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A.L. weekly fantasy planner

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I have to be honest, I watched part of the match between Spain and Switzerland the other day and I really don't understand how soccer can be the most popular sport in the world. Maybe I just do not understand the game well enough, but I would rather watch 43 cars make left hand turns all day than two teams kicking around the Adidas Jabulani match ball. I am an 18-year veteran of the Marine Corps and the love for my country is very strong, but I do not think that I could watch the United States play a match from beginning to end. If you are one of the millions of fans that do follow the World Cup, be sure and check out RotoExperts excellent World Cup fantasy coverage.

For now, I will keep my focus on fantasy baseball and will do all that I can to help you set your lineup for another week of interleague play.

Packin' heat

Freddy Garcia vs CHC: Garcia has not been dominating hitters this season, but he is getting the job done for the White Sox (7-3). Over his previous four starts, he is 4-0 with a 3.71 ERA, 1.22 walks plus hits per innings pitched (WHIP) and a 16:6 K:BB ratio. This season, Garcia's H/9 (9.50), BB/9 (3.06) and HR/9 (1.39) are all up, while his K/9 (5.07) is down. The key to his solid record has been run support, which is normally hard to come by these days in Chicago. During his seven wins, the White Sox have outscored their opponents 54-22. A record of 8-3 is certainly on the horizon when the White Sox host the Cubs. In five games against the Cubs, Garcia is 4-0 with a 1.25 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and a 26:6 K:BB ratio. While I am not a huge Garcia fan for the rest of the season, he is a worthwhile play this week.

Francisco Liriano @ MIL: Overall, Liriano has been solid this season (2.98 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 9.59 K/9), but he has been better than his record reflects (6-4). In his four losses, the Twins have been outscored 25-7. Assuming Liriano can get some run support, he should be able to chalk up another win this week. In three games against the Brewers, Liriano is 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and a .194 BAA. In two starts at Miller Park, he is 2-0 and has allowed four ERs on nine hits and 11 Ks over 10 IP.

Joel Pineiro vs LAD: Pineiro has been solid over his previous three starts, going 3-0 with a 2.34 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. In his first matchup against the Dodgers this season, Pineiro pitched a complete game and allowed one ER on five hits, seven Ks and one walk in the win. Over his career against the Dodgers, he is 3-0 with a 2.67 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and a solid 20:4 K:BB ratio over 30.1 IP. He has had an up and down season and while it may be hard to trust him, he is a solid play this week.

Scott Baker @ MIL; @ NYM: During his previous five starts, he is 2-1 with a 3.47 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. In four starts at Miller Park, Baker is 3-1 with a 4.26 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and a 27:6 K:BB ratio. Baker matches up against Dave Bush, who is 1-6 with a 5.95 ERA against the Twins. In his lone start against the Mets, he is 1-0 and allowed three ERs on six hits.

Scott Kazmir vs LAD: During his previous three starts, he is 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA. In two starts against the Dodgers, he is 1-0 and has allowed five ERs on 10 hits and 10 Ks over 11 IP.

Colby Lewis vs PIT: In the past three games, Lewis is 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 8.65 K/9. He has yet to face the Pirates in his career, but the Pirates have lost 11 straight and have been outscored 33-60 during that span.

Phil Hughes @ LAD: Since his last loss on May 22 against the Mets, Hughes has gone 4-0 (four games) with a 3.92 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. Hughes has never faced the Dodgers, but he should excel at Dodger Stadium, which is a pitcher friendly venue. Even though Dodger Stadium is ranked 14th in the majors in HRs between 2005-09, this will not pose a problem for Hughes as he has allowed a minuscule 0.59 HR/9.

Keep 'em in the pen

Andy Pettitte @ ARI: The ageless Pettitte continues to pitch very well this season (8-2, 2.47 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), but like all good things, they must come to an end. In seven games against the Diamondbacks, Pettitte is 2-5 with a 4.24 ERA and a .266 BAA. In three games at hitter-friendly Chase Field, he is 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and a .268 BAA. Pettitte has had a tough time keeping the ball in the park over the past six games as he has a 1.52 HR/9 (seven HRs). This is a concern because the Diamondbacks are third in the NL in HRs (79) this season. That said, while he may not get the win, the strikeouts should come as Arizona leads the majors in strikeouts (625).

John Lackey @ COL: Even though Lackey is 4-0 over his previous five starts, he has not been that good, which is evident in his 1.61 WHIP and .302 BAA. To put it in perspective, during those four wins, the Red Sox have outscored their opponents 40-14. Regardless of how bad a pitcher is, if he can get that kind of run support, the wins will come. Lackey has only faced the Rockies once and he came out of it with a win (three ERs and four hits). However, the win came at Fenway Park, not Coors Field, the most hitter friendly park in the majors where the Rockies are batting .286 with an .833 OPS. In addition, like I mentioned last week, there are very few pitchers I would put up against Ubaldo Jimenez and expect a win ... Lackey is not one of them.

