Week 9 Hitting Planner
David Gonos takes a look around the league and analyzes some of the best and worst matchups going into the ninth scoring period of the Fantasy season.
The Fantasy Baseball Hitting Planner is the essential guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming week. Every Saturday, we provide you with favorable and unfavorable matchups, along with news and notes on lineups. The Pitching Planner, complete with upcoming two-start pitchers, will be posted on Sunday.
Don't forget to check out our Weekly Planner page, under the stats tab on your league pages. It has the weekly matchups for each team broken down by day, the number of games ahead for each team and finally, the hitting and pitching stats for each team (broken down by home and away).
Weather planner: Taking into account all games with at least a 50 percent chance of precipitation according to Weather.com, there are no games in danger of being rained out this week.
This week's news and notes for each team:
|Games played at C and 1B|
|Brandon Inge , DET||C||10|
|Jason Giambi , NYY||1B||33|
|Miguel Cabrera , DET||1B||32|
|Wes Helms , FLA||1B||31|
|John Bowker , SF||1B||21|
|Billy Butler , KC||1B||18|
|Frank Catalanotto , TEX||1B||12|
|Shelley Duncan , NYY||1B||11|
|Mike Sweeney , OAK||1B||10|
|Chris Burke , ARI||1B||8|
|Jason Botts , TEX||1B||8|
|Nick Swisher , CHW||1B||7|
|Morgan Ensberg , NYY||1B||6|
|Darin Erstad , HOU||1B||5|
|Chris Duncan , STL||1B||5|
|Greg Norton , ATL||1B||5|
|Marlon Anderson , NYM||1B||4|
|Rod Barajas , TOR||1B||3|
|Joe Dillon , MIL||1B||3|
|Marco Scutaro , TOR||1B||2|
|Martin Prado , ATL||1B||2|
|Jose Vidro , SEA||1B||2|
|Chase Utley , PHI||1B||2|
|Jeff Keppinger , CIN||1B||2|
|Wilson Betemit , NYY||1B||2|
|Brian Buscher , MIN||1B||2|
|Mark Teahen , KC||1B||2|
|Brad Ausmus , HOU||1B||1|
|Jason LaRue , STL||1B||1|
|Javier Valentin , CIN||1B||1|
|Jorge Posada , NYY||1B||1|
|Mike Rivera , MIL||1B||1|
|Ramon Vazquez , TEX||1B||1|
|Howie Clark , MIN||1B||1|
|Michael Cuddyer , MIN||1B||1|
|Damion Easley , NYM||1B||1|
|Geoff Blum , HOU||1B||1|
|Greg Dobbs , PHI||1B||1|
|Juan Rivera , LAA||1B||1|
|Brendan Harris , MIN||1B||1|
|Johnny Damon , NYY||1B||1|
|Ronnie Belliard , WAS||1B||1|
|Mark DeRosa , CHC||1B||1|
|Troy Glaus , STL||1B||1|
Arizona Diamondbacks: Both Eric Byrnes and Mark Reynolds were given the night off Thursday. They had been slumping in recent weeks and manager Bob Melvin wnted to clear their heads. They both returned Friday night -- and each hit a homer. Even after Friday, Byrnes has just a .171 OBP in May, and Reynolds is batting .206 this month, with 21 strikeouts in 63 at-bats. They are risky starters right now in mixed leagues, but their potential is too great to ignore unless you have very good alternatives.
Atlanta Braves: Brian McCann has joined Geovany Soto as the top Fantasy catchers in the game right now. His 19 RBI in May leads the Braves, four more than even the mighty Chipper Jones has put up -- and in two fewer games ... Yunel Escobar was able to play Friday night after suffering a knee injury in Tuesday's collision against the Mets. Check his status as the weekend rolls on before blindly starting him. Omar Infante was getting at-bats in his place while he was out.
Baltimore Orioles: Nick Markakis has 10 strikeouts in his past five games. While he has as many homers (four) and RBI (11) in May already as he did in April, he's batting just .211 this month. He's still hitting third in this lineup and we know he's talented enough to come back around. If you don't own him, consider buying him low in a trade ... Freddie Bynum continues to start at shortstop and while he's batting .290 on the season -- he has yet to steal his first base of '08. His speed is his best asset, so expect the Orioles to start taking advantage of it.
Boston Red Sox: How important has Jacoby Ellsbury hitting been to the Red Sox this season? When batting leadoff, he's hitting .308 with an on-base percentage of .395. That number is third in the majors among leadoff hitters, behind just Rafael Furcal (back) and Chone Figgins (hamstring) -- two players dealing with injuries. And only Rickie Weeks and Ian Kinsler have scored more runs from the top spot than the rookie's 32. Ichiro Suzuki and Michael Bourn are the only leadoff hitters with more steals than his 19. Realistically, we have to expect his numbers to begin to curtail once pitchers get second and third looks at him, but meanwhile, he's proving to be a top-25 Fantasy outfielder.
