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Top 70 starters for Week 17


The non-waiver trade deadline is just nine days away, and several starting pitchers could be changing teams during Fantasy Week 17 (July 23-29).

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Ryan Dempster, James Shields and Cole Hamels could top the list of names on the move in the coming days, but each remains a must-start in standard mixed leagues, regardless of what uniform he wears.

There may or may not be trade news impacting your roster decisions heading into the Week 17 lineup deadline, but the constant parade of injury news marches on. Johan Santana won't be an option this week, having been placed on the disabled list with an ankle injury, and a tight forearm could send Colby Lewis back to the DL. Matt Garza could also be a Week 17 casualty, as he exited Saturday's start against St. Louis early with cramping in his right triceps.

Barring more definitive news on Garza, he still makes this week's top 70 starters list, albeit all the way down at number 60. The other 69 pitchers who join Garza in the week's rankings are listed just below, along with their matchup information and some statistical nuggets.

Rotation breakdown for Fantasy Week 17
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2 Stat of note
1 Clayton Kershaw @STL (Wainwright) @SF (Vogelsong) Career 1.78 ERA at STL
Kershaw should have a great week at two very good pitcher's parks, as he also sports a career 0.79 ERA at AT&T Park.
2 Roy Halladay MIL (Wolf) @ATL (Minor) 25 percent called strike rate, Tues. at LAD
While Halladay didn't have his best game in his first start back from the DL, he did a superb job of commanding the strike zone and freezing batters.
3 Felix Hernandez NYY (Garcia) KC (Smith) 1.36 ERA, last seven starts
With 59 strikeouts and seven walks over his last 53 innings, King Felix is back to being an elite force among Fantasy starters.
4 R.A. Dickey WAS (Gonzalez) @ARI (Saunders) 29 Ks over last 33 1/3 innings
Dickey has been more hittable lately, but it's not because he has been allowing too much contact. He's allowed a few too many liners, but that's a stat that can fluctuate wildly.
5 David Price @BAL (Gonzalez) N/A Six straight starts of seven innings or more
Despite some tough matchups over the past month, Price has been as reliable as any Fantasy owner could hope for.
6 Justin Verlander @CLE (McAllister) N/A 3.96 P/PA
Verlander has been notoriously inefficient at times, but shorter plate apparances this year are a good omen for when he faces a patient Indians squad.
7 Ryan Vogelsong SD (Richard) LAD (Kershaw) 49 percent home ground ball rate (per FanGraphs)
It's not clear why Vogelsong is so much better at getting grounders at home than on the road, but he had similar splits last season, too.
8 Zack Greinke @PHI (Lee) WAS (Gonzalez) .378 BABIP in July
Greinke earned a brief respite after some early July struggles, but his high BABIP and a 17 percent line drive rate suggest that he may have endured some bad luck.
9 Jered Weaver KC (Hochevar) N/A .210 home SLG
Weaver can be prone to homers on the road, but at home this season, he has allowed a total of seven extra-base hits, only two of which were long balls.
10 Cliff Lee MIL (Greinke) N/A 0.95 WHIP in July
Lee has put his subpar June behind him, demonstrating his trademark command while cutting back on his flyball rate.
11 Cole Hamels @ATL (Sheets) N/A 2 HRs allowed to lefty batters
Righties have pummelled Hamels for 15 homers, but he has been stingy on lefties, a trend that is encouraging as he readies to face the lefty-heavy Braves.
12 Madison Bumgarner SD (Volquez) N/A Career 0.6 HR/9 at home
Bumgarner has been so good at avoiding home runs at AT&T Park, owners can treat his upcoming start against the Padres as if it were at PETCO Park.
13 Matt Cain LAD (Eovaldi) N/A Opponents' .286 SLG at home
Cain has pitched better at home over the course of his career, but this season in particular, he has really taken advantage of the pitcher-friendly dimensions of AT&T Park.
14 Jordan Zimmermann @NYM (Young) @MIL (Wolf) 17 quality starts (leads MLB)
