Week 16 Fantasy Hitting Planner

The Fantasy Baseball Hitting Planner is the essential guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming week. Every weekend, we provide you with favorable and unfavorable matchups as well as lineup changes for each team.

Weather planner: Taking into account all games with at least a 50 percent chance of precipitation according to Weather.com, no games are in danger of being rained out.

This week's news and notes for each team:

Arizona Diamondbacks
Schedule: @COL3, PIT4
Heating Up: With Chris Snyder out, Miguel Montero has emerged as a viable catcher even in mixed leagues, homering in three of his last five games and batting .415 (17 for 41) over his last 10. Felipe Lopez hasn't offered much power or speed this year, but he's batting .421 (8 for 19) over his last five games.
Cooling Off: The All-Star break apparently destroyed Gerardo Parra 's momentum. He went from an eight-game hitting streak to 0 for 11 over his last three games. Don't bother with him outside of NL-only leagues.
Injury Concerns: Snyder (back) will begin a Class A rehab assignment Monday, but he likely won't return before the end of next week. Considering how well Montero has performed in his absence, he might not have a starting job waiting for him when he gets back.
Platoon Possibilities: The Diamondbacks face two left-handers this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons with Tony Clark now out of the picture.
Lineup Changes: Josh Whitesell has come up from the minors and started the last two games. He'll continue to cut into Chad Tracy 's at-bats, but both players have no more than low-end appeal in NL-only leagues.

Atlanta Braves
Schedule: SF4, @MIL3
Heating Up: Martin Prado simply won't slow down. He's batting .359 (14 for 39) during a nine-game hitting streak. If you need middle infield help, how could you not pick this guy up?
Cooling Off: Nate McLouth is 0 for 15 since the break, dropping his batting average below the .260 mark again. He's still a 20-20 candidate but is looking more like a No. 3 Fantasy outfielder than a No. 2.
Injury Concerns: Kelly Johnson (wrist) is on a Triple-A rehab assignment and eligible to come off the DL, but the Braves are in no hurry to activate him with Prado playing so well. Don't bother with him in mixed leagues.
Platoon Possibilities: The Braves face three left-handers this week, and you can expect Matt Diaz to start all of those games, filling in for either Ryan Church or Garret Anderson .
Lineup Changes: None.

Baltimore Orioles
Schedule: @NYY3, @BOS3
Heating Up: Adam Jones finally hit his second home run since May on Friday, and the encouraging news doesn't end there. He's batting .326 (15 for 46) over his last 11 games and is looking like a must-start again.
Cooling Off: Aubrey Huff is batting only .160 (8 for 50) in July. He doesn't look like the same guy we saw last year, so feel free to sit him while he's struggling.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Orioles face two left-handers this week, so Ty Wigginton will make at least two starts. He usually takes the place of Luke Scott , but he'll occasionally fill in for Nolan Reimold or Aubrey Huff instead.
Lineup Changes: None.

Boston Red Sox
Schedule: @TEX3, BAL3
Heating Up: Dustin Pedroia is batting .459 (17 for 37) over his last nine games. His batting average figures to keep improving from its current .303 mark, so you clearly want him active.
Cooling Off: Jason Bay 's summer slump continues. He's batting .195 (8 for 41) in July after batting .230 in June. His power makes him too valuable to sit even though his season batting average is down to .258. J.D. Drew is batting .089 (3 for 34) over his last nine games. He's a streaky platoon player and really not worth using except when hot.
Injury Concerns: Jacoby Ellsbury has missed two straight games with a stomach bug, but something like that should clear up in time for Monday's game at Texas. You really shouldn't think about sitting him, especially in Rotisserie leagues.
Platoon Possibilities: The Red Sox don't face any left-handers this week, so you shouldn't have to worry about Drew missing any time. Of course, as cold as he is, you still might opt to sit him.
Lineup Changes: The Red Sox called Jed Lowrie up from Triple-A, where he was rehabbing from a wrist injury. He homered in his first game back Saturday, so you have to think he'll get most of the playing time at shortstop, replacing Nick Green . He has the potential to help in mixed leagues, though he's not necessarily a must-add yet. Mike Lowell also returned from his hip injury and is a worthy corner infielder in mixed leagues.

