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Top 70 starters for Week 7

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Interleague play won't be the only quirk in Fantasy for the coming scoring period.

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With every team playing a seven-game schedule in Fantasy Week 7 (May 14-20), there will be no shortage of two-start pitching options. That means that some pitchers, like Hiroki Kuroda, Trevor Cahill, Bud Norris and Ted Lilly, who would often be viable in standard mixed leagues with one start, are not among the most advisable options this time around. Meanwhile, there are some new faces in this week's top 70, like Wade Miley, Anthony Bass, Jeanmar Gomez and Wei-Yin Chen, who were included due to their two-start status.

One of the tougher pitchers to place in this week's rankings was Chris Sale. In the span of two weeks, he went from being a key part of the White Sox's rotation, to being moved to the closer's role, to having an MRI on his elbow, and finally being reinserted in the rotation as if nothing ever happened. All of the drama may have affected Sale in his start against the Royals on Saturday night, but given how good he had been in his first five starts, he still merits a spot on this week's list, down at number 46.

Here's the rundown on trends for Sale and the 69 other top options for Week 7.

Starting Rotation breakdown for Fantasy Week 7
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2 Stat of note
1 Clayton Kershaw ARI (Kennedy) STL (Westbrook) 3 of 5 HRs allowed hit at Coors Field
Subtract out Kershaw's lone start at Colorado, and his season ERA is just 1.88.
2 Cliff Lee HOU (Lyles) BOS (Beckett) No walks in six out of last nine starts
Incredibly, Lee's laser-like control just keeps getting sharper.
3 Stephen Strasburg SD (Bass) BAL (Chen) Ranks third in the majors with 10.4 K/9 (entering Sat.)
Strasburg continues to live up to the hype ... and he gets the Padres this week.
4 Zack Greinke @NYM (Gee) MIN (Marquis) Allowed 2 ER or fewer in five of seven starts
Greinke can get clobbered at times, but don't let that overshadow his largely steady pattern of performances.
5 Yovani Gallardo @NYM (Batista) MIN (Pavano) Career 2.48 ERA vs. MIN
Gallardo has faced the Twins four times in interleague play, and he has handled their lineup with little stress.
6 CC Sabathia @BAL (Chen) CIN (Cueto) 53 Ks in 51 1/3 innings
If not for a lower-than-normal strand rate, Sabathia would be on pace for his lowest ERA (2.71 xFIP) in four years.
7 Ian Kennedy @LAD (Kershaw) @KC (Chen) .217 BABIP on flyballs
With a 1.28 WHIP, Kennedy is not matching last year's pristine mark, but he should give up fewer flyball hits going forward.
8 David Price @TOR (Alvarez) ATL (Hudson) 30 1/3 innings pitched over last four starts
After some early struggles with efficiency, Price has been going very deep into games.
9 Justin Verlander PIT (Morton) N/A 13.0 percent infield fly rate
Verlander's low BABIP from a season ago looked fluky, but this year's .255 rate may be more sustainable.
10 Jered Weaver @SD (Suppan) N/A Six quality starts in seven tries
Even when Weaver has been less than spectacular, he has been good enough to win in nearly every start.
11 Roy Halladay @CHC (Volstad) N/A 7.4 K/9 over last five starts (entering Sat.)
Some have lamented Halladay's relative lack of velocity, but he has been getting whiffs and Ks at near-normal levels of late.
12 Adam Wainwright @SF (Cain) N/A 4.9 K/BB (entering Sat.)
Wainwright's command has been as sharp as ever, so as long as he can avoid homers, he will be solid.
13 Cole Hamels BOS (Bard) N/A 34 percent flyball rate
