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Week 16 Fantasy Pitching Planner


As Fantasy owners head into the second half of the season, they need to hone their strategies to make the final push towards a championship. In that spirit, we're doing some fine tuning of our own with the weekly Pitching Planner.

Beginning with the Week 15 edition, we started to include a ranking of the top 70 starting pitchers for the coming week, and you can find this week's ranked list further down below. Starting this week, the "advisable" and "inadvisable" two-start pitcher listings have been condensed into a single list, which will include all of the two-start pitchers who are on the border of being viable in standard mixed leagues. As in previous weeks, there will still be analyses of some of the borderline one-start pitchers as well, along with the latest information on pitchers on the disabled list and pitchers at risk of not making a start.

Finally, you can still use the interactive tool below to locate information on start dates, opponents, ratings, ownership rates and xFIP differentials for any pitcher scheduled or likely to make a start next week.

Borderline Two-Start Pitchers

A.J. Burnett, N.Y. Yankees: Burnett has been a little better over his last half-dozen starts, getting more strikeouts and grounders, but even before then, he was a decent two-start option. Especially with an upcoming start against the punchless A's, Burnett is advisable to use in most formats.

Chris Capuano, N.Y. Mets: As Capuano has surged to a 5-2 record and 2.57 ERA over his last seven starts, his popularity has risen, but he is still underappreciated. While his Fantasy stats didn't show it earlier in the year, Capuano has had solid command of the strike zone all season long. He should be active in more than 27 percent of the leagues on, especially in a week when he faces the Marlins not once, but twice.

Josh Collmenter, Arizona: Collmenter's 13 percent popup rate still looks a little fluky, but it's hard to argue with his overall results. He has followed the pattern he established in the minors of issuing few walks and limiting base hits on balls in play. For someone who pitches to contact, that's a very good thing. The Brewers and Rockies don't present the easiest matchups, but Collmenter should produce enough to be worth starting.

Al's Top 70 for Week 16
Pitcher Opponents
1. Roy Halladay, Phillies @CHC, SD
2. Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Rockies ATL, @ARI
3. Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers @ARI, @SF
4. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers @SF
5. Tim Lincecum, Giants LAD
6. Cole Hamels, Phillies SD
7. Cliff Lee, Phillies @CHC
8. Felix Hernandez, Mariners @BOS
9. Justin Verlander, Tigers @MIN
10. Brandon Beachy, Braves @COL, @CIN
11. Josh Beckett, SP, Red Sox SEA
12. James Shields, SP, Rays NYY
13. Dan Haren SP, Angels TEX
14. Anibal Sanchez, SP, Marlins SD, NYM
15. David Price, SP, Rays NYY
16. Tommy Hanson, SP, Braves @COL
17. Jered Weaver, SP, Angels TEX
18. CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees @TB
19. Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants LAD, MIL
20. Francisco Liriano, SP Twins CLE, DET
21. Michael Pineda, SP, Mariners @TOR, @BOS
22. Jaime Garcia, SP, Cardinals @PIT
23. Alexi Ogando, SP, Rangers @LAA, TOR
24. Chad Billingsley, SP, Dodgers @SF, WAS
25. Ricky Romero, SP, Blue Jays SEA
26. Madison Bumgarner, Giants LAD
27. Tim Stauffer, SP, Padres @FLA, @PHI
28. Randy Wolf, SP, Brewers @ARI, @SF
29. Johnny Cueto, SP, Reds @PIT
30. Justin Masterson, SP Indians @MIN
31. Matt Cain, SP, Giants MIL
32. Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Rays NYY, @KC
33. C.J. Wilson, SP, Rangers @LAA
34. A.J. Burnett, SP, Yankees @TB, OAK
35. Ian Kennedy, SP, D-Backs MIL
36. Tim Hudson, SP, Braves @COL
37. Bartolo Colon, SP, Yankees @TB, OAK
38. Trevor Cahill, SP, Athletics @NYY
39. Jhoulys Chacin, SP, Rockies ATL
40. Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Astros @CHC
41. Gio Gonzalez, SP, Athletics @NYY
42. Jordan Zimmermann, SP, Nationals @HOU
43. Daniel Hudson, SP, D-Backs COL
44. Bud Norris, SP, Astros @CHC
45. Jair Jurrjens, SP, Braves @CIN
46. Chris Capuano, SP, Mets FLA, @FLA
47. Matt Garza, SP, Cubs PHI
48. Ryan Dempster, SP, Cubs PHI
49. Zack Greinke, SP, Brewers @ARI
50. Philip Humber, SP, White Sox @CLE
51. Kyle Lohse, SP, Cardinals @NYM, @PIT
52. Mat Latos, SP, Padres @PHI
53. Carlos Carrasco, SP, Indians CHW
54. Chris Carpenter, SP, Cardinals @PIT
55. Brandon Morrow, SP, Blue Jays SEA
56. Josh Collmenter, SP, D-Backs MIL, COL
57. James McDonald, SP, Pirates CIN, STL
58. Josh Tomlin, SP, Indians @MIN
59. Dillon Gee, SP, Mets STL, @FLA
60. Mike Leake, Reds @PIT
61. Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers WAS
62. Colby Lewis, Rangers TOR
63. Ricky Nolasco, SP, Marlins SD
64. R.A. Dickey, SP, Mets STL
65. Matt Harrison, SP, Rangers TOR
66. Jonathon Niese, SP, Mets STL
67. Gavin Floyd, SP, White Sox @CLE
68. Ted Lilly, SP, Dodgers WAS
69. Jeff Niemann, SP, Rays @KC
70. Phil Hughes, SP, Yankees OAK