Chicago Cubs
Schedule: @PHI3, CIN3
Heating Up: Alfonso Soriano seems to be coming out of a slump that lasted all of May and June, batting .344 (11 for 32) over his last nine games. You probably didn't bench him in the first place, but you want him active now. A streaky player like him could have a five-homer week coming up.
Cooling Off: Milton Bradley is batting .182 (4 for 22) with only one extra-base hit over his last eight games. Surely you don't still have him in a mixed league, do you?
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Cubs face two left-handed pitchers this week, so Reed Johnson will start those games instead of Kosuke Fukudome . The Cubs also seem to have settled on a platoon at second base with Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot , so Baker will likely start two games to Fontenot's four.
Lineup Changes: None.

Chicago White Sox
Schedule: TB4, @DET4
Heating Up: Jim Thome , who homered twice in the first game after the break, is batting .357 (10 for 28) with three home runs during an eight-game hitting streak. Even though he sits from time to time, you might want to consider activating him, especially for the eight-game week. Same goes for rookie Gordon Beckham , who's batting .579 (11 for 19) over his last five games. Paul Konerko is batting .404 (19 for 47) in July and looks like a must-start no matter how many games the White Sox play.
Cooling Off: Scott Podsednik is the only White Sox player not hitting his best right now, and even he's coming off a three-hit game Friday. He's batting .211 (4 for 19) over his last five games.
Injury Concerns: Carlos Quentin , hoping to come back soon despite his bout with plantar fasciitis, will stay in the minors for at least another week because of general soreness. If you own him in a deep AL-only league, you might want to start him just in case the White Sox activate him late in the week, but otherwise, keep him reserved.
Platoon Possibilities: The White Sox face two left-handers this week, but the players who would potentially sit against them -- Chris Getz , Dewayne Wise and maybe Thome -- still figure to get six starts during the eight-game week. Use them as you normally would, which pretty much means just in AL-only leagues for Getz and Wise.
Lineup Changes: None.

Top 10 Hitters Added
Player % Change
1. Garrett Jones , OF, Pirates 27
2. Franklin Gutierrez , OF, Mariners 11
3. Josh Willingham , OF, Nationals 11
4. Martin Prado , 1B, Braves 6
5. Kendrys Morales , 1B, Angels 5
6. Mike Napoli , C, Angels 5
7. Edwin Encarnacion , 3B, Reds 5
8. Miguel Montero , C, Diamondbacks 5
9. Michael Bourn , OF, Astros 4
10. Colby Rasmus , OF, Cardinals 4

Cincinnati Reds
Schedule: @LAD3, @CHC3
Heating Up: After meandering along for two weeks following his return from a wrist injury, Edwin Encarnacion has suddenly caught fire. He opened the second half 7 for 7 with two home runs, and even though he went 0 for 3 Saturday, he still deserves a look if you need help at a weak position.
Cooling Off: Jerry Hairston is 3 for 10 to open the second half but still only 3 for 17 (.176) over his last five games. You could do better in mixed leagues.
Injury Concerns: Chris Dickerson came out of the break having the same back issues he had going into the break, but he did pinch hit Saturday. When healthy, he's pretty much an everyday outfielder with Jay Bruce hurt, offering some stolen bases and the occasional home run, but he's a somewhat risky play for the upcoming week.
Platoon Possibilities: The Reds face two left-handers this week, meaning Laynce Nix will likely sit twice in favor of Jonny Gomes . Both remain low-end NL-only options.
Lineup Changes: None.

Cleveland Indians
Schedule: @TOR3, @SEA3
Heating Up: Travis Hafner has a seven-game hitting streak during which he's batting .375 (9 for 24).
Cooling Off: Shin-Soo Choo 's mini slump has carried over into the second half. He's 2 for 12 so far in three games and batting .125 (3 for 24) over his last eight. He'd need to slump for much longer than 24 at-bats for you to consider sitting him, though.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Indians face at least five left-handers in their six games this week, so Jamey Carroll might end up getting more starts than Luis Valbuena . Hafner might also have to sit against some of those lefties, but that's no longer such a sure thing because ...
Lineup Changes: ... Hafner has started all three games since the All-Star break, including two against left-handers. Looks like the Indians aren't so afraid to run him out there on an everyday basis anymore. He has produced a .941 OPS in part-time at-bats, so he deserves an add in mixed leagues as an everyday player.