Jeremy Bonderman vs STL: Bonderman pulled out a win on Thursday, his first over his previous five starts. In one start against the Cardinals, he is 1-0 and allowed one ER on seven hits, seven Ks and one walk. My sole reason for not recommending Bonderman this week is that he has given up five HRs over his previous four starts and the Cardinals rank second in the NL in HRs (37).

SI Recommends

Gavin Floyd vs ATL: Floyd has pitched well over his previous two starts (two ERs, nine hits and 17 Ks), but he is 0-1. While Floyd may have turned the corner, don't expect a similar outing this week when he faces the Braves. In four starts against Atlanta, he is 1-1 with a 9.95 ERA, 1.95 WHIP and a 13:17 K:BB ratio.

Tim Wakefield @ SF: Over his previous four starts, Wakefield is 1-3 with a 7.69 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. In six starts against the Giants, he is 2-3 with a 6.03 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. In his lone start at AT&T Park, he had a no-decision and allowed six ERs on four hits, two HRs and four walks.

C.J. Wilson vs HOU: Career against Houston; 1-1 and has allowed five ERs on 15 hits and four walks over nine IP.

Brian Bannister @ WAS: Bannister has pitched well against the Nationals (1-0, four ERs on five hits over 13 IP), but he is 1-4 with a 8.22 ERA and 1.73 WHIP on the road this season. Not only that, the opposing pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, has been dominant this season.

Two-start pitchers

You have all heard the saying, "two is better than one," right? There could not have been a truer statement spoken as the two-start pitchers below are excellent options and are must-starts this week.

Tommy Hunter: vs PIT (06/22); vs HOU (06/27)Scott Baker: @ MIL (06/22); @ NYM (06/27)A.J. Burnett: @ ARI (06/21); @ LAD (06/27)Ervin Santana: vs LAD (06/22); vs COL (06/27)Jon Lester: @ COL (06/22); @ SF (06/27)Justin Verlander: @ NYM (06/22); @ ATL (06/27)

* Note: If Hunter is unable to go due to a strained hip flexor, Matt Harrison would get both starts and should not start either of them for fantasy teams.

The following pitchers are decent options, and while you should get a solid game out of them, there is a chance they could burn you during one of their outings.

* Note: The pitcher has the best chance at a win against the team in bold

Brett Cecil: vs STL (06/22); vs PHI (06/27)Jeremy Guthrie: vs FLA (06/22); vs WAS (06/27)Gio Gonzalez: vs CIN (06/21); vs PITT (06/27)Wade Davis: vs SD (06/22); vs ARI (06/27)Jason Vargas: vs CHC (06/22); @ MIL (06/27)John Danks: vs ATL (06/22); vs CHC (06/27)

Disregard what I said earlier about "two is better than one." In this case, erase that quote from your brain-housing group for the moment. You would be better off with one solid pitcher, than these unfulfilling options:

Bruce Chen: @ WAS (06/21); vs STL (06/27)Mitch Talbot: @PHI (06/22); @ CIN (06/27)

Start 'em if you got 'em

Brennan Boesch, OF (@ NYM; @ ATL): Boesch has been raking over the past 10 games as he is 14-for-39 (.358) with four HRs and eight RBIs. This hot streak should continue as he has been one of the best in the AL during the month of June, posting a .358 (third in the AL) isolated power (ISO) and a 1.177 (second in the AL) on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). His plate discipline is still lacking as he is swinging at 41.5 percent of pitches outside the strike zone and only making contact with those pitches 68.2 percent of the time. However, when he does hit the ball, he makes it count. Boesch has never faced the Mets or the Braves, but his bat should continue to stay hot.

Juan Rivera, OF (vs LAD; vs COL): Rivera is on pace to set career highs in HRs and RBIs, however, he is also on pace to set a career high in strikeouts (strikeout every 5.85 at-bats this season). Obviously, his BA (.244) and OBP (.308) are suffering. Rivera owners should look for his BA and OBP to improve this week. Over 84 at-bats against the Dodgers, he is batting .345 with a 1.057 OPS and a strikeout every 9.33 at-bats. Over 41 at-bats against the Rockies, he is batting .366 with a 1.020 OPS and a strikeout every 8.29 at-bats.

J.D. Drew, OF (@ COL; @ SF): Drew is having a typical season thus far, although his HRs are lower than most would like to see. That said, he has a solid matchup against the Rockies at hitter friendly Coors Field. Over 87 at-bats at Coors Field, Drew is batting .368 with a 1.065 OPS. While his average takes a bit of a dive against the Giants at AT&T Park (.250), he will see a slight power boost (.536 slugging percentage). In addition, he is batting .316 with a .950 OPS against righties this season and six of the seven pitchers he will face this week are righties.

