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Shuffling the Rotations for Week 6

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In a season that has already been marked by numerous pitching injuries, more bad news befell Fantasy owners as they headed into this weekend.

Unexpectedly, Chris Sale was removed from the White Sox's rotation, as he was called to take over the closer's duties for an unspecified period of time. While Sale will retain at least a portion of his value by getting save opportunities, the same cannot be said for Cory Luebke, who was placed on the disabled list and could be headed for elbow surgery.

Balancing out these distressing developments are the returns of Cliff Lee and Doug Fister this week, and the latter hurler even gets rewarded with a two-start week. While he doesn't appear on this week's top 70 list, Andy Pettitte could be back in Fantasy Week 6 (May 7-13) as well, possibly making his season debut for the Yankees this Friday against the Mariners. While his return is not yet a given, even if it were, he should be avoided in standard mixed leagues at least initially, as there are plenty of solid options in the lower part of our rankings. Ross Detwiler, Jake Arrieta and Chris Capuano are just some of the pitchers who are still widely available who could help standard mixed league owners this coming week.

Another pitcher to consider who didn't quite make the cut is Edinson Volquez. He is still available in roughly one-third of the leagues on CBSSports.com, and he has a highly favorable matchup against the Rockies at home. Through their first nine road games, Colorado has scored only 29 times and is hitting .211. Unfortunately, Volquez is likely to be a much greater liability on the road, and he has a second start at Philadelphia. For those in desperate need of a starter who are willing to take on a little risk, Volquez is a 71st pitcher worth considering this week.