Zimmermann isn't universally started, probably because of a low strikeout rate, but arguably no one has been better at avoiding disastrous starts.
15 C.J. Wilson KC (Chen) TB (Hellickson) 1.8 K/BB
With two starts and a 2.82 ERA, it might seem like Wilson should be a top 10 option, but it's hard to put that degree of trust in someone with a mediocre K/BB ratio.
16 Chris Sale @TEX (Darvish) N/A At least seven innings in nine of last 10 starts
Sale had a difficult time of it on Saturday in Detroit, but the damage came in the middle innings, allowing the lefty to continue a string of long starts.
17 Ian Kennedy COL (Sanchez) NYM (Young) .182 flyball BABIP
Kennedy has been the apparent recipient of bad luck on flyballs, and that will take a toll when you allow flies at an above-average rate. With better fortunes, we could see the Kennedy of 2011 at any time.
18 Jake Peavy MIN (Blackburn) N/A Opponents' .300 SLG vs. righties
Though Peavy has strong flyball tendencies, he is good enough against righties that he can neutralize the power threat posed by Josh Willingham and Trevor Plouffe.
19 CC Sabathia BOS (Lester) N/A 1.31 ERA over last three starts
Sabathia hasn't always fared well against the Red Sox, but he's in the midst of one of his better stretches of this season.
20 Stephen Strasburg @NYM (Hefner) N/A 5.8 innings per start
Strasburg leads the majors in K/9, but a relative lack of innings often prevents him from being a top 10 option, especially in one-start weeks.
21 Yovani Gallardo WAS (Jackson) N/A 3.14 home ERA
Miller Park can be a challenging place to pitch, but Gallardo has actually been better at home than on the road this season and over the course of his career.
22 Josh Johnson ATL (Minor) SD (Richard) 14 percent called strikes, last three starts
Johnson's command hasn't been up to par this month, so batters aren't getting fooled as often, but that has not been an issue for him for the bulk of this season.
23 Gio Gonzalez @NYM (Dickey) @MIL (Greinke) 3.47 road ERA
Gonzalez isn't part of his team's trend of pitching better on the road than at home, but he hasn't been discernably worse when away from Nationals Park either.
24 James McDonald CHC (Maholm) @HOU (Harrell) 61 percent strikes thrown
McDonald hasn't had much control over his last two starts, but he hadn't exactly pounded the zone during his more successful stretches this year either. His success has had as much to do with keeping the ball in the park as reducing walks.
25 Ryan Dempster @PIT (Correia) N/A Nine percent popup rate
Dempster has overperformed so far this year, but his low ERA and WHIP have been helped by a healthy popup rate.
26 A.J. Burnett @HOU (Keuchel) N/A 7 BBs over last 32 2/3 innings
Back in June, it looked as if Burnett might have gone back to his wild ways, but he has gotten back to throwing strikes and avoiding walks.
27 Adam Wainwright LAD (Kershaw) @CHC (Samardzija) 1.03 WHIP in July
As Wainwright's BABIP has regressed to a normal level recently, he has seen his WHIP start to tumble.
28 Hiroki Kuroda @SEA (Millwood) BOS (Doubront) 50 percent ground ball rate
Kuroda stumbled in his start against Boston earlier this month, as he yielded 16 flyballs, but that has been the exception for him.
29 Johnny Cueto @COL (Sanchez) N/A Career 3.00 ERA at COL
Cueto has made only two starts at Coors Field, but he has been so effective in his own hitter-friendly home park that it's plausible for him to continue his success in Denver.
30 Yu Darvish CHW (Sale) N/A 10 or more Ks in four of last six starts
Though Darvish had a surprisingly bad start against the Mariners in Week 15, he has been more consistent lately, and a steady barrage of strikeouts has been a big factor in his success.
31 Ivan Nova @SEA (Iwakuma) N/A 2.54 ERA over last nine starts
Nova has been getting grounders more consistently over the last couple of months, and that's helped him to turn his season around.
32 Lance Lynn @CHC (Garza) N/A 13 percent swinging strike rate, last three starts
Concerns over a dip in Lynn's whiff rate last month were premature, as he is back to baffling hitters again.
33 Clayton Richard @SF (Vogelsong) @MIA (Johnson) 10 percent line drive rate, last 10 starts