Hamels has traded some grounders for liners in his early starts, but he's still stingy with flyballs and long balls (3 HRs allowed).
14 Felix Hernandez @CLE (Jimenez) N/A At least 6 Ks in seven of eight starts
Regardless of the difficulty of the matchup, King Felix continues to come up big with strikeouts.
15 Anibal Sanchez PIT (Lincoln) @CLE (Gomez) 51 percent ground ball rate
Sanchez's 46 Ks in 40 1/3 innings have been drawing attention, but grounders have been a big part of his success, too.
16 Josh Johnson PIT (Correia) @CLE (Lowe) 3.78 pitches per plate appearance
Johnson has improved his efficiency this year, and that will come in handy against a patient Indians' lineup.
17 Drew Smyly @CHW (Danks) PIT (Burnett) 10.9 percent swinging strike rate
Smyly should add to his already-impressive strikeout total with starts against a pair of teams that whiff a lot.
18 Jake Peavy DET (Scherzer) @CHC (Maholm) 2.6 percent HR/flyball ratio
Peavy's crazy-low homer rate on flyballs is bound to regress, but it probably won't happen against a power-deprived Cubs squad, even at Wrigley Field.
19 Gio Gonzalez PIT (Bedard) N/A 2.77 xFIP
Sure, Gonzalez has been lucky to amass a 1.94 ERA, but xFIP says he has still been good enough to boast a legitimate sub-3.00 mark.
20 James Shields ATL (Hanson) N/A 8.7 K/9 in interleague games
Shields gets a tough assignment this week, but NL batters have struck out against him more frequently than their AL counterparts.
21 C.J. Wilson CHW (Sale) N/A 0.94 WHIP at home
How will Wilson respond after making starts in back-to-back games? Time will tell, but at least he gets to head back to his home park.
22 Jordan Zimmermann PIT (McDonald) N/A Quality starts recorded in first 6 GS
Zimmermann is efficient, effective and highly consistent.
23 Yu Darvish OAK (Milone) N/A .339 opponents' SLG vs. lefties
Darvish has been good at limiting extra-base hits against left-handed hitters, so he could shut down the A's lefty-heavy lineup.
24 Matt Cain STL (Wainwright) N/A 68 percent strikes thrown (entering Sat.)
Only Bartolo Colon, Bronson Arroyo and Cliff Lee have been in the zone more often, so Cain is officially a control artist.
25 Madison Bumgarner STL (Garcia) N/A 16 Ks over last 20 2/3 innings
Initially this year, Bumgarner had a hard time missing bats, but he's been a better strikeout pitcher lately.
26 Matt Garza PHI (Worley) N/A Career 0.96 ERA vs. PHI
Garza has already dominated the Phillies once this year, but he has made a habit of shutting them down over four past starts.
27 Johnny Cueto @ATL (Hudson) @NYY (Sabathia) Career 3.08 ERA vs. ATL
Cueto has never pitched at Yankee Stadium, but even if he struggles, his history suggests that he can have a good start against the Braves.
28 Brandon Beachy MIA (Nolasco) N/A 45 percent ground ball rate (entering Sat.)
Beachy hasn't been a strikeout pitcher so far, but he has remained effective by not getting hit hard.
29 Doug Fister MIN (Walters) N/A No more than one walk in 13 of last 14 starts (entering Sat.)
The Twins aren't averse to taking free passes, but Fister hasn't been issuing walks to anyone.
30 Dan Haren OAK (Ross) @SD (Stauffer) Career 1.04 WHIP vs. OAK
Haren is a bit risky coming off of a stiff back, but he has two highly favorable matchups ahead.
31 Jon Lester SEA (Vargas) @PHI (Blanton) 4.8 percent swinging strike rate, last two starts
Lester is still viable as a weekly start, but his recent low whiff rate is something to monitor.
32 Ryan Dempster @STL (Westbrook) CHW (Danks) 33 Ks in last 37 1/3 innings vs. STL
The Cardinals have been one of the tougher matchups in the NL, but Dempster has racked up Ks against them.
33 Johan Santana CIN (Leake) N/A 1.90 home ERA
Santana has had some hiccups on the road, but he has been superb in his four starts at Citi Field.