Dillon Gee, N.Y. Mets: Over his last four starts, Gee hasn't exactly been a whiz, going 1-3 with a 6.35 ERA. Sagging peripherals, including subpar strikeout, walk, line drive and popup rates, have contributed to his slump, but Gee's long-term track record suggests that he can do much better than this. To be sure, Gee is skating on thin ice right now, but he remains a reasonable low-end option as a two-start pitcher.

Jeremy Guthrie, Baltimore: Guthrie is having a solid season overall, but as usual, he has been a little too prone to serving up gopher balls. He is especially risky to start when he's at home, as his career 1.3 HR/9 at Camden Yards suggests. Next week, Guthrie has two home starts, including a Tuesday date with the slugging Red Sox. This is not the best of weeks to trust Guthrie as a two-start option.

Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay: With only 68 strikeouts in 103 2/3 innings, Hellickson hasn't delivered in the way that many owners thought he would in the first half. While he hasn't provided punchouts, Hellickson has compensated by getting oodles of easy flyouts, just as he did as a prospect. That may not always be enough to power him through a one-start week, but Hellickson is a safe bet with two starts, even with one of those coming against the Yankees.

Kyle Lohse, St. Louis: A 3.90 xFIP (as compared to his actual 3.32 ERA) shows that Lohse likely overperformed in the first half, but you can't fake a 1.6 BB/9 rate. Lohse's economy with pitches has enabled him to average nearly seven innings per start. He is warming the bench in 40 percent of our leagues, but particularly with decent matchups at the Mets and Pirates, Lohse needs to grab his glove and get active in many of those circuits for Week 16.

Derek Lowe, Atlanta: Lowe's sinker is still effective, but even he has not been immune to the perils of home run venues like Coors Field and Great American Ball Park. His career HR/9 rates at those stadiums -- 1.1 and 1.5, respectively -- don't inspire confidence in his ability to succeed in upcoming starts there, especially since Lowe has become a shaky Fantasy option in general.