Since the beginning of June, Richard has racked up less than a strikeout every other inning, but he's held batters to a .247 batting average due to a lack of hard contact.
34 Doug Fister @CLE (Jimenez) @TOR (Cecil) 7.9 K/9
If he keeps up this pace, Fister will finish the season with his first strikeout rate that is above the league average.
35 Max Scherzer @CLE (Lowe) N/A Eight quality starts in last 11 tries
Scherzer finally seems to be developing some consistency, as he has been mostly reliable since mid-May.
36 James Shields @BAL (Tillman) N/A 55 percent ground ball rate
Shields is blowing away his previous career-best ground ball rate (47 percent), so it seems fluky that he is on pace to allow 30 home runs.
37 Vance Worley MIL (Estrada) N/A 5.1 runs of support per nine innings
The Phillies may not be an offensive juggernaut, but their lineup is potent enough to give Worley better run support going forward, so he should be able to improve on his 5-6 record.
38 Jeff Samardzija @PIT (Bedard) STL (Wainwright) 20 percent called strike rate, last three starts
Not only is Samardzija back to getting whiffs again, but he is now getting called strikes at a much higher rate as well.
39 Ben Sheets PHI (Hamels) N/A 20 percent whiff rate on curveball
In his prime, Sheets' curveball was a dangerous weapon, and it's fooling batters once again.
40 Jeremy Hellickson @BAL (Chen) @LAA (Wilson) 81 percent strand rate
Hellickson's 3.55 ERA may not look like a match for his mediocre strikeout and walk rates, but over the course of his young career, he has displayed a knack for stranding baserunners.
41 Dan Haren TB (Moore) N/A 3.52 ERA through June 3
Haren was having a decent season through the first two months, lending credence to the idea that his slide was related to his back woes. After spending some time on the DL, Haren could be ready to return to his prior form.
42 Anibal Sanchez SD (Ohlendorf) N/A 12 percent swinging strike rate, last three starts
Sanchez is still well below last season's strikeout rate, but he is starting to increase his whiff rate.
43 Tim Hudson @MIA (Buehrle) N/A Opponents' .247 Avg vs. lefties
The Marlins lack power with the absence of Giancarlo Stanton, but Hudson should be able to keep switch-hitting table-setters Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio off the basepaths.
44 Roy Oswalt BOS (Doubront) CHW (Quintana) 1.8 BB/9
Oswalt hasn't recaptured his velocity from a couple of years ago, but his control has been impeccable so far.
45 Justin Masterson BAL (Hunter) @MIN (Deduno) 46 Ks over last 51 2/3 innings
Masterson's wild side has been showing up a little too often, but he's been mostly successful over the past six weeks due to an increase in strikeouts.
46 Clay Buchholz @TEX (Lewis) N/A Seven straight starts with 2 BBs or fewer
Buchholz recovered from a wild start to the season by demonstrating the best control of his career.
47 Francisco Liriano @CHW (Floyd) CLE (Jimenez) Opponents' .171 Avg, last 10 starts
Liriano has been so good at avoiding contact since being reinserted into the rotation that his wildness isn't taking a toll on his ERA and WHIP.
48 Jonathon Niese @ARI (Collmenter) N/A 25 Ks, 4 BBs over last 35 1/3 innings
Niese's strikeout rate has sagged recently, but he has made up for it with an enhanced walk rate.
49 Mike Leake @HOU (Harrell) N/A Career 2.91 ERA at HOU
Leake has a good track record at Minute Maid Park, and it also helps that the Astros are last in the NL in scoring for July.
50 Mat Latos @HOU (Rodriguez) @COL (Pomeranz) Opponents' .452 SLG, both home and away
Latos has given up home runs far more frequently at home than on the road, but he's been allowing extra base hits at a high rate just about everywhere. It's not a good sign with an upcoming trip to Coors Field.
51 Jon Lester @NYY (Sabathia) N/A Career 4.87 ERA at Yankee Stadium
Lester's peripherals suggest that he should have better Fantasy stats than he does, but this doesn't look like a good bounceback week for him.
52 Matt Harrison CHW (Humber) N/A 0.86 ERA over last seven starts
Thanks to improved control and some possible good luck with stranding runners, Harrison has held opponents to two earned runs or fewer in each of his last seven outings.
