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Weekly Rundown

Brad Evans
Yahoo Sports

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:

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.

Hidden lumberjacks (Last 7 days): Jayson Werth, Phi, OF (11-21, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 0.69% owned), Fred Lewis, SF, OF (12-30, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 0.26%), Paul Bako, Cin, C (7-16, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0.32%), Matt Stairs, Tor, 1B/OF (7-22, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1.6%), Ronny Cedeno, ChC, SS/2B (10-25, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 0.25%)
Whiffers o' the weak (Last 7 days): Ryan Howard, Phi, 1B (4-24, 11 K, 99.9%), Carlos Pena, TB, 1B (3-18, 9 K, 99.4%), Richie Sexson, Sea, 1B (3-22, 8 K, 49.3%), Andruw Jones, LAD, OF (3-23, 8 K, 83.3%), Justin Upton, Ari, OF (5-25, 7 K, 99.7%)
Inconspicuous thieves (Last 7 days): Scott Podsednik, Col, OF (6-12, 3 SB, 0.07%), Emmanuel Burriss, SF, SS (2-12, 3 SB, 0.02%), Maicer Izturis, LAA, 2B/3B/SS (6-19, 3 SB, 0.64%), Jamey Carroll, Cle, 2B/3B/SS (3-10, 3 SB, 0.13%), Eugenio Velez, SF, 2B (7-23, 3 SB, 0.89%)

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.

Top 15 Two-Start Pitchers – American League
RNK PLAYER OPP1 OPP2
1 Fausto Carmona Sea KC
Guru of grounders – 3.56 GB/FB split insane
2 Daisuke Matsuzaka Tor TB
Boston Ninja 3-0, 3.71 ERA in 17 home IP
3 Roy Halladay at Bos ChW
Doc delivered 8IP, 4ER, 6K, W vs. Bos Apr 6
4 Joe Saunders Oak Bal
Jumbo Joe IP eater – 7.02 IP/G; 4 W in L5
5 Javier Vazquez at Min at Tor
Thumped Min Apr. 7, 7 IP, 3 ER, 8 K, W
6 Phil Hughes Det Sea
Only QS was at home Apr. 3 vs. Tor
7 Greg Smith at LAA Tex
50.0 FB% will haunt him away from Oak
8 Jon Garland Oak Bal
Judy has only one QS since Apr. 1; risky play
9 Daniel Cabrera at ChW at LAA
0 BB in 8 IP at Sea Apr. 23 shows maturity
10 Carlos Silva at Cle at NYY
Slick Silva 4 QS in last 5; 5.03 rd ERA in '07
11 Chad Gaudin at LAA Tex
A-plus effort in L3 – 1.80 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 2 W
12 Aaron Laffey Sea KC
Laffey Taffy 6.9 K/9, 2.77 ERA in 26 AAA IP
13 Kenny Rogers at NYY at Min
Abundant RS but 13 ER in last 15.1 rd IP
14 Mike Mussina at Cle Sea
Stanford brainiac 11 ER, 2 L in last 15.2 IP
15 Jason Hammel at Bal at Bos
7 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 6:1 K:BB vs. Bal Apr. 12
Top 15 Two-Start Pitchers – National League
RNK PLAYER OPP1 OPP2
1 Johan Santana Pit at Ari
K/9 down but GB% up; expect silly stats vs. Pit
2 Cole Hamels SD SF
Atrocious SD/SF offenses means big #s for Cole
3 Dan Haren Hou NYM
Slithery snake 3-0, 0.95 ERA, 0.89 WHIP at hm
4 Ben Sheets ChC at Hou
No bull Sheets vs. Chc, 3.78 career ERA, 10 W
5 Matt Cain Col at Phi
Cain o' pain vs. Col (07), 3.07 ERA, 9.6 K/9
6 Ian Snell at NYM at Was
6.2 K/9 down from 7.66 in '07; 4.00 rd ERA
7 Greg Maddux at Phi at Fla
Lame dog vs. NL East in '07 – 4.48 ERA
8 Todd Wellemeyer Cin ChC
Well-deserved streamer – 2 ER in 12 hm IP
9 Derek Lowe at Fla at Col
Lowe-life away from home – 1.74 WHIP
10 Jason Marquis Mil at StL
Scrolling Marquis 3 W, 3.60 ERA vs. StL ('07)
11 Tom Gorzelanny at NYM at Was
Ugly walks monster – 8.87 BB/9, 5.24 K/9
12 Franklin Morales at SF LAD
Spot in jeopardy but love matchup at SF
13 Andrew Miller LAD SD
Has yet to pitch more than 5.0 IP in a game
14 Bronson Arroyo at StL at Atl
Should stick to guitar solos – 14 ER in L14.1 IP
15 Chris Sampson at Ari Mil
Two QS in first four, both on the road

Remaining AL Two-Start Pitchers: Jason Jennings, Tex (KC, at Oak), Brett Tomko, KC (at Tex, at Cle)

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.

BEST/WORST PITCHING STAFFS – AL
BOTTOM 3 ERA OPP1 OPP2
Texas 5.55 KC at Oak
Detroit 4.99 at NYY at Min
N.Y. Yankees 4.74 Det Sea
TOP 3 ERA OPP1 OPP2
Oakland 3.27 at LAA Tex
Tampa Bay 3.79 at Bal at Bos
Chi White Sox 3.96 at Min at KC
BEST/WORST PITCHING STAFFS – NL
BOTTOM 3 ERA OPP1 OPP2
Pittsburgh 5.62 at NYM at Was
Washington 4.74 Atl Pit
Colorado 4.74 at SF LAD
TOP 3 ERA OPP1 OPP2
Arizona 3.16 Hou NYM
Atlanta 3.51 at Was Cin
St. Louis 3.59 Cin ChC

BEST/WORST OFFENSES – AL
BOTTOM 3 R/9 OPP1 OPP2
Kansas City 3.3 at Tex at Cle
Minnesota 3.9 ChW Det
Texas 4.2 KC at Oak
TOP 3 R/9 OPP1 OPP2
Boston 5.1 Tor TB
Detroit 5.0 at NYY at Min
L.A. Angels 5.0 Oak Bal
BEST/WORST OFFENSES – NL
BOTTOM 3 R/9 OPP1 OPP2
San Francisco 3.3 Col at Phi
San Diego 3.3 at Phi at Fla
Washington 3.7 Atl Pit
TOP 3 R/9 OPP1 OPP2
Arizona 6.1 Hou NYM
Chi Cubs 6.0 Mil at StL
Atlanta 5.0 at Was Cin