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Pitcher rankings for Week 15

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Fantasy Week 15 (July 13-15) may be a short week in terms of the number of major league games that will be played, but it won't be short on tough decisions for Fantasy owners. Every team has just three games this week, which means only 90 pitchers will be making a start. Especially in deeper leagues, you may have no choice but to accept that your rotation will be short on starts this week. But in standard mixed leagues you should be able to get a full slate of starts. You just may need to make a trip to the waiver wire to find them, but it won't always be easy to figure out which arms to go with.

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To help you in that process, I have ranked all 90 probable starters. The top half of the list consists of pitchers who are must-starts this week in practically any format. The next 25 pitchers on the list are those who are borderline viable in standard mixed leagues and many of them may require a waiver claim. The bottom 20 pitchers should be avoided if possible in standard mixed leagues, but you may need them to provide you with stats in deeper leagues.

Even though most teams will be running out their best starters this week, there are still a few Fantasy stalwarts who won't take the mound over the weekend, and therefore, will need a replacement. The following pitchers currently in the top 30 in standard Head-to-Head scoring will not make a start in Week 15: Kyle Lohse, Chris Capuano, Ryan Vogelsong, CC Sabathia (groin, eligible to be activated from the DL, but not scheduled to start this weekend) and Wade Miley. There is still a chance that Johan Santana will start for the Mets on Sunday at the Braves, but his twisted ankle could keep him out until Fantasy Week 16 (July 16-22). Finally, Felix Doubront, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore, all of whom are among the top 30 RP-eligible pitchers, will not start this week.

Note: An asterisk indicates the pitcher has not officially been named as a starter for Week 15 at the time of writing, but he is projected to be a likely starter.

The Top Half

The starters are worth using this week in virtually any format.

1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: vs. LAD (Richard)
2. Chris Sale, White Sox: @KC (Mendoza)
3. Justin Verlander, Tigers: @BAL (Tillman)
4. David Price, Rays: vs. BOS (Buchholz)
5. Felix Hernandez, Mariners: vs. TEX (Darvish)
6. Jake Peavy, White Sox: @KC (Hochevar)
7. Matt Cain, Giants: vs. HOU (Norris)
8. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals: @MIA (Nolasco)
9. Cole Hamels, Phillies: @COL (Pomeranz)
10. Cliff Lee, Phillies: @COL (Friedrich)
11. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks: @CHC (Maholm)
12. James McDonald, Pirates: @MIL (Greinke)
13. Madison Bumgarner, Giants: vs. HOU (Rodriguez)
14. R.A. Dickey, Mets: @ATL (Hanson)
15. Jered Weaver, Angels: @NYY (Nova)
16. *Yovani Gallardo, Brewers: vs. PIT (Correia)
17. Zack Greinke, Brewers: vs. PIT (McDonald)
18. Yu Darvish, Rangers: @SEA (Hernandez)
19. Gio Gonzalez, Nationals: @MIA (Buehrle)
20. Johnny Cueto, Reds: vs. STL (Westbrook)
21. Josh Johnson, Marlins: vs. WAS (Zimmermann)
22. James Shields, Rays: vs. BOS (Beckett)
23. Lance Lynn, Cardinals: @CIN (Leake)
24. Matt Harrison, Rangers: @SEA (Iwakuma)
25. A.J. Burnett, Pirates: @MIL (Wolf)
26. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals: @CIN (Latos)
27. Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals: @MIA (Johnson)
28. C.J. Wilson, Angels: @NYY (Kuroda)
29. Jason Hammel, Orioles: vs. DET (Fister)
30. Matt Garza, Cubs: vs. ARI (Cahill)
31. Vance Worley, Phillies: @COL (Guthrie)
32. Ryan Dempster, Cubs: vs. ARI (Saunders)
33. Tommy Hanson, Braves: vs. NYM (Dickey)
34. Justin Masterson, Indians: @TOR (Romero)
35. *Jonathon Niese, Mets: @ATL (Sheets)
36. Mat Latos, Reds: vs. STL (Wainwright)
37. Derek Holland, Rangers: @SEA (Millwood)
38. Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees: vs. LAA (Wilson)
39. Jarrod Parker, Athletics: @MIN (Duensing)
40. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays: vs. BOS (Morales)
41. Tim Hudson, Braves: vs. NYM (Young)
42. Josh Beckett, Red Sox: @TB (Shields)
43. Tommy Milone, Athletics: @MIN (De Vries)
44. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros: @SF (Bumgarner)
45. Clay Buchholz, Red Sox: @TB (Price)

