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Week 18 Fantasy Pitching Planner

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The trade deadline has come and gone, but not too many rotations got juggled in the process. The big move, of course, was Ubaldo Jimenez's trade from the Rockies to the Indians. Any move away from Coors Field is generally a positive thing for a pitcher, but Jimenez's migration to the American League is not welcome news for his NL-only league owners. Also, the Mariners shed Doug Fister and Erik Bedard from their rotation, and the Nationals sent Jason Marquis packing for the Arizona desert. A thin pitching market was even less active than expected, as Hiroki Kuroda, Aaron Harang and Jeremy Guthrie stayed put.

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Esmil Rogers, Blake Beavan, Ross Detwiler were beneficiaries, even though they weren't traded, as deals opened up rotation spots for each of them. Meanwhile, David Huff, Andrew Miller, Tim Wakefield, Josh Collmenter and Micah Owings were some of the pitchers who saw their rotation spots put in jeopardy due to their teams' recent acquisitions.

Most major league rotations go into Fantasy Week 18 (Aug. 1-7) looking much the same as they did a few days ago. The starting pitchers for all 30 teams are laid out in the interactive Starting Pitchers tool below. As always, you can find pitchers by typing their name into the search field at the top of the tool or by scrolling down the list alphabetically. Each pitcher's line includes his matchup information for the week, as well as his rating, ownership rate and xFIP differential (which indicates if he has possibly been over- or under-performing). Further below, pitchers who may be on the bubble of starting in many leagues are assessed, taking into account their recent trends and upcoming matchups and venues.

Borderline Two-Start Pitchers

Kevin Correia, Pittsburgh: Correia has the good fortune of drawing starts against the Cubs and Padres in Week 18, but sometimes good matchups just aren't enough. He has been vulnerable to home runs throughout the season, and after being stingy on line drives through early June, he's been giving up plenty of hard shots that stay in the park lately. As a result, batters have been slugging .491 against Correia over his ten most recent starts. Even in two start weeks, Correia can only be used in deeper leagues.

Brian Duensing, Minnesota: For the most part, Duensing has had a forgettable season, but he has started to turn things around in recent weeks. He has cut back his walk rate over his last eight starts, issuing just 14 free passes over 51 1/3 innings, which has helped him to maintain a 3.51 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over that span. These are not earth-shattering numbers, but they represent a huge improvement over his earlier performance this year (4.98 ERA, 1.53 WHIP), and they're good enough to use in a two-start week. Especially with a start against the weak-hitting Angels, Duensing is a decent low-end option next week for owners in standard mixed leagues.

John Lackey, Boston: Lackey has been a much better pitcher over his last four starts, allowing seven earned runs over 25 innings with 21 strikeouts and only three walks. However, he's still been very flyball-prone, and that's a trend that could get him into big trouble with the Yankees coming to town next week. Consider that start as a test to see if he can be trusted in future two-start weeks outside of deeper leagues.