Chicago Cubs: It's time to start giving Mark DeRosa his due. He's batting .311 with four homers, 26 RBI, 31 runs scored and three steals through the first eight weeks. In Head-to-Head leagues, he ranks second among second basemen in Fantasy points, seventh among third basemen and 28th among outfielders. No other player has that kind of CI/MI/OF-eligibility with that kind of production ... The Cubbies stay at Wrigleyville all week, with seven home games against the Dodgers and Rockies. That's great news for DeRosa and Kosuke Fukudome who are both hitting above .390 with the outfield ivy in sight.
Chicago White Sox: Don't be too concerned with the seven road games ahead for the White Sox. They travel to Cleveland and Tampa Bay, which are two teams with very good pitching staffs, but the White Sox can score on the road. Only a few teams have scored more runs away from home this season ... Manager Ozzie Guillen reiterated that once Juan Uribe (hamstring) returns in early June, he'll get his starting job back at second base. That means Alexei Ramirez will get the bulk of starts there until then -- with Pablo Ozuna seeing time as well.
Cincinnati Reds: Adam Dunn extended his hitting streak to nine games through Friday. Since May 14, the Blonde Bomber leads all Head-to-Head hitters with a .444 batting average, six homers, 11 RBI and nine runs scored. He raised his batting average 45 points to .248, which should help the Reds move him in a trade before the deadline. That's a tricky proposition for Fantasy owners, since only six hitters have more homers at home than Dunn's seven at Great American Ball Park ... Edwin Encarnacion was ejected Thursday night arguing a call and Ryan Freel replaced him in the lineup at third base Friday. Freel is also likely to hit against left-handers in a platoon with Corey Patterson for a while. He's only owned in 12 percent of leagues, so consider grabbing him in larger Rotisserie leagues for help in steals, runs and batting average.
Cleveland Indians: Ben Francisco has started four of the past five games in right field (with his other start in left field) in place of Franklin Gutierrez . He hit cleanup against Texas Friday -- and had a home run taken away from him unjustly from the officiating crew. He has hit safely in 12 of 16 games since returning to the majors, and it's time to consider the relatively speedy outfielder in more than just AL-only formats.
Colorado Rockies: As if the Rockies didn't have enough problems at the shortstop position, Clint Barmes is going on the DL with a knee injury after Jose Reyes slid into him Friday. Garrett Atkins , Matt Holliday and Barmes were really the only Rockies hitting well this month. Ian Stewart will join the team, but he's a third baseman that will provide pinch-hit power. Omar Quintanilla could get the bulk of at-bats in Barmes' place, but he's not much of an answer outside of NL-only leagues ... Brad Hawpe also landed on the DL with a sore hamstring, retroactive to Wednesday. Ryan Spilborghs and Seth Smith should see more time in right.
Detroit Tigers: The Tigers have been more like kitty-cats so far this season, and only recently did they pick up the scoring pace. They were among the worst scoring teams in the majors for the month of May earlier this week. They have six games ahead, and all are on the road against the Angels and Mariners ... Magglio Ordonez and Placido Polanco are hitting well in May, but Edgar Renteria , Gary Sheffield and Curtis Granderson are all batting below .240 this month ... Matt Joyce is seeing starts in left field and his five homers in May lead the team -- despite having about half the at-bats of Maggs, Miguel Cabrera and Granderson.
Florida Marlins: The Fish keep winning and the offense continues to be a large part of the reason. Only Boston and Texas have more homers in May than Florida. While they are on the road this week -- at the Mets and Phillies for six games -- don't fret too much. They lead the majors in home runs on the road with 33 ... Dan Uggla OPS is 1.517 in May ... Luis E. Gonzalez has been decent in place of Josh Willingham , batting .315 with nine RBI in 20 games this month. If your team is hurting in the outfield, consider picking him up for the short-term.
|Top 5 Hitting Matchups|
|1.||Tampa Bay Rays||TEX3, CHW4|
|2.||St. Louis Cardinals||HOU3, PIT3|
|3.||Chicago Cubs||LAD3, COL4|
|4.||N.Y. Mets||FLA3, LAD4|
|5.||Seattle Mariners||BOS3, DET3|
Houston Astros: Phillies closer Brad Lidge got Lance Berkman to pop up for the final out in Thursday's game, then Houston's former closer got a text message from the Astros slugger that said, "I hate you." ... Hunter Pence has three homers in his past four games and he's batting .351 in the month of May. He's back to being the player you drafted this spring … Kazuo Matsui has eight steals this month to lead all second basemen.