Colorado Rockies
Schedule: ARI3, SF3
Heating Up: Todd Helton is batting .480 (12 for 25) over his last seven games and remains a must-start in all but the shallowest of leagues. Dexter Fowler might not be doing much at the dish, but he's going wild on the base paths, stealing eight bases over his last 12 games. If that sort of thing does it for you, give him a look.
Cooling Off: Chris Iannetta is 1 for 12 over his last three games, and his batting average continues to hover in the .230 range. He's still worth starting in most leagues because of his power and high walk rate, but he's looking like a disappointment this year after a breakout 2008.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Rockies face two left-handers this week, so Seth Smith might have to sit those two games in favor of Ryan Spilborghs .
Lineup Changes: Smith has started all three games so far in the second half, so he seems to have replaced Carlos Gonzalez as the starter in left field -- against right-handers, anyway. He has a .928 OPS in limited play, so pick him up in NL-only leagues.

Detroit Tigers
Schedule: SEA3, CHW4
Heating Up: Marcus Thames , who had four hits in the final game before the break, already has four hits in two games since the break. He's batting .667 (8 for 12) during that stretch and has five home runs in his last 10 games. Get him active while he's hot, because it won't last forever.
Cooling Off: Placido Polanco is batting.158 (3 for 19) over his last five games and still only .258 on the year. As anything less than a .300 hitter, he's not much of a mixed-league option.
Injury Concerns: Carlos Guillen , out since early May with a shoulder injury, has begun a Class A rehab assignment. He's still likely a week or two away, though, and might not even get everyday at-bats when he returns.
Platoon Possibilities: The Tigers face three left-handed pitchers this week, which means Clete Thomas will sit three times for Magglio Ordonez . You wouldn't use either player outside of AL-only leagues, but you might want to consider sitting Thomas in those formats this week. In left field, Ryan Raburn always starts against lefties, but Josh Anderson sometimes starts against righties. Again, they're just AL-only options.
Lineup Changes: None.

Florida Marlins
Schedule: @SD3, @LAD3
Heating Up: Jorge Cantu has hit safely in both games following the All-Star break and is batting .357 (10 for 28) over his last six. John Baker hasn't hit safely in either game since the break, but he's batting .344 (11 for 32) over his last 10. Both have renewed appeal in mixed leagues.
Cooling Off: Cody Ross has cooled off after a hot May and June, batting .154 (4 for 26) over his last seven games. You can sit him in mixed leagues easier than you can Dan Uggla , who's batting .067 (1 for 15) over his last five games.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Marlins face only one left-handed pitcher this week, which means John Baker should get five starts to Ronny Paulino one. Brett Carroll might also get a start against the lefty, filling in for Chris Coghlan or Jeremy Hermida .
Lineup Changes: None.

Houston Astros
Schedule: STL3, NYM3
Heating Up: Kazuo Matsui is batting .448 (13 for 29) over his last nine games. He can still swipe a few bases, but his relative streakiness, not to mention his propensity for injury, makes him hard to trust in mixed leagues. Miguel Tejada is batting .354 (17 for 48) with two home runs during an 11-game hitting streak.
Cooling Off: Carlos Lee 's .263 (5 for 19) batting average over his last five games isn't so bad, but his one home run in 27 games surely isn't what you paid for. His other numbers look fine, so you have to think the bombs will come eventually. Keep him active.
Injury Concerns: Lance Berkman , who left Friday's game with a strained calf, didn't start Saturday but drew a walk as a pinch hitter. The Astros then pinch ran for him. Berkman has been one of the hottest players in baseball lately, batting .325 with eight home runs since the beginning of June, but this injury has the potential to sideline him into next week. If he's back in the lineup Sunday, your decision is obvious, but if not, you should gauge your backups and react accordingly. If you have someone like Todd Helton on your bench, go with him instead. But if you'd have to resort to a Billy Butler , stick with Berkman and hope for the best.
Platoon Possibilities: The Astros face one left-handed pitcher this week, so Jeff Keppinger will likely get one start in place of Geoff Blum .
Lineup Changes: Darin Erstad is filling in for Berkman at first base, but he's just a slap hitter who doesn't matter in mixed leagues.

