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Week 12 Pitching Forecaster

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With 101 games on the schedule for Fantasy Week 12 (June 17-23), there is no shortage of two-start pitchers for owners to roster. Many of them are high-end options whom you would probably start anyway, so while the scoring in Fantasy leagues could be high this week, it doesn't necessarily mean that you'll get much of a boost from waiver pickups.

If you do go that route, Dan Straily (72 percent ownership rate), Jason Vargas (69 percent) and Ross Detwiler (41 percent) are still somewhat underowned and are among the best options you're likely to find among the free agents.

Most Added Starters (as of 6/17)
Player Name % change
1. Jordan Lyles, SP, Astros 23
2. Rick Porcello, SP, Tigers 19
3. Dillon Gee, SP, Mets 16
4. Dan Straily, SP, Athletics 14
5. Alfredo Figaro, SP, Brewers 14
6. Mike Leake, SP, Reds 13
7. Corey Kluber, SP, Indians 13
8. Andrew Cashner, SP, Padres 12
9. Jose Quintana, SP, White Sox 12
10. Jacob Turner, SP, Marlins 11

Zack Wheeler is one of the one-start options likely to get the most attention, as he is scheduled to make his major league debut on Tuesday at Atlanta, and he could still be available in some of your standard and shallow mixed leagues. While Wheeler's current owners may be itching to finally get him into their rotation, this may not be the best week to do it. Wheeler could pile up some strikeouts against the Braves, but as the team with the second-highest Isolated Power in the National League, they could give the 23-year-old a rude welcome to the bigs.

Not all of Wheeler's struggles at Triple-A Las Vegas can be blamed on hitter-friendly parks, as he has posted the highest flyball and line drive rates of his minor league career this season, according to StatCorner.com. Though he was left out of the initial top 70 published on Friday, the removal of Clay Buchholz, Alex Cobb, Brandon Beachy and Ubaldo Jimenez has helped to create room for Wheeler at No. 68.

Monday update: Going into the weekend, it appeared that Buchholz (neck) had a chance at a two-start week, but at best, he will make one start, and at worst, the Red Sox will place him on the disabled list. He could still face the Tigers this weekend, but if he can't, Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa are the top candidates to fill in.

Beachy was expected to make his 2013 debut Tuesday, but now that he has fluid on his elbow, his return from Tommy John surgery will have to wait at least a little longer. Rookie Alex Wood will move from the bullpen to the rotation to take what would have been Beachy's spot. Wood will likely be one-and-done in the Braves' rotation after Tuesday's outing, regardless of when Beachy might return.

Finally, the Brewers still have an opening in their rotation for a starter on Saturday against the Braves. They could go with Tom Gorzelanny, who got the nod the last time the team needed a fifth starter, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that they could call on Donovan Hand from the bullpen, Chris Narveson (finger) from the disabled list or Johnny Hellweg from Triple-A Nashville. Should Hellweg get recalled, he would be worth a pickup in NL-only leagues.