Kansas City Royals: Entering Monday's series opener against Boston, Mark Grudzielanek led the AL in hitting with a .331 batting average. But he went 0-for-16 in the four-game set, and his average dropped back to just .295 ... Joey Gathright has 13 steals in 15 attempts this season, compared to just nine steals (eight caught stealing) in 2007. The Royals are starting to use Billy Butler at DH again, with Mark Teahen moving up to play first base, David DeJesus in left and right field, with Gathright in center. The former Devil Rays center fielder doesn't offer up much in the other categories, but he should be owned in more than nine percent of leagues ... John Buck and Miguel Olivo continue to share starts behind the plate, but it's Olivo who is producing more at the plate lately. In May, along with Jose Guillen , they lead the team in homers with three apiece. Buck has just three RBI in his past 12 games compared the former Marlins' 11 RBI.
L.A. Angels: The Halos rank 13th in runs scored this season. But after a strong April in which the finished behind only the Cubs and Diamondbacks in scoring, they have fallen back to 18th this month. Let's examine their lineup for some reasons.
- Chone Figgins , 3B -- Since Figgins has been sidelined for all but four games this month, you can blame the step back on his faulty hamstring. He came back earlier this week, only to take off Thursday and Friday again. They're taking their time with him -- and he might need even more time. Maicer Izturis leads off when he's out, with Brandon Wood and Robb Quinlan playing third.
- Gary Matthews , LF -- Here's a stat for you: Of the 22 players in the majors with at least 100 plate appearances in the No. 2 spot in the order, Matthews ranks 20th with a .221 batting average and a .301 on-base percentage.
- Vladimir Guerrero , RF -- He's batting just .230 in May, and he had just four hits in the past week. Patience, young Fantasy owner, patience.
- Garret Anderson , DH -- He's rocking and rolling right now, batting .359 and leading the team in extra-base hits (seven) this month. Use him while you can before his balky back chimes in.
- Torii Hunter , CF -- Here's another hitter that started out strong, but has struggled in recent weeks. He has 25 RBI and 25 runs scored though.
- Casey Kotchman , 1B -- He suffered through a tough Week 7, but this past week was good to C.K. He hit .364 with three RBI and three runs scored.
- Mike Napoli , C -- The threat of Jeff Mathis stealing time from him was enough to get Napoli going at the plate. Mathis has just two hits this month, but Napoli has four homers in May (tying him for tops among catchers with Geovany Soto ) and only McCann and Soto have more RBI than his 12 since May 1.
- Sean Rodriguez , 2B -- Nothing to look at here, folks. Keep moving. (He's a placeholder until Howie Kendrick (hamstring) returns, possibly as soon as this week.)
- Maicer Izturis , SS -- He's still only worth considering in AL-only leagues as a middle infielder.
L.A. Dodgers: Andruw Jones is still dealing with torn cartilage in his right knee, which gives the Dodgers an excuse not to use him. He could even land on the DL, which would open up a roster spot for his Fantasy owners at least ... Matt Kemp continues to be their best hitter ... Andy LaRoche is batting well in the minors, but rookie Blake DeWitt is doing too much for the Dodgers for them to change anything. His four RBI in the past week lead the team.
Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers haven't been hitting on all cylinders all at once, but this past week might have been their best at the plate collectively. Of the eight starters, five hit over .300 ... Ryan Braun has 10 homers this month, leading all hitters not named Uggla.
Minnesota Twins: Carlos Gomez hasn't stolen a base since May 11, but he's producing in other areas right now. He has hit safely in 16 of his past 20 games, with three homers, 12 RBI and 15 runs scored in that span ... In the "I can't explain this" category, Delmon Young has yet to hit a home run this season -- yet he has three triples in the past week alone. He's providing help in most categories -- other than homers -- so keep the former No. 1 overall pick active.
N.Y. Yankees: The Bronx Bombers are away from Yankee Stadium for six games this week (three at Baltimore and three at Minnesota) ... 2B Robinson Cano is playing much better lately, but he's only hitting about .210 on the road. He had a season-high three RBI against Seattle Friday, and he has a base hit in 13 of his past 16 games ... Speaking of turning things around, Jason Giambi has a base hit in his past five games, and he's starting to go to the opposite field with more regularity. He homered and doubled against Seattle Saturday. The return of Alex Rodriguez to the lineup should continue to help his numbers ... Bobby Abreu is batting .216 on the road with only one home run.
|Top 10 Hitters Added|
N.Y. Mets: With seven games at Shea Stadium this week, against the Marlins and Dodgers, the Mets bats should perform well. Especially Luis Castillo , who is batting close to .300 in 13 games at home this season ... Ryan Church is still feeling the effects of a concussion, but he was able to pinch-hit on Friday ... The Mets are having all sorts of problems in their outfield, with Fernando Tatis playing in right field and Nicholas Evans starting in right Saturday. Both are regularly corner infielders -- and neither is worth a long look in most leagues.
