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AL weekly fantasy planner


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Now that the fantasy baseball season is in its latter stages, most trade deadlines have passed, and by this time, the waiver wire is filled with DL casualties and players that are not cutting the mustard. So, the players that you currently have on your roster are the players that will carry you into the playoffs, assuming you still have a chance. The reason I bring this up is that you have to play your matchups very carefully, as one misstep at this stage of the game could mean the difference between making and missing the playoffs. This, as you know by now, is where the AL Planner comes into play.

Packin' heat

Trevor Cahill vs. TB: Over his past three starts (two against TEX), Cahill has not allowed an ER while scattering 11 hits. He still tends to walk far too many batters, but his 6.08 H/9 is keeping his WHIP down (0.98). In his only start against the Rays, he was drilled for seven ERs over 2.2 IP. Don't make the mistake of sitting Cahill, as one bad start should not be the basis of your decision. Cahill has been dominant of late and he is at his best at home, where he is 7-2 with a 1.66 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and a .189 BAA. The opposing pitcher, Andy Sonnanstine, is 1-2 with an 8.47 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, and a .361 BAA at Oakland Coliseum.

John Lackey vs. LAA: Yes, I am actually recommending that you start John "the king of the walk" Lackey. During his previous two starts (11.1 IP), he has allowed 11 ERs, so your concern is understandable. But he has been decent at home and in two starts against the Angels, he is 2-0 while allowing three ERs on nine hits and only three walks. The hitters that he will face are batting .210 against him over his career. The opposing pitcher, Scott Kazmir, allowed seven ERs over 4.1 IP at Fenway Park this season.

Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. TOR: Over his four seasons in the majors, Dice-K has owned the Blue Jays. In 10 starts, he is 6-1 with a 3.71 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and a .225 BAA. The hitters that he will face are batting .186 with 31Ks to seven walks. The opposing pitcher, Ricky Romero, is 1-4 (seven starts) with an 8.51 ERA and 2.28 WHIP against the Red Sox.

Brandon Morrow @ OAK: Morrow was a one man show against the Rays in his last start, allowing zero ERs, one hit and striking out 17. Morrow skipped his next start, for obvious reasons (130-plus pitches), so he should be rested and ready to roll against the A's. In four starts against the A's, he is 3-0 with a 3.96 ERA and a .196 BAA. In 10 games at Oakland Coliseum, he has a 3.07 ERA and a .151 BAA. The hitters that he will face are batting .189.

Fausto Carmona @ KC: If you own Carmona, you are well aware that he is a spot starter and when he has a solid matchup, he normally performs well. That is the case this week when he will toe the rubber at Kauffman Stadium. In his lone start there this season, he allowed zero ERs on five hits. The opposing pitcher, Kyle Davies, has struggled against the Indians. In seven starts, he has 5.79 ERA and 1.77 WHIP.

Phil Hughes vs. DET: As the season winds down, the Yankees will start to limit his innings and allow more rest between starts. But if he has a solid matchup, plug him in while you can still get something in return. In one start against Detroit this season, he allowed zero ERs on five hits. Over four career starts, he is 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and a .232 BAA.

Keep em' in the pen

Scott Kazmir @ BOS: In his first game back since coming off the DL, Kazmir allowed zero ERs on three hits over five IP against the Tigers. He has always pitched well against their less than potent lineup (.223 BA in August). I would take that win with a grain of salt, though. He has one start on the books this season against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, and the results were less then satisfying (seven ERs over 4.1 IP). The opposing pitcher, John Lackey, has been surprisingly dominant against the Angels (see above).

James Shields vs. TEX: Shields' record (10-10) mirrors his season, an even split between good and bad. In five career starts against the Rangers, he is 2-2 with a 4.63 ERA, which is not horrible. Although, the hitters that he will face are batting .369 against him. The opposing pitcher, Tommy Hunter, is 2-0 and has allowed five ERs on 15 hits and a .172 BAA over 19.1 IP.

Brett Cecil @ BOS: Since allowing five ERs to the Phillies on July 27, Cecil has gone 2-0 (six starts) with a 2.07 ERA and 1.20 WIHP. That said, he has never figured out the Red Sox. In three career starts, he is 0-3 with a 7.80 ERA and 1.87 WHIP. In one start at Fenway Park, he allowed eight ERs on 11 hits over 4.2 IP. Alternatively, the opposing pitcher, Jon Lester, is 6-3 with a 2.74 ERA and 1.58 WHIP against the Jays (2-0 with a 1.38 ERA this season).