34 Shaun Marcum @HOU (Happ) N/A No earned runs in 14 innings at HOU
Marcum can be homer-prone, but at hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park, he has a spotless record.
35 Lance Lynn @LAD (Lilly) N/A Fewer hits allowed than innings in each start
Lynn has had some BABIP help, but frequent Ks and grounders have also been key to his 0.85 WHIP.
36 Mat Latos @NYM (Dickey) N/A 24 Ks over last 25 innings (entering Sat.)
His season stats are still dragged down by his first two starts, but make no mistake, Latos is still a strikeout machine.
37 Ricky Romero NYM (Niese) N/A Career 1.88 ERA in interleague games
Romero has been outstanding in nine starts against NL teams, and five of those have been against the Phillies (three) and the Cardinals (two).
38 Jason Hammel NYY (Nova) @WAS (Detwiler) Two runs or fewer in every start
Hammel has already faced the Yankees and Red Sox once and the Blue Jays twice, so it's not as if he is sprucing up his stats against weak teams.
39 Brandon Morrow TB (Niemann) NYM (Batista) Opponents' .201 Avg
Morrow has stymied most of his foes so far, but then again, only two of his seven starts have been against AL East competition.
40 Jeff Niemann @TOR (Morrow) ATL (Delgado) 16.6 percent line drive rate since 2010
It's no accident that Niemann posts better-than-average WHIPs; he is consistently good at avoiding hard contact on balls in play.
41 Tim Hudson CIN (Cueto) @TB (Price) 67 percent ground ball rate
Hudson was not quite as masterful at inducing grounders last year, but his sinker is working wonders again.
42 Tommy Hanson @TB (Shields) N/A 9.0 percent swinging strike rate
Hanson's velocity is down substantially, but he is getting whiffs at roughly the same rate he did two years ago.
43 Vance Worley @CHC (Garza) N/A Pitched six innings or more in 13 straight starts
Worley rarely blows up, and he has been especially reliable since late last season.
44 Gavin Floyd @LAA (Williams) N/A 7.7 percent fastball whiff rate
Floyd is getting much more movement on his heater this season, and it's helped to increase his strikeout rate.
45 Ervin Santana OAK (Colon) @SD (Bass) Career 3.93 ERA in interleague games
Santana is plagued by the gopher ball yet again, but with a start at PETCO Park on the schedule, it should be safe to start him this week.
46 Chris Sale @LAA (Wilson) N/A Career 1.76 road ERA (entering Sat.)
After the tumult of the last two weeks, it's hard to know how Sale's return to starting will go, but he clearly thrives away from U.S. Cellular Field.
47 Josh Beckett SEA (Beavan) @PHI (Lee) Four quality starts in six tries
Amidst all of the controversy, what has been lost is that Beckett has been good in most of his starts this year. The state of his lat is the biggest concern.
48 Justin Masterson MIA (Zambrano) N/A 1.95 GB/FB ratio, last three starts
Masterson has been wild lately, but strong ground ball tendencies have helped him to a 3.05 ERA over his last three turns in the rotation.
49 Bartolo Colon @LAA (Santana) @SF (Lincecum) No earned runs allowed over last 15 innings at LAA
Colon can't be trusted with certain matchups, but in these two pitcher-friendly venues, he's a safe play.
50 Wandy Rodriguez TEX (Feliz) N/A Pitched at least 7.0 innings in four of last five starts
Rodriguez's K-rate has been lagging, but he is continuing his trend of pitching deep into games.
51 Colby Lewis KC (Mendoza) @HOU (Lyles) Career 1.42 ERA at HOU
As he showed in his last start, Lewis is always a threat to give up multiple homers, but the Royals and Astros are relatively safe matchups for him.
52 Ryan Vogelsong COL (Friedrich) OAK (Ross) 2.13 home ERA since 2011
