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Top 70 starters for Week 9

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Over the season's early weeks, a number of starting pitchers didn't really appear to be themselves.

For some, like Tommy Hanson and Madison Bumgarner, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as they had success despite not achieving it through their usual formula. For others, like Josh Johnson and Adam Wainwright, it has been a cause for concern. Still, Johnson and Wainwright have had their moments, and they have their respective recoveries from health issues as a plausible explanation for their disappointing results.

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Then there's Ricky Romero. He has been a stalwart of standard mixed league rosters over the last two seasons, but he hasn't been the same pitcher this year. Specifically, he seems to have lost command of the strike zone in a big way, and his walk rate continues to escalate. Tim Lincecum has dealt with similar issues, and he now finds himself benched in half of the leagues on CBSSports.com and on the outside of this week's top 70.

Owners have been more forgiving of Romero, who is still active in 68 percent of our leagues. However, he ranks just 69th for Fantasy Week 9 (May 28-June 3), and he could be on his way out as well, if he can't turn things around against a potent Orioles attack this week.

Also on the outs this week is Carlos Zambrano, even though he is the proud owner of a 2.85 ERA and a two-start week. While Big Z is getting more whiffs than he did last season, it's not translating into a substantially higher K-rate, and he still has control issues. If not for some help from favorable strand and BABIP rates, Zambrano's ERA would likely be close to 4.00.

Though he just missed this week's top 70, Josh Tomlin would actually be a better choice. He will come off the disabled list to start at home against the Royals and Twins, and Tomlin has generally fared well when pitching at Progressive Field.

Here are the starters who are worth a try in standard mixed leagues for the coming scoring period, along with their matchups for the week.

