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Week 9 Pitching Forecaster

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In Fantasy Week 9 (May 27-June 2), every team in the majors plays seven games. That jammed-packed schedule creates a bonanza of two-start options for Fantasy owners. That means your league's waiver wire is probably ripe with two-start pitchers ready for the taking, but be sure you choose wisely. Your rivals have the same bounty from which to pick, and those who make the best selections will be rewarded when the week reaches its conclusion.

One pitcher not included among the two-start options is Jered Weaver (elbow). Though a few days ago, it appeared the Angels' ace could return from the 15-day disabled list as soon as Monday, he is now slated for a Wednesday start against the Dodgers. Even though Weaver is making just the one start in Week 9, he needs to be activated in all formats.

Owners in deeper leagues may want to take a flyer on Michael Kickham, who was chosen to take over Ryan Vogelsong's (hand) spot in the Giants' rotation. Kickham could pay some immediate dividends, as he debuts with a two-start week, facing the Athletics and Cardinals on the road.

Kickham doesn't profile to be good enough to make the cut in standard mixed leagues this week, especially with so many options, but each of the 70 starters listed below is a reasonably safe play for your active roster in those formats. Further below, I'll sort out all of the borderline two-start options.

Monday update: Kickham may not be the only prospect to make his big league debut this week, as the Cardinals are considering Michael Wacha to start Thursday against the Royals. According to MLB.com, swingman Joe Kelly and minor leaguer Maikel Cleto are also in contention to fill in for the injured John Gast (shoulder), who was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Despite injuries, Clay Buchholz (collarbone) and Ian Kennedy (finger) are both expected to make starts later this week, though both will miss out on a two-start week. As a result of losing a start, Buchholz has been dropped from No. 21 to No. 44 in this week's rankings, while Kennedy has been left off the top 70 altogether.

My Top 70 Starting Pitchers for Week 9
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2
1 Adam Wainwright @KC (Shields) SF (Bumgarner)
2 Cliff Lee @BOS (Dempster) MIL (Figaro)
3 Justin Verlander PIT (Liriano) @BAL (Hammel)
4 Yu Darvish @ARI (Cahill) KC (Santana)
5 Mat Latos CLE (McAllister) @PIT (Gomez)
6 Chris Sale CHC (Jackson) @OAK (Parker)
7 Madison Bumgarner @OAK (Straily) @STL (Wainwright)
8 Matt Harvey NYY (Kuroda) @MIA (Slowey)
9 Felix Hernandez @SD (Cashner) N/A
10 Stephen Strasburg @ATL (Teheran) N/A
11 Clayton Kershaw @COL (Garland) N/A
12 Matt Moore @MIA (Nolasco) N/A
13 James Shields STL (Wainwright) @TEX (Perez)
14 Zack Greinke LAA (Wilson) @COL (Chacin)
15 Cole Hamels MIL (Gallardo) N/A
16 Jake Peavy @CHC (Wood) N/A
17 Matt Cain @STL (Miller) N/A
18 Max Scherzer @BAL (Gonzalez) N/A
19 Jeff Samardzija @CHW (Quintana) ARI (Corbin)
20 Gio Gonzalez BAL (Hammel) @ATL (Hudson)
21 Johnny Cueto @PIT (Rodriguez) N/A
22 Anibal Sanchez @PIT (Burnett) N/A
23 Jered Weaver LAD (Capuano) N/A
24 Hisashi Iwakuma @MIN (Pelfrey) N/A
25 CC Sabathia BOS (Doubront) N/A
26 Doug Fister @PIT (Locke) N/A
27 Jordan Zimmermann @BAL (Tillman) N/A
28 Jon Lester @PHI (Pettibone) N/A
29 Shelby Miller SF (Cain) N/A
30 C.J. Wilson @LAD (Greinke) HOU (Norris)
31 R.A. Dickey @ATL (Minor) N/A
32 A.J. Burnett DET (Sanchez) N/A
33 Hyun-Jin Ryu LAA (Blanton) @COL (De La Rosa)
34 Hiroki Kuroda @NYM (Harvey) BOS (Dempster)
35 Paul Maholm @TOR (Morrow) WAS (Duke)
36 A.J. Griffin @SF (Zito) N/A
37 Lance Lynn KC (Mendoza) N/A
38 Trevor Cahill TEX (Darvish) @CHC (Jackson)
39 Patrick Corbin @CHC (Samardzija) N/A
40 Alex Cobb @CLE (Kluber) N/A
41 Ryan Dempster PHI (Lee) @NYY (Kuroda)
42 Kris Medlen TOR (Rogers) N/A
43 Jose Fernandez @TB (Odorizzi) NYM (Niese)
44 Clay Buchholz @NYY (Hughes) N/A
45 Justin Masterson CIN (Arroyo) N/A
46 Mike Minor TOR (Dickey) N/A
47 Kevin Gausman @WAS (Duke) DET (Porcello)
48 Homer Bailey @CLE (Kazmir) N/A
49 Francisco Liriano @DET (Verlander) CIN (Leake)
50 Marco Estrada @MIN (Deduno) N/A
51 Tim Hudson @TOR (Buehrle) WAS (Gonzalez)
52 Tommy Milone @SF (Lincecum) N/A
53 Jonathon Niese NYY (Hughes) @MIA (Fernandez)
54 Jarrod Parker SF (Kickham) CHW (Sale)
55 Dan Straily SF (Bumgarner) CHW (Quintana)
56 Brandon Morrow ATL (Maholm) @SD (Volquez)
57 Jake Odorizzi MIA (Fernandez) @CLE (Jimenez)
58 Shaun Marcum @MIA (Eovaldi) N/A
59 Ervin Santana STL (Lyons) @TEX (Darvish)
60 Matt Garza ARI (Kennedy) N/A
61 Jose Quintana CHC (Samardzija) @OAK (Straily)
62 Derek Holland ARI (Miley) N/A
63 Phil Hughes @NYM (Niese) BOS (Buchholz)
64 Yovani Gallardo @PHI (Hamels) N/A
65 Travis Wood CHW (Peavy) N/A
66 Andrew Cashner SEA (Hernandez) N/A
67 Wade Miley @TEX (Holland) N/A
68 Bartolo Colon CHW (Axelrod) N/A
69 Mike Leake CLE (Jimenez) @PIT (Liriano)
70 Dan Haren @BAL (Garcia) N/A