Jason Marquis, Washington: Because he got off to a good start this year, Marquis appears to be a decent borderline option in two-start weeks, but he simply hasn't been very good since April. Excluding his first five starts, Marquis has posted a 4.73 ERA and 1.59 WHIP this season. He simply allows too much contact, and he gets hit pretty hard when batters connect. There are few, if any, weeks in which Marquis can be trusted in standard mixed leagues.

James McDonald, Pittsburgh: The only time that standard mixed league owners should consider starting McDonald is when he gets a pair of starts in good pitchers' parks. McDonald has struggled on the road, and particularly in visits to hitter-friendly Cincinnati and Milwaukee, but he has compiled a 3.18 ERA at home this season. With two starts at hospitable PNC Park next week, McDonald is someone to target as you scour the waiver wire for two-start options.

Rick Porcello, Detroit: With a .318 BABIP and 68 percent left-on-base rate, Porcello pitched through an apparent mild case of bad luck in the first half, but he also didn't do much to catalyze any progress. The A's and Twins are a nice set of matchups, but given Porcello's undistinguished performance to date, the coming week should be viewed as more of a tryout for future two-start weeks than an invitation to get him on your active roster.

Other Add/Activate Targets

Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland: After two poor starts to finish out the first half, owners have started to turn on Carrasco, as he has been benched in 21 percent of our leagues over the last week. While the 24-year-old was unlikely to carry over a scorching performance from the month of June (4-2, 1.90 ERA, 0.87 WHIP) into July, he is just as unlikely to continue to falter, as he had in the early part of this month. Even in his recent pair of bad starts, Carrasco had been missing bats and inducing grounders, and he rebounded with a solid outing at Baltimore on Saturday. Look for a better week ahead, as he faces off against the White Sox on Friday.

R.A. Dickey, N.Y. Mets: Dickey has been on a serious roll over the last two months, but owners still don't trust him, as his ownership rate has barely budged. The knuckleballer's 2.69 ERA and 1.09 WHIP over his last 11 starts is no fluke, as his command has been impeccable. He was no slouch last season either, so it's time to take Dickey seriously as a standard mixed league pitcher, even in some one-start weeks. With a matchup against the Cardinals in Week 16, this may not be one of those weeks, but he should still be owned in more than 30 percent of our leagues.

Phil Hughes, N.Y. Yankees: In his two starts since coming off the DL, Hughes has pitched well and, better yet, his velocity is back. Standard mixed leagues can afford to take a wait-and-see approach, but in deeper formats, Hughes' upside makes him worth trying, especially with the A's on his Week 16 schedule.

Mike Leake, Cincinnati: Leake has been in a minor funk lately, allowing four earned runs or more in three out of his last four starts, but that shouldn't detract from what could be a breakout season. He has whittled down his walk rate significantly, and if not for a low strand rate, Leake's ERA would probably be in the mid-3.00s. With one start coming up against the Pirates, he is a safer option than several two-start pitchers, including Lowe and Marquis.

Ted Lilly, L.A. Dodgers: Lilly finished out the first half on a promising note with a pair of decent starts against the Mets and Padres, though he stumbled a bit on Sunday, allowing four runs (including two solo homers) in 6 2/3 innings at Arizona. Until he can put together a longer stretch of good outings, he may not be a no-brainer as a one-start Fantasy option, but Lilly could be fine to use next week. With a home start against the Nationals, the lefty's flyball tendencies shouldn't be exploited like they were at Chase Field.

Brandon McCarthy, Oakland: McCarthy didn't have his best game in his last outing before the All-Star break, allowing five runs to the Rangers over six innings, but he was considerably sharper against the Angels on Friday. While McCarthy didn't quite make the top 70 starters list this week, he deserves to be in more than a quarter of our leagues, even in one-start weeks. His ability to go deep into games and compile a solid strikeout-to-walk ratio makes him especially valuable in Head-to-Head formats.

