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Shuffling the Rotations for Week 5

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One month into the season, the Top 70 doesn't look quite the way that many would have imagined it on opening day.

Ubaldo Jimenez, Clay Buchholz and Francisco Liriano have not given owners much of value, and even at this early stage, they are too risky to start in standard mixed leagues. Some may put Tim Lincecum in the same category, though I have enough hope for him returning to his elite level of production to wedge him into this week's ranking, albeit in the lowly 68th spot. You may also not have expected to see rotation newbies like Chris Sale, Lance Lynn or Drew Smyly on our list of viable starters for standard mixed leagues, but all three make an appearance this week.

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Cliff Lee's name was gracing the very top of this list last week ... that is, until he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an oblique strain. He is absent once again on the list for Fantasy Week 5 (April 30-May 6), but there is a chance that he could be activated for a Friday start against the Nationals. Should the Phillies commit to activating Lee this week prior to Monday's lineup deadline, Lee returns to must-start status, but owners may have to wait until Fantasy Week 6 (May 7-13) to start him again.

Another pitcher not making the list is Jeff Samardzija, though the last spot came down to him and Jason Hammel. Both have been pleasant surprises, and both have two-start weeks ahead, but I opted to give the edge to Hammel, who has the longer track record of success. The last one-start pitcher to get whacked from the list was -- believe it or not -- A.J. Burnett, who handled the Cardinals and Braves in his first starts back from the DL.

But enough about the pitchers who didn't make the cut ... here are the 70 who are safe to use in standard mixed leagues this week.

