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A.L. weekly fantasy planner


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I understand that my mind is like a sieve at times, but I cannot recall in recent history a team that has had as many injuries to their key players as the Boston Red Sox. Here is a run down of their injuries this season:

Daisuke Matsuzaka (15-Day DL, twice), Jacoby Ellsbury (15-Day DL, twice), Mike Cameron (15-Day DL, twice), Josh Beckett (60-Day DL), Jeremy Hermida (15-Day DL), Mike Lowell (15-Day DL), Dustin Pedroia (15-Day DL), Clay Buchholz (15-Day DL), Victor Martinez (15-Day DL), Jason Varitek (15-Day DL), and Kevin Youkilis (15-Day DL).

Of those players, Pedroia, Youkilis, Varitek, Cameron, and Hermida are still on the DL. What is more surprising is that J.D. Drew has not gone on the DL, but it's just a matter of time. He has been day-to-day six different times this season with a sore hamstring and the dreaded ingrown hair follicle. While the Red Sox are miraculously still in the AL East hunt, I expect it to come down to the Yankees and Rays contending for the title.

All right, enough about the broken down Red Sox, let's get to this week's AL Planner.

Packin' heat

Trevor Cahill @ MIN: Cahill is having a career year (11-4 and a 2.72 ERA) allowing three ERs or less in 15 of his 19 starts. How good has he been this season? He is third in the AL in ERA (2.72), second in the majors in WHIP (0.99), and first in the majors in BAA (.192) and OPS (.569). In three career starts against the Twins, Cahill is 1-0 and has allowed seven ERs on 18 hits over 20 IP. The key factor that will lead to another win this week is that the Twins hitters that he will face are batting .226 with zero HRs and only four RBIs over 53 at-bats.

Ervin Santana vs KC; vs TOR: During his last start against the lowly Orioles, Santana allowed nine ERs on 12 hits over 3.2 IP. However, during his four starts prior to that, Santana went 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. So go ahead and look past his latest outing and be prepared for two wins this week. In two starts this season against the Royals, Santana is 1-1 and has allowed five ERs on 14 hits and 10 Ks to only two walks over 15.1 IP. The Royals' hitters are batting .200 with three HRs over 155 career at-bats against Santana. While the Blue Jays have loads of power, Santana has been able to keep their bats cool this season. In two starts, he is 2-0 while allowing four ERs on eight hits, 16 Ks, and only one walk. Over his career, the Blue Jays are batting .205 against Santana.

Edwin Jackson @ BAL; vs DET: In his first start since being traded from the Diamondbacks, he allowed one ER on nine hits over seven IP. Over five career starts against the Orioles, he is 4-1 with a 4.86 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, .244 BAA, and only two HRs over 33.1 IP. The Orioles hitters that he will face are batting .171 (64 at-bats) against him. Over four career starts against the Tigers, he is 3-0 with a 2.93 ERA and has only allowed two HRs over 30.2 IP. The Tigers' hitters are batting .216 (97 at-bats) against him. For the rest of the season Jackson will enjoy strong run support from the White Sox lineup, making him an attractive option for the back end of your Fantasy rotation.

Mark Buehrle vs DET: Since allowing six ERs in back-to-back starts in early June, Buehrle has turned things around, going 7-2 with a 2.62 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. While his 15-8 record against the Tigers may say otherwise, Buehrle has been dominant against the Tigers by posting a 2.97 ERA and 1.13 WHIP over 28 career starts.

Dallas Braden @ SEA: Since returning from the DL on July 20, Braden is 2-0 (three starts) and has allowed five ERs on 13 hits over 15.1 IP. While his lone start against the Mariners this season resulted in a no decision, he was solid in allowing one ER on four hits, 10 Ks, and one walk over 7.1 IP.

James Shields vs BAL: Even though Shields has been hit or miss this season, he has put together three solid starts, going 3-0 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. Over 17 career starts against the Orioles, he is 7-2 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.22 WHIP.