53 Tommy Hanson @MIA (Nolasco) N/A 34 Ks, 11 BBs over last 34 2/3 innings
Home runs have made life difficult for Hanson of late, but other signs look promising. Meanwhile, Marlins Park looks to be the most pitcher-friendly environment he's worked in for quite some time.
54 Kyle Lohse LAD (Harang) N/A 1.5 BB/9
Lohse is actually building on last season's improvements in control, and he currently owns the third-lowest walk rate in the NL.
55 Mike Fiers WAS (Detwiler) N/A 42 consecutive homerless innings
Fiers is a flyball pitcher whose home park is conducive to home runs, so his homerless streak smells like a major fluke. A high K-rate makes him worth a start, but eventually the odds will catch up with him.
56 Erik Bedard CHC (Samardzija) @HOU (Rodriguez) 46 percent ground ball rate
Bedard is in a K-rate slump, but he continues to get ground balls at a higher rate than he has in recent seasons.
57 Chris Capuano @STL (Westbrook) N/A 7.9 road K/9
Capuano is far less trustworthy away from Dodger Stadium, but while he may not make much of a contribution to ERA or WHIP, he can still provide strikeouts away from home.
58 Jose Quintana MIN (De Vries) @TEX (Oswalt) 10 percent swinging strike rate
Quintana has never been much of a strikeout pitcher, but he's getting whiffs at a high rate. If he can get more called strikes, he has the potential to help owners with Ks.
59 Wandy Rodriguez CIN (Latos) PIT (Bedard) 51 percent strand rate in July (per FanGraphs)
Rodriguez has had a difficult month so far, even though he's getting more strikeouts and grounders. His strand rate looks far too low to sustain, so a rebound could be imminent.
60 Matt Garza STL (Lynn) N/A 11 consecutive scoreless innings
Between the triceps cramps and trade rumors, there is all sorts of uncertainty around Garza, but if he is healthy enough to pitch, he has a chance to stay on a roll.
61 Scott Diamond CLE (Tomlin) N/A 2.72 home ERA
Monday's 19-7 slugfest against the Orioles netted Diamond a win but inflated his ERA. It was the first time he had allowed more than four runs in a home start this year.
62 Phil Hughes BOS (Cook) N/A 15 percent popup rate over last five starts
Hughes is still an extreme flyball pitcher, but his home run rate has tapered off, and on the flipside, he has increased an already-impressive popup rate.
63 Josh Beckett @TEX (Holland) N/A 61 percent strikes thrown, last three starts
Beckett's command has been sharp for most of the season, but due to his recent wildness and a tough matchup ahead, he should be seen as a borderline option for standard mixed leagues this week.
64 Homer Bailey @HOU (Norris) N/A 3 BBs over last 30 2/3 innings
Last year, Bailey showed signs of improved control and efficiency, and we have seen them again over the last few weeks.
65 Matt Moore @LAA (Haren) N/A 10 BBs over last 9 2/3 innings
Moore's walks over his last two starts have been a drain on his WHIP, but both outings were against the Indians, the best team at drawing walks -- aside from the Rays. The Angels are near the other extreme.
66 Felix Doubront @TEX (Oswalt) @NYY (Kuroda) 2.92 ERA vs. NYY
These might look like brutal matchups, but bear this in mind. Doubront has had success against the Yankees, and believe it or not, the Rangers have scored the fewest runs in the majors in July.
67 Wade Miley NYM (Harvey) N/A 1.24 WHIP over last three starts
Even though Miley has been saddled with a .340 BABIP over his last three turns in the rotation, he has managed to put up a lower-than-average WHIP.
68 Wei-Yin Chen TB (Hellickson) OAK (Blackley) 24 Ks over last 24 1/3 innings
As advertised, Chen has been a good control pitcher, but at times, he has showed signs of being able to help with strikeouts, too.
69 Jason Vargas KC (Mendoza) N/A 1.77 ERA over last five starts
Vargas is usually solid at home, but he has reeled off five straight quality starts, and the last three were away from the safety of Safeco Field.
70 Jeff Karstens @HOU (Lyles) N/A Opponents' .232 OBP, last three starts
As usual, Karstens isn't issuing many walks, but he has been missing more bats lately, making it hard for opponents to put runners on base.