Starting Rotation breakdown for Fantasy Week 9
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2 Stat of note
1 Cole Hamels @NYM (Niese) MIA (Zambrano) Opponents' .189 Avg, last four starts
Hamels has pitched at an elite level all season, but he's actually cranked it up a notch over his recent starts.
2 Justin Verlander @BOS (Bard) NYY (Hughes) .258 opponents' SLG (lowest in AL)
Only a pair of tough matchups prevents Verlander from occupying the top spot this week.
3 Jered Weaver NYY (Hughes) TEX (Harrison) Career 2.59 home ERA
Weaver can be mortal on the road, but opponents rarely dig the long ball (0.8 HR/9) when facing him in Anaheim.
4 Roy Halladay MIA (Nolasco) N/A 284 batters faced (leads MLB)
Though Halladay's Ks are down, he is still efficient, providing owners with plenty of solid innings.
5 Clayton Kershaw MIL (Gallardo) N/A 14.9 percent line drive rate since '11
Even when hitters manage to make contact against Kershaw, they rarely are able to hit the ball squarely.
6 Cliff Lee @NYM (Gee) N/A 18 straight starts of at least six innings
Of course, Lee provides owners with great stats, but he is also practically a lock to pitch deep into a game.
7 CC Sabathia @DET (Porcello) N/A 69 Ks in 71 1/3 innings
Sabathia is showing no signs of decline, and his current K-rate is among his best ever.
8 Felix Hernandez @CHW (Peavy) N/A At least 6 Ks in nine of 11 starts
Hernandez is not immune to occasional meltdowns, but he is a consistent strikeout producer.
9 David Price BAL (Chen) N/A 1.25 GB/FB ratio, last five starts (entering Sat.)
Price's early increase in his ground ball rate might have looked fluky, but it has actually risen further over his most recent starts.
10 Zack Greinke @LAD (Billingsley) N/A 29 Ks, 3 BBs over last 27 innings (entering Sat.)
Greinke rarely struggles with command, and he has really hit his stride lately.
11 Jordan Zimmermann @MIA (Zambrano) ATL (Hanson) 3.09 career ERA vs. ATL
The Braves have been one of the majors' most prolific offenses this year, but they haven't intimidated Zimmermann in four past starts.
12 Matt Cain CHC (Garza) N/A Career 0.7 HR/9 at home
The Cubs have been one of the majors' weakest power-hitting teams, and they should have another long night when facing Cain at AT&T Park.
13 Chris Sale @TB (Moore) SEA (Millwood) 10 percent popup rate
Sale doesn't allow all that many flyballs, but a large portion of them don't make it past the infield.
14 Shaun Marcum @LAD (Harang) PIT (Bedard) 7 BBs over last 24 innings
Marcum seems to be over an uncharacterisitc bout of wildness that overtook him a few weeks back.
15 Yovani Gallardo @LAD (Kershaw) N/A 2 HRs over last nine starts
After yielding four dingers in his first start of the year, Gallardo has been close to perfect at keeping the ball in the park.
16 Yu Darvish @LAA (Wilson) N/A 7 Ks in 5 1/3 innings vs. LAA, 5/11/12
Darvish didn't last long into his first start against the Halos, but he racked up Ks versus a squad that doesn't strike out much.
17 Gio Gonzalez ATL (Beachy) N/A 79 percent strand rate
Even if Gonzalez reverts back to posting a mediocre WHIP, he won't hurt your ERA, as he consistently puts up high strand rates.
18 Anibal Sanchez WAS (Jackson) N/A 2.4 BB/9 rate
Sanchez gets accolades for his Ks, but he's on the way to reducing his walk rate for the third straight season.
19 James Shields CHW (Humber) N/A Career 3.38 home ERA
Shields often suffers from gopheritis on the road, but opponents have a much harder time getting to him at the Trop.
20 Madison Bumgarner CHC (Maholm) N/A At least 5 Ks in five of last six starts
After a paucity of strikeouts early on, Bumgarner is moving back towards his normal rate.
21 Stephen Strasburg ATL (Minor) N/A 12 percent swinging strike rate, last two starts (entering Sat.)
Strasburg is in the midst of a relative mini-slump, but he hasn't stopped whiffing batters.
22 Jake Peavy SEA (Hernandez) N/A 76 percent strand rate (entering Sat.)
Strand rates below 65 percent in each of the last two years prevented Peavy from realizing his potential, but that hasn't been an issue this year.
23 Johan Santana STL (Garcia) N/A No starts with more than 3 BBs
Santana's control is almost always sharp; the last time he issued more than three walks was on June 10, 2010 vs. SD.
24 Ryan Dempster SD (Bass) N/A 7 BBs over last 34 1/3 innings
Walks are sometimes a weakness for Dempster, but he's not handed out many over his last five starts.
25 Tommy Hanson STL (Lynn) @WAS (Zimmermann) 17 Ks over last 18 innings
Hanson started off the year allowing more contact and getting more grounders, but both trends have been reversing themselves more recently.
26 Matt Garza @SF (Cain) N/A 47 percent ground ball rate
Nearly two months into the season, it looks like Garza's improved ground ball rate from a year ago was not a one-shot deal.
27 Ian Kennedy @SF (Lincecum) N/A 7 HRs over last 23 innings
Opponents have been making a lot of hard contact against Kennedy, and if not for his track record and a matchup against the Giants, he would rank considerably lower.
28 Doug Fister @BOS (Doubront) NYY (Kuroda) 1.65 ERA vs. BOS and NYY since '11
It's only three starts (two vs. BOS, one vs. NYY), but Fister has kept a couple of beasts from the AL East in check since last year.
29 Brandon Beachy @WAS (Gonzalez) N/A Eight straight starts of at least six innings
Beachy is not especially efficient, but he is becoming a reliable innings-eater nonetheless.
30 Dan Haren NYY (Pettitte) N/A 11.6 percent swinging strike rate
Haren may be losing some velocity, but he is actually experiencing a mild rebound in his whiff rate.
31 C.J. Wilson TEX (Darvish) N/A 60 percent strikes thrown vs. OAK on Tues.
Wilson emerged from his three-game slump on Tuesday by throwing strikes at a rate close to his career norm.
32 Wandy Rodriguez @COL (Nicasio) CIN (Latos) No HRs allowed in eight of 10 starts
Maybe Rodriguez will give up a long ball or two at Coors Field this week, but given his 1.10 WHIP, there's a good chance they could be solo jobs.
33 Jeff Samardzija SD (Stults) N/A 1.82 ERA, last six starts
After a turbulent start to the year, Samardzija has been remarkably consistent, not allowing more than three runs in any of his last half-dozen starts.
34 Johnny Cueto @PIT (Burnett) N/A .429 BABIP, last three starts
Cueto's recent results haven't been good, but an unlucky BABIP seems to be the main culprit.
35 Josh Johnson WAS (Wang) N/A Seven grounders induced on Fri. vs. SF (2nd lowest total in '12)
Johnson was hit hard in his most recent start, but for the most part, he's been able to keep the ball down this year.
36 Lance Lynn @ATL (Hanson) @NYM (Niese) 22 Ks in last 23 innings