Oakland Athletics: The Big Hurt smacked his fourth home run in four games on Friday against Boston, which pushed him past the 1,700 RBI mark in his career. He's batting .333 in his past 22 games ... Speaking of a power boost, Jack Cust has six homers in May, and he seems to have found the stroke that helped him break out with 26 homers last season.
Philadelphia Phillies: Pedro Feliz is batting .319 in his past 19 games. Considering the team has a stellar lineup, the fact that Feliz is second among Phillies with 23 hits this month should interest you. The best number to see from him is that he has just eight strikeouts in his past 75 at-bats. Need help at corner infielder? He's available in 71 percent of leagues.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Ryan Doumit thumb injury likely won't keep him out as long as the team originally expected. He is progressing well enough that they think he could be back by next week (early June). He was batting cleanup before getting hurt ... Since replacing Doumit on May 13, Ronny Paulino is batting just .216 with no homers, two RBI and four runs scored.
San Diego Padres: To say the Padres are the worst offensive team in the majors would still be an understatement. One of their bright spots this season has been the play of Brian Giles , who leads the team with 28 hits and 15 walks in the month of May. The team moved him from the leadoff spot (now occupied by Jody Gerut ) to the third spot in the order ... Luke Carlin can't hit much at the plate, but his gritty play behind the plate is leading by example. He should be in the lineup for a few more weeks while Josh Bard (ankle) rehabs.
San Francisco Giants: Bengie Molina has been hitting really well lately, bringing back shades of his career-best season in '07. He's on pace for 85 RBI this season ... Aaron Rowand and Randy Winn are also having nice months, both are batting over .320 and they lead the team in hits for May.
Seattle Mariners: This past offseason, there was talk that Ichiro Suzuki could steal 60-plus bases if he tried. And judging from his past month, he could steal 80. He leads the majors since May 1 with 15 stolen bases. He's batting .341 too, but he's the only Mariners hitter over .300 in May.
|Worst 5 Hitting Matchups|
|1.||Texas Rangers||@TB3, OAK3|
|2.||Washington Nationals||MIL1, @SD3, ARI3|
|3.||Houston Astros||@STL3, @MIL3|
|4.||N.Y. Yankees||@BAL3, @MIN3|
|5.||L.A. Dodgers||@CHC3, @NYM4|
St. Louis Cardinals: Six games ahead at Busch Stadium against the Astros and Pirates. Houston's staff is average on the road, but the Pirates have the worst road pitching staff in the majors (6.09 ERA) ... Yadier Molina is batting .295 this season and .333 over his past 19 games. It's time we recognize him as a competent Fantasy catcher and no longer just a master behind the plate.
Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays are scoring nearly two runs more a game at home than they are on the road ... The Rangers and White Sox travel to St. Petersburg for seven games in the Trop this week. The Rays are not blowing teams out, averaging just 3.60 runs per game in their past 10 contests, but they have the best record in the majors since April 17 ... Dioner Navarro is batting .344 in his past 64 at-bats.
Texas Rangers: Rookie outfielder David Murphy continues to hit well, and only Josh Hamilton has more hits for the team this month. Murphy has knocked in 19 RBI too in May, second to Hamilton's 21. I finally bit the bullet and picked him up in Tout Wars ... The Rays pitching staff has an majors-best 2.67 ERA at home and the Rangers will try to make a dent in that this week. But then they have to face the A's, who have a 3.34 overall ERA that leads the majors.
Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays have seven games on the docket, but six are on the road at Oakland and at the L.A. Angels. The Halos pitchers aren't great at home, but the A's staff has a top-three ERA at home ... Marco Scutaro has been playing well at shortstop in place of David Eckstein (hip flexor) and John McDonald . Scutaro is batting .352 (19-for-54) in their place. Eckstein should be back this week though, possibly as early as Monday, so Scutaro's time is limited.
Washington Nationals: What has eight arms, eight legs and five homers? It's not Duke Spider -- it's the four outfielders that play for Washington! (I sincerely apologize for the spider joke.) Elijah Dukes still hasn't homered, Wily Mo Pena finally homered on Friday, Lastings Milledge has just one homer, and Austin Kearns has just one homer since April 21 ... The Padres and Diamondbacks get their turn against Washington's hitters. The Padres have a 3.24 ERA at home (fourth), and the D-Backs' ERA is also under four at Chase Field.
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