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:
• Heterochromatic flamethrower, Max Scherzer, was called up April 27 from Triple-A Tucson and will replace Yusmeiro Petit in the Arizona bullpen. It's unclear the precise path Scherzer will take with the senior club, but it appears he will work as a middle reliever until a rotation spot opens. There's a slight chance the former Missouri standout could start later this week if Micah Owings, who sprained his right ankle on April 26, is unable to take the mound Friday versus the Mets. After receiving treatment on his bum wheel, Owings said he was confident he would be able to start, especially with an off day on Thursday. Detailed thoroughly in Thursday's "Noise," Scherzer has been the most electric starter in the minors this season. His astonishing repertoire – 94-99 mph two-seam sinker, deceptive change, cutting four-seamer and filthy high-80s slider – punched out 14.87 batters per nine innings and yielded only three runs in 23.0 IP at Tucson. In terms of fantasy value, he's the NL version of Joba Chamberlain – an elite high-strikeout middle reliever who could post eye-popping numbers if moved into the rotation. Once he hits the Y! waiver wire later this week, be prepared to spend your No. 1 priority.
• Braves Humpty Dumpty Chipper Jones will be sidelined until at least Tuesday with back spasms. The Waterford crystal-fragile third basemen said the setback felt "like somebody sledge-hammered me in my back." This is the third nagging injury Jones, who was also limited by a pulled hamstring and quadriceps strain, has suffered since early March. The 36-year-ancient Chipper is unquestionably one of the finest fantasy three-baggers when healthy, but a repeat season of 500-plus at-bats seems very unrealistic. Given his Ted Williams-esque .433 BA and seven homers, sage owners should market his services at pinnacle value. Since April 24, Jones has attracted Carlos Zambrano, Derek Lee and Ryan Howard in one-for-one Y! Plus league transactions.
• In other Hot-lanta news, tender-elbowed stopper Rafael Soriano is optimistic he'll return to ninth-inning duties Tuesday in Washington. However, Soriano has not tossed a bullpen session since April 6, which suggests his declaration might be overly ambitious. Owners in leagues that require weekly transactions should keep him benched until he actually steps foot on a mound. Manny Acosta, who has not allowed a run in April, has been effective as Soriano's placeholder, recording two saves in his past four appearances. Don't be surprised if Bobby Cox initially installs a two-man committee until Soriano proves he's 100 percent.
• The most misspelled name in baseball, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, will split time with the more defensively adept Gerald Laird going forward. The time-share is expected to be 50-50. Rangers skipper Ron Washington noted that he will likely give each player two consecutive starts, depending on the matchup. For owners who currently employ a BA soul-sucker (e.g. Ramon Hernandez, Carlos Ruiz or John Buck) at catcher, the 16.5 percent owned Sultan of Sodium is an imperative pick-up. In 55 at-bats with Oklahoma City, J-Salt posted a .291 BA with two homers and 10 RBI.
• Brandon Funston's unhealthy obsession, Gary Sheffield, remarked that his ailing right shoulder has "felt fine" since returning to the lineup on April 25. The 20-year veteran's stark decline in LD% ('07: 16.8, '08: 10.4) implies that his delicate shoulder is the primary contributing factor behind the weak contact he's generated. If his bat speed has returned, as some scouts have noticed, a resurgence in production is on the horizon. Those in search of outfield help should pitch a discounted offer for Sheff immediately. In Y! Plus league solo swaps since April 25, he was traded straight up for Mike Jacobs, Dustin McGowan and Jim Thome.
• Perpetually injured Rangers third basemen Hank Blalock won't play Sunday and could be headed for the DL. The 27-year-old infielder has been severely limited by a hamstring strain he suffered running out a double versus the Twins on April 25. The un-dynamic duo of Ramon Vazquez and German Duran would split time at third in Blalock's absence. Deactivate Hank in all mixed leagues this week. Brandon Inge (13.2 percent owned), Melvin Mora (7.7 percent) and Jorge Cantu (3.1 percent) are reasonable short-term solutions for those in dire straits.
This Week's Two-Start Pitchers
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.
Remaining NL Two-Start Pitchers: Tim Redding, Was (Atl, Pit)
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 April 26:
|BEST AND WORST AT CATCHING BASE THIEFS (and this week's opponents)|
|BOTTOM 5 (Worst)||CS||ATT||CS%|
|John Buck, KC – (at Texas, at Cleveland)||1||12||0.083|
|Brian McCann, Atl – (at Washington, Cincinnati)||3||21||0.143|
|Mike Napoli, LAA – (Oakland, Baltimore)||2||13||0.154|
|Josh Bard, SD – (at Philadelphia, at Florida)||6||33||0.181|
|A.J. Pierzynski, ChW – (at Minnesota, at Toronto)||3||13||0.230|
|TOP 5 (Best)||CS||ATT||CS%|
|Joe Mauer, Min – (Chi White Sox, Detroit)||6||12||0.500|
|Matt Treanor, Fla – (L.A. Dodgers, San Diego)||7||15||0.467|
|Victor Martinez, Cle – (Seattle, Kansas City)||5||11||0.454|
|Paul Bako, Cin – (at St. Louis, at Atlanta)||7||16||0.438|
|Yorvit Torrealba, Col – (at San Francisco, L.A. Dodgers)||4||10||0.400|
AL Steals Shopping: Adam Jones, Bal, OF (6.11% owned), David Murphy, Tex, OF (5.0%), Franklin Gutierrez, Cle, OF (2.0%) , Rajai Davis, Oak, OF (0.15%), Jamey Carroll, Cle, 2B/3B/SS (0.13%), Jay Payton, Bal, OF (0.08%)
NL Steals Shopping: Ryan Freel, Cin, 3B/OF (2.6%), Jayson Werth, Phi, OF (0.69%)
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 fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through April 12.