The Fantasy Baseball Hitting Planner is your guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming scoring period. Each week, we'll assess Fantasy-relevant hitters based on streaks, matchups, injuries and lineup changes and divide them into five categories: "no-brainers," "advisable starts," "shaky starts," "strictly AL/NL-only" and "don't bother."
These designations are designed to rate each player's Fantasy value for the current week only and have no bearing on his value for the season as a whole.
Any player dealing with injury will have the injury listed in parentheses after his name. His condition will most definitely influence his category designation for the week.
Any players not appearing on these lists are presumed to be below "don't bother" status and are obvious sits in Fantasy.
The information has been updated through Saturday, July 14.
Ramon Hernandez returned for the Rockies Friday after missing the previous two months or so with a hand injury, but by now, you'd think rookie slugger Wilin Rosario would have a firm grip on the starting job. Or at least that's the theory. Hernandez has drawn some interest on the trade market, though, and the out-of-contention Rockies can't showcase him without, you know, starting him every now and then. If nothing else, you have to assume he'll spell Rosario more often than Wil Nieves has over the last few weeks, which could limit Rosario's value in the short-term. With the Rockies playing three games at PETCO Park this week, Rosario is benchable anyway, so perhaps you should just sit back and wait to see how the situation unfolds.
Worth a second look: Jesus Montero, Mariners
Despite the rumors of him potentially going to the minors, which have seemingly turned the whole Fantasy world against him, Montero gets a reprieve this week -- or at least he should in mixed leagues. The matchups are just too favorable. Not only do the Mariners face the pitiful Royals rotation to open the week, but they have four left-handers on tap. Montero is batting .329 with an .884 OPS against lefties this season. No, really. Also, the Mariners are on the road, where he's hitting a respectable .279 compared to .204 at home. Clearly, Montero still has his uses.
Approach with caution: J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays
Arencibia homered three times in his last six games leading up to the All-Star break, but they didn't come against pitchers like Phil Hughes (who has stopped allowing homers since ditching the cutter), CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett. Those are five of the six the Blue Jays face this week. Pretty impressive group. In addition to the 13 homers, Arencibia has a .261 on-base percentage, so it's all or nothing with him. This week seems like the kind in which he'd lean toward nothing.
No-brainers: Joe Mauer, Yadier Molina, Buster Posey, Carlos Ruiz, Matt Wieters, Brian McCann
Advisable starts: Carlos Santana, A.J. Pierzynski, Miguel Montero, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Salvador Perez, Jesus Montero, Ryan Doumit
Shaky starts: Mike Napoli (quadriceps), Wilin Rosario, Alex Avila, A.J. Ellis, J.P Arencibia, Yasmani Grandal, Russell Martin
Strictly AL/NL-only: John Buck, Geovany Soto, Michael McKenry, Rod Barajas, Derek Norris, Kurt Suzuki, Miguel Olivo, Martin Maldonado, John Jaso, Josh Thole
Don't bother: Ramon Hernandez, Jason Castro (knee), Devin Mesoraco, Jesus Flores, Jhonatan Solano, Steve Clevenger, Ryan Hanigan, Yorvit Torrealba, Kelly Shoppach, Chris Snyder, George Kottaras, Jonathan Lucroy (hand), Chris Iannetta (wrist), Victor Martinez (knee)
Outfielder Tyler Colvin has started 13 of the last 14 games for the Rockies, most often at the expense of Todd Helton, with Michael Cuddyer moving over to first base. With the Rockies out of contention and Colvin homering just about every time he plays, you have to believe the 26-year-old will start more often than the 38-year-old to close out the season, especially now that Helton is on the DL with a hip injury. How exactly the at-bats shake out between Colvin, Helton and Cuddyer is anyone's guess at this point, but right now, Colvin is clearly mixed-league material while Helton is not.
Worth a second look: Adam LaRoche, Nationals
After a crazy-hot start, LaRoche has spent the last six weeks or so coming back down to earth. But he has historically been a second-half player, hitting .296 with an .890 OPS after the All-Star break compared to .247 and .768 before it. And guess what? It's now the second half. In and of itself, that's not reason to start LaRoche, but considering the Nationals have eight games on tap this week, including seven against right-handed pitchers, chances are LaRoche will make a worthwhile contribution in mixed leagues.