Worth a Try

Each of these starters will be viable for owners in standard mixed league formats, though they should be avoided in shallower leagues. Some of your lineup dilemmas may involve several of the pitchers in this group, so I will address why each one is worth using this week.

46. Francisco Liriano, Twins: vs. OAK (Griffin)

Liriano's wildness is still a concern, but he has been whiffing batters at a much higher rate since returning to the rotation in late May. The A's are very good at drawing walks, so that prevents Liriano from being one of the more solid options this week.

47. Ivan Nova, Yankees: vs. LAA (Weaver)

Nova has been sensational lately, posting a 1.70 ERA over his last seven starts. Though he has been getting more grounders, his home run rate has also benefited from pitching in Yankee Stadium just once over the past month, so this start will be a real test for him.

48. Ben Sheets, Braves: vs. NYM (Niese)

In his prime, Sheets would reliably put up superb strikeout-to-walk ratios. Double-A isn't the major leagues, but it was encouraging to see his strong command in evidence in a pair of starts for the Braves' Southern League affiliate.

49. Bud Norris, Astros: @SF (Cain)

Norris pitched well in his final start before the break, but he continues to be a little too flyball-prone. Still, he is a worthy risk with a start at AT&T Park.

50. Chad Billingsley, Dodgers: vs. SD (Marquis)

Wildness hasn't been a problem for Billingsley lately, but he has been very hittable over his last five starts, allowing opposing hitters to bat .345. Then again, he hasn't had a particularly favorable schedule, but a start against the Padres changes that trend.

51. Clayton Richard, Padres: @LAD (Kershaw)

Though Richard scuffled in his most recent start, he has been very good at limiting extra-base hits and walks over the past six weeks. Factor in that he will face a Dodgers lineup that has had trouble scoring, and it looks like a safe week to get Richard into your rotation.

52. Mark Buehrle, Marlins: vs. WAS (Gonzalez)

Owners shouldn't count on Buehrle to extend his string of three straight games with seven or more strikeouts, but they should rely on him to produce his 13th quality start of the season. Especially in this short week, that's good enough for Buehrle to earn a start in Fantasy.

53. Max Scherzer, Tigers: @BAL (Chen)

The schedule has done Scherzer some big favors over the past month, as he has reeled off five straight quality starts. High home run and line drive rates are always a threat to his ERA and WHIP, but he should fare well enough against a struggling Orioles offense.

54. Aaron Harang, Dodgers: vs. SD (Volquez)

Given how poor his command has been, Harang is probably lucky to have a 2.53 ERA over his last eight starts. The Padres may draw a few walks, but they aren't likely to do much damage when they swing the bats.

55. Doug Fister, Tigers: @BAL (Hammel)

Fister continues to throw strikes and get grounders, but he has been getting killed on balls in play. The Tigers' defense has likely played a role in Fister's struggles, and that limits his value to that of a low-end option for standard mixed league owners.

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56. Mike Leake, Reds: vs. STL (Lynn)

Leake has rebounded admirably since his poor start to the season, but he has also had more than his share of favorable matchups along the way. He will probably rank higher in future weeks, but the Cardinals make Leake riskier than normal for Week 15.

57. A.J. Griffin, Athletics: @MIN (Liriano)

Griffin has looked good in his first three starts, though a 91 percent strand rate raises some doubt about his ability to sustain his success. As a pitch-to-contact type, Griffin should continue to benefit from the A's solid defense.

58. Jose Quintana, White Sox: @KC (Chen)

Quintana didn't profile as a strikeout pitcher in the minors, but he has been missing bats this year, even against some good lineups. Maybe it won't last, but Quintana has shown enough promise to earn a start, at least this time around.

