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Plumbing the Depths for Week 20

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The thing about pitching sleepers for deeper leagues is that, if they are any good, they don't sleep for long.

Previously unheralded pitchers like Mike Minor, Ross Detwiler and Bartolo Colon had been sneaky pickups for owners in larger Fantasy formats, but due to their sustained success, they are now all but unavailable in those leagues. The parade of new sleepers never ends, though, so while this week's Plumbing the Depths features some repeat guests, like Clayton Richard and Luke Hochevar, first-timers like Blake Beavan and Jason Marquis are also among the pitchers who could help to freshen up your deep-league rotation.

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While not every pitcher featured this week is necessarily a good start in every deep format for Fantasy Week 20 (August 13-19), each is worth starting in league-specific formats, and each should be owned in a larger share of leagues than he is currently a part of. All stats are current for games through Wednesday, August 8.

Deeper league two-start options

Clayton Richard, Padres
Projected matchups: @ATL (Hudson), SF (Vogelsong)
2012 stats: 9-11, 3.79 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 85 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 45/27
Outlook: Richard will almost certainly be on the top 70 list of starting pitchers for Week 20, signifying that he is safe to use outside of deeper leagues, but he qualifies for this list as well. With an ownership rate of only 45 percent, Richard is unowned in many deeper mixed leagues, but especially with a two-start week on the horizon, he should be owned in all such formats. Richard's low ERA (3.05) and WHIP (1.12) at PETCO Park makes him worth starting just for his second start alone, so any production you get from his outing in Atlanta will be gravy.

Blake Beavan, Mariners
Projected matchups: TB (Cobb), MIN (Deduno)
2012 stats: 7-6, 5.12 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 50 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 24/15
Outlook: As a flyball-prone, pitch-to-contact type, you would think that Beavan would be perfectly suited for Safeco Field, but his 4.58 home ERA suggests otherwise. However, Beavan has been better at home than that mark indicates, as five of his seven home outings have been quality starts. In fact, if you exclude a single horrific start against the Dodgers, Beavan's home ERA shrinks to a much more respectable 3.38. The Rays in particular should make Week 20 a productive one for the second-year hurler, as their sluggish offense has gotten into a deeper rut recently. While there are plenty of better options for standard mixed league owners, Beavan needs to be picked up and started in most deeper leagues.

Alex Cobb, Rays
Projected matchups: @SEA (Beavan), @LAA (Wilson)
2012 stats: 6-8, 4.32 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 62 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 19/11
Outlook: Cobb has done a superb job of inducing grounders ever since joining the Rays' rotation in May, but shaky command had left him lacking as a contributor in Fantasy. Over his last three starts, he has started to turn his season around, throwing 71 percent of his pitches for strikes and issuing only one walk over 21 innings. Luck has also looked more kindly upon Cobb lately, as he has been reversing unfavorable strand and BABIP rates. With Jeff Niemann (leg) due to return within a couple of weeks, Cobb probably doesn't have much more time left as a starter, but at least for the coming week, he needs to be started in any format deeper than a standard mixed league.

Henderson Alvarez, Blue Jays
Projected matchups: CHW (Quintana), TEX (Harrison)
2012 stats: 7-8, 4.47 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 49 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 21/10
Outlook: Alvarez has alternated brilliant starts with poor ones over the last several weeks, and that inconsistency makes him a less desirable option than Richard, Beavan or Cobb. However, it could be a good enough two-start week for Alvarez that he could help owners in a much larger swath of mixed leagues than he is currently owned in. It will help that he gets a pair of home starts, even if they're against some tough competition, as Alvarez's command has been sharper when pitching in Toronto. That has enabled him to pitch six innings or more in nine of his 11 home starts.

Jeremy Guthrie, Royals
Projected matchups: OAK (Colon), CHW (Quintana)
2012 stats: 4-12, 6.10 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 63 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 5/1
Outlook: With good control and a penchant for popups, it seemed a shame that Guthrie's escape from the AL East landed him in Coors Field this past offseason. With his subsequent trade to Kansas City, it appeared that Guthrie had finally landed with a team whose ballpark was well-suited for him. Guthrie's first start at Kauffman Stadium -- a five-inning affair against the Twins -- did not go well, but he was much more effective in his second start against the Rangers. Guthrie's most recent turn on Wednesday at Chicago was even more encouraging, as he held the White Sox scoreless for eight innings, pounding the strike zone and inducing five infield flies. While it's never a good idea to make too much out of back-to-back starts, there are enough reasons for AL-only owners to trust Guthrie with a pair of home starts. All mixed league owners should sit this one out, but they should keep an eye on Guthrie this week to see if he has potential for future weeks.