My Top 70 Starting Pitchers for Week 12
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2
1 Justin Verlander BAL (Hammel) BOS (Doubront)
2 Adam Wainwright CHC (Samardzija) TEX (Darvish)
3 Matt Cain SD (Cashner) MIA (Eovaldi)
4 Max Scherzer BAL (Arrieta) BOS (Buchholz)
5 Yu Darvish OAK (Parker) @STL (Wainwright)
6 Mat Latos PIT (Morton) @ARI (Corbin)
7 Clayton Kershaw @SD (Marquis) N/A
8 James Shields @CLE (Carrasco) CHW (Axelrod)
9 Matt Harvey @ATL (Wood) @PHI (Lannan)
10 Shelby Miller CHC (Wood) TEX (Tepesch)
11 Felix Hernandez @LAA (Hanson) N/A
12 Jeff Samardzija @STL (Wainwright) HOU (Lyles)
13 Chris Sale @MIN (Correia) N/A
14 Madison Bumgarner SD (Stults) N/A
15 Zack Greinke @SD (Richard) N/A
16 Cliff Lee WAS (Detwiler) N/A
17 Jered Weaver PIT (Cole) N/A
18 Hisashi Iwakuma OAK (Colon) N/A
19 Cole Hamels NYM (Gee) N/A
20 Stephen Strasburg COL (Chacin) N/A
21 Hyun-Jin Ryu @NYY (Hughes) @SD (Cashner)
22 Anibal Sanchez BOS (Lackey) N/A
23 Josh Johnson COL (De La Rosa) BAL (Hammel)
24 Johnny Cueto @ARI (Miley) N/A
25 Doug Fister BOS (Lester) N/A
26 Jordan Zimmermann COL (Chatwood) N/A
27 Gio Gonzalez @PHI (Kendrick) N/A
28 Matt Moore @NYY (Pettitte) N/A
29 Lance Lynn CHC (Feldman) N/A
30 Patrick Corbin MIA (Turner) CIN (Latos)
31 Mike Minor NYM (Niese) N/A
32 Andrew Cashner @SF (Cain) LAD (Ryu)
33 Jason Vargas SEA (Harang) PIT (Liriano)
34 Homer Bailey PIT (Cumpton) N/A
35 Hiroki Kuroda LAD (Capuano) N/A
36 CC Sabathia TB (Colome) N/A
37 Dan Straily @TEX (Tepesch) @SEA (Harang)
38 Justin Masterson KC (Mendoza) N/A
39 C.J. Wilson SEA (Saunders) N/A
40 Mike Leake PIT (Liriano) @ARI (Kennedy)
41 Kris Medlen NYM (Marcum) N/A
42 Jon Lester @DET (Fister) N/A
43 Francisco Liriano @CIN (Leake) @LAA (Vargas)
44 Andy Pettitte TB (Moore) N/A
45 Trevor Cahill MIA (Slowey) N/A
46 Travis Wood @STL (Miller) HOU (Norris)
47 Derek Holland @STL (Lyons) N/A
48 Jonathon Niese @ATL (Minor) N/A
49 Tim Hudson NYM (Gee) @MIL (Gorzelanny)
50 Paul Maholm NYM (Harvey) @MIL (Figaro)
51 Ross Detwiler @PHI (Lee) COL (Francis)
52 A.J. Griffin @TEX (Lindblom) N/A
53 Jarrod Parker @TEX (Darvish) @SEA (Bonderman)
54 Bartolo Colon @SEA (Iwakuma) N/A
55 John Lackey @DET (Sanchez) N/A
56 Jose Fernandez @SF (Gaudin) N/A
57 Ryan Dempster TB (Hellickson) N/A
58 Shaun Marcum @ATL (Medlen) N/A
59 Gerrit Cole @LAA (Weaver) N/A
60 Julio Teheran @MIL (Peralta) N/A
61 Matt Garza HOU (Keuchel) N/A
62 R.A. Dickey BAL (Garcia) N/A
63 Jose Quintana @HOU (Norris) @KC (Davis)
64 Ervin Santana @CLE (Jimenez) N/A
65 Yovani Gallardo @HOU (Harrell) N/A
66 Nick Tepesch OAK (Straily) @STL (Miller)
67 Dillon Gee @ATL (Hudson) @PHI (Hamels)
68 Zack Wheeler @ATL (Maholm) N/A
69 David Phelps TB (Hernandez) N/A
70 Bud Norris CHW (Quintana) @CHC (Wood)

Honorable mention: Bronson Arroyo (PIT), Ubaldo Jimenez (KC), Jordan Lyles (MIL, @CHC), Wade Miley (CIN), Jacob Turner (@ARI, @SF).

