The Fantasy Baseball Hitting Planner is the essential guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming week. Every Saturday, we provide you with favorable hitting matchups for teams, as well as which hitters are hot or not. The Pitching Planner, complete with upcoming two-start pitchers, will be posted on Sunday.

Taking BP: Akinori Iwamura (strained oblique) is ready to return to the Devil Rays from the 15-day disabled list on Monday. He will start at third base again, with Ty Wigginton likely moving back to second base, while Elijah Dukes and B.J. Upton share DH duties ... Johnny Damon's calf cramps appear to be a problem for the center fielder for the first part of the upcoming scoring period. Melky Cabrera continues to start in center field for the Yankees, although Damon did pinch hit Saturday ... Chad Tracy (ribs) has been taking grounders in batting practice, but it's doubtful that he'll be ready to return once he's eligible (May 31). So the red-hot Mark Reynolds (.459, 3 HR and 11 RBI) will continue seeing at-bats in his place. He even hit cleanup against Houston on Friday, belting two homers at home ... Morgan Ensberg has homered in two of his past three starts. Mike Lamb has received three times the at-bats as Ensberg over the past two weeks, but he hit under .200 and the chance for him to steal the job appears to have slipped by ... Mike Napoli is batting .357 (15-for-42) during his current 12-game hitting streak ... Josh Hamilton, the leading candidate for the NL Rookie of the Year award, is set to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville now that his bout of gastroenteritis is behind him. Once he is able to return around June 3, expect the Reds to send Edwin Encarnacion back down to the minors ... Ryan Braun looked good in his major-league debut at San Diego Friday night. He was aggressive at the plate, hit the ball hard, and notched two RBI. The Brewers now have one of the best young group of infielders in the majors ... Shawn Green has a broken bone in his right foot and is considered day-to-day. Even if he does play this week, the pain in his foot will likely affect him in the batter's box. With Moises Alou (quadriceps) expected to be activated from the DL on Tuesday, the Mets will be mixing and matching in the outfield this week.

Projections are for May 28-June 3 games. All stats are through Friday's games.

This week's matchups
AL early NL early AL late NL late
Bold denotes a four-game series.
Pittsburgh plays at Cincinnati on May 28 as the last game of a four-game series that started over the weekend.
The following teams play seven games this week: Baltimore, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado, Detroit, Florida, L.A. Angels, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Seattle, St. Louis, Texas and Toronto.

Taking into account all games with at least a 50 percent chance of precipitation according to the, the following might be threatened by poor weather: Arizona at N.Y. Mets (60 percent chance), N.Y. Yankees at Boston (60) and L.A. Dodgers at Pittsburgh (60) on Saturday.

B E S T   H I T T I N G   S C H E D U L E
' 06 Stadium stats: Coors Field, 10.7 RPG (2nd).
STL pitching: 4.52 ERA overall (22nd), 4.93 Road ERA (22nd), 4.90 May ERA (25th).
CIN pitching: 4.57 ERA overall (23rd), 4.09 Road ERA (12th), 5.37 May ERA (30th).
The Reds' staff has the worst ERA of any team in the majors for the month of May (5.37), while the Cardinals' staff has a 4.93 road ERA.

