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Plumbing the Depths for Week 13

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The Rockies have provided us with one of the strangest rotation developments to come along in awhile. In demoting Jeremy Guthrie to the bullpen, they will move forward with a four-man rotation consisting of Jeff Francis and three starters who have never put in a full season in a big league rotation. While the Colorado starting contingent is low on both quantity and quality, it does pose some interesting possibilities for Fantasy Week 13 (June 25-July 1). With the Rockies playing a full seven-game schedule, they will provide Fantasy owners with not one, not two, but three two-start pitchers. Only Alex White won't get a chance at a double dip.

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Even in deep leagues, a two-start week isn't especially welcome if the pitcher looks due for a pair of meltdowns. Francis, Christian Friedrich and Josh Outman haven't been reliable, and all are saddled with a pair of starts at Coors Field for the week ahead. One of them, however, may have a better chance to succeed for owners in deeper formats. To see which one it is, you'll have to peruse this week's two-start options section just below. As is the case each week in Plumbing the Depths, the two-start pitchers reviewed here are ones you won't see in the upcoming top 70 starter rankings, but each should be kept active in at least some deeper formats.

I have also spotlighted a handful of one-start pitchers worth a deep-league flier, as well as some starters who may be on the verge of losing their jobs. All stats are current for games through Wednesday, June 20.

Deeper league two-start options

Gavin Floyd, White Sox:
Projected matchups: @MIN (Hendriks), @NYY (Hughes)
2012 stats: 5-7, 5.20 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 76 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 51/25
Outlook: Floyd came out of a six-game funk on Wednesday, when he held the Cubs scoreless for 6 1/3 innings. Even after a solid outing against the punchless North Siders, Floyd's HR/9 rate at U.S. Cellular Field is a bloated 1.5. Some owners in mixed leagues might take a look at Floyd's line from his most recent start and think he could be usable with a two start week. He may be able to escape with decent outing at the Twins, but his weekend start at Yankee Stadium has the potential to ruin his week. You might as well keep Floyd active in most AL-only leagues, but in practically any mixed league, you need to give the big righty a rest.

Bruce Chen, Royals:
Projected matchups: TB (Moore), @MIN (Hendriks)
2012 stats: 6-6, 4.81 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 59 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 18/8
Outlook: The last time I recommended Chen as a viable start, I got pelted with volleyballs. You might think the sting of that payoff for a lost Weekly Wager on Fantasy Baseball 360 would make me shy away from Chen, but being a slow learner and all, I'm back at it, risking further punishment. As a flyball pitcher, Chen has generally been more vulnerable away from Kauffman Stadium, though home runs haven't hurt him much home or away this year. It's has actually been subpar BABIP and strand rates that have been at the root of Chen's 6.05 road ERA. Not only is he safer to use than his ERA would indicate, but with starts at Kauffman and homer-squelching Target Field next week, Chen needs to be activated in far more than eight percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com.

Luke Hochevar, Royals:
Projected matchups: TB (Archer), @MIN (Liriano)
2012 stats: 4-7, 5.65 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 60 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 16/7
Outlook: Unlike Chen, Hochevar has worse splits at home than on the road this season, but that looks more like a small sample fluke than anything. Hochevar is a less viable option than Chen this week, simply because the weaknesses that make him a deep league option in the first place aren't mitigated by where he pitches. He is a low-end starter mainly because he has consistently shown that he has trouble stranding baserunners. Hochevar's 60 percent strand rate would look like a horrific case of bad luck for nearly any other pitcher, but it's not far off his career norm. Despite the two-start week, Hochevar's seven percent activation rate looks just about right.

Travis Wood, Cubs:
Projected matchups: NYM (Santana), HOU (Lyles)
2012 stats: 1-3, 4.14 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 29 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 6/3
Outlook: It's not clear what happened to the circa 2010 version of Wood, but if the southpaw were still a control artist, he could be used in standard mixed leagues on occasion. While he is now too wild to use in those formats, he still has his uses for owners in deeper leagues. In fact, if you subtract out a single Wrigley Field start against the Padres, in which the wind was blowing out unusually strong, his ERA would be just 3.22. With a pair of home starts, Wood will once again be subject to the whims of Mother Nature, but he is still worth using in all NL-only leagues this coming week.

