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This week's planner marks the beginning of the second half of the season, where some players will excel and others will drop off the radar. It is important to not only look at the current season stats, but also the mid-season splits. Over their careers, Howie Kendrick improves after the All-Star break, while Johnny Damon remains the same and Nick Swisher regresses. On the pitching front, Kevin Slowey improves, while John Danks typically regresses. These stats should not dictate whom you should start or sit, but can be pretty good gauge of how a player will perform in the second half.
Without further ado, let's take this week's modified AL Planner for a spin.
Max Scherzer @ CLE: I am not sure what was in the water down at Triple-A Toledo, but Scherzer has turned his season around since his return. In the eight starts before he was sent to Triple-A Toledo, Scherzer was 1-4 with a 7.40 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, and 5.66 K/9. Over the eight starts since his return, he has gone 5-2 with a 2.49 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and a terrific 11.04 K/9. He has one start against Cleveland this season, but he's a different pitcher now.
Gavin Floyd @ MIN: Floyd was expected to have a solid 2010 season, but stumbled badly out of the gate. In his first 11 starts, he was 2-6 with a 6.71 ERA and 1.64 WHIP. However, in the subsequent seven starts, he has gone 3-1 with a 1.25 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. Historically, Floyd improves after the All-Star break, so he should be in line for another solid start this week.
Carl Pavano vs CWS: Over his past seven starts, Pavano is 5-0 with a 2.78 ERA and 0.86 WHIP. In his lone start against the White Sox this season, he allowed two ERs on six hits and notched a win. Over six career starts against the Sox, he is 4-2 with a 2.81 ERA and 0.96 WHIP.
Colby Lewis @ BOS: Over his past six starts, Lewis is 4-1 with a 2.85 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and a solid 4.33 K:BB ratio. In one career start at Fenway Park, Lewis had a no-decision while allowing three ERs on five hits over five IP.
Ricky Romero @ BAL: With the Orioles ace, Kevin Millwood, on the DL (joke), Romero should be able to dominate the hapless Orioles. Even though Romero has been rocked over his past two starts (13 ERs on 12 hits over five IP), he has pitched well enough this season to expect a rebound. In his lone start against the Birds this season, Romero pitched a complete game, allowing one ER on six hits with seven Ks.
Keep 'em in the pen
James Shields @ NYY: Over his first 10 starts this season, Shields went 5-2 with a 2.99 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. However, he has taken a nosedive over the subsequent nine starts, going 2-7 with a 7.77 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP. Even though he has a win at Yankee Stadium this season (allowed three ERs on eight hits and seven Ks), the opposing pitcher, CC Sabathia, has been dominant over his last eight starts (8-0, 1.82 ERA, 1.31 WHIP). That said, even if Shields were not dragging the Rays down, pitching against Sabathia is enough reason to relegate Shields to the bench.
John Danks @ MIN: Danks has been dominant over his last two starts, going 1-1 while allowing just two ERs on 15 hits and 11 Ks over 15 IP. In two starts against the Twins this season, he is 0-1 and allowed four ERs on 15 hits over 13 IP. Normally, those two factors would prompt Danks' owners to start him this week ... not so fast. Over 15 career starts against the Twins, Danks is 4-6 with a 5.03 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP. In addition, Danks has struggled on the road this season as both his ERA (2.70 at home, 4.29 on the road) and WHIP (0.99 at home, 1.38 on the road) increase substantially when he leaves the confines of U.S. Cellular Field.
Andy Pettitte vs TB: Pettitte is going to be tough to bench (11-2), but there are two key factors that make this the right decision. One of Pettitte's two losses this season has come against the Rays. During that start, he allowed six ERs on nine hits and three home runs over five IP. The other factor is opposing pitcher, David Price (12-4), who has dominated the Yankees over his four career starts. Price is 2-0 with a 2.56 ERA, 0.92 WHIP over 31.2 IP. In addition, the Yankees are batting a putrid .152 against Price over his career, as opposed to the Rays, who are batting .308 against Pettitte over his career.