Adrian Beltre, 3B (@ COL; @ SF): Beltre is having a solid season and is finally starting to get some love as he is now owned in 83 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Over the past 10 games, Beltre is 14-for-41 (.341) with three HRs and six RBIs. Over 218 at-bats at Coors Field, he batting .395 with a 1.139 OPS, 15 HRs and only 28 Ks. He has not fared as well at AT&T Park (.296 BA, .345 OBP), but you need to ride him while he is hot.

Jason Kubel, OF (@ MIL; @ NYM): Kubel is currently riding a seven-game hitting streak and has gone 11-for-29 (.379) with three HRs and seven RBIs over that span. In five games at Miller Park, he is batting 7-for-21 (.333) with three HRs. In his only game against the Mets, he went 1-for-4.

Ian Kinsler, 2B (vs PIT; vs HOU): Even though he has not fared well in three games against the Pirates (3-for-12), the pitchers that he will face have a combined 7-16 record with a 4.66 ERA, 1.60 WHIP and a .297 BAA. Over 80 at-bats against the Astros, Kinsler is batting .388 with a 1.157 OPS.

Paul Konerko, 1B (vs ATL; vs CHC): During the month of June, Konerko is batting .404 (19-for-47) with three HRs and 14 RBIs. In eight games against the Braves, he is 6-for-22 with two HRs and four BBs. During his series against the Cubs this season, he went 5-for-13 with four RBIs. Over his career against the Cubs, he is batting .299 with a .904 OPS over 211 at-bats.

Look away ... far away

Nick Swisher, OF (@ ARI; @ LAD): Swisher has been a nice surprise this season, but considering he has never hit higher than a .262 in a season, it was only a matter of time until we would see his BA tumble below .300. Over the past 10 games, Swisher is batting .204 (9-for-44) with two HRs, 11 RBIs and a 12:8 K:BB ratio. If you own Swisher, understand that his average will continue to fall this week when he faces the Diamondbacks at Chase Field and the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. He has never taken an at-bat at Chase Field, but he is 0-for-11 with three Ks against Arizona in his career. In six games against the Dodgers, he has gone 3-for-22 with one RBI and four Ks. In three games at Dodger Stadium, he has gone 1-for-9 with one RBI and two Ks.

Vernon Wells, OF (vs STL; vs PHI): Wells started the season off on fire, but as the season progresses, he is returning to the status of an "average player." Consider this; in April, he had a 1.113 OPS, which dropped to an .822 OPS in May, and he is now sporting a .681 OPS. Not only that, but he is batting .147 (4-for-34) over the past 10 games. Wells' horrid June will only continue to worsen as he is batting .260 (6-for-23) with two RBIs against the Cardinals. Over 45 at-bats against the Phillies, he is batting .267 with a .638 OPS.

Jorge Posada, C (@ ARI; @ LAD): Since returning from the DL on (June 2), Posada is batting .214 (9-for-42) with three HRs, 10 RBIs and a 16:10 K:BB ratio over 13 games. One thing to keep in mind is that eight of those 10 RBIs came on grand slams in consecutive days. That said, another rough week lies ahead for Mr. Posada. In two games at Chase Field, he is 2-for-8 and in two games at Dodger Stadium, he is 1-for-7 with a strikeout. While it is hard to justify sitting Posada off limited at-bats, both of these games are in NL parks, so the DH is out of the equation and if Posada plans to play this week, he must do so from behind the plate.

Alberto Callaspo, 2B/3B (@ WAS; vs STL): During the month of June, Callaspo is batting .176 (9-for-51) with zero HRs and only four RBIs. In three games against the Nationals, he has gone 3-for-11 and in eight games against the Cardinals, he has gone 2-for-23.

Victor Martinez, C/1B (@ COL; @ SF): Even though Martinez has not been horrible over the past 10 games (.297 BA, one HR and eight RBIs), I do not like his matchups this week. In six games against the Rockies, he is batting .182 (4-for-22) with a .652 OPS. In two games at AT&T Park, he has gone 2-for-11.

Alex Gonzalez, SS (vs STL; vs PHI): Career against the Cardinals; .223 BA and a .635 OPS over 211 at-bats. Career against the Phillies; .242 BA and a .697 OPS over 322 at-bats.

Franklin Gutierrez, OF (vs CHC; @ MIL): During the month of June, Gutierrez is batting .216 (13-for-60) with zero HRs, four RBIs, 15 Ks and only three walks.

* All stats were current as of 06/17

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Did I leave a player off that you think should be here? Is a player on here that should not be? If so, drop me a line at and we can discuss statistics and lineups until we are blue in the face ... I've got time.

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