Josh Outman, Rockies:
Projected matchups: WAS (Zimmermann), SD (Bass)
2012 stats: 0-3, 8.41 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 22 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 1/1
Outlook: The Rockies' rotation owns the majors' highest ERA, so the stink created by the group as a whole has attached itself to each individual member, at least in the minds of Fantasy owners. With a stratospheric ERA and WHIP, Outman is an easy target for disgruntled owners, but xFIP thinks he's the best thing the Rockies have going right now. The advanced pitching metric, which estimates that Outman would have a 3.51 ERA if you could factor out the impact of defense and luck, may have a point. Albeit in just 20 1/3 innings, Outman has done an outstanding job of inducing whiffs (11.4 percent swinging strike rate) and grounders (53 percent ground ball rate), but his good work has been all for naught due to a 47 percent strand rate and a .368 BABIP. Outman had success at getting strikeouts and grounders last season in Triple-A, as he was working his way back from Tommy John surgery. He was also solid in 13 games with the A's last season, though he had the benefit of a better home park in which to pitch. Despite a pair of starts at Coors Field, Outman may be the Rockies' pitcher best equipped to get through Week 13 unscathed, and at minimum, he should be started in all NL-only leagues.

Waiver wire targets

Garrett Richards, Angels:
Projected matchups: @TOR (Chavez)
2012 stats: 2-0, 0.86 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 17 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 41/18
Outlook: With Jerome Williams (illness) being placed on the 15-day disabled list, Richards gets to enjoy a longer stay in the Angels' rotation. He hasn't had very good control above Double-A, but with unsustainably high strand and popup rates, Richards has gotten away with 11 walks in his 21 innings with the Angels. He has also avoided damage despite a 48 percent flyball rate, though given the ground ball tendencies he showed in the minors, that rate could recede. This will be Richards' first trip to a hitter's park this season, so it's best to stash Richards for his start against the Blue Jays. However, he could be useful in deeper mixed leagues in future weeks, so he is worth a pickup in those formats if he is available.

Clayton Richard, Padres:
Projected matchups: @HOU (Harrell)
2012 stats: 4-7, 3.94 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 52 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 21/11
Outlook: After a slow start to the season, Richard (not to be confused with Richards) is quietly working on a career year. As he has improved his command and strengthened his ground ball tendencies, Richard has posted a 2.66 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over his last seven starts. Averaging nearly seven innings per start during this span, he is profiling more and more like fellow lefty Matt Harrison, though without the copious quantities of run support. With one start this coming week, Richard is a good option in deeper mixed leagues, and at some point during a future two-start week, he will have standard mixed league viability.

Ross Detwiler, Nationals:
Projected matchups: @ATL (Delgado)
2012 stats: 4-3, 3.34 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 46 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 14/4
Outlook: Detwiler had poor results in a string of mid-May starts, so when Chien-Ming Wang came off the disabled list roughly a month ago, it was convenient for manager Davey Johnson to ship Detwiler to the bullpen. It was an undeserved demotion, as Detwiler's biggest offense was posting a fluky-looking .404 BABIP over his last three starts. The 26-year-old actually looked like he was coming into his own this year, keeping the ball down and getting strikeouts at a higher rate. At his peak earlier this year, Detwiler was owned in 72 percent of our leagues, and in future two-start weeks, he could reach those levels again. Even with a single start at the Braves, Detwiler needs to be owned and started in far more deeper mixed leagues.

Chris Archer, Rays:
Projected matchups: @KC (Hochevar)
2012 stats: 0-1, 1.50 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 7 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 9/3
Outlook: Archer could actually make a second start, facing the Tigers on June 30, but Jeremy Hellickson (shoulder) could also come off the disabled list and knock Archer out of the rotation. Even with one start against the Royals, Archer is worth using in AL-only leagues as well as some deeper mixed leagues. Archer has some control issues, but even if he struggles, he could get bailed out by a Kansas City squad that leads the AL in swing percentage on pitches outside the strike zone.

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Marco Estrada, Brewers:
Projected matchups: @CIN (Arroyo)
2012 stats: 0-3, 4.50 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 34 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 4/0
Outlook: Barring a setback, Estrada will rejoin the Brewers' rotation on Tuesday to face the Reds. He hadn't been all that effective prior to going on the DL, and his best moments came against the Rockies and Cubs in a pair of home starts. Estrada can be vulnerable to the long ball, so his start at Cincinnati may not go very well, but when healthy, he's a worthy arm to roster in NL-only leagues. Most owners should plan on stashing Estrada for now, but it's best to pick up him up soon, before he gets a few good starts under his belt.

Vulnerable rotation spots

Red Sox: Josh Beckett (shoulder) could return from the disabled list as soon as June 27. If that happens, Franklin Morales would be the most likely pitcher to get bumped from the rotation, so owners should plan on sitting him for Week 13.