Two-Start Options to Consider

Trevor Cahill, Diamondbacks (TEX, @CHC): Though Cahill's ERA is nearly a run lower than last season's, he continues to plateau skill-wise. He's actually getting fewer strikeouts and grounders so far this year, but he's getting help from a high strand rate and double play balls. At least he can count on the latter as well as his ability to avoid home runs. While Cahill may not provide many Ks, he should help your team's ERA and WHIP enough to be worth using in this two-start week.
This week's rank: 38
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Ryan Dempster, Red Sox (PHI, @NYY): What started off as a dream season for Dempster has suddenly turned sour, as he has allowed 15 earned runs over 12 2/3 innings in his last three starts. To be sure, Dempster has struggled with command, but he's also fallen victim to a .395 BABIP during his slump. He may never have another stretch of starts as dominant as his first seven from this season, but he's also not nearly as bad as he's been lately. Anyone can be off their game for three starts (see Justin Verlander), so Dempster deserves some slack from Fantasy owners this week.
This week's rank: 41
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Jose Fernandez, Marlins (@TB, NYM): Fantasy owners can't count on the Marlins to provide Fernandez with run support, but he's still been good enough to eek out a 2-2 record so far. He's also been efficient enough to last six innings or more on a pitch count. Fernandez has been solid in four May starts with a 2.16 ERA. Even taking favorable strand and BABIP rates into account, xFIP projects that a luck-free Fernandez would have a 3.47 ERA for the month, according to FanGraphs.com. Keep him active.
This week's rank: 43
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Kevin Gausman, Orioles (@WAS, DET): Gausman's stat line from his major league debut against Toronto didn't look impressive, as he allowed four runs over just five innings, but he was solid through the first three innings. With someone as inexperienced at any professional level as Gausman is, there is substantial risk, but with his talent, he should be trusted over steadier types further down the rankings, like Tim Hudson and Jose Quintana.
This week's rank: 47
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Francisco Liriano, Pirates (@DET, CIN): Liriano has prospered in each of his first three starts, and his 18 percent swinging strike rate is insane. Still, he has posted exceedingly high whiff rates in each of the last two seasons, and in both cases, he finished with an ERA north of 5.00. It's also impressive that Liriano has allowed only one extra base hit -- a double by Ruben Tejada -- but the Tigers and Reds could pose a stiffer challenge than the Mets, Brewers and Cubs. Despite his torrid start, Liriano is not a lock for a big week.
This week's rank: 49
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Most Added Starters (5/27)
Player % change
1. Kevin Gausman, SP, Orioles 58
2. Dan Straily, SP, Athletics 24
3. Tyler Lyons, SP, Cardinals 22
4. Mike Leake, SP, Reds 18
5. Jose Quintana, SP, White Sox 17
6. Michael Wacha, SP, Cardinals 15
7. John Lackey, SP, Red Sox 14
8. Francisco Liriano, SP, Pirates 12
9. Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets 11
10. Jorge De La Rosa, SP, Rockies 10