Keep em' in the pen

Ricky Romero vs BOS; @ LAA: Romero has put together four solid starts, going 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. However, as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end ... meaning this week. In one start this season against the Red Sox, Romero allowed five ERs on five hits and three walks over 2.1 IP. Over six career starts, he is 1-4 with an 8.76 ERA, 2.39 WHIP, and a .376 BAA. In addition, the hitters that he will face are batting .437 (64 career at-bats) against Romero. Yes, those career stats against the Red Sox are accurate. Over three career starts against the Angels, he allowed 10 ERs on 24 hits over 19.1 IP. In one start at Angels Stadium, he allowed seven ERs on 11 hits over 5.1 IP.

John Lackey @ TOR: Even though he has 10 wins on the season, his 4.48 ERA and 1.53 WHIP leave something to be desired. Lackey is on pace to set career highs in walks, WHIP, and BAA. In two starts against the Jays this season, Lackey is 1-1 and has allowed 13 ERs on 16 hits over 10.2 IP. One of those starts came at Rogers Centre where he allowed seven ERs on eight hits, six walks, and two Ks over 4.2 IP.

Brandon Morrow @ LAA: Morrow has been the king of the strikeout this season as he is the only starter in the AL with a K/9 above 10 (currently 10.20). However, his other ratios have been sub-par and that's not going to improve this week. Over eight career games at Angels Stadium, he is 0-1 with a 4.58 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, and a .290 BAA. Additionally, the opposing pitcher, Ervin Santana, is 2-0 and has allowed four ERs on eight hits over 18 IP against the Jays this season.

Kevin Slowey @ CWS: Over his past four starts, Slowey has gone 2-0 with a 2.72 ERA and 0.79 WHIP. However, he's been off and on throughout the season. He will string together a few solid starts giving owners hope, and then allow five or more ERs during his next start. Slowey has been brutal in two starts at U.S. Cellular Field, going 0-2 while allowing 12 ERs on 17 hits and three HRs over 10.2 IP. Additionally, the hitters that he will face are batting .351 (91 at-bats) against him.

C.J. Wilson vs NYY: Wilson recorded his shortest outing of the season against the Mariners at SAFECO field on August 4, allowing four ERs on six hits over 3.1 IP. Prior to that outing, he had not allowed more than three ERs since May 29 against the Twins. In his only start against the Yankees this season, Wilson took the loss while allowing three ERs on seven hits and a .292 BAA over six IP. While those numbers do not look that bad, the opposing pitcher, Phil Hughes, has owned the Rangers during his two career starts. During those starts, he has not allowed an ER and only three hits over 14.1 IP.

Jason Vargas @ CLE: Vargas got his first win since June 22, allowing two ERs on three hits against the Rangers on August 3. In one start against the Indians, he allowed six ERs on seven hits over four IP. While Vargas has never pitched at Progressive Field, his 1-4 record and 4.50 ERA on the road this season suggest that he will struggle.

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.

Jon Lester: @ NYY (8/09); @ TEX (8/14)Ervin Santana: vs KC (8/09); vs TOR (8/15)Edwin Jackson: @ BAL (8/09); vs DET (8/14)David Price: @ DET (8/09); vs BAL (8/15)

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 outings.

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

SI Recommends

Phil Hughes: @ TEX (8/10); @ KC (8/15)Dustin Moseley: vs BOS (8/09); @ KC (8/14)Vin Mazzaro: @ SEA (8/09); @ MIN (8/15)Doug Fister: vs OAK (8/09); @ CLE (8/15)Justin Masterson: vs BAL (8/10); vs SEA (8/15)Scott Baker: @ CWS (8/10); vs OAK (8/15)Freddy Garcia: vs MIN (8/10); vs DET (8/15)Daisuke Matsuzaka: @ TOR (8/10); @ TEX (8/15)

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:

Kyle Davies: @ LAA (8/09); vs NYY (8/14)Brian Matusz: vs CWS (8/09); @ TB (8/14)Armando Galarraga: vs TB (8/09); @ CWS (8/15)Jake Arrieta: @ CLE (8/10); @ TB (8/15)Sean O'Sullivan: @ LAA (8/10); vs NYY (8/15)Ricky Romero: vs BOS (8/10); @ LAA (8/15)