Jeff Niemann, Tampa Bay: Niemann has shown enough since his return from the DL to be trusted in deeper mixed leagues. In fact, he's a reasonable use of a standard mixed league roster spot, now that he has reverted to the form he showed for much of last season. Particularly impressive were his last two starts prior to Sunday, in which he held potent Cardinal and Yankee lineups to one run apiece. Now that Niemann appears to be healthy again, he looks to be a pitcher on the rise for the second half.

Jonathon Niese, N.Y. Mets: Niese isn't having a bad year by any stretch, but his results should probably be better than they have been. The southpaw owns the majors' highest BABIP on flyballs, which has added extra heft to his ERA and WHIP. With improved command and stronger ground ball tendencies, Niese should be having a breakout season, and we could still see that happen in the second half as his BABIP regresses. Even with a Week 16 start against St. Louis, Niese should be active in more than 37 percent of our leagues.

Javier Vazquez, Florida: At some point during the last month, Vazquez quietly shed the "NL-only" label. In posting a 1.69 ERA over his last six starts, the veteran's ownership and activation rates have been creeping upward. Key to Vazquez's success has been sharper control, though he's also done a better job of avoiding the long ball. With a Week 16 start against the Padres, even more owners in deeper mixed leagues should think about using Vazquez.

Other Drop/Stash Targets

Kevin Correia, Pittsburgh: Correia is not without his merits. Most notably, he doesn't issue many free passes, but he's not especially efficient and he doesn't get many Ks. Correia's main Fantasy asset this year has been his 11 first-half wins, but he can't bank on getting more than seven runs worth of run support per nine innings going forward. He is still owned in a healthy proportion of standard mixed leagues, but the former Padre is little more than a waiver wire option in those formats.

Derek Holland, Texas: Perhaps Holland has turned a corner with back-to-back complete-game shutouts of Oakland and Seattle, but the A's and Mariners have made plenty of pitchers look good this year. Despite increased velocity and stronger ground ball tendencies, Holland has taken a step backward overall in 2011, registering fewer strikeouts while allowing more line drives. While Holland is owned in just 64 percent of our leagues, he is starting in a sizable majority of those leagues. For now, owners in mixed leagues should see if Holland can succeed against stiffer competition before trusting him on a weekly basis.

Most Added Pitchers
* as of July 17
Player % increase
1. Bobby Parnell, RP, Mets 23
2. Paul Maholm, SP, Pirates 15
3. Jeff Karstens, SP, Pirates 14
4. Derek Holland, SP, Rangers 13
5. Jason Isringhausen, RP, Mets 13
6. Javier Vazquez, SP, Marlins 12
7. Vance Worley, RP, Phillies 11
8. Joe Nathan, RP, Twins 10
9. Cory Luebke, SP, Padres 10
10. Matt Harrison, RP, Rangers 8

Edwin Jackson, Chicago White Sox: Jackson's impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.6) and home run rate (0.6 HR/9) are all for naught, as he ranks fourth among all qualifying starters for highest line drive rate (24 percent). That's how Jackson can cut back his walk rate and still see his WHIP increase from last season's 1.39 to this year's 1.43. Saturday's complete-game shutout of the Tigers is a step in the right direction, but until we see some long-term change, Jackson's standard mixed league owners might as well use a roster spot on someone else, even if it's just a reserve spot.

Cory Luebke, San Diego: Over his four starts, Luebke has continued to strike out more than a batter per inning, just as he had done as a reliever. He also limited the Braves, Mariners and Giants (two starts) collectively to four runs over 24 innings. While impressive, the latter two opponents haven't offered the best test of what Luebke might be able to accomplish over the long haul. With an abundance of reliable options available next week, this would be a good time for Luebke's mixed league owners to stash him, as he is set to face the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Week 16.

Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox: Peavy had his first post-All-Star break start pushed back so that he can build up more strength in his shoulder. This likely explains some of the problems he has had with location recently, and while he is set to pitch in Week 16, it does not appear to be a very safe time to use him outside of deeper leagues.

