Weekly Rundown

Brad Evans

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 Off
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.

Hidden lumberjacks (past 7 days): Xavier Nady, Pit, OF (8-21, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4.3% owned), Ben Broussard, Tex, 1B (3-18, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0.26%), Scott Hairston, SD, OF (7-22, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 0.11%), Cliff Floyd, TB, OF (4-11, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 0.24%), Brandon Inge, Det, 3B/OF (6-16, 2 HR, 4 RBI. 3.4%)

Whiffers o' the weak (past 7 days): Alfonso Soriano, ChC, OF/2B (1-22, 4 K, 99.9% owned), Willy Taveras, Col, OF (2-17, 6 K, 94.8%), Matt Kemp, LAD, OF (2-15, 6 K, 99.1%), Johnny Damon, NYY, OF (2-18, 4 K, 99.2%), Eric Byrnes, Ari, OF (3-21, 4 K, 99.8%)

Inconspicuous thieves (past 7 days): Carlos Gomez, Min, OF (9-24, 4 SB, 6.1%), Marco Scutaro, Tor, SS (3-13, 3 SB, 1.0%), Nate McLouth, Pit, OF (9-23, 5 RBI, 2 SB, 9.2%), Joey Gathright, KC, OF (4-20, 2 SB, 0.7%),

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 Erik Bedard at TB LAA
Hip makes him a ? mark, but 5 IP, 5 K Mar. 31
2 Fausto Carmona at LAA Oak
Sultan of Sink induced 16 grounders in '08 debut
3 Phil Hughes at KC at Bos
First step in breakout year vs Tor – 6 IP, 2 ER, 4 K
4 Javier Vazquez Min Det
Vanquished by CLE Apr 2 – 5 IP, 4 ER, 6:4 K:BB
5 A.J. Burnett Oak at Tex
A.J. an ace vs. Oak in '07 – 1.29 ERA in 2 GS
6 Daisuke Matsuzaka Det NYY
Cutting opponents with Samurai sword – 11.57 K/9
7 Rich Harden at Tor at Cle
A's tosser has many owners Harden – 15 K in 11 IP
8 Brian Bannister NYY Min
Saber sleuth dynamite in 1st start – 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H
9 Joe Saunders Cle at Sea
Sip this cup of Joe in deep leagues – 8 IP, 0 ER
10 Mike Mussina TB at Bos
Moose a rotation caboose – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 2 K Apr 2
11 Matt Garza Sea Bal
Green Garza 5.91 ERA in 12 home starts
12 Kenny Rogers at Bos at ChW
Ancient Gambler still dealing – 6 IP, 2 ER in opener
13 Nick Blackburn at ChW at KC
Unproven but tallied sparkling 6:1 K:BB in 7 IP Apr 2
14 Carlos Silva at TB LAA
50.0 FB% could be ugly vs. Rays/Angels bombers
15 Daniel Cabrera at Tex at TB
Horrific 5 BBs in 4.0 IP vs Tampa in '08 debut
Top 15 Two-Start Pitchers – National League
1 Cole Hamels at Cin ChC
Camel spectacular vs. Cincy in career – 0.64 ERA
2 Tim Lincecum SD StL
4 BB in 4 IP at LAD; 4.14 ERA in 12 home starts
3 Johnny Cueto at Mil at Pit
Baby bull untouchable debut – 7 IP, 10 K, 1 H, 0 BB
4 Dan Haren LAD Col
Dan in fantasy life rock solid – 6 IP, 3 ER, 4 K Apr 2
5 Matt Cain SD StL
Same tired story – 5.2 IP, 0 ER vs. LAD, but no RS
6 Oliver Perez Phi Mil
Electric in '08 debut – 6 IP, 0 ER, 8:1 K:BB, W
7 Ted Lilly at Pit at Phi
Lilly a launching pad in first start – 4 ER in 4.2 IP
8 Chad Billingsley at Ari SD
Dolla Bills money vs. Ari/SD in '07 – 1.96 ERA
9 Tom Gorzelanny ChC Cin
Churns out plenty of QS – 3.74 home ERA in '07
10 Greg Maddux at SF at LAD
Mad Dog vulnerable on the road – 4.65 ERA in '07
11 Jair Jurrjens at Col at Was
Jair terrific in debut – 5.1 IP, 5:1 K:BB, W
12 Wandy Rodriguez StL Fla
Magic Wandy at home – 2.94 ERA, 1.11 WHIP ('07)
13 Tom Glavine at Col at Was
Not so crafty on road in '07 – 4.54 ERA, 1.50 WHIP
14 Ubaldo Jimenez Atl at Ari
Punished in first start at StL – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 BB
15 Todd Wellemeyer at Hou at SF
Deep league stream o' the week – 5 IP, ER, 6 K

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)
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.

Chi White Sox 5.23 Min Det
N.Y. Yankees 5.00 at KC at Bos
Detroit 4.79 at Bos at ChW
Toronto 2.72 Oak at Tex
Oakland 2.95 at Tor at Cle
Kansas City 3.00 NYY Min
Pittsburgh 6.65 ChC Cin
San Francisco 5.83 SD StL
Florida 5.48 at Was at Hou
L.A. Dodgers 1.84 at Ari SD
St. Louis 2.20 at Hou at SF
Arizona 2.51 LAD Col
Texas .223 Bal Tor
Cleveland .230 at LAA Oak
Oakland .231 at Tor at Cle
L.A. Angels .308 Cle at Sea
Tampa Bay .283 Sea Bal
Toronto .273 Oak at Tex
Colorado .198 Atl at Ari
Houston .218 Stl Fla
Cincinnati .220 at Mil at Pit
N.Y. Mets .319 Phi Mil
San Diego .299 at SF at LAD
Atlanta .296 at Col at Was