Start 'em if you got 'em

Alexei Ramirez, SS (vs MIN; vs DET): Over the first three months of the season, Ramirez was batting .264 with six HRs and two SBs. However, during July, he batted .362 with five HRs and four SBs. He has continued his hot streak into August (6-for-21 over five games) with no signs of letting up. Over nine games against the Twins this season, he is batting .323 (10-31) with a .382 OBP and four doubles. Over his career, he is batting a solid .341 (14-for-41) against the Twins' probables. During seven games against the Tigers this season, he's batted .308 (8-for-26) with one HR, and three RBIs. Ramirez is a slow starter, but if you had the good sense to hold on to him, you will continue to be rewarded this week.

Lance Berkman, 1B (@ TEX; @ KC): While he has yet to get it going in New York (2-for-15 with one RBI), it is just a matter of time until he finds the short, 314-foot right field porch and the 360-foot distance in right-center. However, he will not get a chance to figure that out this week as he takes his bat on the road. Over 109 at-bats at Rangers Ballpark, he is batting .284 with a .924 OPS. He has dominated the Royals throughout his career at Kauffman Stadium. In two games this season, he went 3-for-10 with four runs and over 35 career at-bats, he is batting .400 with a 1.145 OPS. He has had his way with the Royals' probables, going 6-for-19 with three HRs and six RBIs.

Curtis Granderson, OF (@ TEX; @ KC): To put it nicely, Granderson's season has been horrendous. His current BA (.246) and OBP (.313) are well below his career numbers (.272 BA and .342 OBP). However, if you have been holding on to Granderson hoping for a few nice matchups, you are in luck this week. Over 59 career at-bats at Rangers Ballpark, he is batting .305 with a 1.135 OPS, four HRs, and 15 RBIs. Over 154 career at-bats at Kauffman Stadium, he is batting .279 with a .901 OPS and eight HRs. While his BA at Kauffman Stadium may not scream dominance, his .408 BA (18-for-42) against the Royals' probables surely does.

Shin-Soo Choo, OF (vs BAL; vs SEA): At times this season, Choo must have felt all alone in C-Town. Now that feeling is a reality, as he really is all alone as the main source for any and all offensive statistics. Choo has two important factors going for him that will equate to a nice offensive week. He will host both the Orioles and Mariners at home, where he is batting .358 with a 1.055 OPS. He has been superior against right-handed pitching this season with a .299 BA and .965 OPS (.709 OPS against lefties). Additionally, 12 of his 13 HRs, 34 of his 49 RBIs, and 40 of his 52 walks have come against right-handed pitchers. Moreover, five of the six pitchers he will face a righties.

Paul Konerko, 1B (vs MIN; vs DET): Konerko is second in the AL in HRs with 27 behind Jose Bautista and is on pace to have a career season in HRs (42) and RBIs (126) if he can keep up this pace. He will be able to do so this week at home against the Twins and Tigers. Literally, Konerko feels right at home at U.S. Cellular Field where he is batting .333 with a 1.146 OPS this season. In nine games against the Twins this season, he is batting .389 (14-for-36) with a 1.047 OPS. In seven games this season against the Tigers, he is batting .440 (11-for-25) with a 1.277 OPS.

Yunel Escobar, SS (vs BOS; @ LAA): Even though Escobar is mired in a 2-for-15 slump, he is still a solid play this week. In five career games against the Red Sox, he has gone 6-for-17 and in three games at Angel Stadium, he has gone 6-for-11 with two RBIs and three walks.

Hideki Matsui, DH (vs KC; vs TOR): While Matsui has struggled this season; he has been solid against the Royals (11-for-27) and the Blue Jays (8-for-21). He has struggled greatly against lefties all year (.179 BA), but he has done well against righties (.282). Fortunately, he faces six right-handers this week.