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Player News
Rangers' Nick Martinez tosses six scoreless innings Thursday
by R.J. White |
(11:15 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Nick Martinez allowed just five hits and one walk in six scoreless innings while striking out four in Thursday's spring start against the Rockies.

Martinez is battling for the final spot in the team's rotation and did a good job making his case Thursday, limiting the Rockies to just one extra-base hit. He allowed a run in his spring debut but has delivered 8 2/3 scoreless innings in his last two appearances to lower his spring ERA to 0.84.

Rockies' Christian Friedrich impressing with slider
by R.J. White |
(11:07 pm ET) Rockies pitcher Christian Friedrich has hit his stride with his slider as he continues to build upon a strong performance from last season after being moved to the bullpen, reports.

"I saw a real good slider, the slider we saw last September -- the one that disappears, especially to left-handed hitters," manager Walt Weiss said. "He's in a good place. Maybe the velocity is not quite what it was when we saw him in September. It's ticking up. But the slider is a swing-and-miss pitch."

Friedrich has surrendered just one earned run in six innings while striking out two batters and walking two.

"The hard thing that every pitcher does when they feel they've got the stuff is, they want to show everybody they've got the stuff," Friedrich said. "I've had games where I was teetering on the edge of, 'I feel really good tonight; let's see what comes out,' then there's a lack of execution. As a starter, some days the two-seamer was 87, 88 [mph]. Now it's coming out harder, 90 [or] 91."

Diamondbacks' Peter O'Brien seeing time in outfield
by R.J. White |
(11:03 pm ET) Diamondbacks catcher Peter O'Brien spent his second consecutive day in the outfield during a minor-league game Thursday, and he hasn't been behind the plate since developing throwing problems earlier in March, the Arizona Republic reports.

"I think he's going to play some outfield (once the minor league season starts) and catching isn't out of the question, but we're still talking internally to figure out what's best for him," farm director Mike Bell said.

While the team has been reluctant to publicly acknowledge O'Brien's catching issues, he's unlikely to be the long-term answer behind the plate, as general manager Dave O'Brien reportedly indicated in January. The Diamondbacks figure to roll with Tuffy Gosewisch as the team's primary catcher unless an addition is made.

Reds' Michael Lorenzen tosses three one-run innings Thursday
by R.J. White |
(9:57 pm ET) Reds pitching prospect Michael Lorenzen surrendered one earned run on four hits in three innings in Thursday's 13-2 win over the Indians.

"It went good," Lorenzen said after the outing, per "My fastball command was good. The tempo was good. That was the most important thing for me -- tempo and fastball command. I was able to go out there and accomplish my goal for the day."

Lorenzen came into Thursday's start having allowed no hits and six walks in two innings in his previous appearance. He threw 45 pitches in Thursday's game and another 20 in the bullpen to reach his pitch-count target.

"I worked on some breaking balls," Lorenzen said. "I gave up some two-strike hits with my breaking ball. I didn't finish them. They were a lot better in the bullpen with a couple of adjustments that I made."

The Reds are looking at Lorenzen for a long-relief role but could use him as a starter at some point this season.

"That gives him a chance to get to 80-85 [pitches] in his next outing, which to me, means he's ready to start," manager Bryan Price said before the game. "You can safely say he could throw 90-95 pitches in his first start of the season."