Rangers: Derek Holland (shoulder) may be ready to assume his place in the Rangers' rotation by next weekend. That would likely end Justin Grimm's tenure as a big league starter, though he will at least get one Week 13 start, facing the Tigers on Monday. AL-only owners can start Grimm one more time before dropping or stashing him.

Blue Jays: The Jays are still trying to piece together their rotation after losing three starters in a five-day span to injury last week. Neither Joel Carreno nor Jesse Chavez fared well in their turns this week, and neither is guaranteed to keep a starting role. Carlos Villanueva, Aaron Laffey and recently-acquired Sean O'Sullivan could all be potential replacement options, but all should be avoided for now.

Royals: Felipe Paulino is expected to be activated next week and pitch in the series against the Rays. Either Luis Mendoza or Vin Mazzaro would lose his rotation spot, but both have had some success lately. However, due to their uncertain status, owners should plan on sitting both hurlers until more is known about the Royals' plans.

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 SP Jose Quintana ready to go after Friday session
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:34 pm ET) White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana began his throwing program later than normal at the team's request but said Friday after throwing two simulated innings that he's ready to go, CSNChicago.com reports.

"I feel really good, my arm is good and I’m ready for the first day against the Dodgers," Quintana said. "I’m excited for opening day. It’s spring training, but it’s Opening Day, you know?"

The White Sox asked Quintana to delay his throwing program in the hopes of having him stronger and fresher if the team makes the postseason. After throwing 200 innings in each of the last two seasons, he hopes to feel strong long after he has in the past.

"It’s good for your arm because here you throw a lot, eight months throwing and you need a good rest," Quintana said. "I feel really good, better than last year. I hope this year I’m better."

Quintana went 9-11 with a 3.32 ERA and 178:52 K:BB ratio in 200 1/3 innings in 2014.


Rangers' Banister talks about Choo's move to right field
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:27 pm ET) Rangers manager Jeff Banister spoke about moving Shin-Soo Choo from left field to right field for the first time Friday, MLB.com reports.

"We think he'll be more comfortable in right field," Banister said.

Choo spent six years in right field with the Indians but played center field with the Reds in 2013 and left field in most of his first season with the Rangers. He'll have less ground to cover in right field than left during Rangers home games.

"It doesn't matter to me where they put me. I can play all three positions," Choo said.

Choo is returning from elbow and ankle surgeries. He hit .242/.340/.374 with 13 home runs,40 RBI and just three steals in 455 at-bats last season.


Diamondbacks' Brandon Drury to split time at 2B, 3B this spring
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:21 pm ET) Diamondbacks infielder Brandon Drury will split time at second base and third base this spring, the Arizona Republic reports.

Drury will pick up work at second base after the team signed Yasmany Tomas this offseason. He saw time at the position during the Arizona Fall League and also spent two games there with Double-A Mobile last season.

"I don't feel like I need extra reps at second to be game-ready there," Drury said. "I felt good there."

Drury approached starting second baseman Aaron Hill for advice during fielding drills Friday, impressing Hill with his ability to ask for help as well as the quickness of his adjustment to the advice.

"He made the adjustments easy. Easy," Hill said. "What's great, too, is when a guy is willing to ask question. He's a sponge and he wants to learn. I think it's awesome."

Drury hit .299/.362/.510 with 23 home runs and 95 RBI in 535 at-bats between high Class A Visalia and Mobile in 2014.


Blue Jays' Michael Saunders to miss 5-6 weeks after procedure
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:05 pm ET) Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders underwent successful surgery on his knee Friday, and he is now expected to be sidelined for five-to-six weeks, the team announced.

Saunders was initially expected to miss half the season while recovering from a meniscus tear. He had 60 percent of the meniscus removed from his left knee Friday, MLB.com reports. The cartilage was unable to be repaired, which would have resulted in a longer recovery time for the outfielder.

On his new timetable, Saunders could be back in action by early-to-mid April if the team chooses not to have him open the season on the disabled list.


CC Sabathia not expected to be among Yankees' first spring starters
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:00 pm ET) Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia is not expected to be among the team's first starters this spring as he continues to focus on his return from knee surgery, MLB.com reports.

"We're taking it slow with him, knowing that we don't really think that he's behind and he's got plenty of time," Girardi said. "We're not rushing it because of his knee, and we want to take it step by step."

Giradi also added that he has no issues with Sabathia continuing to wear his knee brace during the season, though he has yet to talk to the team's trainers about it.

"I've said all along, you're really not going to know until we get into the season and he's going every fifth day, how his leg is going to do," Girardi said. "I've said all along, it's a concern of mine. The fact that he's wearing a brace or not wearing a brace doesn't concern me anymore. If [trainers] feel that he'll stay healthier wearing the brace, then I would tell him, wear the brace."

