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Plumbing the Depths for Week 17

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With the trade deadline approaching, several major league rotations are bound to get shuffled over the next couple of weeks. That will provide an opportunity for some minor leaguers to get a callup and claim a rotation spot, providing some fresh arms to insert into your deeper league Fantasy rotations.

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Until those reinforcements come, there are some more familiar names who are available on waivers who deserve a start for Fantasy Week 17 (July 23-29). This week's Plumbing the Depths highlights 10 starters who need to be claimed and/or activated in deeper mixed leagues and league-specific formats, as their recent trends and upcoming matchups make the coming week look like a productive one in Fantasy. Ubaldo Jimenez's presence among this week's group may look odd, as he is owned in many standard mixed leagues, but even in a two-start week he probably shouldn't be. Too often, Jimenez allows too many walks and homers to be useful, even in many deeper formats, but this time around he's worth a shot in some of the deeper mixed leagues in which he is currently benched.

Here is the lowdown on Jimenez and some of the other underused pitching options for deeper leagues, starting with those slated for two starts. All stats are current for games through Wednesday, July 18.

Deeper league two-start options

Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians:
Projected matchups: DET (Fister), @MIN (DeVries)
2012 stats: 8-8, 5.09 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 79 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 77/43
Outlook: Now that Jimenez is no longer a ground ball or a strikeout pitcher, he is far less effective, but he still has his uses depending on the matchup and venue. Jimenez sports a 3.66 ERA at pitcher-friendly Progressive Field, where he has allowed just four doubles (but also eight homers) all season. He could fare well at home against the Tigers, and Target Field might be a good venue for him as well. However, Jimenez is still having serious enough issues with control that he should not be made active in standard mixed leagues, even with a two-start week.

Lucas Harrell, Astros:
Projected matchups: CIN (Leake), PIT (McDonald)
2012 stats: 7-6, 4.43 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 69 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 26/19
Outlook: Among RP-eligible starting pitchers, Harrell has the fifth-most points in standard Head-to-Head leagues, so for points league owners, he may be more than just a deep league option in Week 17. Thanks in part to a series of favorable matchups, Harrell has shaved more than half a run off his ERA over his last four starts, and he can continue to help owners over his two starts next week. The Reds are a mediocre offensive team on the road and the Pirates are the majors' third-worst team at getting on base. Harrell has shown himself to be vulnerable against good lineups, but he rarely gets hit hard when faced with a favorable matchup. He is safe to start outside of standard and shallow mixed leagues for the coming scoring period.

Drew Pomeranz, Rockies:
Projected matchups: @ARI (Saunders), CIN (Latos)
2012 stats: 1-4, 3.79 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 32 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 25/12
Outlook: He is still not going very deep into games, but in his three starts since his recall from Triple-A, Pomeranz has been more efficient. In getting more whiffs and inducing more grounders when hitters do make contact, the one-time Ole Miss hurler has held batters to a .136 average in his last three turns. He has been helped by a six percent line drive rate in those starts, which he is highly unlikely to sustain, but the upturn in his skill ratios is a welcome sign. With a pair of potentially challenging matchups (yes, Cincy is weaker on the road, but this is Coors Field), Pomeranz is too risky to use in standard mixed leagues, but he is worth activating in just about any format deeper than that.

Joe Kelly, Cardinals:
Projected matchups: LAD (Billingsley), @CHC (Wood)
2012 stats: 1-2, 2.75 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 25 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 16/9
Outlook: If you guessed that the gap between Kelly's high WHIP and low ERA suggests that he has gotten out of his fair share of jams, then you guessed right. He has allowed hitters to amass a .272 batting average overall, but that marks drops to .222 over the 27 at-bats in which he has had two men or more on base. Even though Kelly's ERA is currently below 3.00, he is nowhere close to viable in standard mixed leagues, but he is also far from a last resort option in deeper leagues. His 51 percent ground ball rate should make him immune to the whims of the Wrigley Field climate zone, and he should master the Dodgers, who continue to have trouble scoring. Kelly is a must-start this coming week in all NL-only leagues as well as in some deeper mixed leagues.

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Tommy Hunter, Orioles:
Projected matchups: @CLE (Masterson), OAK (Colon)
2012 stats: 4-4, 5.71 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 46 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 3/1
Outlook: It's easy to overlook Hunter, as home runs have left him with some ugly Fantasy stats. The move to the AL East, with its souped-up lineups and hitter's parks, has not done Hunter any favors, but he has turned in some gems when he has pitched outside of the division. One of his better starts came back in April against the A's at home, and he'll get to face Oakland in Charm City once again next week. A trip to Cleveland also bodes well for Hunter, as he had not allowed a homer there in either of his previous starts there as a Ranger. Hunter is too volatile to trust outside of AL-only leagues, but he's widely available in those formats and worth starting for this two-start week.