White Sox 3B Conor Gillaspie says plantar fasciitis is not an issue
by Sean d'Oliveira |
(9:57 pm ET) After initially being bothered by plantar fasciitis at the beginning of spring training, White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie said he is over the injury, reports

"It's fine," Gillaspie said. "First thing [in the morning] and last thing at night, it's kind of sore, but as far as affecting me playing, it doesn't. It did a little bit when I first got here, but it has gone away. Credit to [White Sox head athletic trainer] Herm [Schneider] for working hard with me every day on that."

While Gillaspie will likely be dealing with discomfort in his foot for most of the season, he said it's nothing he can't manage.

"The workload lessens as you get into the season as far as practice hours go. Obviously, I'm hoping that calms it down a bit, having a little less to do," Gillaspie said. "It's not a big issue."

Mets' Matt Bowman shines in spot start vs. Nationals
by R.J. White |
(9:48 pm ET) Mets pitching prospect Matt Bowman surrendered just two hits and one walk in five scoreless innings while striking out four in Thursday's 8-3 win over the Nationals.

"He was extremely impressive against a very good team," manager Terry Collins said after the outing, per "These guys, like all pitchers, are starting to get in shape. They're starting to get their stuff going and you see what they really have, and what they can really feature. I can understand why he's very much liked around here and how he showed up in this camp. From what I saw tonight, the command of his stuff, the poise, he's a pretty impressive-looking pitcher."

With the Mets set to open the regular season against the Nationals, the team held Opening Day starter Bartolo Colon out of Thursday's matchup and opted to use Bowman, who has posted a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings this spring.

White Sox SP Brad Penny allows six runs vs. Dodgers
by R.J. White |
(9:34 pm ET) White Sox pitcher Brad Penny struggled in Thursday's spring loss to the Dodgers, giving up six earned runs on eight hits and three walks in four innings while striking out two.

"I went out there and I was kind of letting it go, throwing more than pitching," Penny said after the outing, per "I got behind. I was working on the cutter today, which I thought was better than it has been. So, just too many balls over the plate."

Penny is competing for a spot in the team's opening rotation while Chris Sale is sidelined. He's put together a 6.89 ERA in 15 2/3 innings this spring.

Angels' Jered Weaver strikes out eight Thursday
by R.J. White |
(9:25 pm ET) Angels pitcher Jered Weaver allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits in 5 1/3 innings while racking up eight strikeouts in Thursday's spring start against the Cubs.

Weaver brought a 1.69 ERA into the outing and though that mark rose more than a full run Thursday, the starter has posted an excellent 18:1 K:BB ratio in his last three starts.

"It's always not to walk guys; it's something I've always taken a lot of pride in," Weaver said after the outing, per "It's been coming along good. I'm not out there trying to strike people out, but it's happened a little bit. … Everything's coming along nice, location's good, offspeed stuff is good when I need it, so I'm happy with where I'm at."

Weaver is on pace to deliver his best spring numbers since 2008.

Cardinals' Kevin Siegrist has trouble holding runners Thursday
by R.J. White |
(9:18 pm ET) Cardinals pitcher Kevin Siegrist allowed two stolen bases in his inning of work Thursday while surrendering one earned run. He's made mechanical adjustments this spring to try and quicken his delivery, reports.

"He got a little longer today for some reason," manager Mike Matheny said. "I don't know if he's trying to put a little more [velocity] on it or exactly what it is. I think he was thinking a little more about his stuff. Those are things that we hadn't seen much from him this spring."

The run was the first Siegrist has allowed in six innings this spring, and he's racked up seven strikeouts while issuing only one walk.

Giants OF Justin Maxwell competing to earn a spot
by Dave Peters |
(9:17 pm ET) Giants outfielder Justin Maxwell is working to win a spot on the team's bench, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Maxwell has a fan in manager Bruce Bochy, who has liked him since he came out of college. The 31-year-old has a batting average of .267 with two doubles, one triple, one home run, six RBI and 11 strikeouts. 

There is a clause in his minor-league contract that will let him out of his deal is he is not named to the 25-man roster.