Scott's top Week 16 sleepers
Player Start %
1. Gordon Beckham , SS, White Sox 44
2. Nick Johnson , 1B, Nationals 32
3. Franklin Gutierrez , OF, Mariners 45
4. Martin Prado , 1B, Braves 34
5. Denard Span , OF, Twins 49
6. Jim Thome , DH, White Sox 41
7. Miguel Montero , C, Diamondbacks 16
8. Mike Lowell , 3B, Red Sox 21
9. Pat Burrell , OF, Rays 38
10. Garrett Jones , OF, Pirates 24
* sleepers are players started in less than 65 percent of CBSSports.com leagues

Kansas City Royals
Schedule: LAA3, TEX3
Heating Up: Mark Teahen , now an outfielder, has four hits in his last six games, batting .480 (12 for 25) during that stretch. He doesn't contribute many RBI for a player at a power position and is nothing more than a stopgap in mixed leagues.
Cooling Off: Alberto Callaspo has only one hit in the second half and is batting only .125 (2 for 16) over his last five games. He doesn't look like the best choice if you need a stopgap off the waiver wire.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Royals face two left-handers this week. The return of Alex Gordon from a hip injury has seemingly forced Mike Jacobs and Jose Guillen into a platoon, with Jacobs starting against the righties and Guillen against the lefties.
Lineup Changes: Gordon returned from the DL on Friday, bumping Teahen to the outfield and Guillen to the bench ... at least for now. Willie Bloomquist has started the last two games in center field, though the Royals could always decide to move David DeJesus there if they want to get Guillen's bat back in the lineup. Yuniesky Betancourt (hamstring) also returned from the DL on Friday, but he didn't replace anyone of significance in Fantasy.

L.A. Angels
Schedule: @KC3, MIN4
Heating Up: Kendrys Morales is 25 for 68 (.368) with five home runs during an 18-game hitting streak, earning him at-bats against both lefties and righties despite his struggles against lefties. You want him active in Fantasy right now. Erick Aybar has multiple hits in seven of his last eight games, batting .567 (17 for 30).
Cooling Off: Bobby Abreu is recently removed from a nine-game hitting streak but batting .143 (2 for 14) over his last three games. That's not reason enough to sit him, though.
Injury Concerns: Juan Rivera , who missed two games before the break with tightness in his left quadriceps and right hamstring, left Saturday's game with more soreness in his right leg. Players often get more time off to heal when a prior injury resurfaces, so unless Rivera makes a quick return Sunday, you'll probably want to reserve him.
Platoon Possibilities: The Angels face two left-handers this week, but they apparently plan to stick with Morales at first base regardless of whether a lefty or righty pitches. Brandon Wood no longer looks like much of a sleeper.
Lineup Changes: With Maicer Izturis and Aybar both hitting well, Howie Kendrick hasn't gotten much playing time lately. The three will continue to rotate, making them no more than AL-only options.

L.A. Dodgers
Schedule: CIN3, FLA3
Heating Up: Orlando Hudson is beginning the second half about how he began the first: on fire. He's batting 7 for 10 in three games since the break and 9 for 14 with two home runs if you include the final game before the break. Time to start him again.
Cooling Off: Batting in front of Manny Ramirez hasn't helped Andre Ethier as much as hoped -- at least not yet. He's batting .188 (3 for 16) over his last four games. On the bright side, the Dodgers are at home this week, where he's batting .285 with 14 home runs compared to .214 with four home runs on the road.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Dodgers face one left-hander this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

Milwaukee Brewers
Schedule: @PIT3, ATL3
Heating Up: J.J. Hardy might have some light at the end of the tunnel. He's batting .368 (7 for 19) with two home runs over his last five games.
Cooling Off: Casey McGehee is still batting over .300 on the season, but he's not playing every day and has only three hits over his last eight games -- a span of 18 at-bats. If you activated him as a sleeper at a weak position, you might want to rethink that decision.
Injury Concerns: Ryan Braun had trouble gripping the bat Saturday after getting hit by a pitch Friday and is day to day. He'll probably end up playing most of this week, so unless worse news comes out Sunday, you should keep an elite hitter like him active.
Platoon Possibilities: The Brewers face one left-hander this week, so Bill Hall has a decent chance of starting that game.
Lineup Changes: McGehee and Mat Gamel continue to split at-bats at third base. McGehee figures to get the majority since he doesn't have to sit against left-handers, but you still have to ask yourself how much his potential is worth if he's playing only part time. Frank Catalanotto will start in Braun's absence, but he's not worth adding in Fantasy.