59. Trevor Cahill, Diamondbacks: @CHC (Garza)

Cahill continues to be inconsistent, but he is starting to go deeper into games with more regularity. Over his last seven starts, he has lasted seven innings or more four times.

60. Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles: vs. DET (Scherzer)

Chen hasn't posted a quality start at home since May, but earlier this year, he tamed both the Yankees and Rangers at Camden Yards. He's far from a sure thing, but Chen has the potential to be useful this week.

61. Jerome Williams, Angels: @NYY (Garcia)

Williams presents some uncertainty, as he will just be coming off the disabled list, and he has a tough matchup, too. However, earlier this year, he showed a knack for pitching with efficiency

62. Edinson Volquez, Padres: @LAD (Harang)

Volquez benefits from a good matchup, but he has the potential to hurt your team's WHIP in any given week. At least this time, though, he should help with ERA and Ks.

63. Chris Young, Mets: @ATL (Hudson)

Young has yet to give up more than three runs in any outing, so that alone makes him worth starting this week. However, he doesn't fare all that well against lefties, so the Braves' lefty-heavy lineup could present some challenges.

64. Ricky Nolasco, Marlins: vs. WAS (Strasburg)

Over his three most recent starts, Nolasco has sent his ground ball rate back upward. Time will tell if the trend will last, but at least it provides some explanation for his latest change in fortune, as Nolasco has gone 2-0 with a 0.92 ERA over that span.

65. Bruce Chen, Royals: vs. CHW (Quintana)

Chen has allowed only two home runs to lefties all season long, so especially with a start at pitcher-friendly Kaufffman Stadium, he could limit the damage done by Adam Dunn and A.J. Pierzynski.

66. Chris Tillman, Orioles: vs. DET (Verlander)

Wildness has gotten the better of Tillman in the past, but so far this season -- mostly in Triple-A -- he has been much more of a strike-thrower. He will have a hard time getting a "W" opposing Verlander, but Tillman could still put up some useful stats in this matchup.

67. Paul Maholm, Cubs: vs. ARI (Kennedy)

Maholm has recovered from a rocky beginning with the Cubs, as he has been getting more strikeouts over the past month. Maybe there's no reason for it, but he's actually been ringing up Ks at a faster pace in his home starts, striking out 6.9 batters per nine innings.

68. Kevin Millwood, Mariners: vs. TEX (Holland)

Millwood's freakish ground ball binge from earlier this season has passed, but he is still avoiding the long ball. Though the Rangers always pose a threat, Millwood has allowed only two homers in 34 innings at Safeco Field this season.

69. Franklin Morales, Red Sox: @TB (Hellickson)

The Yankees punished Morales last Saturday, exploding for four home runs and six runs total, but the Rays aren't nearly as dangerous of an offensive threat. Though he remains something of an unknown quantity as a starter, for the most part this season Morales has done a great job locating his pitches and staying out of trouble.

70. Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians: @TOR (Laffey)

With lower velocity and weaker ground ball tendencies, Jimenez is not the pitcher he used to be. However, he has been walking fewer batters lately and that's helped enough to give him a 2.93 ERA over June and July.

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Deep League Filler

These pitchers should be avoided in standard and shallow mixed league formats, though those near the top of this list could be used as last-resort options.

71. Tim Lincecum, Giants: vs. HOU (Harrell)
72. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays: vs. CLE (Masterson)
73. Joe Saunders, Diamondbacks: @CHC (Dempster)
74. Kevin Correia, Pirates: @MIL (Gallardo)
75. Carlos Villanueva, Blue Jays: vs. CLE (Lowe)
76. Cole De Vries, Twins: vs. OAK (Milone)
77. Derek Lowe, Indians: @TOR (Villanueva)
78. Jake Westbrook, Cardinals: @CIN (Cueto)
79. Lucas Harrell, Astros: @SF (Lincecum)
80. Luke Hochevar, Royals: vs. CHW (Peavy)
81. Jason Marquis, Padres: @LAD (Billingsley)
82. Drew Pomeranz, Rockies: vs. PHI (Hamels)
83. Freddy Garcia, Yankees: vs. LAA (Williams)
84. Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners: vs. TEX (Harrison)
85. Aaron Laffey, Blue Jays: vs. CLE (Jimenez)
86. Luis Mendoza, Royals: vs. CHW (Sale)
87. *Randy Wolf, Brewers: vs. PIT (Burnett)
88. Brian Duensing, Twins: vs. OAK (Parker)
89. Christian Friedrich, Rockies: vs. PHI (Lee)
90. Jeremy Guthrie, Rockies: vs. PHI (Worley)