Approach with caution: Ryan Howard, Phillies
If Howard wasn't able to take advantage of his series at Coors Field over the weekend, how do you expect him to deliver against pitchers like Chris Capuano, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain this week? Howard still isn't an everyday player at this stage of his recovery from Achilles surgery, so you really shouldn't need too much of an excuse to sit him in mixed leagues.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Paul Konerko, Mark Teixeira, Mark Trumbo, Edwin Encarnacion
Advisable starts: Adrian Gonzalez, Billy Butler, Allen Craig, Joe Mauer, Adam Dunn, Buster Posey, Michael Morse, Paul Goldschmidt, Kevin Youkilis, Corey Hart, Eric Hosmer, Adam LaRoche, Michael Cuddyer, Freddie Freeman
Shaky starts: Anthony Rizzo, Carlos Santana, Justin Morneau, Ryan Howard, Tyler Colvin, Michael Young, Mike Napoli (quadriceps), Chris Davis, Kendrys Morales, Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Logan Morrison, Carlos Lee, Carlos Pena, Mark Reynolds, Garrett Jones, Dustin Ackley, Adam Lind, Lance Berkman, Lucas Duda (hamstring)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Brandon Belt, Bryan LaHair, Casey McGehee, Brandon Moss, Chris Johnson, Yonder Alonso, Justin Smoak, Todd Helton, James Loney, John Mayberry, Ty Wigginton, Jordan Pacheco, Wilson Betemit, Tyler Moore, Chris Carter, Juan Rivera, Casey Kotchman
Don't bother: Matt Carpenter, Travis Ishikawa, Todd Helton (hip), Mitch Moreland (hamstring), Mike Carp (shoulder), Matt Adams
It may have gotten lost in the shuffle between Independence Day and the All-Star break, but Matt Carpenter, who had exclusively been a corner infielder and outfielder to that point, got a start at second base on July 5. It wasn't a disaster either. In fact, manager Mike Matheny said afterward he was confident in Carpenter's ability to make plays at the position. Of course, we haven't seen Carpenter play the position since then, but with Lance Berkman back from knee surgery, creating even more of a logjam at first base and the outfield, Carpenter's only hope of getting at-bats might be at second base. He's certainly capable offensively, so NL-only owners should pay close attention to the situation.
Worth a second look: Neil Walker, Pirates
Walker has made up some serious ground at the second base position during his 14-game hitting streak, batting .473 (26 for 55) with three home runs to move up to eighth in Head-to-Head leagues. With three games at Coors Field beginning Monday and easy matchups against Ricky Nolasco and Carlos Zambrano when the Pirates return home, Walker should have even more of that in store this week. Unless you have a true stud at second base, Walker should be an easy call right now.
Approach with caution: Daniel Murphy, Mets
Murphy has been on a nice little run himself, batting .400 (20 for 50) with three homers in his last 13 games. Certainly, he deserves to be back in the mixed-league discussion with that kind of performance, but this week might not be the best time to start him. The Mets play only six games and face high-end hurlers like Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Chris Capuano in three of them. Plus, they face three lefties, against whom Murphy has hit .263 with a .628 OPS this season.
