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Week 5 Pitching Forecaster

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It's another week in Fantasy Baseball, so it's yet another rush to the waiver wire to find reinforcements for your Fantasy rotations. Two-start pitchers are always in demand, and the days heading into Fantasy Week 5 (April 29-May 5) are proving to be no exception. Garrett Richards, Jose Quintana, Wandy Rodriguez and Ted Lilly are all among the most-added starting pitchers in CBSSports.com leagues, and each is scheduled to take the mound twice next week.

Just because a pitcher has good early-season stats and lines up for two starts doesn't always mean he is an advisable pickup. While Quintana, Rodriguez and Lilly are all included among this week's top 70 starters, Richards has been excluded. He has induced 40 grounders in his 24 2/3 innings, and batters have turned only three of them into base hits for an .075 batting average. With Richards' luck on grounders due to run out at some point, owners should turn to other options, even if it means keeping a one-start pitcher like Ross Detwiler or Dillon Gee active.

It's not just two-start pitchers getting attention from Fantasy owners, as one-start Carlos Villanueva and Patrick Corbin are being added rapidly to leagues. Corbin's increased velocity and history of good control make him an intriguing option in standard mixed leagues. With some potential for strikeouts, Villanueva has his appeal, too, though owners should exercise more caution with him, given his history of high flyball and home run rates. If Villanueva continues to perform well, he could appear in the top 70 in future weeks, but for now, he's been left off the list.

Here are the 70 pitchers whom I prefer to Villanueva, Richards and numerous others, and each is a viable start in standard mixed leagues for the coming week.

Note: With Brett Anderson (ankle) having his Monday start against the Angels skipped, he loses his two-start week and his spot on this week's top 70. Dan Straily, who will replace Anderson for the Athletics on Monday, also fills the void left by Anderson on the list below, as he is now ranked 59th for the week ahead. Also, Jorge De La Rosa has been among the Most Added and Most Activated starting pitchers for this week, but with Jhoulys Chacin (back) possibly returning from the 15-day disabled list to face the Rays on Sunday, owners should count on De La Rosa to make only one start.

