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Week 8 Pitching Forecaster

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Fantasy Week 8 (May 20-26) will be one of those weeks where you're probably not going to be happy with your rotation. It's nothing against you or your team. It has to do with the lack of enticing waiver wire options, especially of the two-start variety. Few of your best pitchers are likely to be lined up for a pair of starts, and you may just have to get by with the back of your rotation as it is or pursue a one-start free agent.

Even among some of the better starters, this week is marked by uncertainty. Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels are scheduled for two starts, but Cueto (oblique) will be fresh off the disabled list, while Hamels hasn't been putting up his typical numbers. Zack Greinke could be a two-start option, but Matt Magill would have to get skipped and Ted Lilly (back) would have to remain on the disabled list or in the bullpen for that to happen. On the lower end of the starting pitcher spectrum, Dylan Axelrod may lose his second start or even his rotation spot should John Danks (shoulder) get activated.

In an uncertain Fantasy world, here are the 70 starting pitchers on whom standard mixed league owners can rely this coming week.

Monday update: Three sources of uncertainty got resolved over the weekend. The Reds optioned Tony Cingrani to make room for Cueto, but the rookie could be back later this season, so he is worth stashing in most formats. Matt Garza (No. 27 on the list below) will supplant Carlos Villanueva in the Cubs' rotation, and he inherits Villanueva's two-start week. Finally, Jake Odorizzi replaces the injured David Price (triceps) in the Rays' rotation. At least for now, he is slated for two starts and sneaks onto this week's list at No. 67.

My Top 70 Starting Pitchers for Week 8
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2
1 Clayton Kershaw @MIL (Gallardo) STL (Miller)
2 Max Scherzer @CLE (Kluber) MIN (Pelfrey)
3 Stephen Strasburg @SF (Cain) PHI (Hamels)
4 Cliff Lee @MIA (Slowey) N/A
5 Adam Wainwright @SD (Volquez) N/A
6 Felix Hernandez TEX (Holland) N/A
7 Justin Verlander @CLE (Jimenez) N/A
8 Yu Darvish OAK (Straily) N/A
9 Shelby Miller @SD (Marquis) @LAD (Kershaw)
10 Johnny Cueto @NYM (Marcum) CHC (Garza)
11 Cole Hamels @MIA (Sanabia) @WAS (Strasburg)
12 Mat Latos @NYM (Harvey) N/A
13 Jake Peavy MIA (Nolasco) N/A
14 Chris Sale BOS (Buchholz) N/A
15 James Shields @HOU (Lyles) N/A
16 CC Sabathia @BAL (Garcia) @TB (Moore)
17 Madison Bumgarner WAS (Gonzalez) N/A
18 Matt Harvey CIN (Latos) N/A
19 Matt Moore NYY (Sabathia) N/A
20 Hisashi Iwakuma @CLE (Kazmir) TEX (Lindblom)
21 Jon Lester @CHW (Axelrod) CLE (Kazmir)
22 R.A. Dickey TB (Odorizzi) BAL (Garcia)
23 Matt Cain WAS (Strasburg) N/A
24 Zack Greinke @MIL (Burgos) N/A
25 Anibal Sanchez MIN (Hernandez) N/A
26 A.J. Burnett @MIL (Estrada) N/A
27 Matt Garza @PIT (Rodriguez) @CIN (Cueto)
28 Jordan Zimmermann PHI (Kendrick) N/A
29 Doug Fister MIN (Correia) N/A
30 Jeff Samardzija @PIT (Liriano) N/A
31 Gio Gonzalez @SF (Bumgarner) N/A
32 Hyun-Jin Ryu @MIL (Peralta) N/A
33 Lance Lynn @LAD (Capuano) N/A
34 Wandy Rodriguez CHC (Garza) @MIL (Gallardo)
35 Patrick Corbin @COL (Garland) SD (Marquis)
36 Hiroki Kuroda @BAL (Hammel) N/A
37 Kris Medlen @NYM (Hefner) N/A
38 Yovani Gallardo LAD (Kershaw) PIT (Rodriguez)
39 A.J. Griffin @HOU (Harrell) N/A
40 Clay Buchholz @CHW (Sale) N/A
41 Ryan Dempster CLE (McAllister) N/A
42 Mike Minor @NYM (Gee) N/A
43 Alex Cobb @TOR (Ortiz) N/A
44 Scott Kazmir SEA (Iwakuma) @BOS (Lester)
45 Marco Estrada PIT (Burnett) N/A
46 Homer Bailey CHC (Wood) N/A
47 Julio Teheran MIN (Correia) @NYM (Marcum)
48 Wade Miley SD (Cashner) N/A
49 Paul Maholm MIN (Worley) N/A
50 C.J. Wilson SEA (Maurer) N/A
51 Travis Wood @CIN (Bailey) N/A
52 Tommy Milone @HOU (Bedard) N/A
53 Justin Masterson @BOS (Lackey) N/A
54 Jose Fernandez PHI (Cloyd) N/A
55 Jerome Williams SEA (Harang) @KC (Davis)
56 Francisco Liriano CHC (Samardzija) N/A
57 Shaun Marcum CIN (Cueto) ATL (Teheran)
58 Andrew Cashner @ARI (Miley) N/A
59 Dan Haren PHI (Pettibone) N/A
60 Brandon Morrow BAL (Jurrjens) N/A
61 Tim Lincecum COL (Chatwood) N/A
62 Jeremy Guthrie @HOU (Keuchel) LAA (Hanson)
63 Kyle Lohse PIT (Locke) N/A
64 Ervin Santana LAA (Blanton) N/A
65 Derek Holland @SEA (Hernandez) N/A
66 Trevor Cahill @COL (De La Rosa) N/A
67 Jake Odorizzi @TOR (Dickey) NYY (Hughes)
68 Kyle Kendrick @WAS (Zimmermann) N/A
69 Phil Hughes @BAL (Gonzalez) @TB (Odorizzi)
70 Bronson Arroyo CHC (Feldman) N/A

