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Top 70 starters for Week 19


The July 31 trade deadline may be in the rear-view mirror, but that doesn't mean that rotations are settled for the coming week.

Injuries, DL moves and rotation juggling will cause some owners to make last-minute adjustments as they prepare for Fantasy Week 19 (August 6-12). A.J. Griffin left his Saturday start with a stiff shoulder, and though an MRI revealed no structural damage, he could still be facing time on the DL. That could mean that Brandon McCarthy, nearly ready to return from his own shoulder injury, could take Griffin's place in the A's rotation this week, but the uncertainty around the situation makes both pitchers too risky to start in Week 19.

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Another pitcher who could miss out on the coming week is Ervin Santana, even though he is healthy. Angels manager Mike Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times "there is definitely going to be probability" that Santana will be skipped, as the Angels can afford to do so with a day off on Thursday. What Scioscia meant is up for interpretation, but what is clear is that owners should stay away from Santana this week, while C.J. Wilson has a chance to give owners a big payoff, as he could wind up with two starts -- at Oakland and at home versus Cleveland.

Pitchers set to rejoin their rotations include Johan Santana (ankle, shoulder) and Matt Garza (triceps), though both rank lower than they normally would due to the uncertainty around their respective returns. Josh Beckett (back) could also return for a Wednesday start against the Rangers, though because of his mediocre recent track record and the tough matchup, he has been left off this week's top 70. We could even see the return of Roberto Hernandez (the former Fausto Carmona), as he is eligible to join the Indians as soon as Saturday.

Though neither Beckett nor Hernandez is safe enough to start for the coming week, there are 70 pitchers who clearly are. Here's how they rank, who they will face and what makes them a viable start for Week 19.