My Top 70 Starting Pitchers for Week 5
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2
1 Justin Verlander MIN (Worley) @HOU (Humber)
2 Max Scherzer MIN (Pelfrey) @HOU (Harrell)
3 Adam Wainwright CIN (Latos) @MIL (Gallardo)
4 Stephen Strasburg @ATL (Teheran) @PIT (Locke)
5 Yu Darvish CHW (Quintana) BOS (Lester)
6 Mat Latos @STL (Wainwright) @CHC (Jackson)
7 Matt Cain @ARI (Kennedy) LAD (Lilly)
8 Matt Harvey @MIA (Fernandez) @ATL (Hudson)
9 Cole Hamels MIA (Fernandez) N/A
10 Clayton Kershaw @SF (Vogelsong) N/A
11 Cliff Lee @CLE (Bauer) N/A
12 Felix Hernandez @TOR (Happ) N/A
13 James Shields TB (Cobb) CHW (Quintana)
14 Madison Bumgarner @ARI (Cahill) N/A
15 Chris Sale @TEX (Tepesch) N/A
16 David Price @COL (Garland) N/A
17 Ian Kennedy SF (Cain) @SD (Volquez)
18 Gio Gonzalez @ATL (Hudson) @PIT (Rodriguez)
19 Roy Halladay @CLE (McAllister) MIA (Slowey)
20 Andy Pettitte HOU (Harrell) OAK (Anderson)
21 Jeff Samardzija SD (Richard) CIN (Cingrani)
22 CC Sabathia OAK (Griffin) N/A
23 Jake Peavy @TEX (Grimm) N/A
24 Kris Medlen WAS (Haren) N/A
25 Shelby Miller @MIL (Lohse) N/A
26 Anibal Sanchez MIN (Diamond) N/A
27 Matt Moore @COL (Francis) N/A
28 Jon Lester @TOR (Morrow) @TEX (Darvish)
29 Clay Buchholz @TOR (Buehrle) N/A
30 R.A. Dickey SEA (Iwakuma) N/A
31 Jaime Garcia CIN (Arroyo) @MIL (Estrada)
32 Jordan Zimmermann @ATL (Maholm) N/A
33 Marco Estrada PIT (McDonald) STL (Garcia)
34 Hyun-Jin Ryu COL (De La Rosa) N/A
35 Tony Cingrani @CHC (Samardzija) N/A
36 Brandon Morrow BOS (Lester) SEA (Saunders)
37 Doug Fister @HOU (Norris) N/A
38 Yovani Gallardo PIT (Rodriguez) STL (Wainwright)
39 Hiroki Kuroda HOU (Humber) N/A
40 A.J. Burnett WAS (Detwiler) N/A
41 Wade Davis CLE (Jimenez) CHW (Axelrod)
42 A.J. Griffin @NYY (Sabathia) N/A
43 Lance Lynn CIN (Bailey) N/A
44 Josh Johnson BOS (Dempster) N/A
45 Jason Hammel @SEA (Maurer) @LAA (Richards)
46 Wandy Rodriguez @MIL (Gallardo) WAS (Gonzalez)
47 Ryan Dempster @TOR (Johnson) N/A
48 Mike Minor NYM (Marcum) N/A
49 Alexi Ogando BOS (Lackey) N/A
50 Paul Maholm WAS (Zimmermann) N/A
51 Wade Miley @SD (Marquis) N/A
52 Justin Masterson MIN (Pelfrey) N/A
53 Alex Cobb @KC (Shields) @COL (Chacin)
54 Hisashi Iwakuma @TOR (Dickey) N/A
55 Patrick Corbin @SD (Richard) N/A
56 Dillon Gee @MIA (LeBlanc) N/A
57 Jonathon Niese @ATL (Teheran) N/A
58 Jose Fernandez NYM (Harvey) @PHI (Hamels)
59 Dan Straily LAA (Hanson) N/A
60 Jose Quintana @TEX (Darvish) @KC (Shields)
61 Kyle Lohse STL (Miller) N/A
62 Ross Detwiler @PIT (Burnett) N/A
63 Ryan Vogelsong LAD (Kershaw) N/A
64 Homer Bailey @STL (Lynn) N/A
65 Tim Hudson WAS (Gonzalez) NYM (Harvey)
66 Ted Lilly COL (Chatwood) @SF (Cain)
67 Phil Hughes OAK (Colon) N/A
68 Shaun Marcum @ATL (Minor) N/A
69 Josh Beckett COL (Nicasio) N/A
70 Jeremy Hellickson @KC (Mendoza) N/A

Two-Start Options to Consider

Jaime Garcia, Cardinals (CIN, @MIL): Garcia hasn't been especially efficient, exceeding six innings in only two of his five starts. However, he has been effective in all but one outing, inducing at least 10 grounders against every opponent except for the Phillies. Garcia can be trusted in most one-start weeks, so he's a must-start for this scoring period.
This week's rank: 31
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Marco Estrada, Brewers (PIT, STL): Estrada is sure to give up more than his share of homers at Miller Park, and he 's a poor bet to replicate last season's 2.97 home ERA. Still, he can provide strikeouts and a low WHIP, and at least lately, the Cardinals have been struggling to score runs.
This week's rank : 33
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays (BOS, SEA): An effective slider was key to Morrow's 2012 success, but he's been increasingly missing the strike zone and getting fewer whiffs with it this year. Morrow overcame an early strikeout slump last season, so it's far too early to lose faith in him. Despite his lackluster April, he needs to be kept active, especially in a two-start week.
This week's rank: 36
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Wade Davis, Royals (CLE, CHW): Davis' last start was his worst of the season, though he toiled in bitter cold conditions. Owners can still be encouraged by Davis' sharp command, and though he can be at risk to surrender homers, he should fine with a couple of starts at Kauffman Stadium.
This week's rank: 41
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Most Added Starters (as of 4/29)
Player % change
1. Kyle Kendrick, SP, Phillies 26
2. Ted Lilly, SP, Dodgers 26
3. Justin Grimm, SP, Rangers 20
4. Bartolo Colon, SP, Athletics 16
5. Ervin Santana, SP, Royals 11
6. Jorge De La Rosa, SP, Rockies 11
7. Dan Straily, SP, Athletics 10
8. Edinson Volquez, SP, Padres 10
9. Kevin Correia, SP, Twins 10
10. John Lackey, SP, Red Sox 9

