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Top 70 starters for Week 25


Which pitchers have been hot down the stretch? Which have turned ice cold? In many cases, it doesn't matter for Fantasy, because it's the longer-term trends that are our best guide to future performance, but some late-season trends are just too strong to ignore. For most of the year, Ryan Vogelsong and Jordan Zimmermann have been among the most reliable pitching options, but both have been mere shadows of themselves lately. Meanwhile, Zach Britton and Derek Holland have emerged as pitchers who need to be noticed -- and used -- in standard mixed leagues.

To gauge the relevance of recent trends for your Fantasy rotation, the focus of the analysis in this week's rankings will be on indicators from the last month. With just a few exceptions, we'll look at stats from August 15 through September 14, and see what difference they make for the assessment of your pitching options.

Of course, not every pitcher who has caught fire over the past month is worthy of starting in a standard mixed league. For example, Ervin Santana has posted a 2.70 ERA since mid-August, but he failed to make the cut in this week's top 70. While his results have been good, his persistent high home run rate and reliance on an unsustainable .181 BABIP and 89 percent strand rate don't bode well for him going forward. But while owners should avoid Santana, even with two starts on tap, there are other waiver options to consider, especially in the lower portions of this week's top 70.

Note: Ground ball and strand rate data, as well as home run per flyball (HR/FB) ratios and xFIPs, are from FanGraphs.

