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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
Yankees SP Ivan Nova getting closer to rehab assignment
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:53 am ET) Yankees starting pitcher Ivan Nova (elbow) threw 63 pitches in his sixth extended spring start Thursday, according to the New York Daily News. Nova is slated to make one more extended spring start before beginning a rehab assignment.

Mariners SP Hisashi Iwakuma continues to progress with rehab
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:46 am ET) Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma (lat) played catch again Thursday and is inching closer to throwing off a mound, per The News Tribune.

"He feels real good," manager Lloyd McClendon said, "and we’ll continue to progress with his rehab and see how that goes."

McClendon added, however, he would be "surprised" if Iwakuma can throw a bullpen session within 7-8 days.


Rays RP Kirby Yates makes appearance in extended spring game
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:38 am ET) Rays reliever Kirby Yates (strained right pectoral) threw 16 pitches in one inning during an extended spring game Thursday, according to The Tampa Tribune.

Rays SP Nathan Karns focused on not giving away at-bats
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:32 am ET) Rays starting pitcher Nathan Karns might have taken a loss in his last start Saturday against the A's, but he hasn't allowed more than two runs in his last five starts and he's really happy he has gotten his walk rate under control.

The right-hander had walked 14 batters in his first four starts, which included three outings of four walks. However, he hasn't walked more than two batters in his last five starts. He has a 2.30 ERA in his last five outings after posting a 5.32 ERA in his first four starts.

"I’m not making the mistakes that I made at the beginning of the year," he said, per The Tampa Tribune. "I’m kind of growing and understanding how the game works at this level. I’m just trying to stay on top of throwing strikes and limiting my walks.

"There’s still a lot to work on, but those are the things I’ve focused on: to challenge hitters and not give away free at-bats."


Padres' Bud Black: Ian Kennedy 'bummed' about Thursday's loss
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:09 am ET) After it appeared Padres starting pitcher Ian Kennedy turned the corner in his previous start against the Dodgers, his issues resurfaced in a loss Thursday against the Padres, as he allowed seven runs in 3 2/3 innings.

"He is bummed because he was looking forward to this one,'' manager Bud Black said, per MLB.com. "He got some pitches elevated and they didn't miss them.''

Kennedy has now lost his last four starts and has seen his ERA balloon to 7.15.

"I'm falling behind hitters and it's tough to pitch like that,'' Kennedy said.

The right-hander said the strained left hamstring that landed him on the disabled list is not the reason for his woes. 

"There is definitely no pain,'' he said. 

Kennedy struggled with his fastball command Thursday.

"I don't know if I'm yanking the ball, pushing the ball,'' he said. "I've been up and down and it's very frustrating. My fastball command was all over the place."

Kennedy, who did record his 1,000th career strikeout on Thursday, said he will work with pitching coach Darren Balsley to figure out how to end this slide.

"You have to be as consistent as possible and my career has been about that,'' Kennedy said. "This has been a real test with the way I've pitched."


Pirates SP A.J. Burnett on 5-1 start: 'I'm sticking to the things I do'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:58 am ET) Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett won a fifth straight start Thursday at San Diego, improving to 5-1 with a 1.81 ERA through 10 starts.

Thursday was actually the first time all season the 38-year-old veteran allowed more than two runs in a start, but he's enjoyed a nice turnaround after totaling a career-worst 18 losses in 2014 with the Phillies.

"I'm throwing the same stuff I threw when I was here before, or even last year," Burnett said, per MLB.com. "People are saying I'm doing more because I'm executing more. The difference between the last couple of years and this year is that I'm executing more pitches than I'm not, that's the bottom line. I'm just sticking to the things I do."


Blue Jays recall RP Bo Schultz from Triple-A
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:39 am ET) The Blue Jays recalled reliever Bo Schultz from Triple-A Buffalo on Friday to take the roster spot of Scott Copeland, who was optioned to the minors on Thursday.

Schultz has not made an appearance for Toronto this season. He went 0-1 with a 7.88 ERA in four relief outings for Arizona in 2014.


Tigers' Ausmus expecting Miguel Cabrera (foot) to play Friday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:34 am ET) Angels starting pitcher C.J. Wilson gave Tigers personnel and fans a scare Thursday night when he plunked star Miguel Cabrera with a pitch on his surgically repaired right foot.

Cabrera did hobble around after getting hit and was checked out by trainer Doug Teter, but the veteran slugger remained in the game and gave a thumbs up to manager Brad Ausmus.

"It stings him at first, and it's in an area that's been a problem for him," Ausmus said, per MLB.com. "But I think he realized relatively quickly that his ankle was fine, relatively speaking."

Ausmus said the pitch hit Cabrera around the middle of the foot, and it was closer to the toes than the area where he had offseason surgery to repair a stress fracture that bothered him for most of the second half during the 2014 season. 

Cabrera had one more at-bat in the fifth inning before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. However, it was more because the Tigers were trailing 12-2 than because Cabrera was hurting, per MLB.com.

Ausmus said he expects Cabrera to start Friday, and he will likely be in the lineup at first base.

"He doesn't really like DHing," Ausmus said. "As a matter of fact, he says it's more beneficial for him to be playing first because it keeps the ankle loose."


Indians 2B Jason Kipnis up to 48 hits in May
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:16 am ET) Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis collected two more hits Thursday against the Mariners, giving him 15 multihit games and 48 total hits in May. The 48 hits are the most in May by a Cleveland player since at least 1914, surpassing Bobby Avila's 1954 record of 47, per MLB.com.

Kipnis is the first Indians player to have 48 hits, 28 runs and 20 extra-base hits in a month since July 1936.

Kipnis has a .449/.532/.738/1.270 slash line in 26 May games. He also has three triples, four home runs, 13 doubles, 16 RBI, 14 walks, 28 runs and three stolen bases.

"All winter, I think I kept telling you that he was going to come out with a vengeance," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And that's exactly what it looks like. He's attacking every game. He's in the middle of everything."


Pirates' Gregory Polanco smacks second home run of season Thursday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:55 am ET) Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco connected off Padres starter Ian Kennedy for his second home run of the season during Thursday's 11-5 win over the Padres.

Polanco hit the solo home run in the second inning. He finished the game 2 for 5 with one RBI and one run scored. He is now hitting .247 on the season.

Prior to his performance Thursday, Polanco was hitting .333 with one RBI in his last five games.


 
 
 
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