Minnesota Twins
Schedule: @OAK3, @LAA4
Heating Up: Jason Kubel has gotten his batting average back over .300, hitting .440 (11 for 25) with two home runs over his last seven games. He's worth activating in all leagues. Carlos Gomez is showing his first signs of life all year, batting .600 (9 for 15) with one home run and one stolen base over his last five games. He has to stay hot for longer than that to matter in mixed leagues again, but you should at least have him on your radar.
Cooling Off: Joe Mauer is in a serious slump by his standards, batting .063 (1 for 16) over his last four games. That said, don't even think about benching him.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Twins face two left-handers this week, but they don't have anyone who routinely sits against lefties.
Lineup Changes: Alexi Casilla has returned from the minors to resume the everyday job at second base. He has some AL-only appeal, but he'll need to raise that .175 batting average to make any sort of impact. Brendan Harris and Nick Punto will now split time at shortstop.

Best Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Red Sox @TEX3, BAL3
2. Mets @WAS3, @HOU3
3. Yankees BAL3, OAK4
4. Diamondbacks @COL3, PIT4
5. White Sox TB4, @DET4

N.Y. Mets
Schedule: @WAS3, @HOU3
Heating Up: Angel Pagan , the team's new leadoff hitter, is batting .333 (7 for 21) over his last five games and offers enough stolen base potential to deserve a look in NL-only leagues.
Cooling Off: Daniel Murphy is only 1 for 10 coming out of the All-Star break, but you can only expect so much from a player hitting under .250 on the year.
Injury Concerns: Gary Sheffield remained out of the lineup Saturday after having a cramp in his hamstring Friday. A cramp doesn't have the same long-term repercussions as a strain, so you can expect Sheffield to play most of next week. Of course, at his age, he never really plays a full week, giving him little appeal in mixed leagues.
Platoon Possibilities: The Mets face three left-handers this week. Fernando Tatis will likely start those games in place of Murphy.
Lineup Changes: None.

N.Y. Yankees
Schedule: BAL3, OAK4
Heating Up: Derek Jeter , unlike some of his teammates, has carried over his hot hitting into the second half, batting .417 (15 for 36) during an eight-game hitting streak. Robinson Cano is also hot, batting .390 (16 for 41) during a 10-game hitting streak. Both are must-starts.
Cooling Off: Johnny Damon might be starting to come around with two doubles after the break, but he's still batting only .190 (8 for 42) in July. You can't bench him, though.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Yankees face four left-handed pitchers this week. They don't have any strict lefty-righty platoons, but you have to think switch-hitters Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera will start more often than left-handed hitters Eric Hinske and Brett Gardner this week.
Lineup Changes: After favoring Hinske and Gardner to Swisher and Cabrera before the All-Star break, the Yankees have gone with Swisher and Cabrera in both games so far after the break. You should probably just avoid all four of these players in mixed leagues until two emerge as clear everyday guys. Gardner probably has the most appeal because he can steal bases, but he needs to play to steal them.

Oakland Athletics
Schedule: MIN3, @NYY4
Heating Up: Orlando Cabrera picked up right where he left off before the break, putting together a seven-game hitting streak during which he's batting .429 (15 for 35). He's worth adding in mixed leagues if you need help at a weak position.
Cooling Off: Mark Ellis has one hit so far after the break and is batting .158 (3 for 19) over his last six games. Don't even bother.
Injury Concerns: Scott Hairston got hit by a pitch in the left wrist Friday and didn't play Saturday. The injury didn't require X-rays, but he still could potentially miss a few games to kick off the week. If he's not back Sunday, play it safe and bench him in mixed leagues. He's not exactly a must-start option anyway.
Platoon Possibilities: The Athletics face three left-handed pitchers this week, which means Ryan Sweeney will probably sit three times for Rajai Davis . Jason Giambi and Nomar Garciaparra are also in a platoon, though it's not strictly lefty-righty. Giambi will sit at least one game each series in favor of Garciaparra.
Lineup Changes: None.

Philadelphia Phillies
Schedule: CHC3, SD1, STL3
Heating Up: Chase Utley is 3 for 10 so far in the second half and batting .400 (16 for 40) with four home runs over his last 10 games. Raul Ibanez kicked off the second half with two home runs Friday and is 4 for 7 in two games.
Cooling Off: Two outfielders who have been on again, off again for the Phillies this year are, well, off again. Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino are both batting .125 (2 for 16) over their last four games. You probably don't have a deep enough bench to consider benching either, however.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Phillies face right-handers in all seven of their games next week. They don't have any lefty-righty platoons, but Ryan Howard , who's batting .315 against righties and .185 against lefties, will likely have a good week. Maybe not Werth, who's batting .316 against lefties and .236 against righties.
Lineup Changes: None.