Starting Rotation breakdown for Fantasy Week 25
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2 Stat of note
1 Cliff Lee @NYM (Dickey) ATL (Hudson) Last six starts: 0.7 HR/9
Lee has not allowed a home run in five straight starts, and as his HR/FB ratio has normalized, his ERA has been sliding back towards his recent norms.
2 Madison Bumgarner COL (Chacin) SD (Kelly) Last five starts: .370 BABIP
There's been nothing wrong with Bumgarner's peripherals, but with a high proportion of balls in play becoming hits, his ERA and opponents' batting average have soared. Ignore his recent Fantasy stats, as he is one of the safest starts this week.
3 Max Scherzer OAK (Griffin) MIN (De Vries) Last six starts: 1.5 BB/9
For Scherzer, the strikeouts just keep coming, and his control keeps getting better and better, too.
4 Felix Hernandez BAL (Chen) N/A Last six starts: 2.99 xFIP
A 68 percent strand rate gives Hernandez the appearance of a mini-slump over his last half-dozen starts, but the strong command and ground ball tendencies have been there all along.
5 Matt Cain COL (Chatwood) N/A Last six starts: 10 percent swinging strike rate
Cain's K-rate is not where it was earlier in the year, but he is doing just as well when it comes to avoiding contact on swings.
6 David Price BOS (Matuszaka) N/A Last five starts: 8.3 K/9
Price was in a brief strikeout lull in early August, but he has recovered, and his Friday performance against the Yankees should allay any concerns about his cranky shoulder.
7 Justin Verlander OAK (Anderson) N/A Last six starts: .327 BABIP
Verlander has had a couple of poor starts within the last month, but his supporting stats look as good as ever. Some bad luck on balls in play may have been a factor in the bloating of his ERA.
8 Kris Medlen @MIA (Johnson) N/A Last six starts: 72 percent strikes thrown
When your command of the strike zone is as good as Medlen's, that's how you wind up with 50 strikeouts, four walks and a 0.59 ERA over a month's time.
9 Cole Hamels @NYM (McHugh) N/A Last five starts: 15 percent swinging strike rate
Hamels has been getting strikeouts consistently for most of the season, but he's been even more reliable lately. It helps that only Yu Darvish and Max Scherzer have been getting more whiffs over the past month.
10 R.A. Dickey PHI (Lee) N/A Last six starts: 6.5 K/9
Dickey's recent K-rate looks unimpressive, but that figure is weighed down by just two starts, and overall, he is still getting swings-and-misses at a high rate.
11 Clayton Kershaw @CIN (Latos) N/A Last six starts: 10.0 K/9
Assuming Kershaw is ready to go next week, he has a chance to continue his recent string of high strikeout totals.
12 Gio Gonzalez MIL (Peralta) N/A Last five starts: 93 percent strand rate
Gonzalez has been lucky to put up a 1.34 ERA over a five-start span, but he hasn't done anything to lose his must-start status.
13 Yovani Gallardo @PIT (Gallardo) N/A Last six starts: 23 percent called strike rate
Gallardo hasn't been getting many whiffs in his latest starts, but the Ks have been plentiful, as he is making up for it with an abundance of called strikes.
14 Jered Weaver TEX (Holland) N/A Last five starts: Seven percent popup rate
With fewer infield flies than normal, Weaver has allowed a .281 batting average since mid-August, but in tossing seven shutout innings against the A's on Thursday, he showed he is capable of turning things around.
15 Roy Halladay ATL (Minor) N/A Last six starts: 26 percent line drive rate
A high liner rate can be a sign of trouble, but since Halladay is doing a good job of inducing whiffs and avoiding walks, there's reason to continue to have faith in him.
16 Johnny Cueto LAD (Blanton) N/A Last five starts: 3.01 xFIP
With a 4.06 ERA and 1.2 HR/9 over the last month, Cueto's performance has tailed off, but his skills haven't. He is still getting grounders, and he is actually getting Ks at a much higher rate lately.
17 Ryan Dempster @LAA (Santana) @SEA (Millwood) Last five starts: 9.8 K/9
Dempster has cleared the quality start hurdle each of the last five times out, and he has racked up at least seven strikeouts in every one of his last four starts.
18 Adam Wainwright @CHC (Wood) N/A Last six starts: .364 BABIP
Walks have hurt Wainwright in his three most recent starts, but so has an outrageous .467 BABIP that can only get better.