Ricky Romero @ BOS: Like Cecil, Romero has never been able to get a solid handle on the Red Sox. In seven career starts, he is 1-4 with an 8.51 ERA, 2.25 WHIP, and a .368 BAA. He has fared slightly better at Fenway Park (five ERs on 14 hits over 10.1 IP), but his .402 BAA is reason enough to stay away.

C.J. Wilson @ BAL: Over his past 13 starts, Wilson has allowed three ERs or less 12 times. Surprisingly, he has struggled against the Orioles. In 18 career games, he is 1-3 with a 7.15 ERA over 22.2 IP. In six games at Camden Yards, he has allowed four ERs over five IP. Keep in mind that these stats were as a starter and reliever. To add insult to injury, the Orioles are batting .305 in August, second behind the Cardinals' .310 BA.

Mark Buehrle @ MIN: Even though Buehrle has been pitching well lately, he has found it tough to excel against the Twins. He has a career ERA of 4.08 and the hitters he will face are batting .319 against him over 297 career at-bats. Additionally, the opposing pitcher, Carl Pavano, has owned the White Sox (5-2 with a 2.66 ERA and 0.93 WHIP).

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.

David Price: vs TEX (8/16); @ OAK (8/21)Jered Weaver: @ BOS (8/17); @ MIN (8/22)CC Sabathia: vs DET (8/17); vs SEA (8/22)Matt Garza: vs TEX (8/17); @ OAK (8/22)

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

Max Scherzer: @ NYY (8/16); vs CLE (8/21)Javier Vazquez: vs DET (8/16); vs SEA (8/21)Brad Bergesen: vs SEA (8/16); vs TEX (8/21)Clay Buchholz: vs LAA (8/17); vs TOR (8/22)Justin Verlander: @ NYY (8/17); vs CLE (8/22)Zack Greinke: vs CLE (8/17); vs CWS (8/22)Scott Baker: vs CWS (8/17); vs LAA (8/22)Dallas Braden: vs TOR (8/17); vs TB (8/22)

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:

Luke French: @ BAL (8/16); @ NYY (8/22)Brett Anderson: vs TOR (8/16); vs TB (8/21)Josh Tomlin: @ KC (8/17); @ DET (8/22)Kevin Millwood: vs SEA (8/17); vs TEX (8/22)

Start 'em if you got 'em

Jason Kubel, OF (vs. CWS; vs. LAA): Kubel has been absolutely on fire during the month of August. Kubel has 15 RBIs in August and has homered in four of his last six games. He has fared better on the road than at home, but his matchup against the White Sox is too good to ignore. Over 40 at-bats this season, Kubel is batting .300 with a .991 OPS. He is batting .346 (18-for-52) against the White Sox' probables. No, I have not forgotten about the Angels, against whom he is 1-for-9 on the season. Kubel faced the Angels in the first series of the season, so going 1-for-9 does not look as bad. Over 103 career at-bats against the Angels, he is batting .272 with a .505 SLG. Another factor in his favor is that the three Angels' probables he will face are right handed pitchers. This season, 15 of his 17 HRs and 56 of his 73 RBIs have come against righties. Overlook his early-season struggles against the Angels and roll with him as you normally would.

Nick Markakis, OF (vs SEA; vs TEX): Markakis has posted a solid average over the past 10 games (.292), but his lack of HRs (one) and RBIs (three) is a bit frustrating. If you are still slotting Markakis in your lineup, you are looking for average and OBP at this point as it does not look like the HRs and RBIs are going to start flowing anytime soon. In six games against the Mariners, he has gone 8-for-23 (.348 BA) with a .385 OBP. In six games against the Rangers, he is batting .360 (9-for-25) with a .460 OBP. The BA and OBP will be there, but if he strokes a HR or knocks in a few RBIs, consider yourself lucky.

Mike Aviles, 2B/SS (vs CLE; vs CWS): Aviles has a nice run going over his past 10 games posting a .351 BA. Aviles has been solid against right-handed pitching this season (.311) and five of the six pitchers he will face are righties. In five games against the Indians, he is batting .391 (9-for-23) with three extra base hits. He has been solid against Fausto Carmona (4-for-13), who is the only Cleveland pitcher he has faced. In 10 games against the White Sox, he is batting .342 (13-for-38) with one HR and three RBIs. He has struggled against Edwin Jackson (0-for-5), and gone a combined 7-for-15 against John Danks and Freddy Garcia.