Starting Rotation breakdown for Fantasy Week 6
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2 Stat of note
1 Justin Verlander @SEA (Millwood) @OAK (Parker) 2 HRs allowed in 45 1/3 innings
Verlander should continue to avoid the long ball at these two pitcher-friendly venues.
2 Roy Halladay NYM (Niese) SD (Volquez) 10 quality starts in last 12 tries
Even Halladay has blowups like Wednesday's start at Atlanta, but they have been incredibly rare.
3 Clayton Kershaw SF (Vogelsong) N/A 2 BBs or fewer in 14 of last 15 starts
Kershaw should have a strong outing against a struggling Giants lineup that rarely walks.
4 Cole Hamels SD (Wieland) N/A Third straight season with strand rate over 78 percent
Hamels doesn't allow many baserunners, and he is extremely proficient at preventing the ones he does let on from scoring.
5 Jered Weaver @MIN (Liriano) @TEX (Feliz) Career 1.05 WHIP at Target Field
Weaver is not a safe bet at Texas (career 4.55 ERA), but he should more than make up for it with his Minnesota start.
6 Cliff Lee NYM (Gee) N/A Career 1.61 ERA vs. NYM
In Lee's first start back from the DL, he faces a foe he has mastered over four starts since '09.
7 Dan Haren @MIN (Hendriks) N/A 0.98 GO/AO
Haren's mild flyball tendencies have spelled trouble in his home starts, but they shouldn't be a factor at Target Field.
8 Stephen Strasburg @PIT (Correia) N/A 14 whiffs on 101 pitches at LAD on Fri.
Ks haven't been a problem for Strasburg, but he has been missing even more bats recently.
9 James Shields @NYY (Nova) @BAL (Arrieta) Career 3.97 ERA at Yankee Stadium
Shields hasn't fared too badly at the Yankees' current home, and that's the tougher part of his two-start week.
10 CC Sabathia TB (Price) N/A 9 BBs in 43 1/3 innings
Sabathia has been a little homer-prone, but great control has kept his WHIP at a tidy 1.08.
11 Felix Hernandez @NYY (Kuroda) N/A .217 opponents' Avg vs. lefties (entering Sat.)
The King is better against righties, but he is good enough to keep the Yankees' dangerous lefties in check.
12 Ricky Romero @OAK (Parker) @MIN (Hendriks) Opponents' .051 Avg on grounders
Romero's ground ball batting average looks fluky-low, but it's part of an astounding staff-wide trend.
13 Yovani Gallardo CIN (Arroyo) CHC (Samardzija) 2.33 ERA in non-STL starts
Gallardo has gotten clocked in his starts against the Cardinals, but he's been sharp versus everyone else.
14 David Price @NYY (Sabathia) N/A 3.46 ERA at NYY in 2011
Price got roughed up at Yankee Stadium earlier in his career, but he had good results there last season.
15 Ian Kennedy STL (Westbrook) N/A .336 BABIP
Kennedy's 1.31 WHIP is not as pristine as owners would expect, but an undeservedly-high BABIP is to blame.
16 Yu Darvish LAA (Wilson) N/A 1.02 WHIP in last three starts
Since struggling to command the strike zone in his first two starts, Darvish has kept runners off the basepaths.
17 Tommy Hanson @CHC (Samardzija) @STL (Lynn) 51 percent ground ball rate
It's too early to know if Hanson is a changed pitcher, but keeping the ball down has helped limit hitters to two homers and five doubles.
18 Zack Greinke CIN (Cueto) N/A 1 HR allowed in 35 innings
He's probably been a bit lucky in this regard, but Greinke is making up for last season's high home run per flyball ratio.
19 Matt Garza @MIL (Marcum) N/A 11.3 percent swinging strike rate
Garza could have a huge game against a Brewers squad that loves to swing the bat, assuming he is healthy enough to pitch.
20 Madison Bumgarner @ARI (Corbin) N/A 12 percent line drive rate (entering Sat.)
Bumgarner is just starting to get hitters to fan, but he has consistently thwarted hitters' efforts to make hard contact.
21 Jordan Zimmermann @CIN (Latos) N/A 3 BBs in 33 1/3 innings
Zimmermann's command just keeps getting sharper and sharper, making him a top contributor for ERA and WHIP, if not Ks.
22 Drew Smyly @SEA (Vargas) N/A Three consecutive starts with 7 Ks
Smyly's strikeout streak is no fluke; the Rangers and Yankees have been two of his victims.
23 Lance Lynn @ARI (Saunders) ATL (Hanson) No more than 2 BBs issued in every start
Control was not Lynn's strong suit as a prospect, but he has yet to be wild this season.
24 Matt Cain @ARI (Cahill) N/A 3 HRs in last five starts at ARI
Cain gave up a pair of homers in a start this year, but his prior four starts against the Snakes went more smoothly.
25 C.J. Wilson @TEX (Darvish) N/A 3.69 ERA at TEX in 2011
As a Ranger last year, Wilson was superb on the road, but he was solid at home. That's comforting, as he is about to make his first road start in Arlington.
26 Jake Peavy @CLE (Gomez) N/A 2.9 percent home run per flyball ratio
Peavy owns an outrageous 58 percent flyball rate, but at Cleveland, he won't be in peril of getting homered into submission.
27 Justin Masterson CHW (Danks) @BOS (Bard) 63 strikes in 96 pitches at CHW on Thurs.
After three straight starts with fewer than 55 percent strikes thrown, Masterson got his command back in his most recent appearance.
28 Gio Gonzalez @CIN (Leake) N/A 1 HR allowed in last nine starts
Life in the NL is agreeing with Gonzalez, as he has yet to allow a homer as a National.
29 Jon Lester @KC (Chen) N/A Pitched at least 7 innings in four of six starts
Lester has been wilder than usual, but that hasn't stopped him from pitching deep into games.
30 Wandy Rodriguez MIA (Zambrano) @PIT (Burnett) 17 Ks over last 20 innings
After a slow start, Rodriguez is getting his strikeout rate back near its norm.
31 Shaun Marcum CHC (Garza) N/A Four quality starts in five tries
Other than against the lowly Padres, Marcum hasn't been spectacular, but he has been reliable.
32 Ryan Dempster ATL (Delgado) N/A 3.05 xFIP
Dempster can't sustain his crazy sub-1.00 ERA, but with less luck on balls in play, he still profiles as a very effective starter.
33 Doug Fister @SEA (Beavan) @OAK (Milone) Career 2.55 ERA vs. OAK
Fister has never opposed his former team, but he has flourished in 10 starts against the A's.
34 Anibal Sanchez @HOU (P. Clemens) N/A At least 7 Ks in three of five starts
Based on the early returns, Sanchez's strikeout per inning performance last season was not a one-shot deal.
35 Vance Worley SD (Richard) N/A No more than one earned run in four of six starts
Worley may not have the stuff of a typical No. 3 Fantasy SP, but he has pitched like one ever since reaching the majors.
36 Adam Wainwright ATL (Beachy) N/A 9.8 percent swinging strike rate
It's not clear why Wainwright has allowed so many homers, but it's a good sign that he is still getting batters to swing and miss.
37 Josh Johnson @HOU (Harrell) N/A Opponents' .068 Isolated Power