Starting Rotation breakdown for Fantasy Week 5
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2 Stat of note
1 Cole Hamels @ATL (Beachy) @WAS (Zimmermann) Has issued more than one walk in only one of last eight starts
Hamels is getting more whiffs so far this season, and he has issued a total of just three walks.
2 C.J. Wilson MIN (Blackburn) TOR (Drabek) Career 3.02 ERA at Angel Stadium of Anaheim
Wilson's had only one home start so far, but he has fared well at his new park over his career.
3 Felix Hernandez @TB (Hellickson) MIN (Marquis) 91.7 mph average fastball velocity
Hernandez is throwing with less gas this year, but he's getting more called strikes on his fastball and slider.
4 Matt Cain MIA (Nolasco) MIL (Wolf) 19 percent infield fly rate
Cain's command has been razor-sharp, and he hasn't allowed much hard contact.
5 Justin Verlander KC (Mendoza) N/A 0.91 WHIP since 2011
Friday's start against the Yankees was the first this season in which Verlander allowed more hits than innings pitched.
6 Jered Weaver MIN (Hendriks) N/A Career 0.8 HR/9 at home
Weaver can be homer-prone in other venues, but he does a great job of keeping the ball from leaving Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
7 Clayton Kershaw @COL (Pomeranz) N/A 59 percent ground ball rate
The ability to induce grounders was the one area where Kershaw hadn't excelled ... until now.
8 Roy Halladay @ATL (Hanson) N/A 12 percent swinging strike rate
Halladay isn't getting many Ks yet, but he is still getting lots of swings-and-misses.
9 Jordan Zimmermann ARI (Cahill) PHI (Hamels) .277 opponents SLG
Zimmermann has pitched to contact, but he has allowed only two flyball base hits through his first four starts.
10 Zack Greinke @SF (Bumgarner) N/A .387 BABIP
Greinke is likely to give up far fewer hits on balls in play going forward, helping to reduce his 4.56 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.
11 James Shields SEA (Beavan) N/A Career 3.38 ERA at home
The Mariners have been scoring runs this year, but Shields is still tough to beat at the Trop.
12 Ian Kennedy @WAS (Detwiler) N/A 68 percent strikes thrown (entering Sat.)
Kennedy became a very good control pitcher last season, and he hasn't given back any of his gains.
13 Stephen Strasburg PHI (Kendrick) N/A 10 consecutive starts without a HR allowed (entering Sat.)
The Phillies have been power-deprived this year, so Strasburg should continue to keep the gopher ball at bay.
14 David Price OAK (Ross) N/A 1.2 GO/AO ratio
Price is on pace to post his third straight season with an increase in ground ball rate.
15 Josh Johnson @SD (Bass) N/A .293 opponents' Avg on grounders
The Marlins' infield defense hasn't been very good, but Johnson is unlikely to give up so many ground ball base hits from here on out.
16 Brandon Beachy PHI (Hamels) @COL (Nicasio) 49 percent ground ball rate
Beachy established himself as a flyball pitcher last year, but if he can continue this season's ground ball trend, he can escape Coors Field unscathed.
17 Adam Wainwright PIT (Morton) @HOU (Norris) 2.88 xFIP
Wainwright's xFIP shows that if his early homer binge was indeed a fluke, he is back to being the elite hurler he was before Tommy John surgery.
18 CC Sabathia @KC (Chen) N/A 60 percent strand rate
Sabathia's peripherals are not much different than usual, but he's just had trouble leaving runners on base, which bodes well for a turnaround.
19 Shaun Marcum @SD (Volquez) N/A Career 7.9 K/9 in first half
Marcum's late-season troubles a year ago were nothing new; he has helped more with strikeouts earlier in the year throughout his career.
20 Matt Garza LAD (Billingsley) N/A Career 2.34 ERA at Wrigley Field
Garza's move to the Friendly Confines last season hasn't hurt him one bit, as he has held hitters to a combined .217 batting average there.
21 Dan Haren TOR (Morrow) N/A Opponents' .533 Avg on balls in air (entering Sat.)
Haren has a lower-than-average line drive rate, so his luck on airborne balls in play should improve.
22 Yovani Gallardo @SD (Luebke) N/A 28 Ks in 21 1/3 career innings vs. SD
Gallardo got clubbed by the Cardinals on Friday, but he should have a much easier time with the Padres in Week 5.
23 Chris Sale CLE (Jimenez) @DET (Below) 65 percent strikes thrown
Sale has actually shown stronger command of the strike zone in his four starts than in his 94 1/3 innings of relief work.
24 Yu Darvish @TOR (Drabek) @CLE (Jimenez) Opponents' .069 Isolated Power
For those unfamiliar with Isolated Power, Darvish has essentially turned the average opposing hitter into Jamey Carroll.
25 Mat Latos @PIT (McDonald) N/A 15 percent line drive rate since 2010
Hitters are connecting off Latos more often this year, but he has a consistent ability to avoid hard contact.
26 Tommy Hanson PHI (Halladay) N/A Career 2.23 ERA vs. PHI
Hanson has kept the Phillies in check over seven previous starts, and this is far from the toughest Phils' lineup that he has had to face.
27 Madison Bumgarner MIL (Greinke) N/A 7.8 percent swinging strike rate
Bumgarner is getting fewer whiffs overall, but he's still getting them on his fastball and curveball; it's mainly his slider that's been more hittable.
28 Josh Beckett BAL (Hunter) N/A 92 mph fastball velocity on Tues. vs. MIN
Beckett's K-rate has been dragged down by just one start, but it's also encouraging to see that his velocity rebounded in his start against the Twins.
29 Vance Worley CHC (Volstad) @WAS (Gonzalez) Allowed 5 RBI on 4 HRs
Worley has been a bit lucky that there haven't been more men on base when he has allowed homers this year, but his xFIP is still just 3.11.
30 Anibal Sanchez @SF (Vogelsong) N/A 3.3 K/BB since 2011 (entering Sat.)
The control issues that often plagued Sanchez over the first five years of his career appear to be long gone.
31 Gio Gonzalez PHI (Worley) N/A Has not allowed an ER in 20 straight innings
Gonzalez is bound to regress to the mean, but lately it's been hard to find a flaw in his game.
32 Cory Luebke MIL (Gallardo) N/A 12 Ks over last 21 innings
It's a small sample but still a trend worth tracking. Are hitters starting to figure Luebke out?
33 Johnny Cueto @PIT (Correia) N/A Career 2.70 ERA vs. PIT
The Pirates have scored the fewest runs in the majors, so Cueto should continue his pattern of mastery against them.
34 Matt Moore SEA (Noesi) OAK (Milone) 72 strikes in 100 pitches on Thurs. vs. LAA
Moore is still struggling with efficiency, but his improved command in his most recent start was good to see.
35 Jeremy Hellickson SEA (Hernandez) OAK (Colon) .221 BABIP
Hellickson led the majors with an ultra-low .224 BABIP a year ago, and improbably, he has an even lower rate now.
36 Brandon McCarthy @BOS (Bard) N/A Allowed 2 ER or fewer in 5 of 6 starts
McCarthy doesn't have flashy stats, but since last season, he has become remarkably consistent.
37 Jon Lester BAL (Chen) N/A 17 percent foul ball rate