19 Zack Greinke CHW (Peavy) N/A Last five starts: 8.1 K/9
Greinke had trouble missing bats when he first returned to the American League, but he has rung up at least seven strikeouts in three of his last five starts.
20 CC Sabathia TOR (Laffey) N/A Last five starts: 18 percent HR/FB ratio
Sabathia's last two starts have been lackluster, but aside from a three-homer explosion at Camden Yards, there's not much in his stat profile that raises concern.
21 Kyle Lohse HOU (Abad) @CHC (Germano) Last six starts: 37 percent ground ball rate
The slippage in Lohse's ground ball rate makes him a potential home run risk, but as long as he continues to avoid free passes, he can continue to help owners with ERA and WHIP.
22 Jake Peavy @LAA (Greinke) N/A Last five starts: 1.8 HR/9
The long ball has not been a friend to Peavy lately, but even if he can't keep the ball in Angel Stadium, he should continue to be a good source of strikeouts and WHIP.
23 James Shields BOS (Buchholz) N/A Last five starts: .207 BABIP
Shields has reeled off eight consecutive quality starts with some BABIP help, but with his trademark command, he should be able to extend the streak, even if he regresses.
24 A.J. Burnett MIL (Estrada) @HOU (Lyles) Last six starts: .115 Isolated Power
Burnett has had uneven luck with balls in play, but his avoidance of extra-base hits has been fairly constant over the past month.
25 Doug Fister @CHW (Quintana) MIN (Deduno) Last four starts: 61 percent strikes thrown
Fister was unusually wild in his final two starts of August, but he appeared to have turned the corner in his two most recent starts, throwing 64 percent of his pitches for strikes.
26 C.J. Wilson TEX (Darvish) N/A Last six starts: 56 percent strand rate
Wilson has gotten his walk rate under control, but a fluky-low strand rate has created the appearance of continued struggles for the lefty.
27 A.J. Griffin @DET (Scherzer) @NYY (Pettitte) Last three starts: 2.63 xFIP
Since coming off the disabled list, Griffin has been as sharp as ever, getting called strikes and popups at impressive rates.
28 Brett Anderson @DET (Verlander) N/A Last five starts: 1.1 BB/9
Anderson has always had good control, but having thrown nearly two-thirds of his pitches for strikes this year, he has raised the bar even higher.
29 Andy Pettitte TOR (Romero) OAK (Griffin) 16 percent HR/FB (full season)
As good as Pettitte had been before getting shelved, his ERA could have been even lower, as his HR/FB ratio was more than 50 percent above his career average.
30 Chris Sale @KC (Mendoza) N/A Last six starts: 10.2 K/9
Sale is not going as deep into games now, but he continues to give owners what they need in terms of strikeouts, ERA and wins.
31 Yu Darvish @LAA (Wilson) N/A Last five starts: 2.0 BB/9
Darvish as control artist? It's a trend, as he has gone five straight games with no more than two walks.
32 Matt Moore TOR (Villanueva) N/A Last five starts: .342 BABIP
Moore has slacked in the ERA and WHIP categories in recent starts, but especially with a 12 percent popup rate over the past month, it seems that he has been getting a raw deal on balls in play.
33 Marco Estrada @PIT (Burnett) @WAS (Zimmermann) Last six starts: 0.3 HR/9
It's not clear how the flyball-prone righty has avoided homers during his recent stretch, but with a pair of starts away from Miller Park, Estrada could manage stay on a roll.
34 Jeremy Hellickson BOS (Doubront) TOR (Romero) Last six starts: 1.8 BB/9
Hellickson is finishing the season strong, and it hasn't hurt that he is throwing strikes at a higher rate and giving out far fewer walks.
35 Hiroki Kuroda OAK (Straily) N/A Last five starts: 56 percent ground ball rate
Kuroda's grounder rate has been moving northward, so it seems like he deserved a better fate than to allow at least one home run in each of his last five starts. He is safe to start for his matchup against the A's.
36 Josh Johnson ATL (Medlen) N/A Last five starts: 3.7 BB/9
Johnson has been steady, if not spectacular, in recent weeks, but his wildness is enough of a concern that he is more of a midrange option this week, especially with a tough matchup against Kris Medlen and the Braves.
37 Mat Latos LAD (Kershaw) N/A Last five starts: 46 percent ground ball rate
Ever since the All-Star break, the deluge of homers has slowed for Latos, and this promising trend has been supported by stronger ground ball tendencies.