Ervin Santana, L.A. Angels: Homer-prone Santana tends to struggle badly in hitters' parks, and Camden Yards is no exception. Santana's ERA in four career starts at Baltimore is an unsightly 8.72, and he has given up five jacks in 21 2/3 innings there. With the Angels' hurler paying a visit to Charm City in the coming week, it's best to stash him in any mixed league format.

Max Scherzer, Detroit: Who will show up in Week 16? Good Max? Bad Max? Mad Max? Given his wild inconsistency, it's hard to know. However, with Scherzer having allowed at least five earned runs in two of his last five starts and in five of his last 10, why take a chance on finding out? Keep Scherzer stashed outside of deep formats until he can establish a pattern of reliability.

Jason Vargas, Seattle: As one would expect, Vargas -- a flyball pitcher -- has been more homer-prone on the road than at Safeco Field. While he has never pitched at Rogers Centre, the safe play is to avoid Vargas, at least in standard mixed leagues, while he plies his craft in the Blue Jays' launching pad.

Might Not Start in Week 16

Blake Beavan, Seattle: Beavan currently lines up to pitch at Boston on July 23, but Erik Bedard (knee) could be activated from the DL prior to that start. If healthy, Bedard would face the Red Sox instead of Beavan.

Duane Below, Detroit: Below is one of two candidates to fill the Tigers' fifth starter role in Week 16, with Charlie Furbush also being considered. Unless an announcement is made prior to Monday's lineup deadline, it's best to avoid Below or Furbush for the coming week. Should Below get the call, he would be a low-end option for owners in AL-only leagues.

Tom Gorzelanny, Washington: Gorzelanny left Sunday's start against Atlanta after two innings with a twisted right ankle. His upcoming start against the Dodgers is in question as a result.

Shaun Marcum, Milwaukee: Marcum exited Sunday's game against Colorado in the sixth inning with a strained neck. While the injury was not to his shoulder as was initially reported, he may still not be ready to take the mound for Friday's game at San Francisco.

Alfredo Simon, Baltimore: Simon is scheduled to take over the rotation spot of Mitch Atkins, who was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday. However, Simon was placed on the restricted list, as he is in the Dominican Republic dealing with his legal issues, and he may not be permitted to leave the country in time for his next scheduled start.

Barry Zito, San Francisco: The Giants have an off day this Thursday, so they have the option of skipping Zito's next turn in the rotation. If manager Bruce Bochy keeps his top starters on regular rest, Zito will not be needed until Fantasy Week 17 (July 25-31).

DL Watch

Scott Baker, Minnesota: Baker was placed on the disabled list on Sunday with a sore right elbow, retroactive to July 6. He is eligible to return on Thursday, though there are no reports as to whether he will be ready to pitch during the coming week.

Fausto Carmona, Cleveland: Carmona has reportedly recovered from his quadriceps injury and is scheduled to start on Monday at the Twins. He will be a two-start pitcher next week, also facing the White Sox on July 24.

John Danks, Chicago White Sox: After making a pair of rehab starts at Triple-A Charlotte, Danks (oblique) is scheduled to take the mound against the Royals on Wednesday.

Wade Davis, Tampa Bay: Davis (forearm) had his first bullpen session on Friday and will have another one on Monday. Davis is not expected to need a minor league rehab assignment, and he could be activated in time to start on July 23 at Kansas City.

Jon Lester, Boston: Lester (lat) is expected to be activated on July 26 to start against the Royals. Keep Lester stashed for Week 16, but be prepared to get him active for Week 17.

Jonathan Sanchez, San Francisco: Sanchez (biceps) will make a rehab start for Class A San Jose on Sunday night and then move on to make a start for Triple-A Fresno. He could be ready to return to the Giants' rotation for Week 17.