Johnson is sporting a horrific 6.61 ERA and 1.88 WHIP, as he has apparently been sentenced to death by singles.
38 Edwin Jackson @PIT (Burnett) @CIN (Arroyo) 29 Ks in 31 2/3 innings
Jackson's strikeout rates have risen and fallen throughout his career, but could this be the time he establishes some consistency?
39 Erik Bedard WAS (Detwiler) N/A Two earned runs or fewer allowed in every start
It's too bad Bedard can't be counted on to go more than five innings, because he has been very effective over the innings he does pitch.
40 Jonathon Niese @PHI (Halladay) @MIA (Zambrano) 61 percent quality start rate since 2011
Niese has been fairly consistent over the last season-plus, but his quality start rate would likely be even higher if not for a late-season slide in '11.
41 Hiroki Kuroda SEA (Hernandez) N/A Career 2.1 BB/9 rate (entering Sat.)
Kuroda is no more than a mediocre strikeout pitcher, but his consistently solid control means he won't kill you in the WHIP category.
42 Mat Latos WAS (Zimmermann) N/A Opponents' .325 Avg on grounders
Part of Latos' poor start is due to a mediocre strikeout rate, but he has also been victimized by apparent bad luck on ground balls.
43 Brandon Beachy @STL (Wainwright) N/A 17 percent line drive rate since 2011
Not only has Beachy proven to be good at missing bats, but batters have also had a hard time hitting frozen ropes off him.
44 Ted Lilly SF (Zito) COL (Pomeranz) Career 1.05 WHIP at Dodger Stadium
Lilly has been a reliable source of WHIP for years, but he really shines in that category when pitching at home.
45 Johnny Cueto @MIL (Greinke) N/A 66 percent strikes thrown
Cueto isn't throwing as hard as usual this year, but he is getting better with his location and getting batters to take called strikes.
46 Ivan Nova TB (Shields) SEA (Beavan) Career 3.47 ERA vs. TB
In his relatively brief career, Nova has had more success against the Rays than any of his other divisional rivals.
47 Jeremy Hellickson @BAL (Hunter) N/A 46 percent ground ball rate (entering Sat.)
It's still hard to get a bead on what kind of pitcher Hellickson is becoming, but a sharp increase in his ground ball rate may be signaling that another transformation is in progress.
48 Mike Minor @STL (Garcia) N/A 59 percent strand rate (entering Sat.)
Last year, Minor was a BABIP victim; this year, his ERA is bloated by a fluky strand rate. He still looks like he could be a Fantasy star.
49 Philip Humber @CLE (Tomlin) KC (Sanchez) 27 Ks in 25 1/3 innings
Humber as a strikeout artist? It could be for real, as he's throwing his slider far more often with a higher rate of whiffs, according to PitchFX data.
50 Johan Santana @MIA (Buehrle) N/A Eight extra-base hits (seven doubles, one homer)
Hitters might be lucky enough to get a single or a walk off Santana, but that's nearly all he has given up so far.
51 Colby Lewis @BAL (Chen) N/A 5 BBs in 39 1/3 innings
Whether or not Lewis can cure his gopheritis is an unknown, but he has proven that he won't hurt himself with free passes.
52 Brandon McCarthy TOR (Morrow) N/A Career 3.23 ERA at OAK
The Blue Jays would be a challenging matchup for McCarthy in Toronto, but he has been tough to score upon at home.
53 Jaime Garcia ATL (Minor) N/A 2 BBs or fewer in four of six starts
Garcia was too wild on Saturday against the Astros, but that was more of an exception than the norm.
54 Matt Harrison @BAL (Matusz) LAA (Williams) .526 BABIP, last two starts
Even the worst major league pitcher doesn't allow hits on the majority of his balls in play, and Harrison has proven himself to be a solid major leaguer. Chalk this bad run up as a fluke.
55 Josh Beckett CLE (Lowe) N/A Four straight quality starts
Beckett was on a roll before hurting his lat muscle, and if he were healthier, he would rank much higher.
56 Matt Moore @BAL (Matusz) N/A 13 Ks and 3 BBs, last two starts
Moore has been much sharper his last couple of times out, but the Orioles could prove to be a tougher test than the Angels or Mariners.
57 Brandon Morrow @OAK (McCarthy) N/A Pitched six or more innings in every start
It's not clear if Morrow will keep getting Ks, but his control has clearly been better, allowing him to stay in games longer.
58 R.A. Dickey @MIA (Nolasco) N/A 0.33 ERA vs. MIA, last four starts
Dickey has simply dominated the Marlins this year and last.
59 Bartolo Colon DET (Porcello) N/A 12 percent popup rate (entering Sat.)
Colon's move to O.co Coliseum has further enhanced his ability to get easy flyball outs, making him a viable start when he is at home.
60 Gavin Floyd KC (Paulino) N/A Five straight starts with at least 6 Ks
Floyd's newfound ability to get batters to fan is becoming harder to ignore, though there is no precedent for this in his career.
61 Jake Arrieta TEX (Feliz) TB (Shields) 4.12 P/PA
Arrieta's improved command is serving him well, but batters are swinging at fewer offerings, as he piles up his pitch count.
62 Jeff Samardzija ATL (Hanson) @MIL (Gallardo) Only one start with more than 2 BBs
Consistent control is probably not what you expected from Samardzija, but that's been his most reliable asset so far this year.
63 Trevor Cahill SF (Cain) N/A 0.65 HR/9 over last 25 starts
Cahill is not a reliable source of WHIP, but he makes himself Fantasy-relevant in most formats by keeping the ball in the park.
64 Chris Capuano COL (Moyer) N/A 25 Ks over last 25 innings
Capuano is still not trustworthy in most road starts, but getting the Rockies away from Coors Field is a great matchup for nearly any pitcher.
65 Bronson Arroyo @MIL (Gallardo) WAS (Jackson) 3 BBs in 32 2/3 innings
Arroyo is not an advisable start in standard mixed Roto formats, but in Head-to-Head, his disdain for walks is a real boon, especially in a two-start week.
66 Tim Hudson @CHC (Maholm) N/A 13.3 percent swinging strike rate
It's only two games into his season, but Hudson has been relying far more on his cutter, and it's helping him to get more whiffs.
67 Jason Hammel TEX (Holland) N/A 61 percent ground ball rate (entering Sat.)
Hammel's new sinker is making his transition from the NL West to AL East look like a minor league rehab assignment.
68 Ross Detwiler @PIT (Bedard) N/A Opponents' .208 SLG vs. lefties
Detwiler has been tough on everyone, but especially so on lefties, so he just may be able to cool down Pedro Alvarez.
69 Joe Blanton NYM (Batista) N/A 2.95 BABIP
Blanton hasn't posted a normal BABIP since 2009, so many owners have forgotten why he was Fantasy-relevant once upon a time. He appears to be just that once again.
70 Tim Lincecum @LAD (Billingsley) N/A 9 percent line drive rate, last two starts
Lincecum's command is still suspect, but at least he hasn't been hit hard in his recent starts, and he continues to deliver Ks.