Worst Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Astros STL3, NYM3
2. Tigers SEA3, CHW3
3. Brewers @PIT3, ATL3
4. Reds @LAD3, @CHC3
5. Cubs @PHI3, CIN3

Pittsburgh Pirates
Schedule: MIL3, @ARI4
Heating Up: Garrett Jones has hit safely in 10 straight games, batting .333 (12 for 36) with six home runs during that stretch -- five of them in a span of four games. As a 28-year-old rookie with poor peripherals in the minors, he won't stay this hot, but he's worth a flier now. Andrew McCutchen , a rookie with a higher ceiling, isn't doing quite as much as Jones right now, but he's batting .316 (6 for 19) with one home run and two stolen bases over his last four games.
Cooling Off: Both LaRoche brothers continue to struggle. Adam LaRoche is batting .032 (1 for 31) over his last eight games. Andy LaRoche is batting .156 (5 for 32) over his last nine games. No reason to start either of them until they start hitting better.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Pirates face only one left-hander in their seven games this week. Delwyn Young will likely start for Brandon Moss that game, not that you'd bother with either outside of deeper NL-only leagues.
Lineup Changes: None.

San Diego Padres
Schedule: FLA3, @PHI1, @WAS3
Heating Up: Kevin Kouzmanoff is the only Padre even moderately hot, but only because he had a four-hit game right before the break. He's batting only .231 (3 for 13) since the break.
Cooling Off: Adrian Gonzalez epic slump continues. He's 1 for 7 to begin the second half and is batting .132 (7 for 53) in July. But how can you sit him?
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Padres face two left-handed pitchers this week, but with three outfielders who hit left-handed and one who hits right-handed, they don't have any clear lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: In that outfield rotation of Will Venable , Chase Headley , Tony Gwynn and Kyle Blanks , Blanks, the one with the most upside, is getting the fewest at-bats of the bunch. It's a messy situation any way you look at it. Don't bother with these guys in mixed leagues.

San Francisco Giants
Schedule: @ATL4, @COL3
Heating Up: Pablo Sandoval has hit safely in seven straight games, batting .379 (11 for 29) with two home runs during that stretch.
Cooling Off: Edgar Renteria , who got his batting average up to .273 as recently as July 8, is batting only .136 (3 for 22) since. He's not a plus contributor in any category anymore, so just avoid him in mixed leagues.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Giants face only one left-hander in their seven games this week, so Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz look like safe starts in NL-only leagues. They often sit against lefties in favor of Rich Aurilia and Andres Torres .
Lineup Changes: None.

Seattle Mariners
Schedule: @DET3, CLE3
Heating Up: Franklin Gutierrez has opened the second half with two home runs in three games, giving him nine home runs since June 16. At this point, he shouldn't go unowned. Ronny Cedeno is beginning to capitalize on his newfound playing time as the everyday shortstop, batting .438 (7 for 16) with a home run over his last five games.
Cooling Off: Russell Branyan regression to the mean continues. He's 1 for 13 since the All-Star break and batting .088 (3 for 34) over his last nine games.
Injury Concerns: Mike Sweeney , out with back spasms, will come off the DL on Tuesday, but he's the lesser half of a platoon with Ken Griffey .
Platoon Possibilities: The Mariners face three left-handed pitchers this week, so Griffey and Sweeney should get an equal number of starts. Same goes for Ryan Langerhans and Wladimir Balentien and Jack Hannahan and Chris Woodward .
Lineup Changes: None.

St. Louis Cardinals
Schedule: @HOU3, @WAS1, @PHI3
Heating Up: Ryan Ludwick is 3 for 8 to open the second half and 16 for 35 (.457) with four home runs over his last nine games. Get him active.
Cooling Off: Colby Rasmus , who opened July with four home runs in six games, is batting only .138 (4 for 29) over his last eight games. He certainly isn't a must-start at this stage of his career.
Injury Concerns: The Cardinals have experimented with Troy Glaus in the outfield down at Class A Palm Beach, hoping he'll have a chance to return quicker from a shoulder injury if he plays there than if he plays third base, which requires more throwing. He certainly won't return this week, however.
Platoon Possibilities: The Cardinals face three left-handed pitchers this week, making Skip Schumaker a risky start. Then again, he might not have to sit with Tyler Greene and Jarrett Hoffpauir now out of the picture.
Lineup Changes: Mark DeRosa returned from his wrist injury Saturday and hit second, in front of Albert Pujols . He'll play with a torn tendon sheath the rest of the year but apparently doesn't have to worry about making the injury worse. Still, who knows what kind of effect it'll have on his performance? At least he has the best protection in the game in Pujols. DeRosa's return bumps Rasmus to sixth in the lineup, meaning the rookie no longer has the protection of Pujols. He still has some low-end appeal in mixed leagues just because of his upside.