Two-Start Options to Consider

Cole Hamels, Phillies (@MIA, @WAS): Last season, Hamels started pitching out of the zone more often, but his walk rate remained low, as he got batters to swing at balls more often. That latter trend has reversed itself this season, and Hamels isn't getting as many called strikes either. The lefty may not be fooling batters the way he used to, but prior to Wednesday's drubbing by the Indians, Hamels had reeled off six straight quality starts. Despite some potential decline, Hamels is still plenty good enough to start every week.
This week's rank: 11
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Matt Garza, Cubs (@PIT, @CIN): Garza makes his entry into the 2013 season with a two-start week, and at least the latter of his two matchups, could make for a bumpy return. While we don't know how rusty Garza might be, his record over the last five seasons has earned him the benefit of the doubt. He should be started in virtually all leagues this week.
This Week's rank: 27
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Wandy Rodriguez, Pirates (CHC, @MIL): No longer a strikeout pitcher, Rodriguez still has Fantasy appeal, though in a Wade Miley sort of way. He keeps walks to a minimum and can go deep into games, so Rodriguez can be especially helpful in points leagues. Even in Rotisserie formats, Rodriguez is worth starting in most two-start weeks, including this one.
This week's rank: 34
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Most Added Starters (as of 5/20)
Player Name % change
1. Scott Feldman, SP, Cubs 24
2. Jake Odorizzi, SP, Rays 24
3. Brandon McCarthy, SP, D-Backs 23
4. Francisco Liriano, SP, Pirates 18
5. Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Pirates 16
6. Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Indians 16
7. Jason Marquis, SP, Padres 16
8. Julio Teheran, SP, Braves 15
9. Jonathan Pettibone, SP, Phillies 12
10. Jorge De La Rosa, SP, Rockies 11

Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks (@COL, SD): Aside from allowing just two home runs over his 53 1/3 innings, there's nothing that stands out in Corbin's peripherals. He has just been remarkably steady, and also had the good fortune of holding opponents to a .181 batting average on grounders and stranding 87 percent of his baserunners. While Corbin hasn't been the must-start that his 1.52 ERA makes him out to be, he's definitely good enough to use in a two-start week. Just beware that his string of eight straight quality starts and low homer rate are both at risk when he goes to Coors Field.
This week's rank: 35
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Yovani Gallardo, Brewers (LAD, PIT): Gallardo turned in one of his better starts of the season on Wednesday, holding the Pirates to two runs over six innings, but he still walked four batters. He was only able to coax seven swinging strikes, continuing a trend of allowing far more contact this year. With tougher matchups, Gallardo might be a borderline start, but he gets the Pirates again as well as the offense-starved Dodgers. Gallardo is worth starting for at least one more week.
This week's rank: 38
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Scott Kazmir, Indians (SEA, @BOS): Kazmir has been homer-prone, but excluding his season debut -- his first major league game in more than two years -- he has shown a surprising degree of control. He has been throwing strikes on more than two-thirds of his pitches, and a good proportion of those have been swings and misses. With just two quality starts in five tries, Kazmir is not without risk, but especially in a week with few exciting options, you might as well see if Kazmir can net you a dozen or more strikeouts and maybe a win or two.
This week's rank: 44
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Julio Teheran, Braves (MIN, @NYM): After a slugglish first three starts this season, Teheran has started throwing strikes like a human laser beam. The downside is that he has been hittable, getting only 14 strikeouts and allowing a .314 batting average over his last 25 1/3 innings. Because he has walked just one batter over those four starts, Teheran has compiled a manageable 1.30 WHIP over that stretch along with a 2.84 ERA. While owners should expect Teheran to cool off to some degree, this is a good week to trust a high-upside pitcher who is getting in a groove.
This week's rank: 47
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Jerome Williams, Angels (SEA, @KC): Some may dismiss Williams as a swingman who doesn't really deserve a rotation spot, but as a starter over parts of the last three seasons, he has done a good job of avoiding walks and keeping the ball in the park. In another week, owners would likely have a better two-start option to tack onto the end of their rotation, but Williams can help with WHIP and innings, and this time around, that's good enough.
This week's rank: 55
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Shaun Marcum, Mets (CIN, ATL): Marcum wasn't especially sharp prior to his most recent start, though an apparently unlucky .451 BABIP was partly responsible for his early exits. He fared much better on Wednesday at the Cardinals, and while he has yet to get many strikeouts, owners can trust Marcum to post a low WHIP, as long as the BABIP gods cooperate.
This week's rank: 57
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Jeremy Guthrie, Royals (@HOU, LAA): Moving to Kansas City seemed like the cure-all for Guthrie's gopher-ball tendencies, but he has already served up 11 of them this season. Despite the homers, pitching to contact has been working for Guthrie, because he's managed a .258 BABIP, but that isn't likely to last. Even less so is his 90 percent strand rate. The Angels have already knocked Guthrie around this month, and the Astros are a decent power-hitting team that could pose a surprisingly tough matchup. Despite a sub-3.00 ERA, Guthrie is actually a borderline option this week.
This week's rank: 62
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Jake Odorizzi, Rays (@TOR, NYY): David Price's DL stint has opened the door for Odorizzi to make his Rays' debut this week, and he should be making two starts. A couple of factors make this a risky time to try Odorizzi out in Fantasy. The Blue Jays and Yankees present tough matchups, especially for a flyball pitcher, and Odorizzi might not even make his second start, should Rays manager Joe Maddon decide to move Alex Cobb up a day. Even with just one start, though, Odorizzi is worth a gamble this week.
This Week's rank: 67
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Phil Hughes, Yankees (@BAL, @TB): Hughes is occasionally able to put strings of good starts together, but he allows opponents to put up crooked numbers far too often. Over his career, Hughes has performed better on the road, and he has a career 3.38 ERA at Tropicana Field, but he's at risk of getting shelled at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. This week could be a microcosm of Hughes' career, with highs and lows, so at best, he's a last resort option in standard mixed leagues.
This week's rank: 69
My take: Marginal mixed league start

Ryan Vogelsong, Giants (WAS, COL): Owners looking for the silver lining with Vogelsong can blame his 8.06 ERA on unfavorable BABIP (.375) and strand (60 percent) rates and a 2.4 HR/9 rate that is sure to drop. Meanwhile, he's getting strikeouts and swinging strikes at reasonable frequencies. Then again, home runs hit off Vogelsong are traveling faster and farther than they did last year, according to ESPN's Home Run Tracker, and he's giving up line drives in bunches. Maybe these are small sample artifacts, but as consistently bad as Vogelsong has been, you're better off going with a reliable one-start option this week.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Miguel Gonzalez, Orioles (NYY, @TOR): Gonzalez is expected to return from his disabled list stint, putting his blister issues behind him to take on a two-start week. While an 11 percent swinging strike rate raises the hope of an improved strikeout rate going forward, Gonzalez has given up too many homers, both this season and last, and with a pair of potentially tough matchups ahead, it could be an ugly return for Gonzalez.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Bartolo Colon, Athletics (@TEX, @HOU): In his last start, Colon lost his composure and walked a batter. It's actually just the second time that's happened for Colon over his eight starts. That's helped the contact-pitching veteran to hold opponents to a .275 on-base percentage, but he can be vulnerable to the long ball. He could get hit hard by this week's opponents -- especially the Rangers -- and you can't count on Colon to take advantage of the Astros' tendency to whiff. Though Colon can be trusted in some two-start weeks, this is probably not one of them, given his matchups.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Wade Davis, Royals (@HOU, LAA): After displaying strong command of the strike zone in his first three starts, Davis has been far more erratic in his five starts since. Batters have been laying off his pitches and have drawn as many walks as strikeouts (15) during his current slump. Maybe Davis can fool an undisciplined Astros lineup, which despite a recent shakeup, still owns the worst contact rate in the majors for the month of May. Only that makes Davis worth a flyer in the deepest of mixed leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Josh Lindblom, TEX (OAK, @SEA): The Rangers have called on Lindblom to replace Alexi Ogando, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a biceps injury. As he did as a major league reliever, Lindblom has been serving up popups galore as a starter at Triple-A Round Rock but with better control. Lindblom may be an average strikeout pitcher at best, but he should be able to get enough outs to be more than useful in deep leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start