Don't fret about Lester's 6.0 K/9; it's a 13 percent decrease in foul balls that has been the biggest contributor to his drop in strikeouts.
38 Hiroki Kuroda BAL (Hammel) @KC (Sanchez) 67 percent quality start rate since 2010
Kuroda is just an average strikeout pitcher, but he does everything else well enough to be a reliable start in most weeks.
39 Erik Bedard @STL (Westbrook) N/A 10 percent swinging strike rate on April 22 vs. STL
Whiffs have been harder to come by for Bedard this year, but he had success against the Cardinals and he gets them again in Week 5.
40 Colby Lewis @CLE (Gomez) N/A Career 26.7 AB per HR allowed vs. lefties
Lewis gives up plenty of long balls to lefties, but he's actually a little stingier than he is against righties (26.2 AB per HR). That's mild good news for his start vs. CLE.
41 R.A. Dickey @HOU (Norris) ARI (Cahill) 5 BBs in 30 2/3 career innings vs. HOU
Dickey's emergence as a control pitcher has made him Fantasy-relevant and he has been especially sharp against the Astros.
42 Lance Lynn PIT (Burnett) N/A Has allowed one run in 5 of 6 career starts
Lynn has been succeeding by getting batters to take called strikes at an extremely high level. He should succeed against the Pirates, even though they have a free-swinging lineup.
43 Wandy Rodriguez NYM (Schwinden) N/A 8 BBs in 31 1/3 innings
Rodriguez has been unusually stingy with walks this year, though the Mets -- the NL leader in walk rate -- will test him.
44 Justin Masterson @CHW (Danks) N/A 3.63 pitches per plate appearance
Masterson has had issues with his command this season, but oddly enough, he has been more efficient on a per-batter basis than ever.
45 Mark Buehrle ARI (Corbin) @SD (Richard) 3.62 runs of support per nine innings
Buehrle has pitched well enough to earn Ws in all of his starts, but only seven NL starters have received less run support.
46 Ricky Romero TEX (Harrison) N/A Career 0.92 ERA vs. TEX
With a diminished K-rate and a tough opponent, this might look like a bad week to start Romero, but he has thrived in four prior starts agaisnt the Rangers.
47 Jaime Garcia @HOU (Lyles) N/A .304 opponents' ground ball Avg
Garcia's K's are down, but it's the ground ball base hits that have been killing his WHIP. Improvement is likely on the way.
48 Derek Holland @CLE (Lowe) N/A Career 2.55 ERA vs. CLE
For Holland more than most pitchers, it's all about the matchup. He's had past success against the Indians and should continue the trend.
49 Jonathon Niese @HOU (Happ) N/A .105 flyball BABIP
Niese would have had much better results in 2011 if not for a high rate of in-the-park flyball hits, but his rate has normalized so far this year.
50 Mike Minor PIT (McDonald) @COL (Moyer) 0.9 GO/AO
Minor is an improved pitcher this year, but with some mild flyball tendencies, he could have a rough start at Colorado.
51 Jake Peavy @DET (Smyly) N/A 75 percent strand rate
Peavy would have likely posted sub-4.00 ERAs in each of the last two years if he had stranded more runners, but that's not been a problem in 2012.
52 Ricky Nolasco @SF (Cain) @SD (Wieland) 54 percent quality start rate since 2011
Nolasco has yet to prove himself as a reliable standard mixed league option, but with two mediocre offenses on his plate, he can be trusted this coming week.
53 Drew Smyly CHW (Peavy) N/A 22 Ks in 22 innings
Smyly stranded every one of his baserunners for the month of April, but even if he hadn't, he would have had a sensational start to his big league career.
54 Juan Nicasio LAD (Harang) ATL (Beachy) Career .235 Avg vs. righties
The Braves will be a tough assignment for Nicasio, but his track record against righties provides hope that he can shut down Matt Kemp and the Dodgers.
55 Jeff Niemann SEA (Millwood) N/A 3.29 xFIP (entering Sat.)
Niemann's strikeout and ground ball rates have soared in the early going, and only a 62 percent strand rate has hurt his ERA.
56 Ivan Nova BAL (Arrieta) N/A Career 3.34 ERA vs. BAL
Nova hasn't always had success in his home starts, but with the third-lowest team batting average in the AL, the Orioles should provide few challenges.
57 Johan Santana ARI (Corbin) N/A 12.5 percent swinging strike rate
Santana's fastball might sit in the upper 80s, but he can still get batters to fan with regularity.
58 Bronson Arroyo CHC (Samardzija) @PIT (Morton) 3.20 pitches per plate appearance
Arroyo has always pitched with economy, but he leads the majors with a ridiculously-low P/PA ratio, which helps him to rack up innings.
59 Bud Norris NYM (Dickey) STL (Wainwright) Career opponents' .240 Avg at home
Norris has allowed homers more often at Minute Maid Park than on the road, but he's been more effective at home, as he has held batters to a low batting average.
60 Bartolo Colon @TB (Hellickson) N/A Career 3.31 ERA at Tropicana Field
Colon is still something of a risk in stadiums geared for offense, but he is safe to start when he pitches in Tampa Bay.
61 Trevor Cahill @WAS (Zimmermann) @NYM (Dickey) 6 BBs in last 3 starts (18 1/3 innings)
Cahill owns an ugly 4.4 BB/9, but that's weighed down by his wild first start. He's better than his overall stat line indicates.
62 Brandon Morrow @LAA (Haren) N/A 8 BBs in 32 2/3 innings
Morrow finally got some Ks on Saturday against the Mariners. Even if he doesn't keep that up, his control has been impressive so far.
63 Kyle Lohse @HOU (Harrell) N/A Nine consecutive quality starts
Is this a new Lohse? During his quality start streak, which dates back to 2011, he has struck out 42 batters while walking only 10.
64 Chad Billingsley @CHC (Garza) N/A Career 0.7 HR/9
Whatever shortcomings Billingsley has had in recent years, he has always been stingy with homers. That's bad news for the Cubs, who rank last in the majors in the category.
65 Jason Vargas MIN (Pavano) N/A Career 3.57 ERA at Safeco Field
Vargas is often safe to use for his home starts, but that's especially true this week, since he is facing a power-deprived Twins lineup.
66 Ryan Dempster @CIN (Leake) N/A 23 Ks in 20 1/3 innings
Dempster (quad) is expected to be activated from the DL for Thursday's start, and he should pick up where he left off.
67 Tim Hudson @COL (Moscoso) N/A .331 opponents' SLG in 2011
It remains to be seen how rusty Hudson (back) will be coming off the DL, but he has been a reliable Fantasy start for years and deserves a chance in Week 5.
68 Tim Lincecum MIL (Estrada) N/A 24 Ks in 18 2/3 innings
Despite diminished velocity, Lincecum continues to give owners strikeouts. There hasn't been much else, so he's a low-end option for standard mixed leagues for now.
69 Tommy Milone @BOS (Buchholz) @TB (Moore) 44 percent ground ball rate
Milone is good at inducing infield flies, but he is also showing an improved ability to get grounders over his first four starts.
70 Jason Hammel @NYY (Kuroda) @BOS (Buchholz) 94 mph average fastball velocity
Hammel is throwing harder than he did earlier in his career, and it's probably not a coincidence that he is posting a career-high swinging strike rate.