Look away ... far away

J.D. Drew, OF (@ TOR; @ TEX): As previously stated, I think that Drew will find himself on the DL sooner rather than later. However, if he stays healthy this week, his bat will not. Drew has struggled on the road (.237) and against lefties (.167). With both games on the road and four of the six pitchers he will face being left-handed, the chances of a breakout performance are slim to none. Not to mention that he has struggled at Rogers Centre this season, where he is batting .182 (4-for-22) with a .580 OPS. When you think of Rangers Ballpark, you think of a hitter's paradise. However, it has been anything but a paradise for Drew, and more like a park filled with misery. Over 10 games at Rangers Ballpark, he is batting .243 (9-for-37) with a .673 OPS, one HR, and five RBIs. In addition, he is batting a lousy .203 against the Rangers' probables.

Austin Jackson, OF (vs TB; @ CWS): While Jackson's BA during July and August has been solid (.319), he has not been much help in any other category. During that span, he has seven RBIs, three SBs, and a terrible 33:10 K:BB ratio. Looking at his career numbers against the Rays (2-for-13 with five Ks) and at U.S. Cellular Field (1-for-12 with four Ks), the potential for his average helping your team this week is not looking good.

Brennan Boesch, OF (vs TB; @ CWS): If you are one of the 42 percent of owners who still have Boesch on your roster and were waiting for him to break out of his slump ... try again next week. Boesch has taken his .209 July BA into August where he has gone 1-for-21. In four games against the Rays this season, he has gone 1-for-14 with five Ks. While he has been solid at U.S. Cellular Field (4-for-12 with two HRs and four RBIs), he is 1-for-13 with six Ks against the White Sox probables. One key factor to his slump has been his inability to hit the fastball and it is becoming apparent that pitchers are discovering this hole in his game. The six pitchers that he will face throw the heater, on average, 64.4 percent of the time.

Mike Napoli, 1B/C (vs KC; vs TOR): Napoli is sporting a nice six game hitting streak with four RBIs and only four Ks during that span. That said, a downturn is on the horizon as he has had a tough time against the Royals and Blue Jays. Over 94 career at-bats against the Royals, he is batting .191 with a .286 OBP. The tough luck looks to continue against the Blue Jays (.224 BA over 67 at-bats). In addition, he is batting .219 against righties and all six of the pitchers that he will face are right handed.

Juan Rivera, OF (vs KC; vs TOR): Word out of L.A. is that Rivera will now be involved in a timeshare in the OF since the Angels want to give Peter Bourjos regular playing time. Therefore, this may be the week that he gets the least playing time as he has struggled over his career against the Royals and Blue Jays. Over 89 career starts against the Royals, he is batting .225 with a .289 OBP. His struggles will mount against the Blue Jays as he is batting .208 with a .248 OBP over 125 career at-bats.

Jacoby Ellsbury, OF (@ TOR; @ TEX): Do not go out and get all giddy on me and plug in Ellsbury just because he is back. He has played less than 15 games this season and will need some time to get back in the swing of things ... literally. Since his return, he is 0-for-8 and while he will continue to improve, let him work on his game while on your bench.

This week, we will continue with our one category wonders section by looking at pitchers who can help you with you WHIP.

* Players shown are owned in 20 percent or less of Yahoo! leagues and have pitched a minimum of 40 innings.

J.J. Putz, RP -- Chicago: 0.84 WHIP with a 1.79 ERA, five wins, and one saveDarren O'Day, RP -- Texas: 0.84 WHIP with a 1.23 ERA and three winsScott Downs, RP -- Toronto: 0.98 WHIP with a 2.20 ERA and four winsDarren Oliver, RP -- Texas: 1.02 WHIP with a 1.96 ERA and 50 KsCraig Beslow, RP -- Oakland: 1.04 WHIP with a 2.88 ERA, four wins, and 50 KsBrian Duensing, SP/RP -- Minnesota: 1.10 WHIP with a 2.10 ERA and four wins

*All stats are current as of 08/05

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