Felix Doubront, Red Sox (@CHW, CLE): After an eight-day layoff, which according to the Boston Globe, Doubront used to work on his mechanics, the 25-year-old was back to his usual tricks on Thursday at the Rays. He did strike out seven batters, but he walked six, as he failed for the fourth time this season to extend himself beyond five innings. Despite decreased velocity, Doubront is still providing Ks, but with a second straight year of high walk and line drive rates, owners will have to expect their ERAs and WHIPs to take a beating.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start

Kevin Correia, Twins (@ATL, @DET): Like Colon, Correia has been very stingy with walks, and that has allowed him to pitch seven or more innings in six out of his eight starts. Correia, however, makes Colon look like Yu Darvish when it comes to getting strikeouts. He can certainly lower your pitching staff's WHIP and add innings, but Correia's 3.35 ERA is likely to rise above 4.00 once he starts stranding fewer runners. He doesn't have the easiest matchups this week, so the regression could take off with his next start.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start

Jason Marquis, Padres (STL, @ARI): Even though Marquis is a reliable ground ball inducer and pitches home games at PETCO Park, he's been giving up frequent homers since becoming a Padre last season. He has also been unusually wild this season, but Marquis has survived it by allowing a .159 batting average on grounders. That mark has been typically at least 60 points higher in recent years, so unless Marquis cuts back on walks, he's going to be an ERA and WHIP nightmare.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-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
Royals yet to decide Brandon Finnegan's role
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:04 pm ET) The Royals have yet to decide whether to use Brandon Finnegan as a reliever with the major-league team or continue his development as a starter in the minors, MLB.com reports.

"It's not a decision we have to make right now," general manager Dayton Moore said. "We'll just have to see how it all plays out."

Finnegan gave up just one earned run in seven innings as a reliever last season while striking out 10, and the team could choose to keep him in the bullpen in order to make another World Series push.

"We [have] a chance to compete," manager Ned Yost said, "and you want to take your best players when you have a chance to compete."


Giants' Ryan Vogelsong happy after first spring outing
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:01 pm ET) Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong was satisfied after his first outing of the spring, according to MLB.com.

"All of my pitches are close to being where I want them already, so from that standpoint it was good," Vogelsong said. "Just [need to] work on the mental side a little bit."

Vogelsong had an iffy start. He was able to get through the first inning quickly, but allowed four runs in the second. Vogelsong explained that he lost his focus during the inning. "I just lost my focus a little bit, just got in the stretch and started rushing a little bit, just never slowed myself down."

The 37-year-old posted a 4.00 ERA over 184 2/3 innings last season. He's expected to open the year in the Giants bullpen. 


Braves P Eric Stults impresses in Grapefruit League win against Tigers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5:59 pm ET) Braves pitcher Eric Stults logged two scoreless innings during Thursday's 6-4 Grapefruit League win over the Tigers.

Stults gave up two hits but also got two Tigers players to hit into double plays. 

“The first time out in spring you don’t know what to expect,” Stults said, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “so my mindset is, I want to stay down in the zone and make them put the ball on the ground. For the most part, I was able to do that. Guys made some plays behind me to turn two, so that was nice.”

Stults, 35, is competing with Wandy Rodriguez for the fifth spot in the Braves' pitching rotation. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was pleased with what he saw in Stults Thursday. 