Starting Rotation breakdown for Fantasy Week 19
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2 Stat of note
1 Jered Weaver @OAK (Parker) SEA (Vargas) Allowed 2 ER or fewer in 11 of last 13 starts
Aside from one poor start at the Rangers and another at the Yankees, Weaver has been in total command every time out since his no-hitter on May 2 against the Twins.
2 Justin Verlander NYY (Nova) @TEX (Holland) Ended streak of 63 straight starts of 6 IP or more on Tues.
With Verlander failing to go six innings for the first time in nearly two years, it highlights how much owners can rely on him to pitch deep into games.
3 Johnny Cueto @MIL (Fiers) @CHC (Garza) Eight failed opponents' stolen base attempts in nine tries
Cueto has been extremely difficult to run against over his career, and it's one of many reasons why he keeps his strand rate high and his ERA low.
4 Clayton Kershaw @MIA (Buehrle) N/A Allowed no more than 1 ER in four of last five starts
Kershaw is over his midseason slump, as he has given up very few extra-base hits over his recent starts.
5 David Price @MIN (Blackburn) N/A Eight consecutive quality starts
Price has been absolutely dominant lately, compiling a 2.08 ERA since June 19 and striking out well over a batter per inning over that span.
6 Matt Cain @STL (Westbrook) COL (Pomeranz) 14 BBs over last 51 2/3 innings
Ever since his perfect game, Cain hasn't been getting as many whiffs or strikeouts, but he hasn't stopped being a very good control pitcher.
7 Yovani Gallardo CIN (Arroyo) @HOU (Lyles) Opponents' .291 OBP, last 10 starts
Though Gallardo occassionally issues too many walks, he's been stingier lately, and he has also not allowed many base hits.
8 Felix Hernandez @LAA (Santana) N/A 1.41 ERA over last 10 starts
Hernandez's season-to-date ERA isn't quite yet down to the 2.27 mark of his 2010 Cy Young season, but his current strikeout, walk and home run rates are all better than they were two years ago.
9 CC Sabathia @DET (Sanchez) N/A 13 percent swinging strike rate
It's no fluke that Sabathia has his highest strikeout rate in four years; he's also getting his highest rate of swings-and-misses since 2008.
10 C.J. Wilson @OAK (Colon) N/A 2.78 ERA vs OAK over last eight starts
Wilson has had a lot of success against the A's recently, and with the strong potential for a second start (vs. CLE), he could pay big dividends this week.
11 Adam Wainwright SF (Bumgarner) N/A 7 BBs over last 53 2/3 innings
Earlier in the year, Wainwright's control was inconsistent, but over the last six weeks, it has been as good as anyone could have expected.
12 Cliff Lee STL (Westbrook) N/A 2.47 home xFIP (per FanGraphs)
Lee's 4.53 ERA at Citizens Bank Park makes it appear that he is a risk to use in home starts, but his skill stats have actually been better at home.
13 Gio Gonzalez @HOU (Galarraga) N/A 0.4 HR/9 (leads MLB)
Gonzalez's ultra-low homer rate is due for some regression, but don't count on it happening against a power-poor Astros lineup.
14 Zack Greinke @OAK (Straily) N/A 12 Ks, 3 BBs over last 14 innings
Greinke got tripped up in his second Angels start on Friday at Chicago, but he has brought his strong command with him back over to the AL.
15 Ian Kennedy @PIT (Rodriguez) N/A 1.06 WHIP over last four starts
After allowing an unusually high number of baserunners for most of the season, Kennedy appears to be back as a reliable source of low WHIP.
16 James Shields TOR (Villanueva) @MIN (Diamond) Three straight starts with 10 or more Ks
Shields has rung up big strikeout totals against a trio of teams (SEA, BAL and OAK) that are poor at making contact, but earlier this year, he got the Twins to strike out seven times, and they're the best contact-hitting team in the majors.
17 R.A. Dickey MIA (Johnson) N/A 2.96 ERA over last four starts
Reports of Dickey's demise were premature and overblown. He has been highly effective ever since a brief hiccup around the All-Star break.
18 Cole Hamels ATL (Minor) N/A 9.1 K/9 (9th-highest in MLB)
Hamels' surge in ground ball rate last year may have been a flash in the pan, but he is back to being an elite strikeout pitcher, getting whiffs on 14 percent of his pitches.
19 Chris Sale KC (Mendoza) N/A 12 Ks over last 13 1/3 innings
For the first time all season, Sale has disappointed in back-to-back starts, but even in those outings, he continued to help owners with strikeouts.
20 Roy Halladay STL (Lohse) N/A 14 percent swinging strike rate, last two starts
After being a little light on whiffs in his first two starts off the DL, Halladay has been much harder to hit the last two times out.
21 Stephen Strasburg @ARI (Cahill) N/A .384 BABIP vs. lefties
Strasburg's numbers against left-handed hitters aren't all that impressive, but a strangely-high BABIP suggests that he could contain Jason Kubel and Miguel Montero better than his splits would indicate.
22 Jake Peavy KC (Chen) N/A Four complete games (2nd-most in MLB)
Peavy hasn't been especially efficient, but he has been able to give his owners plenty of innings with regularity.
23 Jordan Zimmermann @HOU (Harrell) N/A Ended string of 11 straight quality starts on Sat. vs. MIA
Call him Verlander Lite. Zimmermann's five-inning outing on Saturday marked the first time all year that he failed to pitch at least six innings.
24 Madison Bumgarner @STL (Wainwright) N/A 66 percent strikes thrown (9th-highest in NL)
