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Shuffling the Rotations for Week 4

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The finals days of Fantasy Week 3 (April 16-22) have kept us entertained, starting with Philip Humber's perfect game against the Mariners on Saturday. However, there has been plenty of other news that requires us to focus on getting ready for Fantasy Week 4 (April 23-29).

Most Added Pitchers (as of 4/22)
Player % change
1. Bartolo Colon, SP, Athletics 31
2. Kyle Drabek, SP, Blue Jays 27
3. Santiago Casilla, RP, Giants 24
4. Philip Humber, SP, White Sox 20
5. Ross Detwiler, SP, Nationals 19
6. Lance Lynn, RP, Cardinals 18
7. Jason Hammel, SP, Orioles 17
8. Jake Peavy, SP, White Sox 15
9. Henry Rodriguez, RP, Nationals 14
10. Jim Johnson, RP, Orioles 13

Cliff Lee (oblique), Daniel Hudson (shoulder) and Ryan Dempster (quadriceps) all went on the disabled list since we last spoke, and with all three pitchers owned in at least 85 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com, a flurry of owners may need to hit the waiver wire to find a last-second replacement.

The removal of Hudson from the Arizona rotation is of particular interest to Fantasy owners, since it could mean the arrival of top prospect Trevor Bauer. However, the team could call upon Barry Enright instead, leaving Bauer in Double-A to further sharpen his skills. Oakland's demotion of Graham Godfrey presents another enticing possibility, as the A's could recall either Jarrod Parker or Brad Peacock to take his place.

A more seasoned free agent option is Tim Hudson (back), whom the Braves may activate from the DL in time to start next Sunday against the Pirates. Then again, he may not start until Monday in Week 5 (April 30-May 6), so due to the uncertainty, the safe move is to keep Hudson stashed for one more week. However, should Hudson come off the DL this coming week, it could put potential two-start weeks for either Randall Delgado or Jair Jurrjens in danger.

Before we turn to this week's top 70 -- our list of starters who are viable in standard mixed leagues for the coming scoring period -- it's time to give a nod to the final cuts. Ubaldo Jimenez (KC), Clay Buchholz (@MIN), Matt Moore (LAA) and a two-start Jonathan Sanchez (@CLE, @MIN) all have to settle for honorable mention this time. There are enough strong two-start options that owners can afford to sit each of these early-season strugglers. With the possible exception of Sanchez, none should be cut in standard mixed leagues, and if you don't have a bench slot to stash them, you might as well start them this week. The same goes for the improving Jason Hammel (TOR) and Homer Bailey (SF), but with just one start each, both are borderline starts at best this week outside of deeper leagues.