Jason Hammel, Orioles (@SEA, @LAA): Hammel's 2012 breakout was fueled by more frequent strikeouts and grounders, but they've been in shorter supply this year. Recall, though, that Hammel pitched only nine innings in the Grapefruit League this spring, and over his last three starts, he has shown signs of rounding into form. He's been getting more ground balls, and even if the strikeouts don't come, he's worth using with these two starts.
This week's rank: 45
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Wandy Rodriguez, Pirates (@MIL, WAS): Rodriguez's reinvention as a control artist continues to go well. Though he has helped himself by handing out only three walks to date, he's also been fortunate to have allowed only three line drive base hits. While some regression is sure to be on the way, Rodriguez is skilled enough to use in most weeks with a pair of starts.
This week's rank: 46
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Alex Cobb, Rays (@KC, @COL): Aside from one start against the A's, Cobb has continued last year's late-season trend of an increased strikeout rate. He's had his struggles in hitter-friendly parks, so his start at Coors Field could be unpleasant, even if he records a healthy number of Ks. There could be enough damage done there to keep Cobb as a more marginal option this week.
This week's rank: 53
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Jose Fernandez, Marlins (NYM, @PHI): Though Fernandez has suffered through a couple of subpar starts, his results would have looked better if he could have stranded a normal proprotion of baserunners. Still, he's on a pitch count and not getting run support, so even with two starts, Fernandez is a fringe option in standard mixed leagues.
This week's rank: 58
My take: Margnial standard mixed league start.

Jose Quintana, White Sox (@TEX, @KC): I have been slow to appreciate Quintana, because he has historically not been a big producer of strikeouts, but so far this year, he's been missing more bats. According to BrooksBaseball.net, Quintana's cutter has more cut this season, and that has likely helped him to induce more whiffs. Increased fastball velocity helps, too. The trend is all of four games old, so it's too soon to go gaga over Quintana, but he's worth using if you don't like the one-start pitcher at the back of your rotation.
This week's rank: 60
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Tim Hudson, Braves (WAS, NYM): After allowing just 12 home runs all of last season, Hudson has already given up five gopher balls. Two came in his most recent start at Coors Field, but before we just dismiss the trend, owners should take note that Hudson's average sinkerball velocity has been down a tick in his last two starts. That raises just enough doubt to make Hudson more of a last-resort start in standard mixed leagues.
This week's rank: 65
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Ted Lilly, Dodgers (COL, @SF): Lilly made a triumphant return in his first start since last May, holding the Mets to one run in five innings. Even at his best, Lilly can be a risky start when toiling in hitter's parks, but that won't be the case in Week 5. This is a safe two-start week for Lilly in deeper leagues, and standard mixed league owners can use him as well if they lack more robust two-start options.
This week's rank: 66
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Julio Teheran, Braves (WAS, NYM): Oddly enough, it took a visit to Coors Field on Tuesday to get Teheran on track, as he had his best start of the year by far. Teheran pounded the strike zone and froze Rockies hitters on 24 called strikes. It was a welcome performance for Teheran's owners, but he will need a few more of these before he can be trusted in standard mixed leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Edwin Jackson, Cubs (SD, CIN): Jackson has notched back-to-back quality starts, though his most recent one was against the Marlins, and it was hardly impressive. While the well-traveled veteran has not been allowing many extra-base hits, he has clogged up the bases with too many walks. There are too many two-start alternatives who offer more consistency or upside for owners to turn to Jackson outside of deeper leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Clayton Richard, Padres (@CHC, ARI): When the Padres re-inserted Andrew Cashner into the rotation last week, Richard lost what appeared to be a two-start week, but he gets it back in Week 5. After a miserable season debut, the lefty got better in his next two starts, but he was a mess in Tuesday's loss to the Brewers. Normally, Richard would be someone to consider with good matchups or venues, but he needs to improve his command, particularly with his sinker, if he is going to be trustworthy in most leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Garrett Richards, Angels (@OAK, BAL): As a prospect, Richards looked like a budding control artist, but despite a low walk rate this year, he is still not throwing strikes at a high rate. Aside from tossing seven shutout innings against the Tigers in his second start of the season, Richards has not been especially imposing, and as mentioned above, he has benefited from some apparent good luck on grounders. Though good surface stats suggest otherwise, owners in the vast majority of mixed leagues should avoid Richards this scoring period.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Edinson Volquez, Padres (@CHC, ARI): Volquez has looked much better in his last two starts, and surprisingly, he threw strikes with regularity. Though he hasn't been wild, Volquez hasn't been getting many strikeouts either. Then again, coming off four straight seasons with a BB/9 rate over 5.0, it's hard to trust Volquez with WHIP, despite his recent steadiness. Even with a start against the punchless Cubs, Volquez is strictly for deep-league owners.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start.

