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Fantasy baseball is a strange beast. A player can be knocking the cover off the ball over his past 10 games, but as you take your research a little deeper, you find out that he is due for a slump and should ride the pine.
When most fantasy owners determine who should start and who should sit, they base their decisions on a player's current stats or what they have done over a short period of time. However, those stats only tell part of the story, as there are many other factors that should go into whom you should start or sit.
For instance, we all know that Brennan Boesch has been dominant this season, and based on his current stats, he is a must-start this week ... right? Wrong! If you take your research a little further, you will find out that he is a combined 4-for-41 with 15 Ks against the Mariners and Angels this season. Yes, he has been solid thus far, but the chances of Boesch struggling this week are good, and he has also cooled off recently. The same can be said for splits, such as home/away, day/night, or indoors/outdoors as they are just as, if not more important than current stats.
As the season progresses, choosing the right players to start or sit becomes more vital, so let the AL Planner do the work for you.
John Danks vs SEA; vs OAK: Danks has been a much better pitcher than his 10-7 record indicates, and now that he is getting the proper run support, the wins are coming. He has won six of his last eight starts and posted a 3.09 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and a 0.48 HR/9 during that span. In fact, out of his 19 starts this season, he has allowed two ERs or less in 15. Assuming the Sox can continue cranking out the runs, Danks should post a win in his next two starts against the Mariners and A's at home, where he has 2.70 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and a .207 BAA. In two starts against the Mariners this season, he is 2-0 and has allowed two ERs on nine hits over 15.2 IP. While he has not faced the A's this season, he has dominated them over his career to the tune of four wins in five starts, a 1.62 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and only one HR over 33.1 IP.
Ricky Romero vs BAL: After a solid June (2.12 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP over five starts), Romero is stinking up the joint in July (9.75 ERA and a 1.91 WHIP over four starts). However, Romero's owners should look for him to end the month on a high note against the Orioles at Rogers Centre, where he is sporting a solid 2.16 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and a .192 BAA. He has been equally as solid in two starts against the Os this season, going 2-0 and allowing one ER and 11 hits over 16 IP.
Trevor Cahill @ TEX: Cahill has been inconsistent over his four starts this month, allowing one ER, six ERs, zero ERs, and five ERs over those starts. However, he has been consistently good against the Rangers and at Rangers Ballpark. In six career starts against the Rangers, he is 4-1 with a 2.23 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and a .221 BAA. In two career starts at Rangers Ballpark, he is 1-0 and has allowed two ERs on five hits over 12.2 IP. Over his career, the hitters that he will face are batting .204 (17-for-83) against him while allowing only two HRs.
Shaun Marcum vs BAL: In three starts against the Orioles this season, Marcum is 2-0 and has allowed three ERs over 17 IP. The opposing pitcher, Jeremy Guthrie, has been horrible on the road (1-5 with a 5.01 ERA), and the Blue Jays hitters are batting .304 against him over his career.
Jeff Niemann vs DET: Niemann has been dominant at home this season, posting a 2.44 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and a .214 BAA. In three starts against the Tigers over his career, he is 0-1 with a 2.04 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and a .215 BAA. Over his career, the Tigers' hitters he will face are batting .189 against him. The opposing pitcher, Rick Porcello, has been horrid on the road (7.55 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, and a .348 BAA), so this should be a cakewalk for Niemann.
Mark Buehrle vs SEA: Like Danks, Buehrle has been solid over his previous seven starts, going 5-2 with a 2.46 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and has allowed only three HRs. In 14 career starts against the Mariners, he is 7-4 with a 3.68 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and a 0.85 HR/9. However, he has been better while pitching against the Mariners at U.S. Cellular Field, going 6-1 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and a 0.61 HR/9.
Brett Cecil vs CLE: Cecil has faced the Indians once this season, going 1-0 while allowing one ER on one hit, 10 Ks, and only one walk. Over his career (three starts), he is 1-0 with a 0.86 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and a .189 BAA. The hitters that he will face are batting .153 (4-for-26) with only one RBI against him.
Keep 'em in the pen
Phil Hughes @ TB: At some point over Hughes' next two starts, he will exceed the most innings he has ever pitched in a single season (116 at Double-A). Most experts figured his solid run would not last, but many did not expect the decline to start this early. Over his first nine starts, he went 6-1 with a 2.72 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 9.12 K/9, and a 0.64 HR/9. Conversely, over his past eight starts, he has gone 5-2 with a 5.49 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 6.59 K/9, and a 1.64 HR/9. While he has not faced the Rays this season, over his career (seven games), he is 2-1 and has allowed seven ERs on 16 hits over 15 IP.
Scott Baker vs SEA: Baker was not great over his first 14 starts (6-5 with a 4.43 ERA and 1.06 WHIP), and his season has not gotten any better over his past four starts (1-4 with a 7.58 ERA and 1.68 WHIP). The hitters that Baker will face are batting .324 against him in his career.
