'Nelson Cruz' photo (c) 2011, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ Monday’s I will be taking a look at the fantasy baseball game by breaking down players who have produced noteworthy performances. This week it’s all about hot starting batters and pitchers – can they keep it up? To get your daily fantasy baseball fix make sure you head over to DailyJoust.com to set your salary cap club.

GAINERS OF THE WEEK

Nelson Cruz (+29, $84K in DailyJoust salary) How is this for a change – Cruz has been healthy but unproductive, the polar opposite of what we normally see from him. Cruz is sporting a sickly .216 batting average and his .269 OBP is only two points above his career batting average. Why the power outage? Good question. The past four years his HR/F ratio has been at least 15 percent. Currently it's sitting at 6.5 percent. When that number rebounds, and it should, we could see some homers in bunches (over at Fleaflicker people seem to recognize that fact, just look at his percentage owned rate). Be wary though of a 5.9 percent BB-rate which would be a six year low and his 26.1 K-rate which would be a five year high.

Howie Kendrick (+16, $86K) Kendrick boosted his average over .030 points in the past week but even so it's still at just .275 (career .292). Howie has appeared in 26 of 29 games so far, and though he hasn't been a standout my any means his current pace would equate to 22 homers and 61 RBI which would be a nice follow up to his 18-63 effort of last year. He'll be solid and productive, but he could certainly stand to take a walk every once in a while (just three so far this season).

Carlos Lee (+15, $83K) Boring but productive. That should be the name on the back of Lee's jersey. Hitting .289 through 25 games, Lee's current RBI pace would lead to 91 RBI over the course of 162 games (he has 14 in 25 games). The power has yet to show itself with only two bombs, but it's just a matter of time before he hits a few balls into the seats. Don't overlook Lee in the fantasy game, even if the ceiling is pretty low.

Jeff Samardzija (+49, $256K) In 8.2 innings JS gave up 10 runs to the Cardinals and Marlins. In his other three starts he's allowed two runs. The result is an impressive, though uneven, start to the year that has led the Cubs heat hucking righty to a 3.41 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 32 Ks in 31.2 innings. A bit more consistency would obviously be great, but Jeff's transition to the starting rotation has gone about as well as could be expected (see that 3.20 K/BB rate).

Edinson Volquez (+85, $272K) So far the 2012 season has been a success for Volquez. He has a 2.92 ERA and 1.16 WHIP through six starts which are numbers that harken back to his massive 2008 season in which he posted a 3.21 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. Volquez still has walked 18 batters in 37 innings, far too many, and he doesn't have a victory thanks to the Padres terrible offense, but overall this has been an impressive start for the hard throwing righty.

Jered Weaver (+93, $466K) A no-hitter boosts anyone's value. Weaver also tossed six shutout innings in his previous start so he's lowered his ERA to 1.61. He's also walked seven batters in six outings leading to a 0.78 WHIP and he's also whiffed 45 batters in 44.2 innings. Face it, the guy is one of a handful of arms in baseball that can legitimately be called an ace.

LOSERS OF THE WEEK

Yovani Gallardo (-37, $195K) Last year Gallardo had games in which he gave up seven, six, six an eight earned runs. He still finished the year with a 3.52 ERA. The fact is that Gallardo is as up and down as pretty much any elite level arm in the league. However, when the season is over the numbers are always impressive. Consider that in each of the past three years he's won at least 13 games with and ERA under 3.85 an at least 200 Ks. His ERA might be 5.79 and that WHIP ghastly at 1.65 but I wouldn't be at all shocked if we saw the numbers we have come to expect from Yovani by the end of the year.

Roy Halladay (-46, $278K) Bombed in his last outing (eight earned runs), Halladay should be fine. However, I'm slightly concerned about the lost two mph of velocity that Halladay is dealing with. His current K/9 rate of 6.17 is well below his career rate of 6.87, and he's been over 7.50 each of the past four years. Could be a sample size thing, but it's something to keep a close eye on since Halladay has thrown so many pitches the past six years (at least 220 innings each season). He'll be fine of course, but we've likely seen the best he has to offer.

Tommy Hanson (-47, $231K) Hanson's K/9 rate of 8.29 is just off his 8.42 career rate, impressive considering that his fastball is still down two mph from his career rate. I'm also a big fan of his 47.3 percent ground ball rate, a significant improvement over his 41.1 career mark. There's also the career best 15.1 line drive rate. Basically, batters aren't making hard contact. Still, you'd be hard pressed to realize that unless you looked at his BABIP that is way too high at .330 (career .282). Would seem like a nice buy low opportunity, especially if the velocity returns.

Jonathon Niese (-101, $173K) His first four outings were at least six innings before his three inning stinker last time out. Still, this is a guy with a solid K/9 rate (7.53) and BB/K (2.67) and he's continuing to generate a lot of grounders with a 52.4 percent mark there. This is not an elite skill set by any means but pitchers with worse skills have enjoyed a lot of long-term success at the big league level.

Joe Saunders (-21, $338K) Amazed I am at his start. He's been so good that allowing two earned runs actually resulted in his salary going up. Through five starts he has produced a quality start each time leading to a 1.24 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. I know, pretty amazing. He has no chance of ending the year with a number in either category that that's within shouting distance of where he is at, but that's not going to take away from what has been a special start. Ride the wave baby, but be sure to have your life vest handy.

DAILY CONTEST

Today you can sign up for the King Arthur's $50 Free Roll on DailyJoust. No entry free is required to get a chance to play the game and earn your free chance to take home part of the $50 prize pool. All games that start at 7:05 PM EDT or later are open to add players to your daily fantasy baseball squad. So get over to DailyJoust, put together your one day lineup, and get ready to win some free $.

By Ray Flowers




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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

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I'll be out of the office until Monday, October 27th. Have a good weekend all.