Worsening control has made Vogelsong a liability in some weeks, but he's worth using with a pair of starts at AT&T Park.
53 Henderson Alvarez TB (Price) NYM (Gee) Eight double play balls (tied for 2nd in majors)
Even without many strikeouts, Alvarez is averaging 15.7 Fantasy points per start, and double plays are just part of his formula for success.
54 Ross Detwiler SD (Stauffer) BAL (Hammel) Seven line drives on 102 hit balls
Detwiler's line drive rate and 1.02 WHIP are sure to rise, but it shows just how difficult it has been for hitters to square up on him.
55 Jaime Garcia @SF (Bumgarner) N/A .355 BABIP
Many of Garcia's indicators, such as swinging strike rate, walk rate and line drive rate, look good, so his high rate of hits on balls in play looks unlucky.
56 R.A. Dickey CIN (Latos) N/A 1.71 home ERA
Dickey's two worst starts have come on the road, but he continues to build on a pattern of being tough at Citi Field.
57 Jeremy Hellickson BOS (Buchholz) N/A 24 Ks over last 29 innings
It's too early to say for sure, but maybe Hellickson is becoming a strikeout pitcher again after all.
58 Joe Blanton HOU (Harrell) BOS (Lester) 69 percent strikes thrown, last three starts
Blanton is generally a pretty reliable strike-thrower, but he is taking his control up a notch.
59 Kyle Lohse CHC (Maholm) @LAD (Billingsley) 2.55 ERA vs. CHC in 2011
Lohse's newfound command was in evidence in three starts against Chicago last year, as he struck out 16 batters while walking just two.
60 Chris Capuano @SD (Richard) N/A Five straight quality starts
Only 49 percent of Capuano's career starts have been of the quality variety, but he is avoiding homers and staying out of trouble.
61 Tim Lincecum COL (Guthrie) OAK (Colon) 14 percent line drive rate, last three starts
Lincecum is still having command issues, but fewer hard-hit balls could be a sign of progress.
62 Max Scherzer @CHW (Peavy) PIT (Correia) 66 percent strikes thrown, last two starts
Scherzer has come out of his funk, but a pair of good starts doesn't mean he can't be erratic going forward.
63 Brandon McCarthy @TEX (Harrison) N/A 3.54 P/PA (entering Sat.)
McCarthy is coming off a sore shoulder and a long layoff, plus he has a tough matchup. Still, he continues to be one of the most efficient pitchers in the game.
64 Wade Miley @LAD (Billingsley) @KC (Mendoza) Opponents' .331 SLG
Miley's proclivity for ground balls is helping him to minimize damage, even though he's a below-average strikeout pitcher.
65 Anthony Bass @WAS (Strasburg) LAA (Santana) 10.8 percent swinging strike rate
Bass got batters to whiff in the minors, but low called strike percentages kept his K-rates somewhat modest. Just maybe he can keep this up.
66 Ivan Nova @BAL (Hammel) CIN (Bailey) Career 3.72 ERA at BAL
Nova has been a much better pitcher away from Yankee Stadium, and that includes the launching pad that is Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
67 Jonathon Niese @TOR (Romero) N/A Allowed 3 ER or fewer in five of six starts
Niese has been in a relative slump, but aside from one start against Houston, he has been reliable.
68 Jeanmar Gomez @MIN (Pavano) MIA (Sanchez) 2 BBs or fewer in eight out of last nine starts
Gomez's control wasn't especially notable as a prospect, but it's becoming his hallmark as a major leaguer.
69 Tim Stauffer @WAS (Detwiler) LAA (Haren) Career 3.11 ERA in interleague games
Making his first starts of the year, Stauffer is a wild card, but owners can take comfort in knowing that AL teams haven't been a threat to him.
70 Wei-Yin Chen NYY (Sabathia) @WAS (Strasburg) 10.6 percent swinging strike rate
Chen has the misfortune of dueling with a pair of aces, but his strikeout rate has been higher than expected.

