Weekly Rundown

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.

Leading Off
As we head into this week's schedule of games, here's the nitty-gritty on a handful of notable names:

  • Chicago Cubs $126 million man Alfonso Soriano is expected return to the lineup on Monday and will be shifted back to left field. Lou Piniella has not made an official decision who will regularly roam center. Speculating, I believe Felix Pie will be optioned to Triple-A to get more plate seasoning with Jacque Jones filling the void in center. Once Pie's bat catches up to his infallible leather, probably by mid-season, he'll be a stout No. 5 fantasy OF with 10-15 HR/SB upside. In the meantime, Jones, Matt Murton and Cliff Floyd will certainly be rumored in various trade discussions as the season progresses.
  • Surfacing from the DL deep, "Godzilla" Hideki Matsui declared his hammy 100 percent and will be activated for Monday night's clash with the D-Rays. A career .341 hitter in 267 at-bats versus the Devil Rays, he could post monster numbers promptly. Melky Cabrera will return to backup duty.
  • Limited by a strained oblique, Miguel Cabrera took BP on Saturday with no ill effects. He manned the hot corner on Sunday and is safe to start for the upcoming week.
  • Former Kentucky waterfall devotee Randy Johnson will make his first start of the season against Boomer Wells and the Padres in Phoenix on Tuesday. In two rehab starts at Tucson, the Big Unit compiled a respectable 3.00 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 12 IP. Slated for two home starts this week (SD, SF), he's a fine No. 3 starter in 12-team mixed leagues. Brandon Webb will receive an extra day of rest, pushing his start back from Tuesday to Wednesday.
  • Disabled list staple Kelvim Escobar will return to the Angels rotation on Tuesday and will take the mound twice this week. Unfortunately, he's scheduled to face flamethrower Jeremy Bonderman and the red-hot Javier Vazquez. Consider him a back-of-the-rotation two-start contributor in 12-team mixed formats.
  • Hidden lumberjacks (Last 7 Days): Andre Ethier, OF, LAD (10-24, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5.5% owned), Jose Vidro, 2B, Sea (10-26, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5.6%), Kelly Johnson, 2B, Atl (10-20, 2 RBI, SB, 3.4%), Sammy Sosa, OF, Tex (3 HR, 8 RBI, 15.5%), Josh Hamilton, OF, Cin (6-19, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 13.7%)
  • Whiffers o' the weak: Jhonny Peralta, SS, Cle (0-18, 8 K, 87.9% owned), Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Cin (1-19, 5 K, 19.2%), Michael Young, SS, Tex (2-23, 7 K, 99.8%), Gary Sheffield, OF/1B, Det (2-20, 5 K, 99.0%), Joe Crede, 3B, ChW (3-23, 4 K, 84.3%)
  • Inconspicuous thieves (Last 7 days): Chris Burke, 2B/OF, Hou (3 SBs, 23.2% owned), Kenny Lofton, OF, Tex (2 SBs, 18.2%), Ryan Theriot, 2B, ChC (2 SBs, 1.3%), Shane Victorino, OF, Phi (2 SBs, 5.3%), Alexi Casilla, MI, Min (2 SBs, 0.02%),