Brian Bannister vs OAK: Bannister has suffered a loss in four of his last five starts and chances are that he will make it five losses of his last six this week. Over eight career games against the A's, Bannister is 1-4 with a 5.02 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, and 10.04 H/9. In addition, the hitters he will face are batting .307 against him over his career.
Nick Blackburn vs CWS: Blackburn, who is 1-6 over his past eight starts, faces a red hot Freddy Garcia (9-1 over his last 12 starts) and a White Sox offense that is second in the majors this month in BA (.317) and OPS (.899).
Start 'em if you got 'em
Carlos Quentin OF (@ MIN): Quentin started the season so badly that he was being dropped left and right. Over the first two months of the season (152 at-bats), Quentin was batting .210 with a .696 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS), five HRs and 26 RBIs. However, over the past month and a half (104 at-bats), he is batting .325 with a 1.273 OPS, 14 HRs and 35 RBIs. That said, he is still owned in only 68 percent of Yahoo! leagues. If he is available, pick him up now, disregard his career stats against the Twins (.237 BA and a .756 OPS) and ride him while he is dominating.
Delmon Young, OF (vs CWS): I hate to beat a dead horse, but I am going to anyway. Why on earth is Young owned in only 51 percent of Yahoo! leagues? Let me guess, you do not like his .307 BA, 57 RBIs or 23 doubles? Anyway, if you own Young, or are considering picking him up, he is a solid play this week. So far this month (six games), he is batting .400 (6-for-15) with three doubles, one HR and four RBIs. In four games against the White Sox this season, he has gone 5-for-15 with three doubles. Over his career (147 at-bats), he is batting .354 with a .931 OPS.
Brett Gardner, OF (vs TB): Gardner has struggled at the plate over the past 10 games (9-for-36), however, when he did make contact, he made it count with two HRs and seven RBIs. Gardner has been decent against the Rays this season (.294 BA, .368 OBP), and the Rays will be at Yankee Stadium, where he has been stellar this season. Over 121 at-bats at home, Gardner is batting .347 with a .434 OBP, .946 OPS, five HRs (all five have come at home) and a solid 1.18 BB:K ratio.
Hideki Matsui, DH/OF (vs SEA): Matsui has struggled this month (4-for-20 with zero HRs/RBIs), but he has been dominant against Seattle this season and over his career. In eight games this season against the Mariners, he is 9-for-30 (.300) with three HRs, nine RBIs and a 1.000 OPS. In 232 at-bats over his career, Matsui is batting .310 with a .923 OPS.
Denard Span, OF (vs CWS): Since his five RBI game on June 29, Span has seen better days, going 7-for-35 with three RBIs and only one SB. However, Span has done well against the White Sox. This season, he has gone 6-for-20 with three walks and zero Ks. Over his career (109 at-bats), he is batting .330 with a .443 OBP, .911 OPS and a solid 2.22 BB:K ratio.
Magglio Ordonez, OF (@ CLE): Ordonez has hit safely in eight of nine games this month, to go along with eight runs scored and seven RBIs. Owners should look for his solid play to continue this week against the Indians at Progressive field, a team he has dominated this season. Over 33 at-bats against the Indians, he is batting .364 with a 1.160 OPS, two HRs, 13 RBIs, four walks, and zero Ks. In two games at Progressive Field this season, he has gone 3-for-8 with two doubles, two RBIs, two walks, and zero Ks.
Billy Butler, 1B (vs OAK): Butler is having a very productive July, batting .353 with a 1.155 OPS and nine walks against only two Ks. While he has not faced Oakland this season, he has hit very well against them over 78 career at-bats (.321 BA and a .907 OPS).