Waiver wire targets

Carlos Villanueva, Blue Jays:
Projected matchups: DET (Porcello)
2012 stats: 4-0, 2.68 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 57 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 36/15
Outlook: Last season, Villanueva made 13 starts for Toronto, and it didn't go well. He posted a 5.15 ERA in those appearances, as he allowed too much contact and yielded a .284 batting average to opposing hitters. This time around, Villanueva is proving much tougher to hit, as he has maintained a 13 percent swinging strike rate, as opposed to the seven percent rate that he compiled in his 2011 starts. Granted, he has made only three starts so far, but it's impressive that he has achieved the feat against the Angels, Royals and Indians, three of the four best contact-hitting teams in the American League. Villanueva is still a little too wild to trust in shallower formats, but he needs to be active in far more than 15 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com going forward.

Henderson Alvarez, Blue Jays:
Projected matchups: DET (Turner)
2012 stats: 5-7, 4.29 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 42 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 22/9
Outlook: Villanueva isn't the only Blue Jays pitcher who has been increasing his whiffs lately. After a contact-heavy start to the season, Alvarez has induced whiffs on seven percent of his pitches over his last six starts. That's still a bit below the major league average, but it's progress, as Alvarez's rate was just four percent over his first dozen starts. He is also getting more grounders, as his rate has inched up to 58 percent. Having posted quality starts against the Angels and Yankees over the past three weeks, Alvarez is starting to bear the fruits of his improving skill set. Alvarez's ownership and activation rates continue to be on the wane, but it's time for owners in deeper mixed leagues to start rostering and starting Alvarez once again.

Josh Collmenter, Diamondbacks:
Projected matchups: NYM (Niese)
2012 stats: 1-2, 3.90 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 57 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 9/3
Outlook: Collmenter's on-again, off-again relationship with the Arizona rotation is back on again. After being supplanted by Trevor Bauer, Collmenter reclaimed his starting gig with the demotion of Bauer back to Triple-A. To look at Collmenter's 2012 stats, you would think he was a radically different pitcher, getting more swinging strikes and ground balls, but those improvements were achieved during his stints as a reliever. Owners should expect the Collmenter they saw last year, which wasn't all that bad. He probably won't provide many strikeouts, but with few walks and a high popup rate, Collmenter should put up a good ERA and WHIP, even if he turns in the occasional clunker.

Luis Mendoza, Royals:
Projected matchups: @SEA (Vargas)
2012 stats: 3-6, 4.32 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 50 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 5/3
Outlook: None of Mendoza's first five starts this year were quality starts, but ever since notching his first one on June 12 against the Brewers, he has been notably reliable. Having recorded five quality starts in his last six tries, Mendoza has lowered his ERA by more than a run. Improved control has the been the key, as he has been throwing his two-seamer for strikes more often, and he has walked just 10 batters over his last 37 2/3 innings. Given that he pitches to contact, Mendoza can't afford to issue too many free passes if he is to succeed. Between his recent improvement and a favorable upcoming matchup -- the Mariners don't hit much or draw a lot of walks -- Mendoza is a solid start for owners in AL-only leagues this coming week.

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Ross Ohlendorf, Padres:
Projected matchups: @MIA (Sanchez)
2012 stats: 3-0, 5.87 ERA, 1.87 WHIP, 20 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 1/0
Outlook: For the better part of the last year and a half, Ohlendorf has either been hurt or ineffective. However, his strong performance against the Astros on Tuesday was a reminder of what he can be: a decent starting option for owners in league-specific formats. Strong flyball tendencies can be a liability for Ohlendorf, but he couldn't have landed in a better rotation than the Padres', as he gets to make his home starts at PETCO Park. Marlins Park isn't a bad spot either, and that's where Ohlendorf will ply his craft in Week 17. He is worth a flyer, especially with a start against a struggling Marlins squad.

Vulnerable rotation spots

Mets: The Matt Harvey Era in Flushing will have to wait, as the Mets will send Miguel Batista to the mound on Saturday to face the Dodgers, filling the vacancy left by Dillon Gee (shoulder). However, the team considered calling up Harvey for the start, and the New York Post reported that Harvey could be recalled as soon as next week. If Batista does not fare well this weekend, there is a chance Harvey will make his big league debut on July 26 at Arizona. The 23-year-old prospect is still availale in more than four-fifths of our leagues, but the time is now to pick him up for your deeper mixed league and NL-only rosters.

White Sox: The Pale Hose will need a starter for Monday's game against the Twins, but it's not yet clear who will fill the vacancy. Dylan Axelrod is the most likely candidate, but he is currently in the bullpen. Should Axelrod be sufficiently rested to get the call on Monday, he would be worth using in AL-only leagues. However, because the White Sox have a day off on Thursday, he would likely be skipped for his next turn, precluding a two-start week.