Al's Top 70 for Week 18
Pitcher Opponents
1. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers @SD, @ARI
2. CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees @CHW, @BOS
3. Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies @COL, @SF
4. Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants ARI, PHI
5. Josh Beckett, SP, Red Sox CLE, NYY
6. Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies @COL
7. Ricky Romero, SP, Blue Jays @TB, @BAL
8. Jaime Garcia, SP, Cardinals @MIL, @FLA
9. Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers @KC
10. Jered Weaver, SP, Angels SEA
11. Dan Haren, SP, Angels SEA
12. Cliff Lee, SP, Phillies @SF
13. Ian Kennedy, SP, D'backs @SF, LAD
14. Jair Jurrjens, SP, Braves @WAS, @NYM
15. Jon Lester, SP, Red Sox CLE
16. David Price, SP, Rays TOR
17. Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners OAK
18. Tommy Hanson, SP, Braves @NYM
19. Matt Cain, SP, Giants ARI, PHI
20. Ervin Santana, SP, Angels MIN, SEA
21. Trevor Cahill, SP, Athletics @SEA, @TB
22. Zack Greinke, SP, Brewers STL, @HOU
23. Tim Hudson, SP, Braves @NYM
24. John Danks, SP, White Sox NYY, @MIN
25. Shaun Marcum, SP, Brewers STL
26. Matt Garza, SP, Cubs @PIT
27. C.J. Wilson, SP, Rangers CLE
28. Chris Carpenter, SP, Cardinals @MIL, @FLA
29. Jhoulys Chacin, SP, Rockies PHI, WAS
30. Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers @HOU
31. Bud Norris, SP, Astros CIN, MIL
32. Francisco Liriano, SP, Twins @LAA
33. Colby Lewis, SP, Rangers @DET, CLE
34. Scott Baker, SP, Twins @LAA
35. Brandon Beachy, SP, Braves @WAS
36. Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Indians @TEX
37. Gio Gonzalez, SP, Athletics @SEA
38. Mat Latos, SP, Padres LAD
39. Alexi Ogando, SP, Rangers @DET
40. James Shields, SP, Rays TOR
41. Cory Luebke, SP/RP, Padres LAD, @PIT
42. Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants PHI
43. Daniel Hudson, SP, D'backs @SF
44. Chad Billingsley, SP, Dodgers @ARI
45. Jeff Niemann, SP, Rays OAK
46. Carlos Zambrano, SP, Cubs @PIT, CIN
47. Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Astros CIN
48. Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants ARI
49. Johnny Cueto, SP, Reds @CHC
50. Ryan Dempster, SP, Cubs CIN
51. Bartolo Colon, SP, Yankees @BOS
52. Paul Maholm, SP, Pirates CHC, SD
53. Anibal Sanchez, SP, Marlins STL
54. Justin Masterson, SP, Indians @BOS
55. Tim Stauffer, SP/RP, Padres LAD
56. Vance Worley, SP, Phillies @SF
57. Michael Pineda, SP, Mariners @LAA
58. Max Scherzer, SP, Tigers TEX, @KC
59. Brian Duensing, SP/RP, Twins @LAA, CHW
60. Jonathon Niese, SP, Mets ATL
61. Hiroki Kuroda, SP, Dodgers @SD
62. Mike Leake, SP, Reds @CHC
63. Alex Cobb, SP, Rays OAK
64. Josh Tomlin, SP, Indians @BOS, @TEX
65. Javier Vazquez, SP, Marlins @NYM, STL
66. Ricky Nolasco, SP, Marlins STL
67. Jake Peavy, SP, White Sox NYY, @MIN
68. John Lannan, SP, Nationals ATL, @COL
69. Mark Buehrle, SP, White Sox @MIN
70. Derek Holland, SP, Rangers CLE

John Lannan, Washington: Lannan is continuing in his tradition of building decent ERAs on the foundation of poor strikeout-to-walk ratios. In virtually any scoring period, a sub-4.00 ERA would not be enough on its own to make a contact pitcher like Lannan advisable in a two-start week, but this isn't just any week. There aren't more than a handful of high-quality two-start options, so even with a visit to Coors Field, Lannan is a reasonable pickup for owners in most formats who need a two-start pitcher.

Paul Maholm, Pittsburgh: A slightly favorable .283 BABIP rate (or at least favorable in the context of a 21 percent line drive rate) gives Maholm a stat line that makes him look better than he has actually been. While the lefty has been mediocre on the whole, he has taken advantage of PNC Park's deep left field dimensions, compiling a 2.37 home ERA, with four home runs allowed in 76 innings pitched. With home starts against the Cubs and Padres, Maholm should have a week that even standard mixed league owners could find useful.

Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox: Peavy isn't completely over his post-DL struggles, but he has been better in his last two starts. Most important, he is throwing strikes again, so he has the potential to go deeper into games. Peavy is still a risk to use in standard mixed leagues to be sure, which is why he's ranked no higher than 67th on this week's top 70. Still, his start at the Twins offers enough promise that owners can roll with him in spite of a Monday meeting with the Yankees.

Mike Pelfrey, N.Y. Mets: Pelfrey is coming off a complete-game gem against the Reds, replete with 14 ground ball outs. If Big Pelf could turn in performances like this with any consistency, he would be an easy pick in his two-start weeks. Instead, he is saddled with a higher-than-average ERA and WHIP, a 1.3 HR/9 rate, and a 50 percent quality start percentage. Those stats relegate Pelfrey to deeper league status, even with two chances to shine in Week 18.

Ervin Santana, L.A. Angels: Santana is our 20th-ranked starter this week, but that's not a kneejerk reaction to his no-no against the Indians on Wednesday. He has been very good at Angel Stadium, where his mild flyball tendencies don't get exploited. In getting the power-deprived Twins and Mariners at home next week, Santana can build on his streak of six straight quality starts.