38 Brandon Morrow @TB (Cobb) N/A Last four starts: .379 BABIP
Morrow is sporting a 1.55 WHIP since returning from the DL, but owners should be encouraged by his strikeout-per-inning pace. He's more likely to keep that up than his recent sky-high BABIP rate.
39 Clay Buchholz @TB (Shields) N/A Last five starts: 11 percent swinging strike rate
Buchholz's home run and ground ball rates have underlied some subpar performances of late, but even if that trend doesn't reverse itself, owners can look for some unexpected help in the strikeout category.
40 Dan Haren CHW (Quintana) N/A Last five starts: 7.7 K/BB
Haren is too prone to giving up homers to rank higher, but as long as he keeps throwing strikes like he has lately, he will help with WHIP.
41 Miguel Gonzalez @SEA (Millwood) @BOS (Doubront) Last five starts: 0.6 HR/9
It's an upset for Gonzalez to have given up so few gopher balls when he has been pitching in some of the majors' most notorious home run parks, but he gets a break this week with visits to homer-squelching Safeco Field and homer-neutral Fenway Park.
42 Mike Minor @PHI (Halladay) N/A Last five starts: .081 Isolated Power
Minor's recent hot streak has been underpinned by a strong command of the strike zone and a dearth of extra-base hits. While owners can count on the former to continue, the latter trend is bound to end sooner than later.
43 Tim Hudson @MIA (LeBlanc) @PHI (Lee) Last five starts: 58 percent ground ball rate
Hudson's recent inconsistency and lack of strikeouts would make him a questionable choice as a one-start pitcher, but he's still one of the best at inducing grounders. That makes him viable with a pair of starts.
44 Phil Hughes TOR (Alvarez) N/A Last six starts: .234 BABIP
Most pitchers with a BABIP that low would appear to be regression candidates, but if Hughes' production drops off, it won't be by much. His miniscule BABIP -- and ERA and WHIP -- over the past month have been backed up by a 15 percent popup rate.
45 Ryan Vogelsong SD (Cashner) N/A Last five starts: 2.3 HR/9
Vogelsong has been attacking the strike zone in his recent starts...maybe too much. He's been highly hittable, but his longer track record as a Giant should earn him a reprieve in standard mixed leagues, if not shallower ones.
46 Jonathon Niese MIA (Turner) N/A Last five starts: 83 percent strand rate
Niese's strand rate shows he has overperformed a bit recently, though other solid rate stats show that he is still a reliable option. Then again, with a 1.18 WHIP over his last five starts, it's not as if Niese is putting on a lot of baserunners in the first place.
47 Anibal Sanchez OAK (Milone) N/A Last four starts: 81 percent strand rate
With a 1.69 ERA over the past month, Sanchez may appear to be settling in with the Tigers, but his strand rate is masking mediocre strikeout and ground ball rates. He should be avoided in shallower leagues.
48 Zach Britton @BOS (Lester) N/A Last five starts: 8.7 K/9
It's exciting, though not entirely surprising, that Britton has clamped down on extra-base hits (.043 Isolated Power) this past month, but his contributions to the strikeout category have been an unexpected bonus.
49 Ian Kennedy SD (Stults) @COL (Francis) Last five starts: 9.1 K/9
Kennedy's strikeout resurgence makes him worth starting, albeit as a lower-end option in standard mixed leagues, but his start at Coors Field prevents him from being anything more.
50 Matt Harvey PHI (Cloyd) N/A Last five starts: 36 percent ground ball rate
Sure, Harvey is providing Ks by the truckload, but his low ground ball rate makes him something less than a slam dunk against a Phillies offense that has perked up.
51 Jon Lester BAL (Britton) N/A Last five starts: 1.2 K/BB
On the surface, Lester's past month hasn't looked so bad, but poor command makes him a risky start. If not for his continued ability to get ground balls, he would probably not be a recommended start this week.
52 Jhoulys Chacin @SF (Bumgarner) ARI (Corbin) Last five starts: 2.49 ERA
Chacin has pitched six innings or more only twice in his last five starts, but with two starts, he's a safe option for one of the last two spots in your rotation.
53 Wade Miley @COL (White) N/A Last five starts: 34 percent ground ball rate
Maybe Miley can continue to avoid the home run, but between his sagging ground ball rate and a visit to Coors Field, he is certainly riskier than usual this week.