No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Jason Kipnis, Ben Zobrist, Aaron Hill
Advisable starts: Brandon Phillips, Dan Uggla, Jose Altuve, Neil Walker
Shaky starts: Omar Infante, Chase Utley, Mike Aviles, Michael Young, Kelly Johnson, Daniel Murphy, Rickie Weeks, Howard Kendrick, Danny Espinosa, Kyle Seager, Marco Scutaro, Dustin Ackley, Jemile Weeks, Gordon Beckham, Everth Cabrera
Strictly AL/NL-only: Ruben Tejada, Alexi Amarista, Ryan Roberts, Darwin Barney, Ryan Theriot, Elliot Johnson, Mark Ellis, Sean Rodriguez
Don't bother: Jerry Hairston, Chris Getz, Jamey Carroll, Brandon Inge, Chris Nelson, Robert Andino, Yuniesky Betancourt, Ryan Raburn, Stephen Lombardozzi, Tyler Greene, Alexi Casilla, Logan Forsythe, Jose Lopez, Jeff Keppinger, Maicer Izturis, Skip Schumaker, Dustin Pedroia (thumb), Mark Ellis (leg), Brian Roberts (hip)
Alex Rodriguez sat out three of the Yankees' final 14 games before the All-Star break, which is hardly an earth-shattering observation. It's not an especially encouraging development, though, considering he has only three 20-point weeks in Head-to-Head leagues this season. At age 36, he may need sit more often down the stretch, and if he becomes only a 15-point-per-week guy, he's probably out of the top 12 at third base.
Casey McGehee doesn't figure to enter the top 12 at the position anytime soon, but he was in the top 12 as recently as 2010, which makes his .316 (31 for 98) batting average and six home runs over the last 28 games all the more intriguing. The Pirates have now started him in nine straight. If he continues to get regular playing time, he'll quickly become mixed league relevant.
|5.||Nationals||@MIA1, NYM3, ATL4|
Worth a second look: Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox
Because of the seven games he missed with a hamstring injury before the All-Star break and his 4-for-29 slump before that, we hadn't heard much from Middlebrooks until his solo home run Saturday. But when we last heard from the rookie, it was at Fenway Park, where he's hitting .326 with a .967 OPS this year. Not only are the Red Sox home for all seven of their games this week, but they're facing low-end hurlers like Gavin Floyd, Philip Humber, Aaron Laffey, Carlos Villanueva and Henderson Alvarez in five of them. Get Middlebrooks active.
Approach with caution: Michael Young, Rangers
Here's Young's Head-to-Head point totals for the last 11 weeks: 13, 17, 10, 13, 10, 12, 10, 10, 18, 12 and 6. Pretty pathetic, right? If that's all he's been able to muster in standard six- and seven-game weeks, how's he going to make a worthwhile contribution in a five-game week -- and with the Rangers on the road, no less? It's a rhetorical question because you already know the answer.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, David Wright, Adrian Beltre, Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo, Martin Prado
Advisable starts: Aramis Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Zimmerman, Alex Rodriguez, Pablo Sandoval, Will Middlebrooks, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Moustakas, David Freese, Trevor Plouffe, Brett Lawrie
Shaky starts: Mike Aviles, Michael Young, Daniel Murphy, Chase Headley, Emilio Bonifacio, Kyle Seager, Chris Davis, Pedro Alvarez, Chipper Jones, Mark Reynolds
Strictly AL/NL-only: Casey McGehee, Chris Johnson, Ryan Roberts, Todd Frazier, Placido Polanco, Wilson Betemit, Jordan Pacheco, Ty Wigginton, Sean Rodriguez, Alberto Callaspo
Don't bother: Jamey Carroll, Elian Herrera, Cody Ransom, Brandon Inge, Matt Carpenter, Chris Nelson, Robert Andino, Jack Hannahan, Jeff Keppinger, Scott Rolen, Logan Forsythe, Jerry Hairston, Juan Uribe, Stephen Lombardozzi, Jose Lopez, Maicer Izturis, Jed Lowrie (ankle), Evan Longoria (hamstring), Lonnie Chisenhall (wrist), Ian Stewart (wrist), Brent Morel (back), Nolan Arenado, Danny Valencia, Eduardo Nunez
Be sure to catch Fantasy Baseball 360 LIVE at 5 p.m. ET every weekday to dominate your Fantasy leagues. Our writers will have the latest news, analysis and roster trends each afternoon.
With Andrelton Simmons sidelined for the next six weeks or so with a broken pinkie, the Braves opted to go with Jack Wilson at shortstop ... until Wilson suffered a pinkie injury of his own Friday. Since then, they've acquired Paul Janish from the Reds and recalled rookie Tyler Pastornicky from the minors. They've also shown a willingness to use left fielder Martin Prado at shortstop, even giving him a start there Saturday. Chances are Janish will get the majority of the starts at the position until Simmons returns, but he, like Pastornicky, offers nothing offensively. If Prado mans the position enough to gain eligibility there, though, his already high Fantasy value will go through the roof.