“You can never have too much pitching, like we know from the past," Gonzalez said. "And all of a sudden we get bad news, or possibility of bad news with Mikey, and you feel good that you have some depth in the rotation.”


Angels' Mike Trout to be more aggressive early in count
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:56 pm ET) Angels outfielder Mike Trout said Thursday that he plans to be more aggressive early in the count this spring, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Gonna be locked and loaded on the first pitch," Trout said.

Trout made contact on the first pitch 24 times last season, hitting six singles and a double and posting a .292/.286/.333 line. He hit .287/.377/.561 in 602 at-bats overall in 2014.


Astros' Mark Appel goes two innings in spring debut
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:54 pm ET) Astros pitcher Mark Appel tossed two innings in his spring debut on Thursday.

Appel allowed one run on three hits during the outing. He struck out two batters. The 23-year-old is expected to begin the season in the minors, but is considered one of the team's top prospects. The former top overall pick experienced some struggles last season, posting a 6.91 ERA over two minor-league levels. 

Appel made it clear that every inning counts this spring. "It's two innings in spring training, so I'm going to need innings if I want to show why I deserve to be here and hopefully have a shot at being in Houston at some point this season," he said. 


Indians SP Carlos Carrasco throws in 'B' game Thursday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:54 pm ET) Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco threw two innings in a "B" game against the Reds on Thursday morning. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway was pleased with what he saw from the right-handed pitcher.

"He had a good tempo. He wasn't overdoing it," Callaway said, per MLB.com. "The thing that worried me coming into spring was we talked about intent and letting it go and pitching like you're out of the 'pen. Well, we don't want him doing that right now. We don't want him averaging 97 yet. He did a really good job of controlling his effort level."


Phils' Sandberg on Gonzalez's spring debut: Best I've seen him throw
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:47 pm ET) Phillies pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez didn't make a strong impression Thursday against the Astros in his first attempt to win a spot in the team's rotation. However, manager Ryne Sandberg wasn't just focused on the results of Gonzalez's spring debut.

“The best stuff I’ve seen since he’s come over here [from Cuba],” Sandberg said, per The Journal News. “It looks like he’s healthy. Looks like he has some zip on his fastball. That can get better as he goes here. Compared to last year, night and day.”

The right-hander allowed two runs on four hits in two relief innings. He entered the game after Cliff Lee threw two scoreless innings. Gonzalez struck out one and gave up a home run.

“It doesn’t matter about the line,” Gonzalez said through a translator. “My plan that I had all along was to show my work ethic today. I don’t look at the numbers.”


MLBPA on Josh Hamilton leaks: 'Cowardly'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:43 pm ET) The Major League Baseball Players Association issued a statement about leaked information regarding Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton, MLB.com reports.

"It is regrettable that people who want to see Josh Hamilton hurt personally and professionally have started leaking information about the status of his treatment program and the confidential processes under our Joint Drug Agreement," the statement read. "These anonymous leaks are cowardly, undermine the integrity of our collectively bargained agreements and in some instances have been wholly inaccurate. The Major League Baseball Players Association will use every right we have under the collective bargaining agreement to make sure Josh gets the help he needs, and the fair and confidential process to which he is entitled."

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that an arbitrator would be needed to break the league's split on whether Hamilton should enter a rehab program for substance abuse. It was reported early Thursday that the decision on whether the league will suspend the outfielder could come as early as next week.


Giants' Hunter Pence exits after HBP
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:43 pm ET) Giants outfielder Hunter Pence left Thursday's game after being hit in the hand with a pitch, according to CSN.

Pence walked down to first base, but a team trainer took him out of the game. The team will send Pence for X-rays on his hand. It's unclear how much time he'll miss, if any, due to the issue.

The 31-year-old hit .277/.332/.445 over 650 at-bats last season. 


Phillies' Sandberg: Elvis Araujo 'impressive' in two spring outings
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:35 pm ET) Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said Thursday that pitcher Elvis Araujo has impressed in his two outings this spring, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

"He was a bright spot today once again," Sandberg said after Araujo pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning Thursday. "He just has that angle coming in with his height and he seems to pitch down in the zone. But that ball has a real nice angle to it, so he's been impressive the two times we've seen him."

Araujo made his spring debut in Sunday's exhibition loss to the University of Tampa, striking out the side in his one inning of action. He went 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA and 50:28 K:BB ratio in 50 innings with high Class A Carolina and Double-A Akron.


 
 
 
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