Bumgarner has developed into a highly consistent strike-thrower, and now that he has overcome the high ground ball batting averages of his past, he is among the big league leaders in WHIP.
25 Jonathon Niese MIA (LeBlanc) ATL (Sheets) 7 BBs over last 55 1/3 innings
Niese's recent strikeout production has been disappointing, but he has made up for it with a microscopic walk rate.
26 A.J. Burnett SD (Volquez) N/A 2.00 home ERA
Burnett has enjoyed the move from Yankee Stadium to PNC Park. He's been far from immune to homers on the road, but at home, he's allowed just three of them over 67 2/3 innings.
27 Ben Sheets @PHI (Worley) @NYM (Niese) 10 percent popup rate
Not only has Sheets avoided contact at a high rate, but he is frequently getting weak contact when he isn't missing bats.
28 Lance Lynn SF (Zito) @PHI (Worley) 2.70 ERA over last five starts
Just when it looked like Lynn was hitting the wall in late June, he has rebounded back close to the level he was at prior to his slump.
29 Clay Buchholz @CLE (Jimenez) N/A 7.3 innings per start, last 10 starts
Buchholz hasn't allowed many hits or walks over the last couple of months, so in addition to a low ERA and WHIP, he's helping points-league owners with innings.
30 Chris Capuano COL (Pomeranz) @MIA (LeBlanc) Opponents .276 OBP at home
Capuano has a good shot at stymieing the Rockies, as he does with most teams, at home. And while he will face the Marlins on the road ... well, they're the Marlins.
31 Dan Haren SEA (Iwakuma) N/A Opponents' .238 Avg vs. lefties
Historically, Haren has had more problems with righties than lefties, but those splits will serve him well against a Mariners lineup loaded with left-handers.
32 Josh Johnson @NYM (Dickey) N/A 24 percent slider whiff rate, last 11 starts (per
Johnson's fastball velocity has fallen off in recent weeks, but he's been increasing his strikeouts by getting more movement on his slider.
33 Jon Lester TEX (Dempster) @CLE (Kluber) 0.93 WHIP over last two starts
Lester is showing signs of a turnaround, holding the Yankees and a hot-hitting Twins team to a collective .250 on-base percentage.
34 Yu Darvish @BOS (Cook) DET (Porcello) Opponents' .237 Avg over last four starts
Darvish's erratic control has become a real problem, but he has already shown that he is capable of much better. Meanwhile, he is still doing a good job of preventing base hits.
35 Francisco Liriano OAK (Parker) N/A 1.14 WHIP over last 12 starts
You knew Liriano could help with strikeouts and ERA, but WHIP, too? He's been keeping his walk rate low enough and K-rate high enough to do it.
36 Hiroki Kuroda @DET (Fister) N/A 77 percent strand rate
Kuroda's 3.19 ERA would be the second-lowest of his career, and not coincidentally, he's posting a strand rate that is well above average for the second straight season.
37 Scott Diamond @CLE (McAllister) TB (Shields) 1.3 BB/9 (2nd-lowest in AL)
Diamond has taken his control up a notch from his minor league days, and if he keeps it up, he'll be one of the walk-rate elites in the majors.
38 Wade Miley @PIT (Bedard) WAS (Jackson) 1.7 BB/9 (5th-lowest in NL)
The drop in Miley's walk rate is even more dramatic than Diamond's, but he is continuing a recent pattern of improving in that area each time he advances a level in the Diamondbacks' system.
39 Jeremy Hellickson @MIN (De Vries) N/A Opponents' .330 SLG, last five starts
Park factors and a slight uptick in ground ball rate have helped Hellickson to minimize extra bases recently, and a visit to pitcher-friendly Target Field could help Hellickson to good production in Week 19.
40 Doug Fister NYY (Kuroda) N/A 0.91 WHIP, last 30 days (tied for 8th in MLB)
Fister has recaptured his elite-level control, and he's also kept line drives to a minimum in recent starts, so he is back to being one of the best sources of WHIP in Fantasy.
41 Mat Latos @MIL (Wolf) N/A Opponents' .336 SLG vs. righties
Latos' struggles with the long ball have come mostly against lefties, but the Brewers don't have any serious lefty power threats.
42 Jeff Samardzija @SD (Richard) N/A 27 percent road line drive rate (per FanGraphs)
Samardzija has been hit hard in his road starts, but according to StatCorner's park factor data, not many liners are hit at PETCO Park.
43 Matt Moore TOR (Happ) N/A 18 consecutive scoreless innings
We're still dealing with a small sample, but Moore is in the midst of a special stretch, as he is commanding the strike zone and avoiding contact.
44 Max Scherzer @TEX (Feldman) N/A Opponents' .268 OBP vs. righties
A trip to Arlington might look daunting to Scherzer's owners, but the Rangers' righty-heavy lineup suits the Tigers' flamethrower just fine.
45 Anibal Sanchez NYY (Sabathia) N/A 12 percent swinging strike rate with DET
Sanchez's second start as a Tiger went much better than his first, but in both starts, he was able to fool hitters with his changeup and slider.
46 Mike Fiers CIN (Cueto) N/A 10 percent swinging strike rate
Fiers' whiff rate is good but not exceptional, but he will face a Reds team that likes to swing the bat and is just fair at making contact.
47 Matt Garza @SD (Ohlendorf) CIN (Cueto) 2 HRs allowed in 23 2/3 career innings vs. CIN
Garza's start against the Padres is still in question, but he could still turn in a decent week with one start against the Reds.
48 Phil Hughes @DET (Porcello) @TOR (Villanueva) Six quality starts in last seven tries