Tim Hudson, Braves (@TOR, WAS): Hudson's key peripherals, such as his strikeout, whiff, walk and ground ball rates, are about where they were two seasons ago, but his ERA is the better part of two runs higher. Blame his 62 percent strand rate, which is completely out of character. Though Hudson has been less than impressive in his last three starts, he is a reasonable use of a rotation spot this time.
This week's rank: 51
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Jonathon Niese, Mets (NYY, @MIA): Niese has rediscovered his command in his last two starts, and even during his more difficult stretch, he was getting grounders at a healthy rate. In subduing the Cardinals and Reds, Niese showed he can handle a tough matchup, so owners shouldn't fear starting him against the Yankees. Or the Marlins.
This week's rank: 53
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Jarrod Parker, Athletics (SF, CHW): After a miserable first month, Parker has started to turn his season around. While his control hasn't been pristine, he has been throwing more strikes and, at least in his last two starts, issuing fewer walks. Parker has had difficulty finding consistency in his young major league career, but given his recent improvement and that he gets to make two starts in Oakland (career 3.47 home ERA) this week, he could be surprisingly helpful to standard mixed league owners.
This week's rank: 54
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Dan Straily, Athletics (SF, CHW):
This week's rank: As with Parker, most of Straily's 2013 starts have hurt his Fantasy owners, but both last year and this year, he has been brilliant at times. Using Straily right now is not for the faint of heart, but the remaining options on the list are either similarly inconsistent or offer far less upside. If you need reassurance that it won't be too risky to take the plunge, Straily's biggest problem has not been his occasional wildness or difficulties against lefties, but rather a 51 percent strand rate that is sure to improve.
This week's rank: 55
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays (ATL, @SD): In his first three seasons as a full-time starter, Morrow had done a decent job of getting hitters to chase after pitches outside the strike zone, but not this year. According to FanGraphs.com, only David Phelps and Jason Marquis have induced swings at balls at a lower rate than Morrow. Based on this year's stats alone, Morrow should not be in this week's top 70, but with the hope that he can rediscover his prior form, owners lacking better options can give him the nod over similarly risky alternatives.
This week's rank: 56
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Jake Odorizzi, Rays (MIA, @CLE): Odorizzi had a decent Rays debut against the Blue Jays, though he didn't last long and induced a grand total of four ground balls. His flyball tendencies shouldn't be a problem against the Marlins, but it could make for an unpleasant outing in Cleveland. Though he brings some risk to the table, Odorizzi needs to be owned in far more than 42 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com for his two-start week.
This week's rank: 57
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Ervin Santana, Royals (STL, @TEX): Like Odorizzi, Santana can be susceptible to homers, as he showed on Thursday, when the Angels went yard four times. The Cardinals have been surprisingly devoid of power, but they can still be a dangerous matchup, and, so of course, are the Rangers. With so many two-start options from which to choose, you may actually benefit from benching Santana this week.
This week's rank: 59
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Jose Quintana, White Sox (CHC, @OAK): There's not much that's extraordinary about Quintana's skill profile, but there are few red flags. Probably the biggest knock against Quintana is that he is inefficient, averaging more than 4.1 pitches per plate appearance, but that's less of a concern when he gets two chances in a week to pile up innings. Better yet, Quintana's matchups shouldn't be a problem. The Cubs don't score much, and while the Athletics are more potent, Quintana generally fares well on the road.
This week's rank: 61
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Phil Hughes, Yankees (@NYM, BOS): With a 5.51 ERA and 1.50 WHIP, Hughes looks like someone to avoid in standard mixed leagues under all circumstances, but along with some horrible starts have been several good ones. Two of his poor starts came early, but he has rattled off five quality starts in his last seven outings. It's hard to predict when Hughes might implode, but his upside is high enough to make him worth a gamble with your final rotation spot.
This week's rank: 63
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Mike Leake, Reds (CLE, @PIT): Leake has been in a groove, posting a 2.28 ERA over his last seven starts, and he has not allowed either of his two most recent opponents -- the Mets and Marlins -- to score. He has been even better than usual at avoiding walks, issuing only nine of them over a 43 1/3 inning span, and the Pirates should play right into Leake's strength. The Indians are more selective and simply have the most potent lineup he's seen in awhile, so Leake's recent run could reach its end in Week 9.
This week's rank: 69
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Jeremy Hellickson, Rays (MIA, @CLE):
This week's rank: Hellickson is set for a week of extremes, as he will face the best- and worst-hitting teams in the majors in terms of extra-base power. He should have no problems handling the Marlins, but the Indians present a potential nightmare. Hellickson has been getting clobbered by lefties, and not only could Jason Kipnis and switch-hitting Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera present a threat, but they'll be hitting at Progressive Field, which favors left-handed batters.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies (@HOU, LAD): Getting strikeouts had been De La Rosa's forte prior to getting Tommy John surgery, but they've been lacking since his return late last season. De La Rosa has yet to regain his former velocity, but despite the lack of firepower, he's been thriving with a 3.40 ERA. It's helped that he has allowed only four home runs in 55 2/3 innings, but that's not likely to last with a mediocre ground ball rate and a schedule loaded with starts at Coors Field. Though his matchups aren't bad, you can find many superior options in standard mixed leagues this week.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians (@CIN, TB): Jimenez still lacks consistency, but he's getting strikeouts again, so he's worth keeping on your radar. Given that home runs have been a big part of Jimenez's problem, a start at Cincinnati doesn't bode well for a good week. Don't use him in this two-start week, but Jimenez could be worth streaming in future scoring periods.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Jason Hammel, Orioles (@WAS, DET): In holding the Yankees to two runs in 6 2/3 innings Wednesday, Hammel got his first quality start in his last five attempts. Hammel has been getting strikeouts lately, but he's been getting too few grounders and allowing too many extra-base hits. If Hammel can reestablish last season's high grounder rate, he'll be worth starting, but until then, he should be sat in mixed leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start.