James Shields vs DET; vs NYY: Even though Shields has pitched well against the Tigers in his career (3-0 with a 3.93 ERA), he has been horrible at home this season (1-5 with a 5.59 ERA). The opposing pitcher, Justin Verlander, has played well at Tropicana Field, going 2-0 with four ERs on 12 hits over 13 IP. In addition, the Rays are hitting .208 against Verlander, but the Tigers are batting .349 against Shields. In 12 career starts against the Yankees, Shields is 2-7 with a 5.45 ERA
Armando Galarraga @ BOS: In his only start against the Red Sox this season, he allowed one ER on three hits over 5.2 IP. However, feel free to overlook that game, as it was played at Comerica Park. Why is this important? He will face the Red Sox at Fenway Park, a venue where he has never played, but his 1-2 record and 7.78 ERA, 1.78 WHIP and .333 BAA on the road are enough reasons to stay away.
Gio Gonzalez @ TEX: In two career starts at Rangers Ballpark, Gio is 0-1 and has allowed four ERs on nine hits over five IP. To compound the problem, the opposing pitcher is Cliff Lee.
You have all heard the saying, "two is better than one," right? There could not have been a truer statement.
Clay Buchholz: @ LAA (7/26); vs DET (8/01)John Danks: vs SEA (7/26); vs OAK (7/31)Zack Greinke: vs MIN (7/26); vs BAL (7/31)Felix Hernandez: @ CWS (7/26); @ MIN (7/31)Francisco Liriano: @ KC (7/26); vs SEA (8/01)CC Sabathia: @ CLE (7/27); @ TB (8/01)Justin Verlander: @ TB (7/27); @ BOS (8/01)
The following pitchers are decent options and while you could get a solid game out of them, there is a chance they could burn you during one of their starts.
* Note: The pitcher has the best chance at a win against the team in bold
Gavin Floyd: vs SEA (7/27); vs OAK (8/01)Colby Lewis: vs OAK (7/27); @ LAA (8/01)Brandon Morrow: vs BAL (7/26); vs CLE (8/01)Max Scherzer: @ TB (7/26); @ BOS (7/31)Javier Vazquez: @ CLE (7/26); @ TB (7/31)Bruce Chen: vs MIN (7/27); vs BAL (8/01)Matt Garza: vs DET (7/26); vs NYY (7/31)Joel Pineiro: vs BOS (7/26); vs TEX (8/01)
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:
James Shields: vs DET (7/27); vs NYY (8/01)Brad Bergesen: @ TOR (7/26); @ KC (7/31)Dallas Braden: @ TEX (7/27); @ CWS (8/01)Kevin Millwood: @ TOR (7/27); @ KC (8/01)Ryan Rowland-Smith: @ CWS (7/27); @ MIN (8/01)Jake Westbrook: vs NYY (7/26); @ TOR (7/31)
Start 'em if you got 'em
Nick Swisher, OF (@ CLE; @ TB): It would not have been a surprise to see Swisher tail off after the All-Star break, but that has not been the case thus far, as he is batting .357 (10-for-28) with two HRs and seven RBIs over the past seven games. While he has not done anything spectacular against the Indians (.268 BA), he has hit above his career average (.251). He has hit slightly better on the road this season, so that will only help. That said, he has dominated the Rays, regardless of the location. In seven games this season against the Rays, he is batting .321 with a .959 OPS and two HRs. Over 118 career at-bats at Tropicana Field, he is batting .314 with a 1.045 OPS.
Yunel Escobar, SS/3B (vs BAL; vs CLE): When I am wrong, I have no problem calling myself out ... I was dead wrong about Escobar last week. Since coming over from Atlanta, he has gone 9-for-25 (.360) with two HRs, seven RBIs, and zero Ks. Escobar has dominated the Orioles (six games) as he has a .364 BA (8-for-22) with a 1.076 OPS, two HRs, seven RBIs, and zero Ks. While he has not fared as well against the Indians (3-for-22 with two RBIs), his game improves in the second-half as his BA jumps by 39 points and his OPS by 85 points. As far as his injury goes, the x-rays came back negative, so this should not affect his play going forward.
Carlos Santana, C (vs NYY; @ TOR): Since the All-Star break, Santana is batting .272 (6-for-22) with one HR, three RBIs and nine walks. Since being called up, he has been an on-base machine, sporting a solid 1.39 BB/K ratio. Santana has never faced the Yankees and has gone 4-for-12 with two doubles and four walks against the Blue Jays. They key stat that makes Santana a solid play this week is his stat line against right-handed pitching. Over 78 at-bats against righties, he is batting .346 with a 1.147 OPS, five HRs, 15 RBIs, 21 walks, and two SBs. On the flipside, he has struggled against left-handed pitching. Over 39 at-bats against lefties, he is batting .154 with a .641 OPS, one HR, and four RBIs. Of the seven starting pitchers he will face, five of them are right-handers. If it comes down to batting against the teams' closers, that number jumps to nine right-handed pitchers he will face. I like his chances this week.