Lucas Harrell, Astros (@NYY, DET): If not for a disastrous start against the A's, Harrell's ERA would be just 1.85, but there are few signs, if any, pointing to a breakout for the 27-year-old. His command, which has been suspect in the past, isn't getting any better, and he allows far too much contact. Even if the Tigers don't emerge from their offensive funk, don't expect this to be a productive week for Harrell.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start.

Tommy Hanson, Angels (@OAK, BAL): Hanson will come off the bereavement list on Monday and is set to make his scheduled start at Oakland. Even with two starts this coming week, he is too risky to use in any sort of mixed league. He should be avoided in those formats until his velocity and swinging strike rate rebound over an extended period.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start.

Zach Britton, Orioles (@SEA, @LAA): In three starts at Triple-A Norfolk, Britton has compiled a sparkling 1.98 ERA, and a 72 percent ground ball rate (per StatCorner.com) has helped. However, a 52 percent strikes thrown rate does not bode well for major league success, especially since Britton has a history of command issues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start.

Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians (@KC, MIN): Ever since his solid season debut, Jimenez has been back to his old tricks, having trouble with location and generating too few ground balls. He's once again a last-resort option for very deep leagues, even in a two-start week.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start.

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
Red Sox's Jackie Bradley Jr. showing off new swing
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:41 pm ET) Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is showing off his new swing this spring, according to the Boston Herald

Bradley started working out at the team's facility in November, and started hitting in January. He worked with assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez for a good portion of the offseason. "Jackie was dedicated," Rodriguez said. "He listened, too. He was open to what we talked about."

Manager John Farrell has noticed the change in Bradley's approach. "In BP, to me, it seems like there’s more of a willingness to stay in the middle of the field and not look to lift a ball too much," Farrell said. "I think it’s more of his natural swing, which he was drafted with."

Bradley said his swing has been a "work in progress." While it doesn't appear Bradley has a starting role, his defense should make him a useful major-league asset.

The 24-year-old hit .198/.265/.266 over 384 at-bats last year. 

 


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"He was an important part of our team last year," Molitor said. "He will be this year, too."

Escobar delivered the best performance of his career in 2014, hitting .275/.315/.406 with six home runs and 37 RBI in 433 at-bats. However, he arrived at camp to learn he was in a competition for the shortstop role with last year's center fielder, Danny Santana. Breaking the news to Escobar was a delicate conversation for the manager.