Zach McAllister, Indians (@CIN, TB): A 2.89 ERA has helped McAllister win roster spots in 57 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com, but once an unsustainable 82 percent strand rate recedes, he'll be letting down the many owners in deeper mixed leagues who are starting him. Beat the rush to bench or drop him in those formats. With a start in Cincinnati this week, he has no business being on virtually any mixed league active roster.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start.

Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies (@HOU, LAD): Chacin's April, during which he posted a 1.46 ERA, was a BABIP-induced mirage, and he's had his comeuppance in May. His current 4.10 ERA is about where owners should expect it to remain, and since Chacin doesn't get many swings-and-misses, he shouldn't be much of a help with strikeouts. Even with decent matchups, he's best reserved for NL-only leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start.

Rick Porcello, Tigers (PIT, @BAL): With the next home run that Porcello allows, he will already be halfway to last season's total of 16. It's highly unlike Porcello to be so homer-prone, and at least in that regard, he should show improvement in the weeks to come. Given that Porcello consistently allows too much contact, too many hits on balls in play and too many baserunners to score, whatever windfall he gets from a lower home run rate won't be enough to make him a viable starter in mixed leagues.
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
Twins' Byron Buxton named No. 1 prospect by MLB.com
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:00 am ET) Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was named the top prospect in baseball by MLB.com Friday.

Buxton played just 31 games in 2014 due to wrist and concussion issues and finished with a .240/.313/.405 line along with four home runs, 16 RBI and six stolen bases in 121 at-bats with high Class A Fort Myers. He also went 0 for 3 at the Double-A level. Buxton is making his second straight appearance atop MLB.com's top prospect list.

The rest of MLB.com's top-five prospects (in order) are Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, Astros shotstop Carlos Correa, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and Cubs shortstop Addison Russell. None of the quartet appeared in the top five of last year's MLB.com prospect list, though all four cracked the top 12.


Red Sox designate Drake Britton for assignment
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Red Sox designated pitcher Drake Britton for assignment Friday, clearing a roster spot for pitcher Alexi Ogando.

Britton appeared in seven games with the Red Sox in 2014, tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out four batters and walking two. He posted a 5.86 ERA and 37:38 K:BB ratio in 58 1/3 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket.


Peter Moylan 'doing fantastic' in return from Tommy John
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Free-agent pitcher Peter Moylan indicated Friday that he's "doing fantastic" in his return from his second Tommy John surgery, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"I’m doing fantastic, mate. Dropped 35 pounds," Moylan said. “My goal is to be 100 percent by end of spring. Ball is coming out great, though. Probably have to throw for some teams right around the start of spring to gauge interest, but there have already been some nibbles, which is encouraging."