Look away ... far away:
Vernon Wells, OF (@ BAL): Wells was firing on all cylinders over the first three months of the season, but he has fallen off the wagon in July. In eight games this month, Wells has gone 3-for-28 with zero HRs, two RBIs, and seven Ks. Unfortunately, Wells' owners should not be looking forward to a resurgence against the Orioles. In three games this season against the Birds, Wells has gone 1-for-10 with zero HRs, zero RBIs, and four Ks. Over 280 career at-bats, he has a .279 BA with a .765 OPS and a weak 0.52 BB/K ratio.
Michael Cuddyer, 1B/3B/OF (vs CWS): Cuddyer had a solid April and owners were hoping that his 32 HRs in 2009 was not a fluke. Well, that seems to be the case as Cuddyer has struggled in May and June and those struggles have carried over into July. In nine games this month, he is batting .265 with a .306 OBP, two HRs and three RBIs. Things will not get any better when he hosts the hot White Sox. In five games this season, he has gone 4-for-21 with only one RBI and one run scored. Over 426 career at-bats, he is batting .265 with a .796 OPS. Even though his career stats against the White Sox are right in line with his overall career numbers, his struggles this season lead me to believe that his struggles will continue this week.
Austin Kearns, OF (vs DET): Kearns tore up the month of April (.373 BA, 1.056 OPS), but he has struggled since (.233 BA, .671 OPS). Kearns will host the Tigers at home, where he is batting .241 with a .689 OPS. In six games against the Tigers this season, he has gone 4-for-20 with zero HRs and three RBIs. Over 41 career at-bats against Detroit, he is batting a putrid .195 with a .639 OPS, zero HRs and three RBIs.
Jose Guillen, OF (vs OAK): Currently, Guillen is battling a quad strain, which tends to stick around longer than you would want as a fantasy owner. It is obviously affecting his play this month (.250 BA and a .571 OPS). Couple that with his poor career stats against Oakland (.226 BA and a .686 OPS over 212 at-bats) and Guillen needs to find his way to the bench.
Marco Scutaro, SS (vs TEX): In three games against the Rangers this season, Scutaro has gone 2-for-14 with zero RBIs, and two Ks. His career stats against the Rangers are better (.250 BA and a .668 OPS over 244 at-bats), but not good enough to warrant a start.
Jhonny Peralta, SS/3B (vs DET): So far this season, Peralta has been stinking it up at home, batting .221 with a .274 OBP. Unfortunately, he has two strikes against him this week before he even sets foot at the plate. He has struggled both at home and against the Tigers this season. In seven games this season against the Tigers, he has gone 3-for-26 with seven Ks. Over 391 career at-bats against the Tigers, he is batting .256 with a .317 OBP.
With numerous pitchers finding their way to the DL over the past week, you may need to scour the wire for a replacement pitcher. The pitchers below are playing well enough to warrant a start. If you do not feel that you can trust them to start, at a minimum, they need to be removed from the wire and placed on your bench.
Joel Pineiro, Los Angeles (50 percent owned): Pineiro struggled during his first 11 starts, going 3-6 with a 5.21 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP. However, he has righted his ship and over his past seven starts, he has gone 6-0 with a 2.33 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. Pineiro has the skills to continue his solid play, so pick him up before a fellow owner snatches him.
Tommy Hunter, Texas (33 percent owned): Hunter has been a nice surprise this season, but it seems not everyone is on board. In seven starts, he is 5-0 with a 2.34 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and a solid 2.70 K/BB ratio.
Freddy Garcia, Chicago (13 percent owned): In his first four starts, he went 0-2 with a 5.87 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 1.16 K:BB ratio. However, over his last 12 starts, he has gone 9-1 with a 3.92 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and an outstanding 2.87 K/BB ratio. Garcia is not a sexy pick up, but he will get you the wins and will not kill you in any other category.
Vin Mazzaro, Oakland (2 percent owned): On the season, Mazzaro is 4-2 with a 3.81 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 1.50 K:BB ratio. However, over his past four starts, he is 2-1 with a 2.32 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. Mazzaro could be the odd man out when Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson return from the DL, so use him while he is playing well and has the starting gig.
* All stats are current as of 07/11
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