Starting Rotation breakdown for Fantasy Week 4
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2 Stat of note
1 Matt Cain @CIN (Latos) SD (Richard) 1 HR allowed in 27 2/3 career IP at Great American Ball Park
Cain has been superb so far this year, and his history at Cincy's homer-friendly park has been a good one.
2 Roy Halladay CHC (Maholm) N/A 10 percent line drive rate
His velocity is down and he is getting fewer Ks, but Halladay is compensating by being very hard to square up on.
3 Zack Greinke HOU (Harrell) @STL (Lohse) One infield fly out of 47 hit balls
Greinke will get his popups, but a dearth of them has contributed to his early 5.09 ERA.
4 Cole Hamels @ARI (Cahill) N/A Ranks 4th in majors with 14.5 percent swinging strike rate
If Hamels keeps up the whiffs and reduces his .391 BABIP, he'll be in the discussion for best overall Fantasy starter.
5 Ian Kennedy @MIA (Johnson) N/A 3 BBs in 18 2/3 innings
Kennedy became a more productive pitcher last year by improving his control and the gains have stuck this year, and then some.
6 Clayton Kershaw WAS (Strasburg) N/A 2.49 career home ERA
Kershaw is dominant wherever he pitches, but he has been markedly better in his Dodger Stadium starts.
7 Jered Weaver @CLE (Gomez) N/A 81 percent quality start rate since 2010
Few starters have been as consistently good as Weaver over the last two-plus seasons.
8 Justin Verlander @NYY (Garcia) N/A 1.50 WHIP in 10 career starts vs. NYY
Verlander is a must-start, but he has had his troubles with the Yankee lineup, even over the last two seasons.
9 Matt Garza STL (Garcia) @PHI (Blanton) 3.2 K/BB ratio since 2011
Garza's command was much improved last year, and he continues to be a big-time strike-thrower.
10 Felix Hernandez @DET (Wilk) N/A Career 3.32 ERA at Comerica Park
Hernandez has been roughly as good away from Safeco Field than in it, and Detroit is among the many places where he has pitched well.
11 David Price LAA (Santana) @TEX (Lewis) 4.29 pitches per plate appearance
Price has never been very economical, but he is taking especially long to get through plate appearances so far this year.
12 Stephen Strasburg @LAD (Kershaw) N/A No more than one walk in 9 out of last 11 starts
Great control is just one reason for Strasburg's sub-1.00 career WHIP.
13 Madison Bumgarner @NYM (Santana) SD (Bass) 7 Ks in 17 1/3 innings
It's not clear where Bumgarner's strikeouts have gone, but he should still produce against two of the NL's lowest-scoring teams.
14 Jordan Zimmermann @SD (Richard) @LAD (Capuano) 9 percent swinging strike rate
Zimmermann's Ks are down, but his swings-and-misses are right where they were last year. The strikeouts should follow soon.
15 C.J. Wilson @TB (Hellickson) N/A .189 BABIP
Wilson is missing some bats and inducing grounders, but he won't stay on pace for a 1.05 WHIP. He could be a good sell-high candidate.
16 CC Sabathia DET (Smyly) N/A 92 mph fastball velocity
Sabathia is getting fewer whiffs on his fastball, which has lost a couple of ticks, but he is more than making up for it with his slider.
17 Dan Haren @CLE (Masterson) N/A 47 percent flyball rate
Haren should be able to handle the Indians, but his surging flyball rate could burn him with a less favorable matchup or venue.
18 Ricky Romero SEA (Beavan) N/A 30 Ks in 34 1/3 career innings vs. SEA
Romero hasn't been all that sharp so far, but he is a must-start with a very good matchup this week.
19 Jon Lester @MIN (Marquis) @CHW (Peavy) 1 HR in 17 innings
Lester is coming off a poor start, but his sinker is generating grounders at a higher rate than his career norm.
20 Shaun Marcum HOU (Happ) N/A 12 percent popup rate
After a poor finish to 2011, Marcum is back doing what he does best, pitching with control and getting easy flyouts.
21 Josh Beckett @MIN (Blackburn) @CHW (Floyd) 3.54 pitches per plate appearance
Beckett has recovered from his miserable first start and is proving to be highly efficient.
22 Brandon Beachy @LAD (Lilly) N/A 4 line drives on 54 hit balls
Beachy has been short on strikeouts, but he is getting far more grounders, fewer liners and has yet to allow a homer.
23 Josh Johnson ARI (Kennedy) N/A 93 mph average fastball velocity vs. CHC on Tues.
Johnson 4.3 K/9 rate looks scary, but he was better in his last start, gaining nearly 1 mph on his fastball.
24 Tommy Hanson PIT (Correia) N/A 16 Ks in 17 innings
Those worried that Hanson's new delivery would negatively impact him haven't had much to fret about so far.
25 James Shields @TEX (Harrison) N/A 1.07 career WHIP at TEX