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
White Sox P Nate Jones still progressing through Tommy John rehab
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3:50 pm ET) Still working his way back from Tommy John surgery, White Sox pitcher Nate Jones is now throwing from 120 feet on flat ground, according to ESPN Chicago. 

Jones had Tommy John surgery last summer and has taken a patient approach to the rehab process. He won't be able to throw a bullpen session, though, until he begins to throw from 150 feet away. 

Likely to stay in extended spring training through May, Jones is taking his continued recovery day by day. 

“You get out of it what you put into it so boom, from the first day I’ve been getting after it for that day and just making sure I get through that day healthy and check it off and move to the next,” Jones said. “[But] you can’t get going too quickly, that’s when problems start. You have to let the biology of the healing of the body take over when you’re going through this rehab. They talked about that too, just stay the course and not get too far ahead of myself.” 


Big Papi working at 1B in prep for season-opening series in NL park
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:50 pm ET) Red Sox DH David Ortiz is working at first base early in spring training in an effort to be prepared for the season-opening series at Philadelphia.

“We don’t want to not cover that and limit his availability to us,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said, per the Boston Herald. “So three games in Philly in the National League, there’s going to be some time at first base.”

Ortiz, who usually plays less than 10 games per season at first base, hasn't made an error since 2009.

“It's something I'm not really thinking about right now,” Ortiz said. “All I'm worrying about now is timing and hitting. First base is something I do occasionally. Mike Napoli's our first baseman. We all know he's getting ready to play first base. Me in my case, it's just a few times. The basic thing that I do when I play first base, everyone knows, that's why you see me out there a few days doing drills but it's nothing we have to worry about.”


Twins' Molitor receiving good reports on Miguel Sano
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:42 pm ET) Twins manager Paul Molitor hasn't watched much batting practice thus far in spring training, but he keeps hearing good reports about prospect Miguel Sano, per the Pioneer Press.

“I just keep hearing how far balls are going,” Molitor said after Monday’s workout. “It’s fun for people to see. I hope he’s working on his whole game.