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
Blue Jays' Santana slated to start throwing program Tuesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:13 am ET) Blue Jays starting pitcher Johan Santana is slated to start a throwing program Tuesday, as he is scheduled to play catch, according to the National Post

Santana, who suffered a torn Achilles in June, was shut down in January after having some shoulder discomfort while pitching in the Venezuelan winter league.


Marlins delay Giancarlo Stanton's spring debut until Thursday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:07 am ET) The Marlins opted to push back outfielder Giancarlo Stanton's spring debut to Thursday. Stanton, who hasn't played since getting hit in the face in September, was originally scheduled to face the University of Miami in an exhibition game Tuesday.

"It just made more sense -- he can get more at-bats on the backfield," manager Mike Redmond said, per The Miami Herald. "We have simulated games going on back there. So, it just made more sense for him instead of going over there for one at-bat, keep him back here and he can get more at-bats and more work done back here and then he'll be ready to roll for Thursday."


Reports: Mets eyeing third game of season for Matt Harvey's debut
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:52 am ET) It appears the Mets are leaning toward having starting pitcher Matt Harvey, who has not pitched in a regular season game since Aug. 2013 due to Tommy John surgery, make his season debut in the third game at Washington, several team sources told the New York Post.

The Mets are targeting the third game on the road, as opposed to the season and home openers, because they don't want Harvey to feel added pressure given the circumstances, particularly if he makes his first start in front of an exhilarated home crowd.

"All that has been discussed,’’ one source said.

“Things can change, but that schedule makes sense,’’ another source said.

Harvey seems fine with whatever the Mets have in store.

“Anything they want to do is good,’’ Harvey said.


Phillies' Harang opts to skip spring debut Wednesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:41 am ET) Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Harang was scratched from his spring debut Wednesday against the Yankees.

Although Harang had an ice pack on his lower back Tuesday, according to The News Journal, he told reporters he will miss Wednesday's start because he needs to work on his mechanics and is not ready to pitch in a game. Harang added he does intend to be ready the next time his turn in the rotation comes up. 

Harang dodged questions about his back issues, but he did mention he went to see a chiropractor a few days ago to get his back realigned.

Kevin Slowey will start in Harang's place Wednesday.


Nationals' Yunel Escobar returns after dealing with fever Monday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:35 am ET) Nationals second baseman Yunel Escobar was back practicing Tuesday after missing on-field workouts Monday due to a fever, according to The Washington Post. Escobar said he was feeling better Tuesday.

Pirates' Cumpton to meet with Dr. Andrews concerning elbow issue
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:31 am ET) Pirates pitcher Brandon Cumpton is slated to meet with Dr. James Andrews on Monday after feeling discomfort in his elbow, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Cumpton first noticed an issue when he was throwing live batting practice last week.

Pirates 1B Corey Hart expects to make spring debut by Monday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:27 am ET) Pirates first baseman Corey Hart suffered a laceration on his foot near the arch when he stepped on a loose hot tub filter, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Hart, however, expects to make his spring debut by Monday.

Manager Clint Hurdle revealed Monday that Hart needed three stitches to close the wound. He also mentioned Hart would be sidelined for a few days.


Report: Twins working on contract extension for Brian Dozier
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:23 am ET) The Twins are working on signing second baseman Brian Dozier to a contract extension, according to the Pioneer Press. There were strong indications Tuesday the Twins were making progress with Dozier's agent -- Damon Lapa -- and a contract extension could be close to being finalized, a source said.

“I’d love to be here,” said Dozier, who declined to comment on the negotiations. “I don’t want to be anywhere else. If the opportunity presents itself, then I’m all for it. We’ll see.”

Dozier is not arbitration eligible until after the 2015 season. If he does sign a contract extension, it will likely run through all three of his arbitration years and likely 1-2 free agent years.

Dozier tied a career high with 33 doubles in 2014, but he did finish with a career-best 23 home runs. He also had a career-high 21 stolen bases and 112 runs.


Tigers' Victor Martinez: I'm still on track for opening day
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:13 am ET) Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez told reporters he remains on track to play on opening day, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Martinez, who is working his way back from a medial menisectomy in his left knee, revealed that he suffered the injury while playing catch in the street with his brother in February. He took 25 swings off a tee from each of the plate on Monday, and told reporters he would have taken 50 if the team trainer wasn't around.

The 36-year-old hit .335/.409/.565 over 561 at-bats last year.


Red Sox looking at Brandon Workman as a reliever
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:12 am ET) The Red Sox are looking at pitcher Brandon Workman as a reliever this spring, according to the Boston Herald

Manager John Farrell seemed to think Workman would be more than adequate in the role. "His mentality is one that embraces those higher leverage type of innings," Farrell said. "In one-inning stints, his stuff plays up a little bit more with power, a little bit more swing-and-miss ability with his fastball."

Workman seems open to the change. "If John tells me that’s where I’m going to fit in, that’s where I’ll fit in," he said.

The 26-year-old Workman posted a 5.17 ERA over 87 innings last year. 


 
 
 
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