Waiver wire targets

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Luke Hochevar, Royals
Projected matchups: OAK (McCarthy)
2012 stats: 7-9, 5.04 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 93 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 21/8
Outlook: Hochevar is at it again. He has quietly posted a 3.48 ERA over his last 10 starts and is giving us reason once again to ask if he is in the midst of a breakout. We've seen Hochevar perform well over extended stretches before, only to eventually lapse into mediocrity -- or worse. Because Hochevar has let Fantasy owners down before, it would be easy to dismiss his recent stretch, but the truth is that he was not going to continue to be as bad as he was over the season's first two months. He was capable of better command and stronger ground ball tendencies, and he has delievered those since mid-June. Hochevar has had long-standing issues with not stranding baserunners, so a mid-3.00s ERA represents his upside, but he is worth owning and starting in far more leagues than he is currently.

J.A. Happ, Blue Jays
Projected matchups: TEX (Darvish)
2012 stats: 7-10, 4.98 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 110 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 16/6
Outlook: Happ is getting nearly an extra inch of sink on his sinker this year, according to PitchFX data, yet it hasn't helped him to lower his ERA or WHIP much. While the increased movement has helped Happ to add 11 percentage points to his ground ball rate, his HR/9 ratio is actually higher than it was last year. If that were the end of the story, we might just look at Happ's history of high homer rates and disregard his souped-up sinker, but he is also getting batters to chase pitches out of the zone and swing and miss at career-high rates. A home start against the Rangers might not be the best time to start Happ, at least outside of AL-only leagues, but he is worth a pickup in deeper mixed leagues.

Jason Marquis, Padres
Projected matchups: @ATL (Medlen)
2012 stats: 7-10, 5.47 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 78 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 10/4
Outlook: With the season-to-date stats that Marquis is carrying (see above), you may wonder why owners in 10 percent of our leagues are bothering with him. As a Padre, though, Marquis owns a more palatable 4.10 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. If those numbers don't excite you, wait...there's more! In his 12 starts with San Diego, Marquis' K/9 rate is a robust 8.0. Sure, that rate is completely out of character, but owners may be able to buy into the slightly higher rate (8.4) from his home starts, as batters tend to strike out at a higher rate when playing at PETCO Park. Marquis won't have that advantage in Week 20, when he pitches at Turner Field, but Marquis is still worth a pickup for his future starts in deeper mixed leagues and NL-only formats.

Miguel Gonzalez, Orioles
Projected matchups: BOS (Doubront)
2012 stats: 3-2, 3.80 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 40 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 8/4
Outlook: For someone who was largely unknown a month ago, Gonzalez's ERA, WHIP and K-rate are fairly impressive, and he deserves even more attention than his current numbers would merit. If you subtract out the stats from his July 25 outing against the Rays -- a start he made despite being ill -- Gonzalez is left with a 2.62 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. Granted, he has benefited from a 79 percent strand rate that should shrink over time, but Gonzalez's ability to get batters to fan is legitimate. At minimum, Gonzalez is a must-start in AL-only leagues, and deeper mixed league owners are missing out on a pitcher who could help them more than some of the arms they currently have rostered.

Brian Duensing, Twins
Projected matchups: DET (Fister)
2012 stats: 2-7, 4.46 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 39 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 2/1
Outlook: Two years removed from Duensing's surprisingly robust 2010 season, we can now look back and view his 3.04 ERA as a starter as a classic case of a small sample fluke. Just because Duensing isn't as good as he appeared to be then doesn't mean he is completely devoid of Fantasy value now. Over his three most recent turns in the rotation, Duensing has displayed the reliable control and ability to induce grounders that allowed him to enjoy success earlier in his career. He clearly fits the mold of the prototypical contact pitcher -- a type that the Twins seem to favor -- and that limits his Fantasy appeal to deeper leagues. However, as long as Duensing remains in the rotation, he is worth starting on a weekly basis in AL-only leagues.