Max Scherzer, Detroit: Only 12 of Scherzer's 22 turns in the rotation this year qualify as quality starts, though four of them have come in his last four games. For a pitcher as inconsistent as Scherzer, a nice run like this one still deserves to be viewed with suspicion, but his venues in Week 18 give us reason to think he can eek out two more good starts. He gets the Rangers at home, where Scherzer has been effective in both of his seasons as a Tiger, and then he travels to Kauffman Stadium, where he should get a break from his chronic gopheritis.

Alfredo Simon, Baltimore: Simon has been a pleasant surprise in the Orioles' rotation, posting a 3.86 ERA over his four starts. He doesn't have a history of great command, though, and his strikes thrown rate of 62 percent doesn't give us reason to expect improvement over the longer haul. Simon should be owned in more than two percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com, but he's not quite ready for the bright lights of standard mixed leagues.

Josh Tomlin, Cleveland: More often than not, Tomlin is a cinch to use when he gets two starts in a week, but this time around, he's more of a last-resort option outside of deeper leagues. The homer-happy hurler will make a trip to the sluggers' heaven known as the Rangers Ballpark at Arlington, but first he'll have to tame the major's most potent lineup, the Red Sox.

Javier Vazquez, Florida: Ranking just below Tomlin in the nether regions of this week's top 70 is Vazquez. Though he has been a much better pitcher than he was earlier this year, Vazquez has been less impressive in his last two starts. The fact that those outings came against less-than-imposing San Diego and Washington lineups should give owners pause before using him as a two-start option. He could certainly struggle when he faces the Cardinals, but Vazquez should be safe enough against the Mets to merit a spot in standard mixed leagues.

Other Add/Activate Targets

Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox: Buehrle is rarely an advisable option in standard mixed leagues with only one start, but Week 18 is an exception. With the paucity of reliable pitching options for this week, a 15- or 16-point week will probably be enough for your back-end starters to pull their weight, and Buehrle has been averaging close to 15 Fantasy points per start. With a decent matchup against the Twins, the lefty is safe to use if other alternatives are lacking.

Alex Cobb, Tampa Bay: Cobb's excellent control hasn't translated from the minors to the majors, at least not on a consistent basis yet. However, his ground ball tendencies have, and as a result, Cobb has allowed only two home runs over his first 48 1/3 innings. The rookie has shown enough skill already to be trusted as a two-start pitcher in most formats, and with a favorable matchup against the A's next week, he's even a good option with just one start.

Mike Leake, Cincinnati: Since getting recalled from the minors in late May, Leake has failed to record a quality start only three times in 12 chances. Two of those sub-quality starts came against the Yankees and Brewers, who have made life tough on many pitchers this season. The Cubs should pose little problem for the second-year pitcher, making Leake a decent back-of-the-rotation option in standard mixed leagues.

Ted Lilly, L.A. Dodgers: Lilly has had his struggles this season, but like most pitchers, he's had a pretty easy time against the Padres. In three previous starts against San Diego this year, he has allowed only four earned runs in 15 1/3 innings with 14 strikeouts. The lefty is worth an active roster spot in far more than 22 percent of our leagues next week.

Justin Masterson, Cleveland: Aside from a minor lull about two months ago, Masterson has been consistently effective all season. He's not quite a must-start option at this point; Masterson's strikeout rate is a little too low to make him viable in shallow leagues on a weekly basis. However, owners in standard mixed leagues have no reason to relegate him to their bench in any week, unless they are remarkably deep in pitching. Even with a start at Boston, Masterson is an advisable start in virtually all standard mixed leagues in Week 18.

Jeff Niemann, Tampa Bay: Since getting activated from the DL last month, Niemann has compiled a 1.88 ERA and 1.16 WHIP and held opponents to a .283 on-base percentage. His recent walk and homer rates are lower than what his history tells us to expect, so he may not keep this up for that much longer. Even so, Niemann is good enough to use in standard mixed leagues with a single start against the A's.