Tampa Bay Rays
Schedule: @CHW4, @TOR3
Heating Up: Ben Zobrist , who hit a snag at the end of June before getting hot right at the All-Star break, has carried over his performance into the second half, going 4 for 9 so far. He's batting .452 (14 for 31) over his last eight games and remains a must-start. Pat Burrell is showing his first signs of life all year, batting .324 (11 for 34) with two home runs over his last nine games. He's notoriously streaky, so if he has a few more games with multiple hits, you'll want to scoop him up right away.
Cooling Off: Carlos Pena is also notoriously streaky, and he seems to be on the wrong side of it now, batting .122 (5 for 41) in July. Sit him if you have viable alternatives.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Rays face five left-handers this week, which effectively ruins any low-end appeal Gabe Gross had in AL-only leagues. Gabe Kapler will fill in for him against the lefties, though Willy Aybar could end up spelling both at times, bumping Zobrist out to right field.
Lineup Changes: None.

Texas Rangers
Schedule: BOS3, @KC3
Heating Up: After a three-game benching just before the All-Star break, Nelson Cruz seems back on track, batting .316 (6 for 19) with three home runs in five games. Get him active.
Cooling Off: Jarrod Saltalamacchia is batting .167 (5 for 30) in July and has been pretty much useless since April, batting .240. Michael Young is 2 for 15 in his last five games but is one of the few worthwhile shortstop-eligible players in Fantasy.
Injury Concerns: None.
Platoon Possibilities: The Rangers face only right-handed pitching this week, so David Murphy should get plenty of at-bats. But you have to figure the Rangers will start Andruw Jones over him two or three times anyway.
Lineup Changes: Jones got the start against the lefty in the first game after the break, and Murphy got the start against the righty in the second game. Looks like Jones is just a platoon player again, which limits his appeal to AL-only leagues.

Toronto Blue Jays
Schedule: CLE3, TB3
Heating Up: Adam Lind is batting only .267 (12 for 45) during a 10-game hitting streak, but he has four home runs during that stretch and five already in July. Start him.
Cooling Off: Aaron Hill is batting .091 (2 for 22) over his last five games and has mostly struggled since the end of May, batting .227. It's another Ian Kinsler situation, though. Who else could you possibly have to justify sitting Hill?
Injury Concerns: Vernon Wells missed his second straight game with a stomach bug Saturday, but he should be fine in time for Tuesday's game. He was heating up before the break and offers a good enough combination of power and speed to start in all Fantasy leagues.
Platoon Possibilities: The Blue Jays face three left-handed pitchers this week, meaning Lyle Overbay will lose three starts to Kevin Millar . Jose Bautista will also start against the lefties, but he might also spell Dave Dellucci against some of the righties.
Lineup Changes: None.

Washington Nationals
Schedule: NYM3, STL1, SD3
Heating Up: The top two hitters in the Nationals lineup have carried the team lately. Nyjer Morgan has three hits in four of his last eight games, batting .417 (15 for 36) with five stolen bases during that stretch. Nick Johnson has also gone heavy on the multi-hit games, posting five in his last eight with a .438 (14 for 32) batting average during that stretch.
Cooling Off: Josh Willingham went from red hot to ice cold in the blink of an eye. It's only three games, but he's hitless in 11 at-bats during them and isn't an advisable start in mixed leagues unless he goes crazy Sunday. Adam Dunn looks like he's cooling off too, batting .083 (1 for 12) over his last four games.
Injury Concerns: Cristian Guzman has missed the last two games with a recurring bunion problem. It's just a day-to-day thing, but if he's not back Sunday, you might want to see what else you can find on the waiver wire.
Platoon Possibilities: The Nationals face one left-hander this week, but they don't have any lefty-righty platoons.
Lineup Changes: None.

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Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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