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 CBSSports.com, 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.
|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.
|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).
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.
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