Gordon Beckham, 2B (vs SEA; vs OAK): In seven games since the All-Star break, Beckham is batting .500 (13-for-26) with three doubles, one HR, and six RBIs. While he has struggled against the Mariners (.192 BA), he has hit well against the A's (6-for-15 with three RBIs). The key factor here is that he has dominated the month of July (.354 BA over 147 at-bats) and is much better at the plate after the All-Star break. His BA improves by 57 points and his OPS improves by a whopping 238 points. That said, his solid play should continue.
Mike Napoli, C/1B (vs BOS; vs TEX): While Napoli will be inconsistent, he has put together a solid run since the All-Star break. He is batting .417 (10-for-24) with four HRs, seven RBIs, and a measly two Ks. For now, this run should continue against the Red Sox and Rangers. In four games against the Red Sox this season, he has gone 5-for-12 with one HR and two RBIs. Over 61 career at-bats against the Red Sox, he is batting .262 with a .912 OPS. He has fared even better against the Rangers this season (7-for-20 with three HRs and five RBIs) and over his career (.304 BA and a .964 OPS over 135 at-bats). Each starting pitcher he will face is right handed, which may raise some eyebrows, as he is batting .215 against righties this season. He is 3-for-10 against Boston's' probables and is 12-for-24 against the Texas' probables.
Michael Cuddyer, 1B/3B/OF (@ KC; vs SEA): Since the All-Star break (eight games), Cuddyer has been playing some solid ball (.387 BA and a 1.070 OPS). He should continue to play well when he heads to Kauffman Stadium, where he has gone 4-for-13 with two doubles and two RBIs. If that sample size is too small, over 164 career at-bats at Kauffman Stadium, he is batting .280 with a .927 OPS. In three games against the Mariners this season, he has gone 5-for-12 with two HRs and three RBIs.
Look away ... far away
Adam Jones, OF (@ TOR; @ KC): Jones has struggled to get it going after the All-Star break, going 6-for-27 with one HR and two RBIs. This makes sense, as he has struggled over his career in the second half, as his BA drops 54 points and his OPS drops 117 points. His stats will not get any better on the road, where his BA drops 60 points and his OPS drops 88 points as compared to his home BA and OPS. Over 88 career at-bats at Rogers Centre, he is batting .188 with a .570 OPS. In four career games at Kauffman Stadium, he has gone 2-for-13 with one RBI.
Brett Gardner, OF (@ CLE; @ TB): After having a solid April, May, and June, Gardner has struggled in July (.185 BA) and only has one hit in the second half. Unfortunately, both series are on the road, where his BA drops 35 points and his OBP drops 52 points as compared to his home BA and OBP. In addition, of his five HRs and 31 RBIs, he has zero HRs and 11 RBIs on the road. In four career games at Progressive Field, he has gone 2-for-12 with no extra base hits. Over 28 career at-bats at Tropicana Field, he is batting .250 with a .300 OBP and nine Ks.
Jason Kendall, C (vs MIN; vs BAL): Kendall has been solid in the month of July (.305 BA and a .358 OBP), but he has struggled against both the Twins and Orioles. In 34 at-bats against the Twins this season, he is batting .118 with a .205 OBP. Over 101 career at-bats against the Orioles, he is batting .208 with a .264 OBP.
Alberto Callaspo, 2B/3B (vs BOS; vs TEX): As a Callaspo owner, I am not excited about his short-term or long-term potential that the trade to the Angels will bring. Over five career games at Angel Stadium, he has gone 3-for-17 with a .176 OBP. Over 30 at-bats against the Red Sox this season, he is batting .200 with a .226 OBP. Over 25 at-bats against the Rangers, he is batting .200 with a .192 OBP.
Jason Kubel, OF (@ KC; vs SEA): Kubel has been held without a hit over his past 10 at-bats and has posted a .242 BA with zero HRs and two RBIs since the All-Star Break. His struggles will likely continue when he faces the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, where he has gone 1-for-9 this season and is batting .168 with a .545 over 113 career at-bats. While he has done well against the Mariners in his career (.313 BA), he has struggled against them this season (3-for-16 with four Ks).
Julio Borbon, OF (vs OAK; @ LAA): Over 40 career at-bats against the A's, Borbon is batting .225 with a .311 OBP and zero extra base hits. Over 28 career at-bats at Angels Stadium, he is batting .179 with a .258 OBP and only one extra base hit.
Need for speed
Do you have a need for speed, but can't seem to find it on your current roster? Here are a few options that can be had in 50 percent or less of Yahoo! leagues.
* 2010 MLB average speed score is 4.2, with 10.0 being the best
* Benchmark: Carl Crawford has an 8.8 speed score
Juan Pierre, OF -- Chicago: 35 SBs in 47 attempts and 6.4 speed score (7.3 career average)
Rajai Davis, OF -- Oakland: 29 SBs in 35 attempts and a 7.4 speed score (8.0 career average)
Austin Jackson, OF -- Detroit: 16 SBs in 19 attempts and a 7.6 speed score (7.6
Cliff Pennington, SS -- Oakland: 15 SBs in 16 attempts and a 7.4 speed score (6.5 career average)
* All stats are current as of 07/23
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