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
Francona: Indians taking no chances with Brantley, out a few more days
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:52 pm ET) Indians manager Terry Francona said Friday the team is taking no chances with outfielder Michael Brantley, who still had back soreness Friday, per MLB.com. Francona said Brantley is likely to miss a few more spring games and has no specific game in mind for his return.

Brantley, who is coming off a breakout season in 2014, is batting .321 (9 for 28) with one double, two runs, two RBI, two walks and three strikeouts in 10 spring games.


Red Sox's Victorino confident he can play every day in the field
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:46 pm ET) Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino said emphatically Friday he is capable of playing every day, just six months removed from back surgery and having to abandon switch-hitting due to durability concerns.

"Just because I haven't done it here doesn't mean I'm not ready," Victorino said, per CSNNE.com. "[Thursday] was my best day, physically. I feel like everything's going in the right direction, physically -- my legs, running. I feel like I can go everyday, but obviously I have to show it here or show the consistency of it.

"We've only got, what nine days or so [remaining], so I'm sure the next week or so is going to be a test. But I feel I can do it. I kind of turned the corner in the last few days, from a physical standpoint. I'm starting to feel good. The last few days have meant big strides in terms of bouncing back and feeling good the next day.''

Victorino has played back-to-back days this spring just once, and the second day he was the DH. Victorino is aware he needs to show manager John Farrell he can handle playing in the field on consecutive days without any issues.

"I'm not going to go in there and say, 'John, I need to go from Game 1 to Game 162,'' Victorino said. "But I've got to prove in these next 8-9 days. I've got to prove I can go back-to-back days or three in a row. That will be a test for myself, too.''


White Sox SP Chris Sale could pitch in minors game in five days
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:26 pm ET) White Sox pitcher Chris Sale (foot), who threw a short bullpen on Wednesday, threw a 75-pitch simulated game on Friday, according to Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Sale is rehabbing from a broken foot, and called his outing a "big confidence builder." He could start in a minor-league game in approximately five days.

Alex Hassan available Friday; Josh Reddick could be back Sunday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:22 pm ET) Athletics outfielder Alex Hassan was deemed available to play off the bench in Thursday's Cactus League game against the White Sox, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Hassan has been sidelined since March 11 due to the issue. Outfielder Josh Reddick, who was shut down earlier in March due to an oblique strain, could return as early as Sunday.

Cubs' Kris Bryant on Opening Day status: 'Why not me?'
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:17 pm ET) Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has never started a rookie on Opening Day. Kris Bryant wants to be change that trend this season.

"I look at it as why not me?" Bryant said Friday, per MLB.com. "I think I'm the type of guy who can go out there and do it. I've made it a point of mine to show them that I can."

Bryant is in the midst of a scorching hot spring, with nine homers in 32 at-bats. On Thursday, the 23-year-old also showed some versatility by starting in left field against the Jered Weaver and the Angels.

"Yesterday was good for me to go out there and face a pitcher like Jered Weaver who has incredible stuff,” Bryant said. "He's a different type of pitcher and it was really good for me to go out there and struggle a little bit, see what he’s going to throw me and learn from it. I took it as a learning experience."

Bryant has three multi-home run games this spring. He is hitting .406/.472/1.313 in 12 Cactus League games.

New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters that Bryant's agent, Scott Boras, should not be involved in Chicago's roster decisions, even when it comes to Bryant, per the Chicago Tribune.

