. As a precautionary move, owners in weekly leagues may want to bench Bedard for the upcoming week.
• Milwaukee's El Chupacabra, Yovani Gallardo, tossed 75 pitches without restriction for the Nashville Sound on April 4, allowing three runs on six hits in four innings. He also walked one and punched out five. Ned Yost commented that his stuff "was OK," but noted that he may only need two more minor-league starts before rejoining the Brew-Ha-Has rotation in Cincinnati April 18. Gallardo, who was swapped for Joe Borowski, Delmon Young and Jeff Francis in recent Y! plus league one-for-one trades, is someone to pitch an offer for immediately before his injury discount expires.
• Rays howitzer Scott Kazmir threw 60 pain-free pitches in a bullpen session on April 4. After the workout, Kazmir commented that his elbow "feels great … I'm letting it go pretty nice, I wasn't really held back at all." The AL's reigning strikeout champ is scheduled to throw a live bullpen session on Tuesday and another one a couple of days after that. If everything goes smoothly, he could return to the rotation April 29 versus Baltimore. Like Gallardo, Kazmir is someone to bargain hunt for now.
• The Rich Harden of fantasy outfielders, Jeremy Hermida, will not be activated from the DL on April 5 and is expected to rehab his hamstring in the minors for another week. Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez commented that Hermida is "not confident enough yet to turn it loose," adding that it's not wise at this point in the season to "push" the former top prospect. Hermida was red-hot after the All-Star break last year, notching a .340 BA with 10 dingers and 36 RBI. Obviously, due to his hamstring woes, a maximum of five steals is his likely theft ceiling, but 23-28 homers are still a realistic possibility. The much maligned outfielder has commanded the likes of Ivan Rodriguez, Troy Percival and Casey Kotchman in recent one-for-one Plus league transactions. Those deals will look like highway robbery by July.
• Houston's "Fat Elvis," Lance Berkman, was pulled in the bottom of the fourth inning in Chicago because of neck spasms. Usually, spasm injuries are fickle setbacks which can sideline a player from one day to 10. Houston officials believe Berkman will return to the lineup no later than Monday, unless the injury re-intensifies. For now, keep him active in all leagues for the upcoming scoring period.
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.
To Catch a Thief
The best and worst base burglar matchups for the upcoming week. Stats reflect numbers through April 5:
|BEST AND WORST AT CATCHING BASE THIEFS (and this week's opponents)|
|BOTTOM 5 (Worst)||CS||ATT||CS%|
|Geovany Soto, ChC – (at Pittsburgh, at Philadelphia)||0||7||0.000|
|Josh Bard, SD – (at San Francisco, at L.A. Dodgers)||0||5||0.000|
|Mike Napoli, LAA – (Cleveland, at Seattle)||0||5||0.000|
|Jason Kendall, Mil – (Cincinnati, at N.Y. Mets)||1||6||0.167|
|Paul Bako, Cin – (at Milwaukee, at Pittsburgh)||1||5||0.200|
|TOP 5 (Best)||CS||ATT||CS%|
|Gerald Laird, Tex – (Baltimore, Toronto)||2||4||0.500|
|Kenji Johjima, Sea – (at NY Yankees, at Detroit)||2||5||0.400|
|Russell Martin, LAD – (at Arizona, San Diego)||2||5||0.400|
|Ramon Hernandez, Bal – (at Texas, Tampa Bay)||2||6||0.333|
|Matt Treanor, Fla – (at Washington, at Houston)||3||10||0.300|
AL Steals Shopping: Jose Lopez, Sea, 2B (0.85% owned)
NL Steals Shopping: Nate McLouth, Pit, OF (9.2% owned), Nyjer Morgan, Pit, OF (0.10%), Eugenio Velez, SF, 2B (3.3%), Rajai Davis, SF, OF (0.77%), Angel Pagan, NYM, OF (0.28%), Tony Gwynn, Mil, OF (0.58%)
Feast or Famine?
Torn between two stat-similar corner infielders this week? Use the pitching and hitting staff sorters below to help you decide whether or not Adam LaRoche or Scott Olsen is a fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through April 5.