Shields has allowed five homers in four starts at Arlington, but he has limited the damage by being stingy with baserunners.
26 Yovani Gallardo @STL (Westbrook) N/A Allowed 12 HRs in 27 1/3 IP vs. STL since '11
Gallardo's four-homer implosion against the Cards earlier this month is part of a longer-standing matchup problem, making him riskier than normal.
27 Ervin Santana @TB (Price) @CLE (Lowe) .273 flyball BABIP
Santana appears to have suffered from some bad luck early on, as his flyball BABIP is more than 100 points above his usual level.
28 Gio Gonzalez @LAD (Billingsley) N/A 64 percent strikes thrown
Could Gonzalez's wild days be behind him? It's too early to tell, but he's been a different pitcher so far.
29 Mat Latos SF (Cain) HOU (Harrell) 56 percent strand rate
Latos' strikeout rate is down, but on the bright side, his velocity hasn't dropped and his strand rate is bound to improve.
30 Johnny Cueto HOU (Rodriguez) N/A 90 percent strand rate
Cueto's velocity and swinging strike and ground ball rates are all down. If they don't improve, he will certainly rank lower in future weeks.
31 Justin Masterson LAA (Haren) N/A 52 percent strand rate
While a high strand rate is helping Cueto, Masterson (6.48 ERA) is getting punished despite good peripherals.
32 Anibal Sanchez ARI (Saunders) N/A Career 1.06 WHIP vs. ARI
Sanchez has a good history against the Snakes, and he was especially dominant against them in 2011 (16 Ks in 14 2/3 innings).
33 Chris Sale @OAK (Parker) N/A 21 Ks in 18 innings
Relievers usually take a hit to their strikeout rate when they become starters, but that hasn't happened to Sale yet.
34 Erik Bedard @ATL (Delgado) N/A Career .342 opponents' SLG vs. lefties
As you might expect, Bedard has been especially tough on lefty hitters, and that should help him to stymie the Braves' lineup.
35 Cory Luebke @SF (Lincecum) N/A .365 BABIP
Luebke is still avoiding contact, but apparent bad luck has saddled him with a 1.47 WHIP.
36 Tim Lincecum SD (Luebke) N/A 31 percent line drive rate
Lincecum is getting lots of whiffs, but he's still managing to be highly hittable. He's caught Max Scherzer Disease.
37 Jeremy Hellickson LAA (Wilson) N/A 12 percent line drive rate
Hellickson is the anti-Lincecum. He isn't getting many swings-and-misses but has been very hard to get hits against (.213 opponents' Avg).
38 Adam Wainwright @CHC (Samardzija) N/A 5 of 18 hits against have been HRs
Aside from the five dingers he has allowed, Wainwright has been fairly good. Overall solid peripherals offer hope of a turnaround.
39 Brandon Morrow @KC (Chen) SEA (Millwood) 7 percent swinging strike rate
Morrow as a contact pitcher? It's been an uncharacteristic start for him, as he has swapped Ks for a 1.10 WHIP.
40 Bartolo Colon CHW (Peavy) @BAL (Hunter) 38 consecutive strikes vs. LAA on Wed.
The control artist painted a masterpiece in Week 3. He has earned the right to be universally started in two-start weeks.
41 Jaime Garcia @CHC (Garza) MIL (Wolf) 2.22 career ERA vs. CHC
Garcia has been underwhelming so far, but he should produce enough against the slumping Cubs to make him a worthwhile start.
42 Jake Peavy @OAK (Colon) BOS (Lester) 58 percent flyball rate
Peavy has yet to pay the price for all of the flyballs he has allowed, but he can get away with it in his start at Oakland.
43 R.A. Dickey MIA (Buehrle) @COL (Moyer) 53 percent ground ball rate since 2010
Dickey has yet to make a start at Coors Field, but his ability to keep the ball down should help him to succeed there.
44 Mike Minor @LAD (Harang) N/A 61 percent strand rate
Minor has been better so far this year in every conceivable regard, but because of his low strand rate, it is not fully reflected in his 3.10 ERA. He's been even better than that.
45 Danny Duffy @MIN (Pavano) N/A 4.45 pitches per plate appearance (highest in AL)
You have to love Duffy's strikeouts and Week 4 matchup, but his continued lack of efficiency limits his value.
46 Mark Buehrle @NYM (Dickey) ARI (Enright) 74 percent quality starts since 2011
Buehrle doesn't always dazzle, but he rarely turns in a disastrous start. Just what you want from a two-start pitcher.
47 Brandon McCarthy @BAL (Arrieta) N/A 1.3 BB/9 since 2011
McCarthy has been lauded for his improved ground ball tendencies, but his pinpoint control also makes him an asset in Fantasy.
48 Ivan Nova @TEX (Feldman) N/A 21 percent called strike rate
A huge spike in called strikes has made Nova a strikeout-per-inning guy, but it smells of a small sample fluke. Then again, so does his .389 BABIP.