54 Matt Harrison @SEA (Beavan) N/A Last five starts: 7.4 K/9
Harrison's favorable walk and ground ball rates have taken him a long way this year, but if he can maintain the recent uptick in strikeouts, he becomes all the more valuable.
55 Derek Holland @LAA (Weaver) N/A Last six starts: 4.6 K/BB
Holland has now gone eight straight starts without issuing more than two walks, and meanwhile, he has been amping up his strikeout rate as well.
56 Dan Straily @NYY (Kuroda) N/A 66 percent strikes thrown in four starts
As a flyball pitcher, Straily could get schooled at Yankee Stadium, but with a high strikeout rate and a low walk rate, any homers he allows could be solo jobs.
57 Mike Fiers @PIT (Rodriguez) N/A Last six starts: 4.5 BB/9
Fiers' normally strong command has been spotty down the stretch, but he has shown some improvement over his two most recent starts, throwing 65 percent of his pitches for strikes.
58 Hisashi Iwakuma BAL (Saunders) N/A Last six starts: 0.8 HR/9
Iwakuma's strikeout and walk rates are fine, though they don't seem to add up to the 1.80 ERA he has compiled over the past month. His ability to prevent home runs, though, makes him good enough to start.
59 Tim Lincecum COL (Francis) SD (Werner) Last six starts: 57 percent ground ball rate
Lincecum is still walking too many batters, but he's been getting more grounders for awhile now, so at least his recent homer binge should come to an end soon.
60 Jordan Zimmermann LAD (Harang) MIL (Estrada) Last five starts: 34 percent line drive rate
Zimmermann has been getting clobbered for a solid month, but the fact that he only allowed one extra-base hit against the Mets on Tuesday offers some hope for a late turnaround.
61 Jason Vargas TEX (Feldman) N/A Last five starts: 1.8 HR/9
Vargas' recent homer rate is ugly, but it reflects his usual pattern. Over the past month, he has allowed only one homer in three home games, but in two road games, batters left the building five times. Welcome back to Safeco Field, Jason.
62 Jaime Garcia @CHC (Volstad) N/A Last five starts: 17 percent HR/FB ratio
The good news is that Garcia's HR/FB ratio is primed to drop eventually, especially when he pitches at Busch Stadium. The bad news is that he visits Wrigley Field instead this week, and over the past month, all of the homers he has allowed have been on the road.
63 Alex Cobb BOS (Cook) TOR (Morrow) Last five starts: 3.31 xFIP
Cobb hasn't been a reliable producer lately, but he's doing just about everything right. According to xFIP, with better luck and defense, he could have had an ERA well under 3.50 over the past month.
64 Wandy Rodriguez MIL (Fiers) N/A Last six appearances (five starts): 0.3 HR/9
Rodriguez has been better lately, and it's helped that he's been pitching more often at PNC Park. He gets another home start in Week 25.
65 Ross Detwiler LAD (Capuano) N/A Last six starts: 3.09 ERA
Detwiler doesn't do anything flashy, but he is just efficient and effective enough to be worth a try in standard mixed leagues.
66 Paul Maholm @MIA (Eovaldi) N/A Last six starts: 3.64 xFIP
Maholm's mid-summer hot streak is well behind him now, but he's still good enough at keeping the ball down to be useful as a back-of-the-rotation option.
67 Bronson Arroyo @CHC (Berken) N/A Last six starts, 45 percent ground ball rate
Arroyo's low walk rate and WHIP are reasons enough to start him, but the recent rise is his ground ball rate could give you extra incentive if you needed it.
68 Mike Leake @CHC (Germano) LAD (Harang) Last six starts: 23 percent HR/FB
Leake continues his tour of ballparks geared towards offense, which so far has lifted his home run rate to stratospheric heights. However, he had not allowed a homer at Wrigley Field in two prior starts this year, and the Cubs have not hit for much power lately.
69 Joe Kelly HOU (Norris) N/A Last six appearances (four starts): 6.9 K/9
Kelly has been a good ground ball pitcher, but the recent uptick in his K-rate, plus a choice matchup, make him an intriguing option to fill out your rotation this week.
70 Wei-Yin Chen @SEA (Hernandez) N/A Last five starts: 8.2 K/9
Two trends point in Chen's favor this week: he's been striking out close to a batter per inning since the All-Star break, and he is less prone to homers on the road.