“He’s a young kid. But he’s doing fine. It’s good to see him healthy. He hasn’t had any issues with that (surgically repaired) elbow, and that’s what we’re trying to make sure we protect against as spring unfolds.”

While Molitor is pleased with how Sano is doing offensively, he really wants to see how Sano is progressing in the field.

“I was working today on the bunt defenses; he’s trying,” Molitor said. “There are things that are going to be a challenge for him. We’ve got to keep an eye on him. He’s a big boy. He carries it pretty well, but you’ve got to have some athleticism. He’s got to keep that … if he wants to play a corner-infield position in the big leagues, especially third base.”


Phillies' Ben Revere learning to bunt for base hits
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3:38 pm ET) Phillies outfielder and leadoff hitter Ben Revere has been practicing bunting for base hits, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer

Manager Ryne Sandberg said the goal is for Revere to notch 10-to-15 base hits from bunts this upcoming season. A year ago, Revere posted a career-best .306 batting average. Both Revere and Sandberg are hoping if this skill develops that his numbers can increase even more. 

"Just having that is going to put more pressure on the defense," Revere said. "Are we going to come up or are we going to stay back? Because I can slap a line drive right by them that could be for a base hit or a double. The infield won't know what to do."


Kang doesn't see big difference between MLB and KBO pitchers
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:32 pm ET) Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang played three innings at shortstop during Monday's intrasquad game, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He got a putout assist on his one fielding chance and grounded out in his lone plate appearance.

“Step by step, I'm still getting used to it,” Kang said through translator H.K. Kim. “I'm having fun. It'll get better as the spring goes on.”

Kang added he did not see "a big difference" between the pitchers he's hit against in camp compared to those he played against in the Korea Baseball Organization.


Mariners P Jordan Pries impresses manager Lloyd McClendon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3:22 pm ET) Though Mariners pitcher Jordan Pries isn't expected to break with the club out of camp, manager Lloyd McClendon had some positive things to say about his start to spring training

“I’ve been impressed,” McClendon said, via The News Tribune. “He’s been a strike-thrower. He shows a lot of poise. I’m excited about him being at the Triple-A level.”

Pries is expected to head to Triple-A Tacoma when spring training is over. In the minors a year ago, Pries went 9-8 and posted a 4.06 ERA.




Mets' Warthen: Matt Harvey could have pitched at end of last year
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:22 pm ET) Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen admitted Monday starting pitcher Matt Harvey could have returned from Tommy John surgery last season, per NJ.com. But the team kept him out all year because there was no point in activating him off the disabled list late in the year.

"I thought that he could have even pitched at the end of last year and I think that Matt thought he was ready," Warthen said. "I think that we made the right decision. It would have done us no good but he was ready to pitch then."

Harvey, who had Tommy John surgery in Oct. 2013, will make his spring debut Friday against the Tigers. He is slated to throw 35-40 pitches.

"That's the best possible time to a little bit longer," Warthen said of a 17 1/2-month timeframe for a return from Tommy John surgery. "And that has to draw into it as well because the guys that have waited for 17 and a half months have been able to go 200 innings and not been hurt the next year and go 200 the next year and the next year and the next year. So that was part of our thinking. And also, we weren't going anywhere. We weren't going to win anything. Don't take a chance."


Mariners P Hisashi Iwakuma hits OF Gabriel Guerrero in batting practice
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3:16 pm ET) Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma was forced to throw a modified batting practice since rain canceled a scheduled intrasquad scrimmage. Iwakuma got his work in by throwing to batters that were not allowed to swing since they were in a confined area.

However, Iwakuma didn't live up to his end of the bargain as he accidentally hit outfielder Gabriel Guerrero with a pitch during the session

“It was a split-finger [fastball] that just kind of slipped out of my finger,” Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki, via The News Tribune. “I felt kind of bad for [Guerrero].”

Iwakuma's first scheduled start of spring training is slated for this Saturday against the Diamondbacks. 


Padres' Will Middlebrooks to get reps at first base this spring
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:14 pm ET) Padres third baseman Will Middlebrooks said he will eventually get reps at first base this spring, according to MLB.com. He said manager Bud Black told him to "to take 100 percent of your reps at third and 20 percent at first base."

Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar (elbow) might start season on DL
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:00 pm ET) Royals manager Ned Yost indicated Monday pitcher Luke Hochevar, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, might start the year on the disabled list. However, he probably won't be on there for long, per The Kansas City Star.

“If he’s not ready for opening day, it’s going to be real soon afterwards," Yost said.


 
 
 
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