"Look, I don't think the Cubs decision on what’s going to happen to Kris Bryant is really any of Mr. Boras' business," Manfred said. "I think the Cubs -- I know the Cubs -- will make decisions that are best for the long term competitiveness of the club. And focusing on whether a particular player has played, or is with a club on a day, or days, I don’t think is a fair evaluation of what the club is up to.

"The club is in the best position, and the Cubs are in the best position, to decide what's going to make them the most competitive over the longest period of time."


Brewers' Khris Davis crushes grand slam to continue torrid spring
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:02 pm ET) Brewers outfielder Khris Davis made a statement with his first home run of the spring Thursday against the Mariners, connecting for a grand slam off Roenis Elias in the first inning.

Although it took Davis 14 games to connect for his first spring home run, it's not like he is having a poor spring at the plate. Davis is batting .389 (14 for 36) with six doubles, seven runs and 12 RBI.

“He’s driving the ball; he’s having great at-bats,” manager Ron Roenicke said, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I love what he’s doing right now. I couldn’t care less about home runs. If he continues this through the season, he’s going to have some big numbers.”

Davis has been working with hitting coach Darnell Coles this spring on making adjustments at the plate.

“I think last year I tended to get away from pulling my hands in but I can’t really explain it,” Davis said. (The change) is something that makes me more comfortable. It’s helping me be more consistent.

“I feel pretty lucky right now with a lot of broken-bat base hits and flashes of some hard-hit balls. I feel like I’m still 20 or 30 ABs from being where I’m ready for the season. I still want to do some things up there. Right now, I’m in the right place at the right time (to get ready for the season).”


White Sox's Nate Jones has 'pen session scheduled Wednesday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:48 pm ET) White Sox reliever Nate Jones is scheduled for a bullpen on Wednesday, according to Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Jones is working his way back from Tommy John surgery last July. He will  likely stay in extended spring training through May, and is targeting a mid-season return.

Nationals' Williams continues to speak highly of Dan Uggla
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:42 pm ET) Nationals second baseman Dan Uggla continues to make a strong push for a roster spot, as he is batting .323 (10 for 31) with two home runs, two doubles and six RBI in 15 spring games.

"I just think his direction is good," manager Matt Williams said, per MASNsports.com. "It has been good, the fact that he's just taking balls to right field. He's shown some power the other way in spring, which is good. For him, that's key.

"I know that he feels good about where he's at, I know he feels good about seeing the ball. And the results are showing so yeah, I think he's performed really well. He's been a joy to have around. He's a veteran guy, understands the whole process of spring training, but he's worked really hard, too. So for me he's been real good."


Salazar demoted; McAllister, House, Tomlin will compete for final spots
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:40 pm ET) The Indians have optioned right-hander Danny Salazar to Triple-A Columbus, just a day removed from a dreadful Cactus League outing, according to the Plain Dealer.

Salazar coughed up seven runs -- six earned -- on six hits and no walks while striking out six over 3 1/3 innings of work against the Reds. The 25-year-old posted a whopping 8.18 ERA through 11 innings this spring.

"I don't know. The stuff is definitely there. It's not there yet consistently, whether he's locating or following a pitch up with two pitches in a row," manager Terry Francona said after Salazar's outing on Thursday. "Again, we'll keep working at it -- that's for darn sure -- but the results weren't the kind of what we're looking for."

The demotion narrows Zach McAllister, T.J. House and Josh Tomlin down to the two final spots in the rotation. House and Tomlin have options, while McAllister is out of options and could be in line for one of those two spots, per the Plain Dealer.


Reds' Marquis happy with way he is throwing baseball post-surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:30 pm ET) Reds starting pitcher Jason Marquis hasn't made a start in the majors since 2013 while working his way back from Tommy John surgery. But the 36-year-old pitcher has had a career resurgence this spring and is on track to open the season in the Reds' rotation.

"The ball is coming out of my hand in a way it hasn't the last five years," Marquis said, per MLB.com. "I've gotten some velocity back, but that's not the big thing. There's just more life on the ball.

"I'm throwing the ball instead of pushing it, guiding it. I think maybe I developed bad habits over those years to protect the elbow so I can pitch. More than anything, that's what I'm happiest with."

Marquis is 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA in five spring starts.


 
 
 
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