Jonathon Niese, N.Y. Mets: Entering Sunday's start, Niese had been the victim of a BABIP rate (.320) that is awfully high for someone with a low line drive rate (17 percent). His Tuesday start at Cincinnati, in which he allowed five runs in five innings, may have further fueled the perception that he's only occasionally useful in standard mixed leagues, though he did bounce back on Sunday against the Nationals. That perception is reflected in his 49 percent activation rate, but even with bad luck on balls in play, games like the one that Niese had on Tuesday have been rare for him this year. He's worth a start when he faces the Braves next week.

Michael Pineda, Seattle: Pineda had been getting away with a high flyball rate all season, but it started to catch up with him over a recent three-start stretch. He allowed four homers, which netted nine runs, over those outings, and overall, he yielded 19 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings. Pineda ended his skid on Saturday when he held the Rays to one earned run in 6 1/3 innings, striking out 10. Given his recent slump, Pineda is not as safe of an option as he was a few weeks ago, but as he showed in his last start, there's still enough potential for him to dominate that he can be trusted in most standard mixed leagues.

Vance Worley, Philadelphia: Though Worley has been reliable lately, his occasional bouts of wildness make him a questionable candidate for active standard mixed league rosters in some one-start weeks. This is not one of those weeks, as he will face the Giants in Week 18. Not only will he oppose one of the majors' weaker offenses, but he gets to do it in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. Even better yet, the Giants will be sending their No. 5 starter to the bump, whether that is Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez or a minor-league callup.

Other Drop/Stash Targets

Doug Fister, Detroit: Fister's move from Seattle to Detroit rates as a major upgrade for him and his owners, as he is sure to improve on his major-league worst 3.02 runs of support per nine innings. However, owners won't be able to cash in on that upgrade in Week 18, as Fister will face the fearsome Rangers. Increased run support doesn't make his 4.78 ERA in five career starts against Texas any easier to take. Fister needs to be stashed in virtually all mixed leagues this coming week.

Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay: Hellickson hasn't been the strikeout pitcher that he was last season, both in the minors and in his late-season stint in the majors. For most of this year, he has achieved good results by substituting punch outs with popouts, but his infield fly rate has been dipping of late. Over his last eight starts, Hellickson has produced a nondescript 3.88 ERA and a 3-4 record. Particularly with an upcoming start against the fearsome Blue Jays lineup, it's time to find a temporary replacement for the rookie in many of his shallower leagues.

Philip Humber, Chicago White Sox: Humber is normally a reliable option in standard mixed leagues, even in many one-start weeks, but there are at least a couple of reasons to be cautious with him for now. Humber's BABIP has seemed a little too low for much of the year, and while it has been corrected somewhat, his current .259 rate still seems too good to be true. Also, manager Ozzie Guillen put Humber in the bullpen after his start on July 17, and he wasn't used again until Saturday. He was not impressive in Saturday's start against Boston, and it may take a little longer for him to regain his prior form. Owners are already being careful with Humber, as he is active in just 21 percent of our leagues, and for at least the next week, he should probably remain on the bench.

Kyle Lohse, St. Louis: It was Lohse's efficiency that gave him so much value in Head-to- Head leagues earlier this season, but he has made it out of the sixth inning just once in his last six starts. With a low strikeout rate, Lohse simply doesn't offer owners enough value if he's not racking up innings. Unless he can revert to his early season form, there are few weeks where Lohse is worth using in standard mixed leagues when gets only one start.

Brandon Morrow, Toronto: It looked like Morrow had left his early season woes behind him, but he regressed in back-to-back starts before taming the Rangers on Sunday. Not only did he allow nine earned runs over 10 1/3 innings and induce a total of just eight ground ball outs in those two starts, but he did it against the lowly Mariners and Orioles. He gets the Orioles again in Week 18, and while that normally would look like a favorable matchup, Morrow needs get back on track over an extended period before he can be trusted as a one-start pitcher again.

Jordan Zimmermann, Washington: Zimmermann's enough of a flyball pitcher that he could be a real hazard to your team's ERA with a Week 18 start in Colorado. He's only allowed seven home runs in 126 2/3 innings this season, but his miniscule four percent home run per flyball ratio may not survive the thin air of Coors Field. Give him a break next week.

Might Not Start in Week 18

Erik Bedard/Andrew Miller/Tim Wakefield, Boston: The Red Sox made one of the final splashes on Sunday, acquiring Bedard from the Mariners just before the deadline. The team has not announced when Bedard will make his first start for them, but in all likelihood, it will happen in Week 18, and it will come at the expense of either Miller or Wakefield. Unless the Sox announce their plans before Monday evening's lineup deadline, it's best to avoid all three pitchers other than in the deepest of leagues for the coming week.