Hughes has a pair of challenging matchups, but he has mastered some good lineups during his current hot streak.
49 Vance Worley ATL (Sheets) STL (Lynn) 50 percent ground ball rate
Worley's strikeout rate has trailed off over the last two months, but all season long, he has shown stronger ground ball tendencies, which have helped to keep his ERA in check.
50 Ivan Nova @DET (Verlander) @TOR (Laffey) 3.32 road ERA
Nova's struggles at Yankee Stadium have returned, but he has had few clunkers on the road this season.
51 Ryan Vogelsong @STL (Kelly) N/A Opponents' .330 SLG (7th-lowest in MLB)
The Cardinals are always a tough matchup, but the combination of Vogelsong's aversion to extra-base hits and Busch Stadium's thwarting of power makes the Giants' righty a safe start.
52 Edwin Jackson @HOU (Keuchel) @ARI (Miley) 12 percent swinging strike rate, last three starts
Jackson has shown that he can rack up Ks when facing teams that have trouble making contact. He will get two good opportunities this week when he opposes the Astros and Diamondbacks.
53 Mike Leake @CHC (Volstad) N/A .353 BABIP over last four starts
Leake has had a rough go of it since the All-Star break, but some of his problem could be bad luck on balls in play, as he hasn't stopped pitching with control or inducing ground balls.
54 Jarrod Parker LAA (Weaver) @CHW (Liriano) 0.5 HR/9 (5th-lowest in MLB)
Parker has made very few visits to hitter's parks like U.S. Cellular Field, so his home run rate and ERA could expand this week. Still, his home start is enough to make him viable in standard mixed leagues.
55 Kyle Lohse @PHI (Halladay) N/A 3.61 FIP
Lohse's xFIP estimates that his ERA should be in excess of 4.00, but it doesn't take into account Lohse's ability to avoid homers, even on the road. FIP sets a more realistic expectation for Lohse going forward, so he will improve your team's WHIP without hurting its ERA.
56 Ryan Dempster @BOS (Lester) N/A 1.10 WHIP (12th-lowest in MLB)
Some observers fretted about Dempster's move to the AL, but the Rangers' strong defense could help Dempster to maintain his low BABIP and WHIP.
57 Bartolo Colon LAA (Wilson) N/A 5 BBs over last 44 innings
Colon has not allowed a run in either of his last two starts, but he's been on a hot streak for several weeks now, as he is throwing strikes at an extraordinary rate, even for him.
58 Kris Medlen @NYM (Santana) N/A 53 percent ground ball rate
Medlen has been displaying his usual sharp control, but he has been a better ground ball pitcher than we have seen in the past.
59 Jeff Karstens ARI (Corbin) SD (Stults) 2.82 home ERA since 2011
You can't be blamed if you're suspicious of Karstens' 0.43 home ERA this season, but even going back to last year, he's been a very effective hurler at PNC Park.
60 James McDonald ARI (Saunders) N/A 62 percent strikes thrown at CIN on Sat.
McDonald had his first quality start in nearly a month on Saturday, and there was enough of an improvement in command that he is worth another try if you lack safer alternatives.
61 Ross Detwiler @HOU (Lyles) @ARI (Corbin) 1.22 road WHIP
Detwiler's been a little more homer-prone away from Nationals Park, but he is a good source of WHIP in any venue.
62 Homer Bailey @CHC (Germano) N/A 4 HRs allowed over last 41 1/3 innings
Even though he has made three of his last six starts at Great American Ball Park, Bailey has been allowing fewer homers lately. It's a trend that is wholly sustainable, because his flyball rate has also been on the wane.
63 Dan Straily LAA (Greinke) N/A 13 swinging strikes vs. TOR on Fri.
If Straily's major league debut was any indication, he may barely have a harder time racking up strikeouts with the A's than he did as a minor leaguer, which would be quite a feat.
64 Marco Estrada @HOU (Keuchel) N/A 9 Ks, 2 BBs over 10 1/3 innings vs. HOU
As you might have expected, Estrada had no problem maintaining his high K-to-BB ratio against the Astros in two previous appearances this year, and it's helped him to a 1.80 ERA against them.
65 Tim Hudson @PHI (Kendrick) N/A 3.50 P/PA (3rd-lowest in MLB)
Hudson is throwing strikes at his highest rate in three seasons, and it's allowing him to dispense with hitters quickly and frequently finish seven innings or more.
66 Johan Santana ATL (Medlen) N/A 1.0 HR/9 at home
If Santana were coming off the DL with a road start, he would not be an advisable start, but he's done a reasonable job of avoiding homers at Citi Field, so he should be able to resume his season with a good outing.
67 Matt Harrison @BOS (Doubront) N/A One of seven pitchers with at least two shutouts
Harrison has his occasional missteps, but his sharp control and penchant for inducing grounders give him a chance to go deep into a game every time out.
68 Tim Lincecum COL (Chatwood) N/A 64 percent strikes thrown, last four starts
Lincecum has had some good stretches earlier in the season, but this latest one is longer and also marked by substantially sharper command.
69 Bronson Arroyo @MIL (Gallardo) @CHC (Wood) Opponents' .321 SLG over last seven starts
Even more so than his teammate, Homer Bailey, Arroyo is giving up fewer extra-base hits lately, and as with Bailey, a rising ground ball rate is at least partly responsible.
70 Chris Young MIA (Eovaldi) N/A 3.33 home ERA
Having allowed four homers over his four home starts, Young hasn't exactly avoided the long ball at Citi Field, but he's done a good enough job to be trusted against the power-starved Fish.