49 Wandy Rodriguez @CIN (Cueto) N/A 3 HR allowed in last six starts at CIN
Rodriguez has had mixed results at Great American Ball Park, but he hasn't been burned by the long ball over the last three years.
50 Bruce Chen TOR (Morrow) @MIN (Liriano) 2.7 BB/9 since 2011
It looks like the wild version of Chen is a thing of the past. With a home start and a game at Target Field this week, even his flyball tendencies won't hurt him.
51 Hiroki Kuroda @TEX (Holland) DET (Scherzer) .348 career opponents' SLG vs. righties
Kuroda's mastery of righties should aid him this week, especially against the Rangers.
52 Lance Lynn @CHC (Volstad) N/A Career 64 percent strikes thrown
Lynn's control was not always sharp as a minor leaguer, but he has had few problems throwing strikes in the majors.
53 Jonathon Niese MIA (Nolasco) N/A 59 percent ground ball rate
Niese's velocity has climbed the last couple of seasons, and a sharp increase in grounders has been one of the benefits.
54 Gavin Floyd @OAK (Milone) BOS (Beckett) 5 line drives out of 46 hit balls
It's been feast or famine for Floyd. He's allowed too many walks and homers, but he has also been very difficult to hit (.230 Avg).
55 Vance Worley @ARI (Collmenter) N/A 22 percent called strike rate
I had doubts that Worley could continue to post an above-average K-rate when he was so dependent on called strikes last year, but he's doing it again.
56 Henderson Alvarez @BAL (Hunter) SEA (Vargas) Career 3.74 pitches per plate appearance
As they showed against Humber on Saturday, the Mariners are not a patient team. Alvarez thrives on efficiency, just like his White Sox counterpart, so enjoy the matchup.
57 Jhoulys Chacin @PIT (Morton) N/A Career .272 BABIP
Chacin still suffers from poor control, but because he doesn't give up many hits, he can get away with it.
58 Philip Humber BOS (Doubront) N/A 6.3 innings per start since 2011
Humber will be something less than perfect against the Red Sox, but owners can usually count on him to stay deep into a game.
59 Chad Billingsley WAS (Gonzalez) N/A One walk in 20 1/3 innings
Not only is Billingsley reversing an extended decline in his whiff rate, but he has also shown surprisingly good command.
60 Bud Norris @MIL (Wolf) N/A 46 Ks in 41 1/3 career innings vs. MIL
Norris doesn't always help with ERA, WHIP or wins, but more often than not, he delivers strikeouts.
61 Max Scherzer SEA (Vargas) @NYY (Kuroda) Career 2.84 ERA vs. NYY
Scherzer has been hit hard so far this season, but at least he has had some success against the Yankees in three past starts.
62 Yu Darvish NYY (Hughes) N/A 31 percent flyball rate
Darvish has yet to show good command of the strike zone, but he has minimized the damage by avoiding flyballs. He has yet to allow his first home run.
63 Trevor Cahill PHI (Hamels) N/A 3 HRs allowed over last 8 starts
Cahill's command has been even spottier than Darvish's, but both pitchers have shared an aversion to the gopher ball.
64 Chris Capuano ATL (Jurrjens) WAS (Zimmermann) 2 career HRs allowed in 28 1/3 innings at Dodger Stadium
Capuano hasn't pitched often at his new home park, but it's one of the few places where he hasn't been homer-prone.
65 Rick Porcello SEA (Noesi) N/A 68 percent strikes thrown
Porcello has taken his command to a new level, making him potentially useful for WHIP, even though he pitches to contact.
66 Kyle Lohse MIL (Greinke) N/A 1.9 BB/9 since 2011
If I'm including Porcello in the Top 70, I have to include Lohse, too. He is succeeding with a similar formula.
67 Matt Harrison TB (Shields) N/A .309 opponents' OBP since 2011
We're on a run now. Harrison is yet another contact pitcher who has helped in Fantasy with improved control and ground ball tendencies.
68 Juan Nicasio @PIT (McDonald) N/A Longest 2012 HR allowed: 393 feet
Five of the 11 runs allowed by Nicasio have come via the home run, but none of the three he has yielded has traveled as far as the average NL homer.
69 Johan Santana SF (Bumgarner) @COL (Guthrie) Opponents' .318 SLG
Santana still has to show that he can rack up innings, but at least he is not getting hurt by extra-base hits.
70 John Danks BOS (Bard) N/A 12.5 percent swinging strike rate
Danks' velocity is down, but hitters are struggling to make contact against him so far.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
RHP Belisario opts for free agency after assigned by White Sox
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:42 pm ET) Reliever Ronald Belisario has chosen free agency over a minor league assignment from the White Sox.