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
Giants, right-hander Jake Peavy strike 2-year, $24M deal
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:25 am ET) Right-hander Jake Peavy, who went 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA for the Giants after an in-season trade from Boston, agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal by the world champs, CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman confirmed early Friday.

Peavy did not duplicate his regular-season success during the postseason, going 1-2, including 0-2 with a 12.79 ERA in the World Series. Before the trade, Peavy was 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA for the Red Sox.

For his career, Peavy is 139-111 with a 3.53 ERA and 2,027 strikeouts over 13 seasons.


Report: Padres continue to talk to Braves about Justin Upton
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:15 am ET) The Padres continue to talk to the Braves about outfielder Justin Upton, according to Bleacher Report's Scott Miller.

Despite the fact that the Padres acquired both Matt Kemp and Wil Myers on Thursday, the team may not be done yet. It's unclear where Upton would fit into the team's plans, but he would be a clear upgrade over whoever the club is planning to start in center field. If the team were to acquire Upton, one of that trio would be pushed into action in center. While Kemp has experience at the position, he's not considered a strong defender. 

The 27-year-old Upton is coming off a season in which he hit .270/.342/.491 over 566 at-bats.


Report: Rangers showing interest in Brandon Beachy
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Rangers have shown interest in pitcher Brandon Beachy, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Beachy is coming off Tommy John surgery, but multiple teams are said to have interest in signing him. The 28-year-old has a 3.23 career ERA over 267 2/3 innings, but underwent his second Tommy John surgery in March. Beachy's representative, Robert Martin said Beachy has multiple offers, but doesn't believe a decision is imminent. 


Report: Athletics sending Derek Norris to Padres
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Athletics have agreed to trade catcher Derek Norris to the Padres, according to the New York Daily News.

After dealing Yasmani Grandal to Los Angeles in the Matt Kemp deal, the Padres were in need of a new backstop. It didn't take long for them to replace Grandal, as the team acquired Norris shortly after the Kemp deal went through.

Pitcher Seth Streich will also head to the Padres in the deal, according to FoxSports.com The 23-year-old posted a 3.16 ERA over 114 innings in High A last season.