Vulnerable rotation spots

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Braves: Tommy Hanson could return to the Braves' rotation as soon as Wednesday, and that will leave manager Fredi Gonzalez with a tough decision. Having made just two starts to date, Kris Medlen would appear to be the most likely choice to send to the bullpen, but Gonzalez has said that he would consider keeping a six-man rotation, at least through the end of August.

Red Sox: MLB.com reports Franklin Morales will be rejoining the Red Sox's rotation after making a successful spot start last Sunday against the Twins. Manager Bobby Valentine has not yet decided whose spot Morales will take, but he has said that he will stick with a five-man rotation. Aaron Cook and Felix Doubront are the most obvious members of the current rotation to be replaced.

Indians: Roberto Hernandez will make a rehab start for Triple-A Columbus on Friday, and that would put him on track to return to the Indians' rotation on Wednesday at the Angels. That start currently belongs to Chris Seddon, and he would appear to be the most likely candidate for a demotion, though Corey Kluber's job could also be in jeopardy.

Rockies: Jhoulys Chacin could return in Week 20 if his rehab start for Triple-A Colorado Springs goes without incident. The Denver Post reports that Chacin will take Tyler Chatwood's spot in the Rockies' rotation when he is ready to return.

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
White Sox SS Tim Anderson looking to become long-term solution
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:55 pm ET) White Sox prospect Tim Anderson is on a mission in spring training this year. He wants to prove that he belongs in the majors with the big boys.

"Just show them I can stay at short and my defense has come a long way and it's going to get better," Anderson said. "I want to be a shortstop for a long time. I'm going to be a shortstop. I'm going to work hard to stay there."

Anderson is currently considered Chicago's No. 2 prospect and could be just the prospect the White Sox are looking for. In his 2015 debut, Anderson smacked a two-run single.

"I'm just staying calm and trying not to do too much and just doing what I've been doing to be here," Anderson said. "It has been exciting to get in here and work with all the big leaguers and get my reps in and see how they go in the daily routine."


Reds' Kevin Gregg hoping to win a spot in the bullpen
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:52 pm ET) Reds pitcher Kevin Gregg is hoping to win a spot in the team's bullpen, according to MLB.com.

Gregg may be 36-years-old, but understands he still needs to prove himself.  "I don't mind coming in and earning a spot," he said. "I'm coming off elbow surgery. At this point in my career, it's something I need to do."

Gregg had bone chips removed from his elbow in August, but was able to hit 92 mph in a showcase in February. He believes his velocity has improved since then.

Manager Bryan Price had good things to say about Gregg thus far. "He looks great. He looks durable," Price said. "He's got hand speed. He's crisp with his location. I've been extremely impressed with Kevin to this point."

The 36-year-old tossed just nine innings in the majors last year.


Diamondbacks pitcher Matt Reynolds sidelined with oblique injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:26 pm ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Matt Reynolds was scheduled to throw batting practice Wednesday, but was unable to do so while dealing with a sore right oblique, reports MLB.com.

"I'm like, 'I'm in here again, I can't get out of this darn room,'" Reynolds said.

Reynolds missed all of 2014 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he isn't having any issues with the elbow.

"My elbow feels real good," he said. "It feels strong."


Report: MLB split on whether Josh Hamilton should go to rehab
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:24 pm ET) Major League Baseball is split over whether Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton should go to rehab, according to the Los Angeles Times

The four person panel assigned to Hamilton's case are deadlocked, and the group will have to bring in an arbitrator in order to break the tie. The panel first must decide whether Hamilton violated any rules, and then must agree on a course of treatment. The panel has not been able to agree on the latter of those conditions, which is why an arbitrator is necessary. 

If Hamilton is sent to rehab, he would receive his full salary for 30 days, and then half his salary over the next 30 days. If he's suspended, but does not have to attend rehab, Hamilton would not be paid during the suspension. 

MLB is also trying to determine whether Hamilton should be charged as a fourth-time offender of the drug policy. If that's the case, Hamilton could be suspended for the entire season.

Hamilton, 33, admitted to MLB that he experienced a relapse a few months ago, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Hamilton has dealt with drug and alcohol issues throughout his career, and was suspended for three seasons after failing drug tests as a minor-leaguer. He met with officials in New York in February regarding the incident. 