Jesse Litsch, Toronto: The 30-day rehab clock is about to run out for Litsch (shoulder), so the Blue Jays either have to add him to their major league roster or demote him to the minors. With no apparent openings in the Toronto rotation, owners should not expect Litsch to contribute in Fantasy for Week 16.

Chien-Ming Wang, Washington: Wang (shoulder) made his fourth rehab start for the Nationals on Thursday night, pitching for Double-A Harrisburg, as he tossed six scoreless innings. He will progress on to Triple-A Syracuse, where he will start on Tuesday. If all goes well, Wang could be in the Nationals' rotation sometime during Week 17.

Erik Bedard, Seattle: Bedard (knee) was initially thought to need only the minimum 15 days on the DL, but his injury has lingered longer than expected. He has started throwing and could be activated in time to pitch against the Red Sox on July 23.

Tyson Ross, Oakland: Ross, placed on the DL with an oblique injury, has now developed shoulder tightness and will not return on Tuesday as initially anticipated. Most likely, Ross will be activated in Week 17, though even if that occurs, he may not return as a starter.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Al on Twitter ( @almelcbs ) and can e-mail us your questions to . Be sure to put Pitching Planner in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.


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Player News
Report: Orioles in 'continuous dialogue' with pitcher Chris Tillman
by Brandon Wise |
(3/28/2015) The Orioles and pitcher Chris Tillman are reportedly engaged in "continuous dialogue" for a long-term extension and have been for the past several weeks, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Tillman signed a one-year, $4.315 million deal in January to avoid arbitration and the discussions for a new deal are still considered preliminary, according to the report.

Tillman posted a 13-6 record in 2014 with a 3.34 ERA in 34 starts.

Tigers bullpen decision coming down to Ian Krol, Kyle Ryan
by Brandon Wise |
(3/28/2015) Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is running out of time to finish off his bullpen for Opening Day. The final bullpen role will likely be a left-handed pitcher and is expected to come down to Kyle Ryan and Ian Krol, according to

"If I'm there, hopefully it's a good situation, whether it's long or short," Ryan said. "For them to have enough confidence in me to go into Spring Training as a reliever, and actually for them to believe that I might be able to make the team as a reliever, that makes me proud."

Ryan has given up seven runs on seven hits in 11 innings of work this spring. 

"When he throws it right, it's good," Ausmus said of Krol. "He has a tendency to occasionally slow his arm down on his cutter and curveball. He did it a couple times today. But when he doesn't slow his arm down, it's very good."

Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson continues to make his case
by Brandon Wise |
(3/28/2015) Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson still doesn't know what his role will be when Opening Day rolls around, but he's showing he belongs on the roster, reports

"There's always stuff I need to work on, and I need to continue to impress," Pederson said after launching his fifth home run of the spring Saturday, boosting his batting average to .373.

Manager Don Mattingly remains quiet on what he will do when the decision has to be made, but Pederson is doing what he can to impress.

"[Opening Day] is out of my control," Pederson said. "It's something you dream about as a kid, playing in the big leagues, and you do anything you can to make that dream come true."

Angels P Matt Shoemaker gives up three runs in loss to Dodgers
by Dave Peters |
(3/28/2015) After pitching six scoreless innings in his last start, Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker struggled a bit in the team's 5-4 to the Dodgers, reports

Shoemaker gave up three runs on four hits in six innings, striking out two. One of the hits he surrended was to Joc Pederson on a two-run homer.

The 28-year-old completed last season with a 3.04 ERA, 124 strikeouts and only 24 walks.

Reds third baseman Todd Frazier feels ready for Opening Day
by Brandon Wise |
(3/28/2015) Reds third baseman Todd Frazier feels his swing has come back and is ready to tackle the long haul ahead of the regular season, reports

"It comes quick, like usual," Frazier said on Saturday morning. "I get goose bumps thinking about it right now -- another year, it's crazy."

Frazier struggled early in spring training, but has rebounded to go 8 for 23 in his last seven games.