Kyle Davies, Kansas City: Davies was scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He has not been placed on the disabled list yet, but it is very likely that the Royals will revert to a five-man rotation now, leaving Davies on the outside. Avoid him in all formats in Week 18.

David Huff, Cleveland: The Indians have yet to announce exactly when Ubaldo Jimenez will enter their rotation, but when he does, Huff is the most likely candidate to get pushed out. Though he has been successful since his callup, Huff is not an advisable start in any format this coming week, unless the team confirms that he will indeed make a start.

Most Added Pitchers
* as of Aug. 1
Player % increase
1. Edwin Jackson, SP, Cardinals 13
2. Paul Maholm, SP, Pirates 13
3. Jeff Niemann, SP, Rays 10
4. John Danks, SP, White Sox 9
5. Doug Fister, SP, Tigers 9
6. Javy Guerra, RP, Dodgers 9
7. Alex Cobb, SP, Rays 9
8. Rick Porcello, SP, Tigers 8
9. Jason Isringhausen, RP, Mets 7
10. Brett Cecil, SP, Blue Jays 7

Tommy Hunter/Brad Bergesen/Zach Britton, Baltimore: The Orioles desperately needed a starting pitcher, and they plucked swingman Hunter from the Rangers to fill that need. As the Rangers had been using Hunter as a reliever, he may not be ready to join the Orioles' rotation right away, but there is a chance that he could supplant either Bergesen or Britton in Week 18.

Wade LeBlanc, San Diego: LeBlanc filled in for the injured Dustin Moseley (shoulder) on Sunday against the Rockies, and now that Moseley has been placed on the DL, there could be more starts ahead for the 26-year-old. If LeBlanc does stay in the rotation, his next start will come at Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Micah Owings, Arizona: The Diamondbacks put newly-acquired Jason Marquis into Josh Collmenter's spot in the rotation, giving him his next start on Wednesday at the Giants. However, that does not necessarily mean that Collmenter has lost his starting role, as he could get pushed into Owings' spot, which comes up on Friday. Unless the Snakes make a commitment to either Owings or Collmenter, it's best to avoid both hurlers in Week 18.

Nate Robertson, Seattle: The Mariners are not planning on working ex-Tiger Charlie Furbush into the rotation right away, but they have few options for replacing the departed Erik Bedard. Robertson, who is currently at Triple-A Tacoma, is a possible short-term replacement, at least until Furbush is stretched out enough to take over.

Barry Zito, San Francisco: After a poor start on Sunday at Cincinnati, Zito's time in the Giants' rotation is likely over. They have not named a starter for Friday's game against the Phillies, but Jonathan Sanchez (biceps) could be activated from the DL to make that start instead of Zito.

DL Watch

Jonathan Sanchez, San Francisco: Sanchez (biceps) made his second, and probably last, rehab start for Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday, so he could potentially rejoin the Giants' rotation in Week 18 (Aug. 1-7).

Roy Oswalt, Philadelphia: Oswalt (back) made a Triple-A rehab start on Wednesday, pitching four innings of one-hit ball. He will make another start for Lehigh Valley on Monday. If all goes well, Oswalt could start in the Phillies weekend series at San Francisco in Week 18, with Kyle Kendrick getting yanked from the rotation. Should Oswalt make a start in place of Kendrick, that would rob Kendrick of a two-start week.

Dustin Moseley, San Diego: The Padres placed Moseley on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday with a strained left (non-throwing) shoulder. This is the second occurrence of the injury for Moseley this season. It is not yet known when he will be able to return.

Clay Buchholz, Boston: Buchholz is taking much longer than expected to recover from his back injury, and the team is now concerned that there could be a structural, rather than a muscular problem. Buchholz is scheduled to see a specialist on Monday, but there is no timetable for his return. The Red Sox's acquisition of Erik Bedard is a clear indication that they do not expect Buchholz back anytime soon.

Johan Santana, N.Y. Mets: Santana (shoulder) made his first rehab start on Thursday, pitching three scoreless innings for Class A St. Lucie. He is likely to make several more rehab starts, but he is currently on pace to rejoin the Mets rotation by late August.

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

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by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
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Chris Young exits late Monday with hamstring issue
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