Mets' Curtis Granderson re-working his swing
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:06 pm ET) Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson is re-working his swing with hitting coach Kevin Long, according to the New York Post

Granderson and Long have a history. The two worked together with the Yankees. Long rebuilt Granderson's swing, turning him into a massive home run hitter from 2011 to 2012. Now, they are looking to repeat the process.

"This is actually very similar to the first time we started making adjustments," Granderson said. "The idea is we want to get to the strongest position as consistently as possible with as little movement as possible."

Long went into detail, saying he's trying to get Granderson to "preset" his hands. "Get him in the perfect hitting position so the hands are ready to fire and he can go as efficiently as possible from point A to point B," Long said.

Granderson said everything is "still a work in progress," but he feels like Long's drills are getting through to him.

The 33-year-old Granderson hit .227/.326/.388 over 564 at-bats last season. 


Nationals' Yunel Escobar ahead of schedule in position transition
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:02 pm ET) Nationals infielder Yunel Escobar was informed when he was traded from the Athletics he was switching from shortstop to second base for this season. Escobar has put in extra work to get himself ready for live action this spring at second, the position he's played since 2007, reports MLB.com.

"He is a big man and has real light feet. He is very bouncy, live body," defensive coordinator and advance coach Mark Weidemaier said. "He has taken to the footwork well, as far as turning double plays. There are things we have to polish a little bit, but he is way ahead of the game for me. He has taken to it like a duck to water. It's very natural to him."

Manager Matt Williams is planning to start Escobar at second Thursday.

"He is going to play. He needs to play games and get game experience and get back in the flow of [being on] the other side of the diamond," Williams said. "He is ready to go, I know that."


Athletics' Marcus Semien stays hot on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:54 pm ET) Athletics infielder Marcus Semien cannot be stopped this spring.

After going 3 for 3 with two home runs on Tuesday, Semien again reached in all his plate appearances on Wednesday. He wasted no time getting to work, singling in two runs in the first inning. Semien would walk in his next appearance before driving in another run on a single in his final at-bat. 

Semien, who has yet to make an out this spring, downplayed his success, saying "I'm just getting good pitches to hit right now." The 24-year-old hit .234/.300/.372 over 231 at-bats last season. 


Rockies pitcher Brooks Brown set to make spring debut Thursday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:54 pm ET) Rockies pitcher Brooks Brown is considered one of Colorado's top options this season. What has many people excited is the velocity Brown has on his fastball. But what he wants to work on the most this spring, and the pitch that kept hitters on their toes, is his changeup.

"The more success I was having with it, the more aggressiveness I had with it," said Brown. "It was a pitch I'd always had, but by the All-Star break last year, I found I could throw it to right-handed and left-handed hitters. It became a put-away pitch."

Rockies pitching coach Darren Holmes thinks his changeup should be considered as good as his fastball.

"Brooks came up last year and did a great job," Rockies bullpen coach Darren Holmes said. "When you look at guys that don't throw as hard, for me, my good secondary pitch is a changeup. That's a complete equalizer, I don't care if you throw 85 or you throw 105."


Yankees' Andrew Miller 'happy' with scoreless inning Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:53 pm ET) Yankees pitcher Andrew Miller made his Grapefruit League debut wednesday, giving up one hit in a scoreless inning against the Phillies while striking out two.

"I'm really happy with the way I was throwing the ball," Miller said after the outing, per MLB.com. "I'm not too concerned with things right now. It could have been absolutely horrendous and there's nothing to worry about. It's just going out there and getting it going. I felt my breaking ball was really good, so it's always nice to come back and realize it's still there after the offseason."

Miller signed a four-year, $36-million deal with the Yankees this offseason after going 5-5 with a 2.02 ERA and 103:17 K:BB ratio in 62 1/3 innings.


Rockies pitcher Jon Gray throws two scoreless innings Wednesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:48 pm ET) Rockies pitcher Jon Gray was able to work two scoreless innings in Wednesday's 6-2 loss to the Diamondbacks. The prospect was able to get something to work off of as well: a strikeout on slugger Paul Goldschmidt.

Gray burned a 97 mph fastball past the power hitter and felt great afterward.

"I was saving that one for him," Gray said. "I knew I was going to need it. I was thinking 'grip and rip' on this one."

Gray also got back to what he knew best in his outing.

"I kind of went to the basics and focused on the target," Gray said. "At first, I was seeing the batter, the catcher, the plate, everything. But after that, I focused on the glove, got my deep breath in and threw."


 
 
 
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