"I hit in the Minor Leagues for about 10 at-bats [on Friday], just to try and feel it back-to-back. I do, and I feel really well," said Frazier, who is batting .262 in 14 games this spring. "I feel like if I had to play tomorrow [in the regular season], I'd be ready to go. It's all about preparation, and offseason stuff. I feel like it's so far, so good."

Angels OF Mike Trout homers in loss to Dodgers
by Dave Peters |
(3/28/2015) Angels outfielder Mike Trout homered in Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Dodgers, reports

Trout, 23, robbed the Dodgers' Alex Guerrero of an extra-base hit in the first inning, making it a successful day for him, despite the loss. 

This spring he has a batting average of .477 with four home runs and 14 RBI. 

White Sox hope to have Robertson, Petricka back by Opening Day
by Dave Peters |
(3/28/2015) Two key members of the White Sox bullpen are working their way back from forearm injuries, but manager Robin Ventura is confident he'll have both back by opening day. 

Closer David Robertson is scheduled to pitch on Sunday. 

"We're trying to make sure we’re extra careful with him," Ventura said, per Comcast's Dan Hayes. "He doesn’t seem to be concerned about it as much as we do."

Setup man Jake Petricka isn't as far along as Robertson. He played catch on Saturday for the first time in five days.

The Sox are taking it slow, so that the team will have both pitchers for Opening Day as well as the rest of the season. 

"You’re just making sure you’re cautious enough that you feel good about when (they go) out there that there won’t be any setbacks,” Ventura said. 

Indians pitcher Zach McAllister fans nine in outing Saturday
by Brandon Wise |
(3/28/2015) Indians pitcher Zach McAllister went five innings Saturday against the Brewers, allowing two runs on six hits with nine strikeouts. McAllister, who is expected to make one more start before Opening Day, touched 97 mph with his fastball in the appearance, according to

"He's been impressive and he's been doing it all spring," said Francona. "He's not just throwing strikes, he's down in the zone when he wants to and then he can elevate with some velocity. I think his hard work is really paying off."

McAllister has felt he always had the added velocity.

"Throughout my career I've always felt I've had a little more (velocity) in there if I could maintain it," said McAllister. "For whatever reason, whether it's being more consistent with my delivery or my arm action, I'm just trusting that when I let it go it's going to go where I want it to go. I'm not trying to place anything."

Pirates Pedro Alvarez looking to stick at first base
by Dave Peters |
(3/28/2015) Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez is hoping to stick at his new position after converting from third base, reports

On opening day, Alvarez will be the team's 54th first baseman in its 129-year history.

“It's a matter of getting used to seeing the field from that point of view,” Alvarez said. “I need to get the reps in so the responsibilities that come with playing that position become second nature to me.”

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington talked about the team's past efforts of platooning the position.

“You can't develop something you don't have. You can't buy something you can't afford,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “That's why we've tried to platoon. Over the last couple of years, we've realized that's a challenge for a National League manager. Platoons are much harder here than they are in the American League, especially with a one-dimensional player who can only play one position.”

The hope around the organization is that they can get quality production from Alvarez.

“Our hope that is between Pedro Alvarez and Corey Hart, we'll get quality major league production,” Huntington said.

The 28-year-old is batting .306 with two home runs, nine RBI and eight strikeouts this spring.

Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton can't find a rhythm Saturday
by Brandon Wise |
(3/28/2015) Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton tossed six innings Saturday against the Blue Jays, allowing six hits, including two home runs and no strikeouts. Morton, who is fighting for a spot in the starting rotation, is still recovering from labrum surgery six months ago.

"Physically, Charlie is in a good place," manager Clint Hurdle said to "He is trying to make some mechanical adjustments in his delivery, but we don't have any health concerns about him."

Morton isn't worried about fixing mechanical issues just yet.

"Now is a tough time to put a lot of emphasis on mechanics," said Morton. "I gotta go pitch, adjustments or no adjustments."