David Ortiz, DH (vs LAA; vs TOR): If Big Papi can remain healthy, he is on pace to have his best season in terms of HRs and RBIs since 2007. A good opportunity will present itself this week when the Red Sox host the Angels and Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Ortiz plays better at home (.276 BA and .929 OPS) than on the road (.251 BA and .886 OPS). This season against the Angels, he has gone 6-for-20 (.300) with three HRs. Over 34 at-bats against the Blue Jays, he is batting .324 with a .425 OBP.

J.J. Hardy, SS (vs CWS; vs LAA): Over his past seven games, Hardy is batting .346 (9-for-26) with one HR and three RBIs. Over 33 at-bats this season, he is batting .333 with a .856 OPS, one HR and four RBIs. In four games against the Angels, he has gone 5-for-16 (.313) with a 1.040 OPS, two HRs and two RBIs. Hardy is battling a sore wrist, but it looks like he'll be able to avoid the DL..

Juan Pierre, OF (@ MIN; @ KC): Pierre has hit safely in 18 of his last 19 games and has nine SBs during that span. In 25 at-bats at Target Field, he is batting .400 with a .444 OBP. In 23 at-bats at Kauffman Stadium, he is batting .304 (7-for-23). Of his 44 SBs this season, 36 have come against right-handed pitchers and five of the six pitchers he will face are righties.

Look away ... far away

Carlos Quentin, OF (@ MIN; @ KC): No, Quentin is not here by mistake! He has been tearing it up over the past few months, but he has struggled on the road (.188 BA and .643 OPS) and has not fared well at Target Field or Kauffman Stadium. In five games at Target Field, he has gone 2-for-17 with zero HRs and five Ks. In three games at Kauffman Stadium, he has gone 2-for-9 with one HR. If those stats are not convincing enough, maybe his BA against the Twins' and Royals' probables (.159/7-for-44 vs. MIN; .142/4-for-28 vs. KC) will be enough.

Brett Gardner, OF (vs. DET; vs. SEA): Gardner has struggled in the month of August, batting .133 with one RBI, 12 Ks, and zero walks over 30 at-bats. Do not expect Gardner to break out of his slump this week. Over 16 at-bats this season against the Tigers, he is batting .250 with a .333 OBP. In five games against the Mariners, he has gone 3-for-16 with zero HRs, zero RBIs, and seven Ks.

Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF (vs TEX; @ OAK): Since having a solid May, Zobrist has been in a steady decline. He hit rock bottom in August, batting just .107 (3-for-28) with two RBIs and zero extra base hits. He has hit well against the Rangers this season (5-for-11), but it was obviously not against Cliff Lee, Tommy Hunter, or Rich Harden as he is a combined 4-for-21 with zero HRs or RBIs against them. Over 41 career at-bats at Oakland Coliseum, he is batting a putrid .220 with a .518 OPS and a mere two RBIs.

Denard Span, OF (vs CWS; vs LAA): August has not been kind to Span as he is batting .227 with a .227 OBP, zero HRs/RBIs, eight Ks, and zero walks. He has been decent against the White Sox, batting .264 with a .321 OBP over 53 at-bats this season, but struggled against the Angels (1-for-16). While his .332 BA at home is enticing, until he breaks out of his current slump, there are better options out there.

Jhonny Peralta, 3B (@ NYY; vs CLE): Since being traded to the Tigers, Peralta has only nine hits over 49 at-bats. Peralta's future is not looking too bright this week when he heads to Yankee Stadium, where he is 3-for-15. He has not fared well against the Yankees' probables, going 13-for-61 (.213). Due to obvious reasons, he has never faced the Indians, but will host them at Comerica Park where he has seven hits over 59 at-bats this season.

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

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

Joaquin Benoit, RP -- Tampa Bay: 1.30 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, and 56 KsPhil Coke, RP -- Detroit: 2.61 ERA and six winsScott Downs, RP -- Toronto: 2.28 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and four winsDarren Oliver, RP -- Texas: 2.28 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 52 KsJesse Crain, RP -- Minnesota: 2.98 ERA and 1.16 WHIPBrian Duensing, SP/RP -- Minnesota: 2.27 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and five wins

*All stats are current as of 08/12

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