Lynn has been wilder lately, but he has also been increasing an already-impressive strikeout rate.
37 Josh Beckett DET (Scherzer) N/A 68 percent quality start rate since 2011 (entering Sat.)
Beckett gets pegged as being inconsistent, but he's been mostly steady going back to last season.
38 Jason Hammel @TOR (Morrow) N/A Career 3.56 ERA vs. TOR
Hammel's seven shutout innings against the Jays last month was just his lastest good performance versus Toronto.
39 Jeremy Hellickson BAL (Matusz) N/A 64 percent strikes thrown, last five starts
After a wild start to the season, Hellickson has settled down and found his control.
40 Daniel Hudson @SD (Volquez) N/A Career 1.72 ERA vs. SD
Even if Hudson looks rusty on Sunday in his first start off the DL, he should have an easy time against the Padres in his following start.
41 Derek Holland SEA (Beavan) N/A Six quality starts in nine tries
Holland has hung tough against some good opposition this year, as he appears to be building consistency.
42 James McDonald CIN (Arroyo) @MIL (Fiers) 1 HR allowed in 23 road innings
McDonald was highly vulnerable on the road last season, so his upcoming start at MIL will be a good test to see if he is really becoming a road warrior.
43 Jaime Garcia @NYM (Santana) N/A 14 percent swinging strike rate, last five starts (entering Sat.)
After a modest start, Garcia has gone on a rampage, whiffing batters at a phenomenal rate.
44 Adam Wainwright @NYM (Dickey) N/A No HRs allowed, last four starts
Wainwright has yet to establish consistency, but at least he is recovering from an early high home run per flyball ratio.
45 R.A. Dickey STL (Wainwright) N/A 19 Ks, 1 BB over last two starts
Dickey's worth a start, but owners should not expect as many Ks this time. His last two opponents -- PIT and CIN -- are two of the most strikeout-prone teams.
46 Drew Smyly @BOS (Lester) N/A 29 Ks over last 28 innings
Smyly isn't pitching very many innings per start, but he is making the most of the innings he's getting.
47 Mat Latos @HOU (Rodriguez) N/A Opponents' .213 Avg vs. righties
The Astros aren't exactly laden with left-handed threats, so Latos could have a productive week.
48 Matt Harrison SEA (Millwood) @LAA (Weaver) Opponents' .274 Avg on grounders
Harrison appears to be getting a raw deal on ground balls, especially since he has a very good defensive infield behind him.
49 Colby Lewis @LAA (Williams) N/A Career 3.00 ERA at Angel Stadium
Lewis has performed well at most of the pitcher-friendly parks, and the Angels' home is not one of the exceptions.
50 Trevor Cahill @SF (Zito) @SD (Suppan) 3.5 BB/9 rate over last five starts
Cahill is still no control artist, but he has taken his walk rate to a more reasonable level over the past month.
51 Erik Bedard @MIL (Marcum) N/A 2.3 K/BB ratio vs. righties
Bedard still has a respectable K/BB ratio against righties, but he should struggle against the Brewers' righty-heavy lineup a little more than he would against a typical opponent.
52 Justin Masterson KC (Smith) N/A 3.54 ERA over last six starts
Masterson is walking far too many batters, but as long as keeps churning out grounders, he can help you with ERA and wins.
53 Andy Pettitte @LAA (Haren) N/A 25 percent flyball rate
Pettitte has coughed up four homers already, but those are the only extra-base hits he's allowed, as he is keeping the ball out of the air.
54 Jon Lester DET (Smyly) N/A 18 Ks over last 30 innings
Lester is having a hard time missing bats, and the trend has persisted long enough that he is not a viable No. 2 or 3 SP for the time being.
55 Bronson Arroyo @PIT (McDonald) @HOU (A. Rodriguez) 1.2 BB/9 rate (lowest in MLB)
Arroyo's control is as sharp as ever, and if he can lower an elevated line drive rate, he could become a huge help to owners in the WHIP category.
56 Brandon Morrow BAL (Hammel) N/A .076 BABIP on flyballs
Morrow has been inconsistent, and some apparent good luck on flyballs could signal a coming increase in his ERA and WHIP.
57 Tim Hudson STL (Lohse) N/A 1 HR in 39 1/3 innings
Even in his 14th season, Hudson is a hard pitcher to go yard against.
58 Ryan Vogelsong ARI (Saunders) N/A 2.33 ERA vs. ARI in 2011
Vogelsong is extremely tough at AT&T Park, and he gets an opponent this week against whom he has had success.
59 Edwin Jackson @MIA (Sanchez) N/A 1.8 BB/9 rate
Jackson has been inconsistent in many ways over his career, but he's not giving back the gains he made in his control last season.
60 Wade Miley @SD (Richard) N/A No starts with more than 2 BBs (entering Sat.)
With sharp control and a good infield defense behind him, Miley just might be able to maintain his 1.19 WHIP.
61 Felix Doubront DET (Fister) @TOR (Drabek) 21 Ks over last 17 2/3 innings
Doubront may not be able to keep up his strikeout pace, but he is managing to get hitters to take called strikes at a high rate.
62 Matt Moore CHW (Sale) BAL (Hunter) 37 Ks over last 30 1/3 innings
Moore is living up to his billing as a strikeout pitcher, though he will need to cut back on his homers if he is going to be more than a streaming option.
63 Jonathon Niese PHI (Hamels) STL (Lynn) 63 percent strikes thrown, last three starts
Niese has been wild at times this year, but he seems to be settling in to a period with better command.
64 A.J. Burnett CIN (Cueto) N/A 57 percent ground ball rate
Burnett's home run rate had to be helped by a move out of the AL East, but he's helping himself by getting more grounders.
65 Bud Norris @COL (Guthrie) N/A One earned run over last 26 innings (entering Sat.)
Better control and some good luck have helped Norris on his recent streak, but without strong ground ball tendencies, a start at Coors Field is still risky.
66 Max Scherzer @BOS (Beckett) N/A 3 earned runs or fewer in five of last six starts
Scherzer is about as unpredictable as they come, but he is in a relatively stable groove right now.
67 Felipe Paulino OAK (Colon) N/A .296 BABIP
Paulino has frustrated owners with chronically high BABIP rates over his career, but that hasn't been an issue for him so far this year.
68 Jerome Williams TEX (Lewis) N/A 6.6 innings per appearance
Williams hasn't been flashy, but he has usually been good for a quality start, even with some difficult matchups.
69 Ricky Romero BAL (Arrieta) N/A 58 percent strikes thrown
Romero's command has gone from bad to worse. The Orioles aren't an easy matchup, but maybe this is the week he recaptures last season's form.
70 Alex Cobb CHW (Quintana) N/A 60 percent ground ball rate
Cobb didn't get many swings-and-misses in his first two starts, but he's had no problem inducing grounders. His history suggests the Ks will come, too.