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
Twins pitcher Brian Duensing to begin soft tossing Wednesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:23 pm ET) Twins pitcher Brian Duensing is on track with recovery and scheduled to begin soft tossing Wednesday, assistant general manager Rob Antony said per the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Duensing, who is dealing with an intercostal or abdominal strain, has yet to have a setback with his recovery. He is currently on the 15-day DL with the injury, but is not expected to be back with the team until mid-May. Duensing has one save this year in 3 2/3 innings with a 7.36 ERA.


Rays 2B Ryan Brett leaves Tuesday's game with shoulder injury
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(8:16 pm ET) Rays second baseman Ryan Brett left Tuesday's game against the Red Sox with a partially dislocated left shoulder injury, the team has announced.

The injury, officially diagnosed as a subluxation, occurred while Brett was in the process of getting picked off as a runner at first base. 

Allan Dykstra has replaced Brett, going into play first base while Logan Forsythe moves from first base to second.


Giants' Hunter Pence hitting off tee, won't return by May 1
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(8:09 pm ET) Giants outfielder Hunter Pence began hitting off a tee with a regulation bat on Tuesday, but he still has a long way to go before he'll be able to return. 

"He's got to go through hitting off a tee, soft toss, all the boxes he's got to check off," manager Bruce Bochy said, per the San Francisco Chronicle.

Pence was initially expected to be back by May 1, but it appears that he'll miss that date. "I'd say it's fair to say," Bochy said. 


Catcher Kevin Plawecki ready to start for Mets
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(8:05 pm ET) Catcher Kevin Plawecki joined the Mets sooner than expected, but the 2012 first-round draft pick is ready to contribute.

Travis d'Arnaud went on the disabled list with a fractured finger, and the call went out to Plawecki.

"Given Travis' injury, it's not an ideal situation, not the way I really expected to come up," Plawecki said, per NJ.com. "But I'm here, I'm happy to be here, and I'm happy to be part of this team."

Manager Terry Collins told Plawecki not to put too much pressure on himself for his debut.

"I talked to him earlier, and I told him the one thing is there's a lot on his plate today, and the main thing is just to be himself," Collins said. "Just go out there and have some fun. We'll help him get through certain situations .. because there's an awful lot to learn in your first day."


Brock Holt gets another chance to prove himself as SS for Red Sox
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(7:54 pm ET) Red Sox utility man Brock Holt makes his second start of the season at shortstop on Tuesday, a position he primarilty played throughout the minors until he was shifted around in the big leagues, according to the Providence Journal.

"The Pirates (his original MLB team) didn't think I could play short. When I came over here, and I didn't really get an opportunity to play short until last year," Holt said. "I always thought I could play short. But when you don't get the chance or the opportunity, it creeps into your mind, like, 'Maybe I can't.'"

Holt will get his second chance in a week Tuesday to showcase his skills for the Red Sox at shortstop.

"You get limited looks at a guy because there are other people playing there," Brian Butterfield, Boston's infield instructor, said. "But once you get a chance to see more and more of it, you start to say, 'Wow, he can do everything.' He can go in the hole and stick his foot in the ground and throw a strike."

Angels left fielder Collin Cowgill back in the lineup Tuesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:18 pm ET) Angels left fieder Collin Cowgill is back in the starting lineup Tuesday against Athletics, with Matt Joyce heading to the bench, the team announced.

Cowgill has replaced Joyce in the lineup against left-handed pitchers and is hitting .192 with one home run in 26 at-bats. The Angels are currently the favorites (-120) against Oakland.


OF Chris Heisey says he'll be recalled by Dodgers on Wednesday
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(7:16 pm ET) Outfielder Chris Heisey said he expects to be called up by the Dodgers on Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Heisey was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on April 5 where in 10 games he hit .257 with four home runs and seven RBI.

The Dodgers have had recent injury and health issues with outfielders Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford.

Rangers' Mitch Moreland out of the lineup Tuesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:07 pm ET) Rangers first baseman/designated hitter Mitch Moreland is out of the starting lineup Tuesday against the Diamondbacks, the team announced.

Moreland, who is dealing with a knee injury, is expected to be on the bench until Friday, with the team playing in National League stadiums until this weekend. Moreland is hitting .276 with one home run in 29 at-bats this season.


INF Frandsen signed by Diamondbacks, sent to Reno
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7:04 pm ET) The Diamondbacks have signed veteran infielder Kevin Frandsen and assigned him to Triple-A, per azcentralsports.com.

The 32-year-old Frandsen was released by Washington just before the regular season. If he is promoted by Arizona, it will be the sixth team he has played for since 2009.


Diamondbacks' Patrick Corbin throws BP, another planned for Saturday
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7:02 pm ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin continued his progress in returning from Tommy John surgery. He threw a batting practice session on Tuesday, per Fox Sports Arizona.

Corbin has another 40-pitch session planned for Saturday. Assuming there are no setbacks, he'll follow up with a three-inning appearance in an extended spring training game. 


 
 
 
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