The 25-year-old Norris is coming off a season in which he hit .270/.361/.403 over 385 at-bats. Norris is under team control through the 2018 season.

The Athletics are expected to receive pitchers Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez in the deal, according to Yahoo! The 24-year-old Alvarez posted a 1.25 ERA over 43 1/3 innings at Double-A last year.

Hahn, 25, posted a 3.07 ERA over 73 1/3 innings in the majors last year. He was excellent in Double-A, posting a 1.91 ERA in 42 1/3 innings before being called up.


Padres, Rays and Nationals complete Wil Myers trade
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Padres, Rays and Nationals have completed a trade that will send Wil Myers to San Diego, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The deal had been in the works for a few days, but was finally agreed to late Thursday night. Myers, 24, will head to the Padres in the deal. He hit .222/.294/.320 over 325 at-bats with the Rays last season. Myers also missed time due to a wrist injury. 

The Padres will also receive catcher Ryan Hanigan and pitchers Gerardo Reyes and Jose Castillo in the deal. 

Tampa Bay will receive outfielder Steven Souza and pitcher Travis Ott from the Nationals. Souza, 25, hit .345/.427/.577 in 357 at-bats spread over three levels last year. 

The Rays will also receive catcher Rene Rivera, first baseman Jake Bauers and pitcher Burch Smith from San Diego.

Washington is set to acquire pitcher Joe Ross from San Diego. The team will also receive infielder Trea Turner in the deal. Turner was a 2014 draft pick, and cannot be traded until midseason, so he's currently considered a player to be named later.


Phillies to send Jimmy Rollins to Dodgers
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Phillies have completed a trade that will send shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers, confirms CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. News that the deal was finally going through was initially reported by Yahoo!

The deal has been in place for some time, but was dependent on a separate Dodgers deal going through. The Dodgers will send pitcher Zach Eflin to Philadelphia as part of the Rollins trade, but first needed to acquire Eflin from the Padres in the Matt Kemp deal. The Dodgers and Padres finally reached an agreement late Thursday night, meaning Eflin could finally be sent to Philadelphia. The 20-year-old Eflin posted a 3.80 ERA in 128 innings at High A last year.

Rollins, 36, hit .243/.323/.394 over 538 at-bats last season. He's in the final year of his contract, and is set to make $11 million next year.


Dodgers complete Matt Kemp deal with Padres
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Dodgers and Padres have agreed to a deal that will send outfielder Matt Kemp to San Diego, confirms CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. News that the deal had finally come together was first reported by Yahoo!

The trade has been in the works for some time, but was dependent on Kemp passing a physical. It was reported early Thursday that Kemp's physical revealed arthritic hips. The Padres had to to figure out insurance on the contract, which is why it took so long for the deal to go through.

Catcher Tim Federowicz will also head to San Diego in the deal. The Dodgers will send $32 million over as well. 

In return, Los Angeles is set to receive catcher Yasmani Grandal and pitcher Joe Weiland and Zach Eflin. Eflin is expected to be flipped to Philadelphia for shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

The 30-year-old Kemp hit .287/.346/.506 over 541 at-bats last year. Kemp is set to earn a little over $21 million in each of the next five seasons. 


Rockies seeking veteran right-handers to fill out rotation
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Rockies are looking at a number of veteran right-handers to fill out the rotation, according to MLB.com.

Kevin Correia, Aaron Harang, Josh Johnson and Kyle Kendrick have all been considered by the club. With Johnson reportedly signing a deal with the Padres, that leaves the other three as options for the club. Though the team is said to be interested in all three players, it has not engaged in serious conversations with any of them. 


Cubs agree to sign Anthony Carter
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Cubs have signed reliever Anthony Carter to a minor-league deal, according to MLBTradeRumors.com.

Carter spent last season in Japan, pitching for the Nippon Ham Fighters. He posted a 3.97 ERA over 45 1/3 innings. 


Padres to sign Josh Johnson
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Padres are set to sign pitcher Josh Johnson to a one-year deal, confirms CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Yahoo initially reported the two sides were on the verge of a deal.

Johnson will make a base salary under $2 million, but can earn as much as $8 million due to incentives. Given his recent injury issues, it's assumed those incentives will revolve around both his numbers and his ability to remain healthy. Johnson signed with San Diego last season, but was unable to pitch after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The team declined his option during the offseason, but showed interest in re-signing Johnson to a lesser deal.

Johnson posted a 6.20 ERA in 81 1/3 innings with Toronto in 2013. 


 
 
 
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