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
Maddon: Cubs will play Kris Bryant in the outfield more
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5:31 pm ET) Kris Bryant got a start in left field for the Cubs on Sunday, the second time this spring he's played there. 

Manager Joe Maddon would like to see Bryant there more. "You never know where the need will arise," Maddon said, per MLB.com. "All of a sudden, you could have a need here, and he hasn’t played there." 

Maddon also thinks it will help Bryant at the plate. "I honestly believe it makes a younger hitter a better hitter," he said. "If he’s moving around a lot, and has to work with so many different defensive positions, he doesn’t worry so much about his hitting."


Yankees option Bryan Mitchell, Ramon Flores
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:29 pm ET) The Yankees optioned pitcher Bryan Mitchell and outfielder Ramon Flores to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Sunday while reassigning eight players to minor-league camp.

Mitchell allowed six earned runs in 7 1/3 innings this spring. Flores hit .206/.270/.412 with two home runs in 34 spring at-bats.

In addition to the options, the Yankees reassigned catchers Francisco Arcia and Kyle Higashioka, infielders Cole Figueroa and Jonathan Galvez, outfielder Slade Heathcott and pitchers Kyle Davies, Jacob Lindgren and Nick Rumbelow to minor-league camp.


Brewers test out Gerardo Parra at first, Luis Jimenez at catcher
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:19 pm ET) Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is checking out his options around the field defensively this spring, reports MLB.com. Regular outfielder Gerardo Parra is getting some work at first base and third baseman Luis Jimenez is being looked at as an emergency catcher.

"Trying to figure out what can happen during ball games," Roenicke said. "If [Parra's] really good at it and Lind's down for a couple days, you just don't know. He looks great. He works at it all the time. Getting him more experience with all the situations that can come up in a ball game."

Jimenez caught a bullpen session Sunday and is competing for a bench role.

"If he's going to be on our squad, it's nice to have somebody who can do that job," Roenicke said. "He's been going out and warming up pitchers between innings. He's pretty good at it."


Cubs' Maddon on Jason Motte: 'I'm not worried about him'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:18 pm ET) Cubs manager Joe Maddon indicated Sunday that he's not concerned with the struggles of pitcher Jason Motte, who has posted a 14.21 ERA in 6 1/3 spring innings, the Chicago Tribune reports.

"Something that I’m not often into is mechanical adjustments," Maddon said of Motte. "It's something that [pitching coach Chris Bosio] picked up on in a conversation. I'm not worried about him. I think the velocity is very good. Just the shape of his pitches were different."