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Player News
Hinch: Astros 'likely' to use seven-man bullpen in 2015
by R.J. White |
(12:15 pm ET) Astros manager A.J. Hinch indicated that the team is likely to use a seven-man bullpen this season, leaving two spots open for competition this spring, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"Likely," Hinch said of a seven-man bullpen. "There’s always a chance that (changes) depending on how the schedule plays out, and there’s always a debate on how many pitchers to carry during interleague. Now interleague is pretty much year round, so I mean, in a perfect world with our roster, it’s likely to carry a seven-man ‘pen. If we feel like we need an extra pitcher or injury happens, there’s different ways to shape our roster, then we will, but likely 12."

The two open spots will likely be filled by a left-handed pitcher and a long reliever. The competition for the second lefty in the pen likely comes down to Kevin Chapman and nonroster invitees Joe Thatcher and Darin Downs. The long relief role has a broader list of candidates, including Alex White and Asher Wojciechowski, who will prepare both as starters and relievers.

"We’re going to stretch out a lot of our guys," Hinch said. "Some of them are because they’re competing in that fifth starter spot, some of them are bullpen guys. Will Harris is going to throw multiple innings. Obviously (Sam) Deduno has been a starter in the past, he’s in a competition for the fifth man spot. Wojo, White, those guys are going to need to, going to plan for the season on both fronts, whether it’s a starter or reliever. But we’re preaching multiple innings. It’s important if you have a seven-man bullpen that you have a couple of guys that can get four, five, six outs if needed and be a bridge to the rest of the bullpen."

Rangers' Tolleson: 'I'd like to be that bridge' between starters, closers
by Igor Mello |
(12:15 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Shawn Tolleson told reporters he would like to become the link between the starting rotation and back-end relievers Tanner Scheppers and Neftali Feliz this season, according to the Dallas Morning News.

"I would like to be that bridge," Tolleson said.

Tolleson led the club with 71 2/3 innings of relief last season. He pitched more than one inning 20 times and held left-handed hitters to a .282 on-base percentage.

"He's got the skill set to be one of those that we use in the latter portions of the game," manager Jeff Banister said. "He seems to love the competition."

Nationals faced with tough decision regarding Michael Taylor
by Michael Hurcomb |
(12:10 pm ET) The Nationals are faced with a tough decision when it comes to outfield prospect Michael Taylor, who appears to be on the cusp of being ready for a regular role at the major-league level.

A major issue is playing time since the Nationals have a starting outfield of Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper and Denard Span. Taylor would be a solid fourth outfielder, but having him coming off the bench is not ideal for his development.

“It’s the same age-old decision that must be made regarding guys that are just on the cusp of being big-league ready and everyday players,” manager Matt Williams said, per “And a question of depth on your team, too. … It’s a question of depth on your team, it’s a question of how much playing time they’re really going to get, and are they better served staying in the minor leagues and getting those at-bats until their opportunity arises. But Mike’s close. He’s really close.”