Five other favorable hitter schedules

  1. Detroit Tigers -- at TB (3), at CLE (4)
  • While seven road games isn't ideal, the two staffs the Tigers face are among the worst 10 in the majors.
  • Cincinnati Reds -- vs. PIT (1), at HOU (3), at COL (3)
    • The Reds have seven games in Week 9, and while six are on the road, they are also in hitter's parks, including three in Denver where the Rockies have a 5.21 home ERA.
  • Oakland Athletics -- vs. TEX (3), vs. MIN (3)
    • The Twins are above-average, but the A's get six home games, three of which are against the second-worst staff in the majors.
  • Houston Astros -- vs. CIN (3), vs. STL (3)
    • Six home games against two struggling staffs makes Houston hitters solid starts.
  • L.A. Angels -- vs. SEA (3), vs. BAL (4)
    • Seven home games for the Halos and three are against the 28th-ranked pitching staff of the Mariners.
    H O T   H I T T E R S
    We aren't suggesting you start these players no matter what, but you might consider starting them over struggling stars. The following eight hitters have extremely favorable matchups and/or are in the midst of hot streaks:
    Jorge Posada, C, N.Y. Yankees: He's hitting .429 in May and his upcoming opponents have not been good against him: Dustin McGowan (.500), Shaun Marcum (.667, 3 HR), Julian Tavarez (.667, 1 HR) and Curt Schilling (.345, 1 HR).
    Xavier Nady, 1B, Pittsburgh: Nady has some nice matchups ahead this week that he has seen moderate success against in his career: Kyle Lohse (.500), Chris R. Young (.500, 1 HR), Greg Maddux (.333, 1 HR) and Brad Penny (.667).
    Josh Barfield, 2B, Cleveland: Finally, Barfield is providing dividends at the plate for Cleveland. He's hitting .306 with a homer and a position-leading 13 RBI in the past two weeks.
    Freddy Sanchez, 2B/SS/3B, Pittsburgh: After batting just .224 in April, the reigning NL batting champion is hitting .320 in May and .345 over the past two weeks.
    Casey Blake, 3B, Cleveland: He leads all third basemen in basic Head-to-Head Fantasy points over the past two weeks with a .354 batting average, three homers, 11 RBI and 14 runs scored.
    Raul Ibanez, OF, Seattle: He loves to face the Angels and their pitchers: Bartolo Colon (.351, 1 HR), Ervin Santana (.571, 1 HR) and Jered Weaver (.500). He has more homers against the Angels (14) than any other team and in 101 career games, he's hitting .327 against them.
    Jason Bay, OF, Pittsburgh: He hits well against his upcoming opponents: Chris R. Young (.333), Greg Maddux (.381, 2 HR), Brett Tomko (.385) and Brad Penny (.400). He's also hitting .291 in May.
    Lance Berkman, OF, Houston: He's ready to explode against his upcoming matchups: Aaron Harang (.195, 5 HR), Bronson Arroyo (.421, 3 HR), Kip Wells (.346, 3 HR) and Braden Looper (.500).
    W O R S T   H I T T I N G   S C H E D U L E
    -- LAD
    ' 06 Stadium stats: RFK Stadium, 9.7 RPG (17th).
    LAD pitching: 3.68 ERA overall (5th), 3.56 Road ERA (4th), 3.99 May ERA (8th).
    SD pitching: 3.08 ERA overall (1st), 4.06 Road ERA (11th), 2.35 May ERA (1st).
    The Nats have six home games, but they are all against two staffs that rank in the top five in the majors in ERA. And the Nationals' batting lineup is being outscored by every team in the majors but St. Louis.

    Five other below-average hitter schedules

    1. Minnesota Twins -- vs. CHW (3), at OAK (3)
    • The Twinkies face the best staff in the AL (OAK) and the fourth-best staff in the AL (CHW).
  • Pittsburgh Pirates -- vs. SD (3), vs. LAD (3)
    • The Bucs only have six games this week and they are against two of the best staffs in the majors this year.
  • Texas Rangers -- at OAK (3), at SEA (4)
    • While the Rangers have seven games, they are all on the road and three are against the best staff in the AL.
  • Atlanta Braves -- at MIL (3), at CHC (3)
    • The Braves are on the road all week with series against two staffs ranked among the top-10 in the majors in home ERA.
  • Baltimore Orioles -- at KC (3), at LAA (4)
    • The O's will love facing the Royals' pitchers early in the week, but the Angels have the second-best home ERA in the majors (2.71).
    C O L D   H I T T E R S
    We aren't suggesting you sit anyone, but take a look at your roster to see if you have a better alternative. The following eight hitters have poor matchups and/or are in the midst of cold streaks:
    Ramon Hernandez, C, Baltimore: His upcoming pitching matchups are not favorable: Scott Elarton (.000), Kelvim Escobar (.200, 1 HR), John Lackey (.250), Bartolo Colon (.167) and Ervin Santana (.000).
    Carlos Delgado, 1B, N.Y. Mets: He hasn't hit very well against some of his upcoming opposing pitchers: Matt Cain (.000), Brandon Webb (.167, 1 HR) and Doug Davis (.143). He has also been moved down to the sixth spot in the lineup, mostly because he's hitting just .224 on the season.
    Orlando Hudson, 2B, Arizona: After starting the season like gangbusters, O-Dawg is slumping lately, hitting just .174 over his past 46 at-bats.
    Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia: He's batting .212 with only four RBI and two steals over the past two weeks.
    Garrett Atkins, 3B, Colorado: After such a great season a year ago, Atkins is batting just .136 with a homer and four RBI since May 12.
    Carlos Beltran, OF, N.Y. Mets: He's hitting just .244 with a homer and four RBI in his past 45 at-bats.
    B.J. Upton, 2B/3B/OF, Tampa Bay: After leading the AL for a while in batting, Bossman Junior is now hitting just .171 over the past two weeks.
    Bobby Abreu, OF, N.Y. Yankees: The Yankees' right fielder is batting only .214 with one homer and four RBI over his past 42 at-bats.

    You can e-mail your Fantasy Baseball questions to Be sure to include "Attn: Hitting Planner" in the subject heading. Please include your full name, hometown and state. Be aware, due to the large volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee personal responses or answers to all questions.