Sabathia was held to just eight starts last season, going 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA and 48:10 K:BB ratio in 46 innings.


White Sox SP John Danks feeling healthier
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:52 pm ET) White Sox pitcher John Danks has only thrown fastballs, changeups and a few cutters in his early bullpen sessions and live batting practices but said Friday that everything feels good, MLB.com reports.

"I'm certainly feeling better, healthier," Danks said. "But I've only been through this once now, so I'm kind of going into it blind a little bit. Like everything they said, it's getting stronger and I'm getting a better feel for things as more time goes on."

Danks had his shoulder checked extensively during his yearly physical as has become customary since his arthroscopic surgery in 2012. He went 11-11 with a 4.74 ERA and 129:74 K:BB ratio in 193 2/3 innings last season.


White Sox RP Zach Duke adds arm angle
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:47 pm ET) White Sox reliever Zach Duke said Friday that he's added an arm angle rather than adjust his normal angle, MLB.com reports.

"I didn't adjust my arm angle. I added a second one," Duke said. "So, I throw from multiple angles. That's really what it is. I still throw from my normal angle. I just added a second one."

Duke used the new arm angle prominently during Friday's bullpen session.

"It's kind of a sidearm one that I incorporated, and I've got fastballs and breaking balls from both," Duke said. "The hitter doesn't really know which one I'm going to throw from at any time. It really helps me just as far as reactions from the hitter are concerned. They don't know where the ball is going to come from."

"There's not a lot [of pitchers] that can sit there and change arm angles and be effective and hit spots like he can," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "It's definitely an added bonus when you can get a guy to do that without hurting himself."

Duke made 74 relief appearances with the Brewers in 2014, going 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 74:17 K:BB ratio in 58 2/3 innings.


White Sox's Carlos Rodon not penciled in for Cactus League start
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:40 pm ET) White Sox pitching prospect Carlos Rodon is not currently scheduled to start a Cactus League game, MLB.com reports.

Rodon, the team's top prospect, will throw innings while progressing as a starter, and he may be tabbed to pitch a "B" game during one of the team's two split-squad days. Pitching coach Don Cooper said he wants the young pitcher to feel comfortable in his first camp.

"In some ways I can almost see him, 'Am I in the right spot?' a little bit. 'I don't want to overstep my bounds,'" said Cooper. "I want him to be himself every day.

"He's got a good fastball that we are trying to see if we can locate better and better, not unlike anybody else. He's got a good slider and we are trying to do the same thing with that pitch. And, oh by the way, we are working on his changeup.

"Sometimes there's a little bit of frustration on his part because he has the bar high and expects himself to be able to do everything well right away. Certainly I understand that. We want the battle to be whatever we are working on. It's not that battle, and oh yeah, my frustration, too. Then there's two battles. We only want one battle. I think he expects a lot of himself."

Rodon threw 24 1/3 innings at three levels after being selected with the third overall pick in the 2014 draft.


Reds' Price on Johnny Cueto: 'He's special'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:17 pm ET) Reds manager Bryan Price said the instincts of Johnny Cueto on the mound are as good as any pitcher he's ever seen, highlighting his ability to make adjustments within a given at-bat, MLB.com reports.

"If there's anyone that I've ever been around that could simply go into a game and pitch it without any understanding of the lineup he was facing -- it'd be Johnny," Price said. "He cuts you up, spits you out. He's special."

Price also compared Cueto to Greg Maddux -- ""[Maddux's] ability to find that spot in the zone and the speed with which to induce that ground ball -- that's what I sense where Johnny has elevated himself" and Pedro Martinez -- "A lot [of similarities] -- enjoyment, they're so acute with their command, they're so precise."

Cueto finished second in the voting for NL Cy Young in 2014, going 20-9 with a 2.25 ERA and 242:65 K:BB ratio in 243 2/3 innings.


Christian Colon hoping for long season with Royals
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:03 pm ET) Royals infielder Christian Colon skipped playing winter ball in Puerto Rico to get ready for what he hopes will be a long season in the majors, MLB.com reports.

"I just worked out, worked on my body," Colon said Friday. "I just continued to hit and take ground balls. I've lost about 10 pounds and gained some good weight. I'm able to move around better, and that's all I was looking for."

Colon made his major-league debut in 2014 and went 15 for 45 with the Royals. He also hit .311/.366/.433 with eight home runs, 47 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 344 at-bats with Triple-A Omaha.


 
 
 
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