Two-Start Options to Consider

Josh Johnson, Blue Jays (COL, BAL): Johnson had his next start pushed to Monday due to a blister, so he's a late addition to the two-start list. His command has slipped over the last two-plus seasons, but then again, 2012 was the only one of those years in which he provided a large sample of innings. It's a trend to watch, but he's shown in his better starts this year that he can still be a highly effective pitcher. Especially with two starts, it's time for Johnson to be started in close to double the 37 percent of leagues that he's currently active in on CBSSports.com.
This week's rank: 23
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Andrew Cashner, Padres (@SF, LAD): Fantasy owners may bemoan Cashner's lack of strikeouts, but the hard-throwing righty has made control his calling card this season, and the results have been impressive. He has pitched at least six innings in seven straight starts, and he has put together a 3.17 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over that span. The Giants and Dodgers have some holes in their lineups, so this could be an especially good week for the 26-year-old.
This week's rank: 32
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Jason Vargas, Angels (SEA, PIT): Vargas has failed to notch a quality start only twice in his last 10, and oddly enough it's been the Astros and Cubs who have gotten to him. It's helped that Vargas has made only two trips to a hitter-friendly venue during that span, as he has a history of thriving when the venue is a favorable one for pitchers. The schedule does Vargas a favor once again, giving him two starts at home in Week 12, and better yet, he gets a pair of foes -- the Mariners and Pirates -- who have struggled to put runs on the board.
This week's rank: 33
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Dan Straily, Athletics (@TEX, @SEA): Since enduring a string of four poor starts earlier this year, Straily has been on a roll. He has a 2.20 ERA and 0.77 WHIP over his last five starts, but with only 20 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings. Don't be surprised, though, if Straily's strikeout rate starts to sneak back towards a one-per-inning rate. During his recent stretch, he is still getting swings-and-misses at a healthy 11 percent rate. Especially against the contact-challenged Mariners, Straily could have a field day.
This week's rank: 37
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Mike Leake, Reds (PIT, @ARI): Through his first 13 starts, Leake has made marginal improvements in his strikeout, walk and ground ball rates over previous seasons, yet he is boasting an ERA that is more than a run lower than his career-best mark of 3.86 from 2011. An avoidance of extra-base hits has made the difference for Leake, as he has allowed only seven home runs and 10 doubles to date. Leake's flyball BABIP (.082) and home run-to-flyball ratio (6.2 percent) are well below his norms and, even though he is getting more ground balls with his sinker this year (per BrooksBaseball.net), those rates could rise somewhat. Leake probably didn't need to improve to be trusted in a two-start week, but he has shown at least some mild progress.
This week's rank: 40
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Francisco Liriano, Pirates (@CIN, @LAA): Liriano is already starting in 72 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com, so many standard mixed league owners won't need convincing that he is worth using in a two-start week. Though his walk rate is a bit elevated, Liriano looks to be close to prime form this season, but he has stumbled against some of his tougher opponents. He did dominate the Reds, but he yielded four runs to both the Tigers and Giants. Liriano gets the Reds again -- this time at Great American Ball Park -- and the Angels could give him trouble, too. He's worth starting in most leagues, but owners in shallower formats need to investigate all their options first.
This week's rank: 43
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Travis Wood, Cubs (@STL, HOU): Wood's shortest start of the season was 5 2/3 innings against the Reds, and that was the only time that he failed to pitch at least six frames. He hasn't been especially efficient, just merely effective. Eventually, Wood will have some early exits, and as I explained in my recent column on outliers, he's not destined to remain in the top 30 among Fantasy starting pitchers. As long as he continues to get infield flies at a high rate, Wood is good enough to use in a two-start week.
This week's rank: 46
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Tim Hudson, Braves (NYM, @MIL): Hudson has bounced back from a difficult May which left him with a 7.33 ERA over five starts. While he's had examplary control over his last three outings, it's also helped that Hudson is back to stranding runners at a rate closer to his customary level over 70 percent. He's been better than his 4-6 record and 4.41 ERA would indicate, and he is reasonably safe to put in your rotation for a two-start week.
This week's rank: 49
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Ross Detwiler, Nationals (@PHI, COL): Detwiler's first start since mid-May was a short one, lasting only five innings, but he continued this season's run of outings with sharp control. He didn't walk a batter and has yet to yield more than two walks in a start this year. He's not on a par with Bartolo Colon in terms of his ability to pound the strike zone, but then again, he's had a much better history with avoiding the long ball. That combination of control and aversion to homers gives Detwiler some low-end appeal in standard mixed leagues this week.
This week's rank: 51
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Jarrod Parker, Athletics (@TEX, @SEA): In fewer than half the innings, Parker has already allowed more home runs this season (13) than he did all of last year (11). The gopher ball has been a much bigger problem for Parker on the road this season, yet his ERA in away games is just 3.86. According to FanGraphs.com, he has stranded an astounding 91 percent of his baserunners in those six road starts, so Parker could exhibit some regression this week. The Rangers, who rank third in most home runs at home, look like an especially dangerous opponent.
This week's rank: 53
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Jose Quintana, White Sox (@HOU, @KC): Quintana has very ordinary peripherals, and his K/9 (6.4) and ground ball (43 percent) rates are even a little below major league average. His 1.23 WHIP is not exactly run-of-the-mill, though. He's helped himself by leading the majors with the highest infield fly-to-flyball ratio, according to Baseball-Reference.com. That's a new trend for Quintana, and it may not last, but he could at least sustain it against an Astros team that pops out quite a bit.
