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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)

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Player News
Marcus Semien could soon factor in Fantasy
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:40 pm ET) By trading Gordon Beckham to the Angels Thursday, the White Sox created a big hole up the middle that, for now at least, they'll attempt to fill with some combination of Carlos Sanchez and Leury Garcia. But neither figures to make as much of an impact long-term as Marcus Semien, who Fantasy owners may remember for the splash he made back in April and May filling in for an injured Beckham and then an injured Conor Gillaspie.

His final numbers didn't look so hot, but he showed his potential with a couple nice weeks. When the White Sox finally shipped him to Triple-A Charlotte, he slumped so badly that he fell off the radar for a while, but he's rebounded in July and August, batting .288 (51 for 177) with six homers and 14 doubles. Most encouraging is his exceptional on-base percentage during that time thanks to a 35-to-30 strikeout to walk ratio. His plate discipline put him on the map as a prospect last year but hasn't been as evident during his time in the big leagues so far.

So why isn't he up yet? Good question, but MLB.com has reported he will be when rosters expand in September. My guess is he gets most of the at-bats then, and with an Ian Kinsler-like combination of power and speed, I could see him making an impact in Fantasy.


Hyun-Jin Ryu tosses another bullpen session Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:35 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu tossed another bullpen session Friday, according to MLB.com.

Ryu has been sidelined with a glute injury since August 13. He also threw from the bullpen mound Thursday. Ryu has a 3.28 ERA over 137 1/3 innings.


Zack Greinke playing catch prior to start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:31 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke played catch on flat ground Friday, according to MLB.com.

Greinke was pushed back in the rotation in order to rest his elbow. He's slated to return to the mound Saturday against the Mets. Greinke has a 2.75 ERA over 157 1/3 innings. 


Manny Machado to have season-ending knee surgery
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:28 pm ET) Orioles third baseman Manny Machado is expected to have season-ending knee surgery, according to Yahoo!

Machado has been out since August 11 due to a knee sprain. He'll have surgery on his right knee next week, and will likely be lost for the season. Machado ruptured a ligament in his left knee last season. He's hit .278/.324/.431 over 327 at-bats. 


Jump on the Matt Shoemaker bandwagon
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:27 pm ET) I'm tired of playing the Matt Shoemaker skeptic. If nine starts aren't enough to tell us anything -- maybe not everything, but something -- then we might as well stop commenting on players midseason. Since that's not going to happen, I'm looking at what Shoemaker has done in his last nine -- a 2.54 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings -- and jumping on the bandwagon before it's too late.

So what if he was terrible in the minors? (And yes, he was terrible, getting stuck there until age 27 thanks to a 4.52 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in seven seasons.) So was Dallas Keuchel, and it didn't stop us from swimming to him like sharks to chum when he looked good in April and May. And for the most part, he's kept it up.

In Shoemaker's case, there were a few standout years in there -- most notably 2011, when he had a 3.15 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. You know what was so special about that year? It was the only one after 2009 when he spent any time anywhere other than the heavy-hitting California and Pacific Coast leagues. In 23 starts at Double-A Arkansas that year, he had a 2.48 ERA.

Of course, that doesn't explain why Shoemaker is so much more of a strikeout pitcher in the majors, and like Keuchel, I think he'll regress in that area a bit. But by now, I think he's proven his worth to Fantasy owners.


Scott Downs to throw live batting practice soon
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:02 pm ET) Royals pitcher Scott Downs is slated to throw live batting practice soon, according to the Kansas City Star

Downs has been sidelined since August 2 due to a neck injury. The Royals will return to Kansas City August 25, so that would be the earliest Downs would throw the session. He's posted a 5.29 ERA over 34 innings. 


Jose Molina dealing with knee soreness
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:59 pm ET) Rays catcher Jose Molina is dealing with knee soreness, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Molina has sat for four games due to the issue. It's not serious, and Molina is expected to return to action Saturday. He's hitting .186 over 194 at-bats. 


Justin Verlander to start Saturday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:57 pm ET) Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander will start Game 2 of the team's Saturday doubleheader, according to the Detroit Free Press

Verlander has been sidelined since August 11 due to a shoulder injury. Verlander has been able to get through his bullpen sessions without any issues, and is ready to make his return. He has a 4.76 ERA over 158 2/3 innings. 


Javy Guerra should be activated Saturday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:42 pm ET) White Sox reliever Javy Guerra should be activated Saturday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times

Guerra spent some time on the bereavement list, but is ready to return. He's posted a 3.00 ERA over 33 innings. 


Kyle Lohse to rejoin rotation Monday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:39 pm ET) Brewers pitcher Kyle Lohse will rejoin the club's rotation Monday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Lohse had his last start skipped due to an ankle injury. He'll take on the Padres Monday. Lohse has a 3.49 ERA over 159 2/3 innings. 


 
 
 
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