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 .

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Player News
Rockies' Tulowitzki, Gonzalez to start running bases next week
by R.J. White |
(6:32 pm ET) Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez are slated to start running the bases next week, reports.

The team is taking it slow with both players after they lost a significant part of the 2014 season to injuries after undergoing surgeries in August. Neither player will see time in Wednesday's Cactus League opener.

"There are still some things they need to do on the field before they're even ready to go into a game -- running bases, specifically," manager Walt Weiss said Saturday. "Last year, we'd have been very happy with the way they're at right now when we thought about their recovery and everything they had to go through. With where they are now, we're very encouraged by it."

Twins' Kurt Suzuki fine after taking pitch off kneecap
by R.J. White |
(6:24 pm ET) Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki said he would be fine after taking a pitch off his kneecap area Saturday, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Ryan Pressly slipped while attempting to deliver a changeup during a live batting practice session Saturday, and the ball crossed up the catcher.

"It was my fault," Pressly said. "I just slipped on the mound and yanked a changeup down. The ball caught (Suzuki) in the meaty part right between the shinguard and the padding. There's a little spot where he's vulnerable."

Manager Paul Molitor said Suzuki wasn't added to the team's post-workout injury report.

Girardi: Yankees 'taking it slow' with Carlos Beltran
by R.J. White |
(6:15 pm ET) The Yankees are taking things slow with outfielder Carlos Beltran, and he won't be rushed into full throwing drills until he indicates he's ready, reports.

"We're just taking it slow," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's done some throwing. We don't feel, with five weeks of games, there's really any reason to rush him. Guys do their work. But let's make sure he feels really good where he's at and we feel really good about where he's at."

Beltran had a bone spur removed from his elbow in October. He dealt with the issue throughout last season and hit just .233/.301/.402 with 15 home runs and 49 RBI in 403 at-bats. Beltran has performed light throwing drills and taken part in batting practice since reporting to camp Wednesday.

Miguel Montero trying to become workhorse with Cubs in 2015
by Brandon Wise |
(6:00 pm ET) New Cubs catcher Miguel Montero played the third most games behind the plate of all catchers in 2014 and he's not asking for any extra time off heading into 2015, reports

"I think the results of how you're playing as a team will dictate how you feel," Montero said. "You go to the playoffs, you're never tired. Your adrenaline goes so fast. You don't have time to think about, 'Oh, I've been catching 140 games.' Your mindset is, 'Let's go.'"

Manager Joe Maddon loves what he's seen from Montero, but knows expecting 162 games out of him is just too much.

"It won't be 162," Maddon said, "but we'll talk and try to figure out a nice little program to keep him on top of his game and provide that opportunity for other guys to play, too."

Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer focused bouncing back in 2015
by Brandon Wise |
(5:56 pm ET) Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer is ready to get back on the field in 2015. After posting a 5-8 record with a 4.18 ERA in 26 starts last year, Bauer is starting to throw earlier than he usually does, reports

"This is the first time I've finished a year in the big leagues, so I had a month extra of season," Bauer said. "So that's one less month of the offseason. I'm used to targeting about the middle of February to be ready to go in games, so when I come to spring training I'm at peak level to try to make the team. That was really tough to do this offseason, just because I couldn't start throwing until Nov. 1."

Manager Terry Francona is not worried about his pitcher's focus for the upcoming season.

"Regardless of what you tell him, I think he has his own things that drive him every time he goes out," Francona said. "There's maybe a different purpose every time, but there's something he's trying to strive for. I don't think he really picks up a ball very often without a goal. Sometimes, I know he even charts it, just because it keeps him motivated to do the things he's aiming for."

Royals' Terrance Gore: 'I know I've got work to do'
by R.J. White |
(5:52 pm ET) Royals outfielder Terrance Gore served a key role in the team's postseason run in 2014 as a speedy pinch runner, but he's set to begin the season back in the minors to continue working on his hitting, reports.

"They know I can do that job," Gore said. "But I have to handle the stick a little better. My bunting can improve. My hitting can improve."

Gore hit just .218/.284/.258 with 36 stolen bases in 252 at-bats with high Class A Wilmington last season. He also added 11 stolen bases while going 5 for 20 with Triple-A Omaha.

"If I could just hit .260 or .270, I'd steal 100 bases," Gore said. "I was hitting like .220 last year and still stole almost 50."

Jarrod Dyson is set to serve as the team's primary reserve outfielder.