Worth a second look: Alcides Escobar, Royals
With a .311 batting average and 13 steals on the year, Escobar has been fairly undervalued in Fantasy, currently ranking 12th at shortstop in Head-to-Head leagues and eighth in Rotisserie. He's been at his best over his last 29 games, batting .364 (39 for 107) with a .980 OPS, and has favorable matchups this week against the Mariners and Twins rotations. Give him a look if you need help at the weak shortstop position.
Approach with caution: Everth Cabrera, Padres
Given his propensity for stealing bases, Cabrera has been gaining momentum as a Fantasy sleeper since his return to the majors on May 17. But this week isn't the week to buy into him. The switch hitter has hit .128 against lefties so far, and the Padres have five -- yes, five -- lefties on tap for this week. Plus, they're at home, where Cabrera, like seemingly all of their hitters, struggles, batting .219 with a .567 OPS.
No-brainers: Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro, Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jimmy Rollins, Hanley Ramirez
Advisable starts: Derek Jeter, Trevor Plouffe, Rafael Furcal, Alcides Escobar
Shaky starts: J.J. Hardy, Alexei Ramirez, Erick Aybar, Mike Aviles, Emilio Bonifacio, Zack Cozart, Marco Scutaro, Jhonny Peralta, Yunel Escobar, Everth Cabrera
Strictly AL/NL-only: Ruben Tejada, Alexi Amarista, Stephen Drew, Cliff Pennington, Ryan Theriot, Sean Rodriguez, Elliot Johnson, Brian Dozier, Ian Desmond (oblique)
Don't bother: Pedro Ciriaco, Paul Janish, Jamey Carroll, Willie Bloomquist, Yuniesky Betancourt, Cody Ransom, Tyler Greene, Alexi Casilla, Clint Barmes, Brandon Crawford, Brendan Ryan, Cesar Izturis, Jed Lowrie (ankle), Troy Tulowitzki (groin), Dee Gordon (thumb), Andrelton Simmons (finger), Jason Bartlett (knee), Eduardo Nunez
|2.||Blue Jays||@NYY3, @BOS3|
Carl Crawford is set to return Monday after having missed the first 3 1/2 months with a surgically repaired wrist ... and then a sprained UCL ... and then, most recently, a strained groin. You get the picture, right? Just because he's active doesn't mean he's healthy. The elbow is the biggest concern going forward. He has altered his throwing motion to compensate and may end up needing Tommy John surgery at season's end. Doesn't sound like an ideal scenario for a bounce-back campaign, does it? If Crawford is able to return to his Tampa Bay form in the weeks ahead, it wouldn't be the shock of the century, but it's not such a slam dunk that you should feel obligated to start him in his first week back.
Quintin Berry, who has been the 31st-highest-scoring outfielder in Head-to-Head leagues since his debut on May 23, has apparently begun to convince manager Jim Leyland that he's more than just a role player. The left-handed hitter has started four straight against left-handed pitchers. Berry still strikes out at an alarming rate for a speedster, but if he's an everyday player, he deserves more attention than he's getting in mixed leagues.
Worth a second look: Desmond Jennings, Rays and Michael Saunders, Mariners
Jennings has been searching for himself since returning from a sprained knee in early June, batting .198 with a .566 OPS in 131 at-bats, but it's not like anyone doubts he's a good player. He was the sixth-best outfielder in Fantasy in the three weeks leading up to his injury. A week like this one, when the Rays are facing the Indians and Mariners pitching staffs -- matchups that include low-end hurlers like Zach McAllister, Josh Tomlin, Ubaldo Jimenez, Hisashi Iwakuma and whatever Blake Beavan type the Mariners call up from the minors -- could be exactly what he needs to jumpstart his ability. As for Saunders, not only are the Mariners facing the Royals' pitching staff for four games, but they finally get a full week on the road, where the left-handed hitter is batting .299 with an .875 OPS. Of the Mariners last 30 games, 21 have come at home, which is why Saunders' overall numbers have tanked. He's still not an automatic start in mixed leagues, but if you need a sleeper this week, he fits the bill.