Moylan underwent the procedure last March after receiving a non-roster invitation from the Astros. He's throwing from about 70 percent strength off a mound and in the process of deciding whether to sign a a deal in the near future or after the season begins. He hopes to resume pitching in the big leagues by midseason at the earliest.

Moylan has made 309 appearances since debuting in 2006, compiling a 21-9 record, 2.80 ERA and 213:121 K:BB ratio in 276 innings.


Braves' Shelby Miller: Sinker is 'going to take me to the next level'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Braves starting pitcher Shelby Miller had an up-and-down season with the Cardinals in 2014. He began the season by going 6-2 with a 2.79 ERA before going 2-7 with a 5.11 ERA over his next 16 appearances (15 starts).

Miller, however, was able to finish the season on a high note, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and .190 opponents' batting average over his final seven starts. Miller attributes his success down the stretch to incorporating a sinker into his repertoire, per FOX Sports South.

"I said I'm going to throw some of these, and we'll see where it's at," Miller said of a conversation he had with catcher A.J. Pierzynski before an Aug. 23 start against the Phillies. "It felt good so we just went with it. I started throwing it literally within three days. It's a good pitch that I picked up quick.

"I still need a lot of work with it. I need a lot of work with all my pitches. There's all sorts of ways to get better. But I think that's definitely a pitch that will help me be more efficient and take me deeper into games. That's [the sinker] going to be a huge pitch for me this year that's ultimately going to take me to the next level. Not only that but kind of mixing it all together, becoming more of a complete pitcher more than a thrower."

Miller added he will also begin to work more on his changeup, which he threw just 2.2 percent of the time in 2014, per FanGraphs.com.

"I know [Braves pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] has been known for changeups," Miller said. "A lot of great pitchers have come through this organization, [and] that's a pitch I would love to pick up. I want to be able to throw it more consistently, [and] have a little bit more confidence in it."


Scott Baker agrees to minor-league deal with Yankees
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Yankees agreed to a minor-league deal with pitcher Scott Baker, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. If Baker makes the major-league roster, he will be paid $1.5 million.

Baker made 25 appearances (eight starts) for the Rangers in 2014, going 3-4 with a 5.47 ERA. He had 55 strikeouts in 80 2/3 innings.


Rockies designate Jayson Aquino for assignment
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) After completing a two-team trade Friday, the Rockies decided to designate Jayson Aquino for assignment, the team announced.

Aquino spent 2014 bouncing around the minor league, pitching in 18 games with a 5.13 ERA in 107 innings pitched. He went 5-10 with 83 strikeouts in stints with both Double-A Tulsa and Class A Modesto.


Report: Red Sox express willingness to trade Edward Mujica
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Red Sox have expressed a willingness to trade reliever Edward Mujica, a source told FOX Sports. The right-handed reliever is set to make $4.75 million in 2015.

Mujica, who was an All-Star with St. Louis in 2013, went 2-4 with a 3.90 ERA and eight saves in his first season with Boston in 2014.


Orioles 1B/OF Steve Pearce agrees to $3.7M salary for 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Orioles avoided arbitration with outfielder/first baseman Steve Pearce, agreeing to a $3.7 million salary for 2015, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Pearce reportedly filed for $5.4 million, while the Orioles reportedly offered $2 million.

Pearce is coming off his best season as a major leaguer, batting .293 with a .373 on-base percentage, .556 slugging percentage, .930 OPS, 21 home runs, 26 doubles and 49 RBI in 102 games.


Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is 'staying put'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) A team source told CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman that Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is "staying put."  Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told FOX Sports earlier in the week that it is "highly, highly unlikely" Tulowitzki will be traded before opening day.

Tulowitzki, who has been linked to trade rumors involving the Mets this offseason, is under contract through 2020 on a six-year, $118 million deal. He is also recovering from August hip surgery.


Red Sox agree to deal with pitcher Alexi Ogando
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Red Sox have agreed to a deal with pitcher Alexi Ogando, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. It is a one-year, $1.5 million contract, which includes $1.5 million in bonuses, according to USA Today.

Ogando has been a free agent since being non-tendered by the Rangers in December. Ogando made just 27 relief appearances in 2014 due to an elbow injury. He went 2-3 with a 6.84 ERA.

Ogando, who was an All-Star in 2011, also has experience starting at the major-league level, going 19-12 with a 3.40 ERA in 48 career starts.


 
 
 
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