Belisario struggled in 2014 to the tune of a 5.56 ERA and 78 hits allowed in 66 1/3 innings.


White Sox sign OF Tony Campana
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:35 pm ET) The White Sox have signed speedy veteran outfielder Tony Campana to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.

Campana spent brief periods of time with the Diamondbacks and Angels this season and managed just 14 hits in 75 at-bats.


Report: Nats, Doug Fister not making progress in extension talks
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:52 pm ET) The Nationals made pitcher Doug Fister an extension offer in the spring after acquiring him in a trade with the Tigers. Both sides weren't able to agree to terms at the time. According to James Wagner of the Washington Post, both have not made any progress in extension talks "for months"

Fister is entering a contract year after going 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA in 25 starts. He'll make $7.2 million in 2015.


Report: Royals trade RHP Crow to Marlins for lefty Flynn
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:24 pm ET) The Royals have swapped right-hander Aaron Crow to the Marlins for southpaw Brian Flynn, according to Fox Sports Insider Ken Rosenthal, who has further reported that minor league righty Reid Redman is also heading to Kansas City in the trade.

Crow, who had been pitching for Kansas City since 2010, struggled at times in 2014 despite a 6-1 record. His 4.12 ERA was nearly a point higher than what he compiled the previous year. Flynn has pitched in just six major league games over the past two seasons.


RHP Anthony Swarzak opts for free agency
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:04 am ET) Right-handed reliever Anthony Swarzak has declined an assignment by the Twins to Triple-A Rochester in favor of free agency, a team source has told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Swarzak had been a mainstay since 2009 in Minnesota, but struggled in 2014, compiling a 4.60 ERA and allowing 100 hits in 86 innings pitched.


RHP Michael Kohn dispatched by Rays to Durham
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:59 am ET) The Rays have outrighted right-hander Michael Kohn to Triple-A Durham a week after designating him for assignment.

Kohn has twice cleared waivers, but could get a chance in spring training to earn a spot on the 40-man roster or land with the big club.


RHP Jason Frasor staying with Royals
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:46 am ET) The Royals have maintained strength and depth in their bullpen by re-signing right-hander Jason Frasor to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2016. The deal guarantees Frasor $1.7 million

Frasor, who was added in July, sported a 3-0 record and 1.53 ERA in 23 appearances for Kansas City in 2014. He won both his decisions in the postseason.


Report: Melky Cabrera not interested in playing on artificial surface
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:48 am ET) The chances of free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera returning to the Blue Jays aren't looking good, and it may be because of Toronto's playing surface.

According to Buster Olney of ESPN on Thursday, Cabrera's preference is to sign with a team other than the Blue Jays so he doesn't have to play his home games on artificial surface. The Blue Jays play in Rogers Centre, which uses Astroturf Gameday Grass. At home last season, Cabrera slashed .304/.352/.454 with seven home runs and 38 RBI over 273 at-bats.


Shane Victorino: 'I should be the starting right fielder' for Red Sox
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:33 am ET) Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino believes he should be the team's starting right fielder in 2015 amidst a crowded group of contenders, WEEI.com reports.

"If you think there’s somebody better in right, be my guest," Victorino said. "Obviously health will dictate that. But if I’m healthy if there’s a better outfielder in right field then show me and go out there and do it. I’m not saying that in a cocky or arrogant way. It’s just how confident I am to know I should be the starting right fielder. There are things to come into play and situations to be discussed.

"I plan on being healthy and out there and ready to go. Like I said, it’s my job. I don’t think there’s anybody can tell me differently. If they feel there is from an organization’s standpoint it is what it is. As I’ve said, whatever uniform it may be I’m going to go out there and give 100 percent and be the best I can be. Obviously I want it to be a Red Sox uniform and be a right fielder, but I can’t control decisions that are made from up top."

Victorino will swing a bat Monday for the first time since undergoing back surgery. "Everything feels great," he said. "There hasn't been any setbacks."


Report: Tigers, White Sox show interest in Justin Masterson
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11/27/2014) The Tigers and White Sox have joined the Royals, Twins and Cubs as teams to show interest in free-agent pitcher Justin Masterson, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Masterson's agent is scheduled to meet with teams over Thanksgiving weekend. The pitcher struggled in 2014, going 7-9 with a 5.88 ERA in 25 starts.


 
 
 
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