"Obviously," Molitor said. "You’ve got a guy who came in and played every day for you last year, and then you’re thinking about doing something different. I’ve tried to explain it to him the best I could. His answers, at least for now, are, 'No problem. I understand.'"


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(11:30 pm ET) Blue Jays pitcher Daniel Norris tossed a strong start in his first spring appearance on Thursday.

Norris is competing for the fifth spot in the team's rotation, and got off to a nice start. Norris allowed one hit and one walk over 1 2/3 innings. He struck out two during the outing. 

Norris said he was glad to be taking on a strong lineup his first time out, according to the Toronto Sun. "I liked the fact I was facing a good lineup. You have to bring your 'A' game" Norris said. While it wasn't a perfect outing, Norris was pleased with his stuff.

"I struggled a little with it (staying closed) in the first, but was much better in the second inning," said Norris. "Years back in spring training, I can remember my stuff not doing much."

The 21-year-old posted a 5.40 ERA over 6 2/3 innings in the majors last year. 


Pirates' Jeff Locke wants to remain with team if he doesn't start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:00 pm ET) Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke said he prefers to remain with the club even if he loses out on the fifth starter spot, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Locke is stuck in a battle with Vance Worley, but Worley is considered to have a leg up in the competition. Both players are out of options, and would be considered for the bullpen if they lose out on the rotation spot. While a trade is possible, Locke said he would rather remain in Pittsburgh.

"If it comes to them saying, 'Would you rather be a starting pitcher on (another) team or be a (reliever) on the Pirates?' this is where I'd want to be," Locke said. "This is where my loyalty sits. This is the team I want to win with. It's never going to be about anything more than that."

The 27-year-old Locke posted a 3.91 ERA over 131 1/3 innings last year. 


Orioles' Chris Davis goes yard on Thursday
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Davis, who is coming off a poor season, is attempting to get back to his previous level of performance. His ability to hit for power has never been a question, and he proved that again on Thursday. With two men on, Davis took a fastball out to right center for a three-run shot in the third inning. 

Manager Buck Showalter said Davis' hard work has paid off thus far. "He's been working real hard," Showalter said. "Get a little return on it. Nothing wind-aided tonight, thick air. He had to square it up."

The 28-year-old Davis hit .196/.300/.404 over 450 at-bats last year. 


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"Colome is getting his work in. We know that. We’ve had communication on that," Cash said. "As I’ve said the whole time, we’d like to have him here. I don’t think it’s fair to punish a guy for being held up, so he’s still very much a factor."

Colome, 26, posted a 2.66 ERA over 23 2/3 innings last year. 


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Pedroia got to prove that on Thursday, going 3 for 3 with a grand slam. Following the game, Pedroia told the media that his performance proves he's feeling good right now. "I knew I was back to normal in the offseason," he said. "Obviously I told you guys that, but you can only believe me if you see it. So there you go." 

The 31-year-old hit .278/.337/.376 over 551 at-bats last year. 


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Lagares has had opportunities to throw out some base-runners this spring, but has erred on the side of caution. Manager Terry Collins said he's completely fine with that strategy. 

"He did it the right way and I'm real proud of him," Collins said. "He could have sent a message to everybody -- 'Look, I'm fine.' And he was smart enough to say, 'I'll worry about it in April.'"

Lagares, 25, hit .281/.321/.382 over 416 at-bats last year. 


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He continued, "I've played a lot there in the minor leagues. And hearing everyone say, 'I don't think he can play center field,' is going to motivate me to play a great center field."

Manager Bud Black seems encouraged by Myers' defensive play thus far. "He's looking good, good angles, good routes, good hands, athletic," Black said. "His speed is fine. His strides look good tracking fly balls. He's an athletic guy. From what we've seen so far [it's been] all good."

The 24-year-old hit .222/.294/.320 over 325 at-bats last season. 


 
 
 
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