Reds' Bryan Price singles out Nick Travieso
by R.J. White |
(5:42 pm ET) Reds manager Bryan Price singled out the work of pitching prospect Nick Travieso before Saturday's workout, reports.

"We get the reports, so we're looking at our players, but when you get to see these young guys perform, it leaves more of an impression than group of statistics. He's been great," Price said of Travieso. "He's a physical guy who's throwing at the bottom of the strike zone, which is very important to see guys that don't just have arm strength but bottom-of-the-strike-zone command. He's has a very, very good slider. He's a yes-sir, no-sir guy. The rest of the organization is excited about him too. It gave me even more excitement to see him personally."

Travieso wasn't completely satisfied with Saturday's live batting practice session but liked his finish.

"I think I started off trying to do a little too much," Travieso said. "I didn't have my best stuff today so I tried to compensate by throwing it harder. Tucker Barnhart behind the plate kind of calmed me down and told me to get in line with my front shoulder. After that, everything was pretty smooth."

Travieso, who was named the team's minor-league pitcher of the year in 2014, went 14-5 with a 3.04 ERA and 114:44 K:BB ratio in 142 1/3 innings with Class A Dayton last season.

Astros' Jon Singleton ready to fight off disappointing 2014 season
by Brandon Wise |
(5:42 pm ET) Astros first baseman Jon Singleton is ready to put the 2014 season in his rear view mirror. Singleton hit a woeful .168 with 13 home runs and 44 RBI in 310 plate appearances in 2014.

"To be honest, I believe the only competition I have is myself," Singleton said. "I feel like I'm the only person who can prevent myself from reaching the potential I need to reach or getting out of the game what I need to get out, but if I prepare and I work and I leave it all out there, there's nothing really else to worry about."

Manager A.J. Hinch thinks Singleton is a threat to hit 30 home runs this year.

"He's done what he needs to do this offseason to come in and improve off of, not only a tremendous Minor League career, but his start to the Major League career last year, which was mixed," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "My money's on Jon Singleton to do the things he needs to do to make this club."

Dodgers C Yasmani Grandal impressing early at camp
by R.J. White |
(5:33 pm ET) Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has impressed at Camp Boomer, presided over by Dodgers coach Steve "Boomer" Yeager, reports.

"I like what I see and what I hear from him," Yeager said. "It takes time to gain the respect of the pitching staff and teammates whenever a catcher comes from somewhere else, but some of them already know him. In the old Dodger tradition, we've welcomed him with open arms. He has come in with a good attitude; you don't have to go looking for him. He's right there, ready to go to work."

Grandal was acquired this offseason as the centerpiece in the trade that sent outfielder Matt Kemp to San Diego.

"In a short time, I've already learned a lot," Grandal said. "Getting to know the guys, catching bullpens, I'm getting a feel for how they throw. Everything comes with time. Once the games start [on Wednesday], it'll definitely come a little faster. I need to get to know what guys are looking for in a catcher, what their mentality is. Some guys like you to give them a pat on the back. With others, it's a different approach."

Grandal is expected to share time behind the plate with incumbent starter A.J. Ellis this season.

Phillies backup catcher spot up for grabs
by Brandon Wise |
(5:26 pm ET) The Phillies know Carlos Ruiz will be their opening day starter behind the plate. However, manager Ryne Sandberg is unclear as to who will backup Ruiz when the season begins, reports

"That's one of the areas in camp I think there's some competition," Sandberg said. "[I] need some game reps and game situations to really see them. I like the way that they're all going about it as a group. To get them into games and see how that goes, that will play big in that decision."

Cameron Rupp, Koyie Hill and John Hester are all vying for the position. Rupp is considered the favorite, according to the report, with the most pro experience, hitting .183 with six RBI and four runs scored in 60 plate appearances last season.

"Nothing's handed to anybody," Rupp said, "so I come out every day looking to get better, work on things that I need to improve on, and put my best foot forward."