Approach with caution: Nick Markakis, Orioles and Alfonso Soriano, Cubs
On the one hand, the Orioles have favorable matchups this week against the Twins and Indians pitching staffs, which you'd think would make Markakis an advisable start in mixed leagues. On the other hand, they play four of their seven games at Target Field, a notorious pitcher's park where Markakis has hit .182 with a .462 OPS in 33 career at-bats. Considering he just returned to the lineup after missing the last six weeks with a broken hand, you should give him another week to simmer. Soriano did begin the second half with a two-homer game Friday, but his power production has slowed considerably since a 24-game stretch in May and June in which he hit 12 homers. At age 36, the free-swinger doesn't have much to offer when he's not hitting homers, and his matchups this week against pitchers like Anibal Sanchez, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Kyle Lohse and Lance Lynn should keep him grounded.
No-brainers: Ryan Braun, Jose Bautista, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout, Matt Holliday, Curtis Granderson, Michael Bourn, Carlos Beltran, Adam Jones, Justin Upton, Mark Trumbo, Melky Cabrera, Matt Kemp, Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Austin Jackson, Martin Prado, Josh Willingham, Alex Rios
Advisable starts: Hunter Pence, Jay Bruce, Adrian Gonzalez, Shane Victorino, Bryce Harper, Josh Reddick, Allen Craig, Desmond Jennings, Alejandro De Aza, Colby Rasmus, Jacoby Ellsbury, Alex Gordon, Adam Dunn, Michael Morse, Corey Hart, Michael Cuddyer, Trevor Plouffe, Andre Ethier, Nick Swisher
Shaky starts: Jason Kubel (hamstring), Dexter Fowler, Nelson Cruz, B.J. Upton, Michael Saunders, Angel Pagan, Yoenis Cespedes, Ichiro Suzuki, Carlos Quentin, Drew Stubbs, Tyler Colvin, Emilio Bonifacio, Carl Crawford (elbow), Chris Young, Chris Davis, Howard Kendrick, Logan Morrison, Norichika Aoki, Nick Markakis, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee, Dayan Viciedo, Denard Span, Cody Ross, Michael Brantley, Lorenzo Cain, Lance Berkman, Torii Hunter (groin), Delmon Young, Ben Revere, Ryan Doumit, Garrett Jones, Quintin Berry, J.D. Martinez, Rajai Davis, Lucas Duda (hamstring)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Justin Ruggiano, Brandon Belt, Gregor Blanco, Todd Frazier, Bryan LaHair, Seth Smith, Brennan Boesch, Brandon Moss, Yonder Alonso, David Murphy, Alexi Amarista, Cameron Maybin, Jon Jay, Daniel Nava, Luke Scott, Jeff Francoeur, Raul Ibanez, Jordan Schafer, David DeJesus, Will Venable, Gerardo Parra, Wilson Betemit, Ryan Ludwick, John Mayberry, Juan Pierre, Tyler Moore, Bobby Abreu, Ty Wigginton, Leonys Martin, Johnny Damon, Coco Crisp (shoulder), Matt Joyce (oblique), Jason Bay (head)
Don't bother: Matt Carpenter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Justin Maxwell, Elian Herrera, Jarrod Dyson, Chris Heisey, Ryan Kalish, Alex Presley (head), Jerry Hairston, Tony Campana, Skip Schumaker, Andres Torres, Ryan Sweeney (hamstring), Stephen Lombardozzi, Juan Rivera, Peter Bourjos, Carlos Gomez, Willie Bloomquist, Nyjer Morgan, Giancarlo Stanton (knee), Mitch Moreland (hamstring), Franklin Gutierrez (head), Mike Carp (shoulder), Andy Dirks (Achilles), Vernon Wells (thumb), Nolan Reimold (neck), Brett Gardner (elbow), Jayson Werth (wrist), Grady Sizemore (back), Travis Snider, Eric Thames, Brett Jackson, Domonic Brown, Wil Myers
Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org .