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 Johan Santana Cle at Det
Already three starts of 7 Ks or more
2 Roy Halladay at Bos Tex
Mound opponents combined 0-4, 6.37 ERA
3 Dan Haren at Bal TB
4 ER in 25 IP, strikeouts will come
4 Rich Harden at Bal TB
Will go if no setbacks in Sun. pen session
5 Jeremy Bonderman at LAA Min
Sick 21:3 K:BB and four straight QS in '07
6 Kei Igawa at TB Bos
Plenty of RS (8.82/9) and BBs in decline
7 Mark Buerhle at KC LAA
Off no-no has a career 15-6 mark vs. KC
8 Erik Bedard Oak at Cle
Three straights Ws, but 7 BBs L2
9 Jered Weaver Det at ChW
6 IP, 3 ER, 4:2 K:BB in 1st start vs. Oak
10 Javier Vazquez at KC LAA
Terrific 2.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 16 K in 18 IP
11 Scott Kazmir NYY at Oak
April career #s: 4.28 ERA, 1.48 WHIP
12 Kelvim Escobar Det at ChW
Returns Tues. from DL vs. Bonderman
13 Jeremy Sowers at Min Bal
1 BB in past 9.2 IP, ignore NYY shelling LW
14 Gil Meche ChW at Sea
72 in AL in RS, but 2.22 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
15 Kevin Millwood Sea at Tor
6 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 2 K, W, at Sea 4-13
Top 15 Two-Start Pitchers – National League
1 Dontrelle Willis Atl at Phi
6 IP, 9 K, 3 ER, W vs. Phi on April 7
2 John Maine Col at Was
17:12 K:BB in 18.2 IP ugly, but only 4 ER
3 Aaron Harang at StL at Pit
Road warrior: 2.98 ERA, 1.26 WHIP in '06
4 Carlos Zambrano Mil at StL
This is week impatient owners look silly
5 Derek Lowe SF at SD
2 W, 15 IP, 2 ER, 7:4 K:BB vs. SD/SF in '07
6 Randy Johnson SD SF
12 IP, 3.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 10 K rehab
7 Matt Morris at LA at Ari
Horrific 10:10 K:BB, but three straight QS
8 Claudio Vargas at ChC at Hou
Leads all NL SPs with 15.23 K/9; seriously
9 Jamie Moyer Was Fla
Old man river at least 6 IP in first three starts
10 Randy Keisler Cin ChC
Shocker special o' the week, 0.04% owned
11 Kyle Davies at Fla at Col
16 career road starts: 6.67 ERA, 1.84 WHIP
12 David Wells at Ari LAD
7 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 4 K vs. Ari April 18
13 Chris Sampson at Phi Mil
2 W, 12 IP, 2 ER, 5:3 K:BB in two starts
14 Adam Eaton Hou Fla
Flyball starter will have a long season in Phi
15 Paul Maholm Hou Cin
3.28 ERA, in 18 starts at PNC

Remaining AL Two-Start Pitchers: Tim Wakefield (Tor, at NYY), Vicente Padilla (Sea, at Tor), Mike Maroth (at LAA, Min), Jarrod Washburn (at Tex, KC), Carlos Silva (Cle, at Det), Julian Tavarez (Tor, at NYY), Fausto Carmona (at Min, Bal), Brandon Morrow (at Tex, KC), Casey Fossum (NYY, at Oak), Tomo Ohka (at Bos, Tex), Jeremy Guthrie (Oak, at Cle), Brian Bannister (ChW, at Sea), Darrell Rasner (at TB, Bos)

Remaining NL Two-Start Pitchers: Taylor Buchholz (at NYM, Atl), Woody Williams (at Pit, Mil), Jason Bergmann (at Phi, NYM)

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 2006 end-season totals:

BEST AND WORST AT CATCHING BASE THIEFS (and this week's opponents)
Rob Bowen, SD - (at Arizona, Los Angeles Dodgers) 1 13 0.077
Brian Schneider, Was - (at Philadelphia, New York Mets) 1 12 0.083
Mike Napoli, LAA - (Detroit, at Chicago White Sox) 1 14 0.143
Jorge Posada, NYY - (at Tampa Bay, Boston) 3 14 0.214
Dioner Navarro, TB - (New York Yankees, at Oakland) 3 14 0.214
TOP 5 (Best) CS ATT CS%
Yadier Molina, StL - (Cincinnati, Chicago Cubs) 5 8 0.625
Jason Kendall, Oak - (at Baltimore, Tampa Bay) 6 10 0.600
Russell Martin, LAD - (San Francisco, at San Diego) 5 11 0.454
Ronny Paulino, Pit - (Houston, Cincinnati) 5 12 0.417
Gerald Laird, Tex - (Seattle, at Toronto) 7 18 0.389

AL Steals Shopping:Darin Erstad, ChW, OF (12.5% owned), Placido Polanco, Det, 2B (66.8% owned)

NL Steals Shopping: Shane Victorino, Phi, OF (5.3% owned), Chris B. Young, Ari, OF (14.4% owned)

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 fiery first basemen Dimitri Young is fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through April 14.

Tampa Bay 6.02 NYY at Oak
Seattle 5.68 at Tex KC
Texas 5.36 Sea at Tor
Boston 2.89 Tor at NYY
Oakland 2.98 at Bal TB
Chicago White Sox 3.72 at KC LAA
Washington 4.69 at Phi NYM
Florida 4.66 Atl at Phi
Philadelphia 4.54 Hou Fla
New York Mets 2.47 Col at Was
Los Angeles Dodgers 2.87 SF at SD
St. Louis 3.30 Cin ChC