Yankees' Cashman: Stephen Drew the 'smart play' at second
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5:16 pm ET) Stephen Drew has been outhit by two Yankees prospects this spring, but GM Brian Cashman said the veteran was still the "smart play" at second base. 

Rob Refsnyder is hitting .343 with five doubles. Jose Pirela is hitting .370.

Meanwhile, a hot stretch over the weekend brought Drew to .243. 

"I know there’s a lot of dialogue wrapped around Refsnyder and Pirela," Cashman said, per the Journal News. "But I think also that those guys have shown they still have work to do on the defensive side still. ... The bats are impressive, but you’ve seen the defensive stuff they’ve shown us in short sample sizes as well. ... So right now I’m pretty comfortable that Drew signing was the smart play for us on the front end."

Refsnyder has made five errors and Pirela two. 

Drew had a three hit game on Friday, homered on Saturday and doubled on Sunday. 

"He’s looked really good at the plate," Cashman said. "He’s looked so much better than last year the last week to 10 days. That’s encouraging. I know it’s got to be building his confidence and having memories of what he was prior to last year, because that’s certainly what’s playing around in my head. I feel much better about the situation right now."


Orioles' Miguel Gonzalez may get start in season-opening series
(5:13 pm ET) When the Orioles open the season with a three-game series in Tampa Bay, manager Buck Showalter said Miguel Gonzalez will likely start one of the games, reports MLB.com.

“We’re leaning that way. It kind of slots him out the rest of the month where he should be," Showalter said. "Like I say, we’ve got a rare opportunity with playing in our division for as much as we do and the track record our starters have there in different venues against different teams and kind of take advantage of that.”

For his career, Gonzalez is 3-1 with a 2.64 ERA in five starts at Tropicana Field.

Showalter said earlier this spring that Wei-Yin Chen would probably pitch among those first three games as well as Chris Tillman, who's been widely speculated as the club’s Opening Day starter.

Twins' Ricky Nolasco serves up two home runs Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:12 pm ET) Twins pitcher Ricky Nolasco allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks in six innings while striking out three in his team's 6-5 win over the Orioles Sunday.

Nolasco served up back-to-back home runs in the first inning but was able to settle down after, giving up just an unearned run over the last five innings of work.

"I kind of picked the wrong day to give up fly balls," Nolasco said after the outing, per MLB.com. "I'd been getting ground balls all spring, but gave up some fly balls today with the wind blowing. I just tried to limit the damage from there and get my work in."

Nolasco was able to retire 10 batters in a row during his best stretch of the game. He has posted a 4.12 ERA and 16:5 K:BB ratio in 19 2/3 spring innings.


Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle finishes strong in outing Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:09 pm ET) Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle struck out four in five innings of work Sunday, allowing just one run on seven hits against the Orioles.

Buehrle was happy with where he finished, not how he started, reports MLB.com.

"The beginning wasn't as strong and sharp as I wanted to," Buehrle said after the game. "I just feel like I got stronger as the game went along. I don't know why, it's just one of those days. Third inning, I didn't miss too many bats, they were putting the ball in play pretty hard and guys diving all over and making some plays. Overall, it was good, I got up to the 90 pitch count area. I would have liked it to be more like six or seven innings, but that's the way it goes."


Pirates second baseman Jung Ho Kang gets on track at the plate
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:05 pm ET) Pirates second baseman Jung Ho Kang broke out of a mini slump Sunday by belting a two-run home run in the ninth inning to take down the Braves.

Kang had two hits on the game and brought a smile to manager Clint Hurdle's face, reports MLB.com.

"A very, very good day at the plate for him," Hurdle said of Kang. "He stayed on a breaking ball and lined out hard, singled sharply to center, then got all of that fastball. Nothing can breed confidence like success."

Kang was just 2 for 29 coming into Sunday during spring training.


Curt Casali, Bobby Wilson still battling for Rays' backup catcher job
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5:03 pm ET) In the final week of spring training, Rays manager Kevin Cash still isn't sure who his backup catcher will be. 

Curt Casali and Bobby Wilson are the two candidates for the job. 

"I think both guys have had good camps," Cash said, per MLB.com. "They've shown what they need to show. And we've kind of anticipated that that would happen. So there are going to be some discussions and decisions that have to be made.

Casali is hitting .208 this spring. 

"I know he's been continuing to work," Cash said, although he'd like to see him "drive the ball a little more." 

Wilson is hitting .143. 

"We knew Bobby," Cash said. "A little more of a track record, history at the Major League level. I think that helps."


 
 
 
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