Nationals' Aaron Barrett: 'I'm ready for a full season'
by Igor Mello |
(12:06 pm ET) Nationals pitcher Aaron Barrett worked on strengthening his shoulder and legs in the offseason to improve his longevity throughout the entire season. Barrett admitted he wasn't used to a full major-league schedule, which contributed to him feeling "tired" in the middle of his rookie season.

"I'm ready for a full season," Barrett said. "Last year was a long season for me. It was my first year up. I had a lot of appearances, a lot of warm-ups and stuff like that. I think that is part of the process of coming up and working on that. I did as much training as I possibly could for this year."

Daniel Descalso brings versatility, playoff experience to Rockies
by R.J. White |
(12:06 pm ET) Rockies infielder Daniel Descalso is ready to fill the role of versatile veteran who can play second base, third base or shortstop as needed, the Denver Post reports.

"I'll be ready for whatever comes my way," Descalso said Monday. "It's been a while since I've played just one position for any length of time, so I've worked hard to reach a comfort level at all three spots. I have an idea of what it takes to stay sharp."

Another factor that piqued the interest of the Rockies this offseason was his postseason experience, as he has played in 44 postseason games and won one championship.

"All of that factored in quite a bit," manager Walt Weiss said. "I think we sometimes underestimate the value of that — guys that have played in big games, pennant races, and have won a World Series. Those types of players are valuable, and that's a big reason why we brought Danny in here."

Descalso has made 110 starts at second base, 91 at third base and 88 at shortstop in his five-year career, seeing at least 100 appearances at all three poitions. He hit .242/.333/.311 in 161 at-bats last year with the Cardinals.

Francona: Jason Kipnis likely to make spring debut this weekend
by Michael Hurcomb |
(12:02 pm ET) Indians manager Terry Francona said Tuesday second baseman Jason Kipnis (hand) will likely make his spring debut this weekend, per

Cubs' Kyle Hendricks targeting 200 innings in 2015
by Igor Mello |
(12:01 pm ET) Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks, who was awarded the No. 4 spot in the starting rotation, told that he's targeting 200 innings in 2015.

"That's one of the biggest goals I have for myself is consistency, No. 1, but then eating up innings," Hendricks said. "That's something I pride myself on is staying in ballgames and giving my team a chance to win. I think with the number I threw last year, 200 shouldn't be out of the question for me."

Hendricks put together a solid rookie campaign in 2014, registering a 2.46 ERA and 47:15 K:BB ratio over 80 1/3 innings with the Cubs. Overall, he totaled 183 innings between his time at Triple-A and the majors.

Francona: Indians' Raburn (knee) to make spring debut Wednesday
by Michael Hurcomb |
(12:00 pm ET) Indians manager Terry Francona said outfielder Ryan Raburn will make his spring debut Wednesday against the Reds, per Raburn underwent surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his knee in mid-September.

Royals RP Ryan Madson (back) expects to play catch Tuesday
by Michael Hurcomb |
(11:52 am ET) Royals reliever Ryan Madson, who injured his back doing squats over the weekend, expects to play catch Tuesday after being scratched from throwing Monday, per The Kansas City Star.

Nationals' Ian Stewart: I feel confident again in the batter's box
by Michael Hurcomb |
(11:47 am ET) Ian Stewart is in camp with the Nationals this spring looking to land a spot on the team's bench. Stewart has a lot to prove since his career has been in decline since a 25-homer campaign in 2009 with the Rockies.

Stewart said his offensive struggles had a lot to do with wrist and hand injuries he sustained the last few years, per The Washington Post. He also feels the changes he made to his swing and hitting style to please other organizations also didn't help. 

However, he appears confident going back to his old routine will suit him well this spring.

“This offseason, I just tried to get back to my old ways of hitting and ways of working out in the past,” he said. “Really, just trying to be as comfortable as I can in the box. I’ve gotten into my own head a lot the last few years. Just struggling and letting that affect different parts of my game. … I’m at a point where I’m completely comfortable in the box. I feel like my head is clear because I really felt so good hitting this winter that I feel confident again in the box. I’m comfortable, I’m loose, I’m not in my own head.”