This week's rank: 63
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Nick Tepesch, Rangers (OAK, @STL): Tepesch is coming off poor back-to-back starts, but it was only in his most recent start that he allowed his opponent to clog up the bases with runners. Overall, Tepesch still has an appealing profile. He has handed out two walks or fewer in nine of his dozen starts and is getting grounders at a 53 percent rate. He has had a largely favorable schedule and gets two tough opponents this week, but he's shown he can handle good competition with decent starts against the Rays and Tigers. Tepesch is a reasonable low-end add in standard mixed leagues.
This week's rank: 66
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Dillon Gee, Mets (@ATL, @PHI): The good news for Gee's owners is that he has been sensational in his last three starts, compiling a 1.29 ERA with 26 strikeouts over 21 innings. Given the strides that Gee has made over his career as a strikeout pitcher, that would seem reason enough to start him this week. The bad news that makes him a risky start is that he has been dealing with elbow tendinitis. Should he continue to feel tightness, he may need extra rest, and that could potentially put his two-start status at risk. Owners willing to roll the dice have some good reasons to start Gee, but given the news on his health status, the prudent move is to start him in standard mixed leagues only as a last resort.
This week's rank: 67
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Bud Norris, Astros (CHW, @CHC): Norris is quietly putting together a nice run, as he has posted a 3.06 ERA over his last eight starts, and that even includes a seven-run shellacking at the hands (paws?) of the Tigers. Though he doesn't have many strikeouts to show for it, Norris has been inducing whiffs at an 11 percent rate, and his control issues may now be a thing of the past. If he can build on his recent success, Norris may eventually be a solid standard mixed league option in two-start weeks, but too many seasons of high walk and homer rates should breed at least some skepticism.
This week's rank: 70
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Jacob Turner, Marlins (@ARI, @SF): Turner has done some impressive things in his three starts with the Marlins, getting whiffs at a surprisingly-high 11 percent rate and grounders at an even more eye-popping 59 percent rate. Still, those small-sample stats don't match up with his prior numbers, mostly attained in the minors. He also isn't likely to sustain the .118 batting average he's allowed on grounders. Turner still has plenty of long-term potential, and just maybe this is the start of a breakout. Until we have more evidence, though, he's too risky to start outside of deeper mixed and NL-only leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Jordan Lyles, Astros (MIL, @CHC): His 10-strikeout binge against the Mariners aside, Lyles can't be counted on for strikeouts, as he relies on ground balls and decent control to succeed. It was actually just last season that Lyles started becoming a reliable source of grounders, but it didn't translate into a low ERA, because he stranded only 67 percent of his baserunners. This season, that rate has risen to 76 percent, which along with his minor league numbers, suggests that it won't be a chronic problem. That makes Lyles safe to activate in far more than the nine percent of leagues in which he is currently starting.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Phil Hughes, Yankees (LAD, TB): Hughes allows home runs in copious quantities. He gives them up even more frequently at home. While the Rays could be a particularly troublesome opponent, matchups don't matter much for Hughes, as he could get rocked at any time. He can also be brilliant at times, so Hughes is worth stashing in many formats, but with two starts at Yankee Stadium, he can sit this one out in standard mixed leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Jason Hammel, Orioles (@DET, @TOR): Hammel's performances have been a little more respectable of late, but they're still a far cry from 2012. In all fairness, he hasn't had too many easy matchups this season, but life won't get any easier this week, when he faces the Tigers and Blue Jays. There don't look to be many favorable schedules in the weeks ahead, so unless Hammel starts getting whiffs and grounders again, he can be benched or ignored in most mixed leagues for awhile. Even in leagues where you would feel safe starting Hammel, you may need to look at other alternatives, as he could lose his first start of the week due to a stomach virus.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Dan Haren, WAS (@PHI, COL): The 17 home runs that Haren has allowed in 13 starts is just one of sign of how hittable he has been. He's also been giving up liners at a scorching 27 percent rate, which has contributed to opponents hitting a bloated .296 against him. It's not safe to start Haren outside of deeper leagues at all right now, but a start at Philadelphia followed by a visit from the Rockies does not make for a promising week.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies (@TOR, @WAS): De La Rosa's skill stats have been unimpressive this season, but prior to his last two starts, he had been looking like a major overachiever. He has regressed to the mean by allowing 15 hits and seven earned runs over his last 10 1/3 innings. De La Rosa has been allowing a lot of contact, and much of it has been hard, as evidenced by a 30 percent line drive rate. Unless those trends improve, there will be even more regression to come.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start.

Barry Zito, Giants (SD, MIA): Zito's strong early-season run is now a distant memory, as he has had miserable results since mid-May. He has just one quality start over his last six outings and has posted a 7.15 ERA over that stretch. There's no way to sugar-coat it; escalating walk and line drive rates show that Zito has just been plain ineffective. Even with good matchups at home, Zito should be avoided in nearly all formats.
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
John Lackey could be on trading block
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:01 pm ET) Red Sox veteran right-hander John Lackey could be dealt at the deadline despite his status as one of their few reliable starters, WEEI.com is reporting. Lackey is also under team control through next season, which makes trade rumors that much more surprising.

Lackey has received attention from contenders due to his steady and solid contributions over the last two years. He has won two of his last three starts, giving up just five runs in 19 innings during that stretch, to raise his record to 11-7 and lower his ERA to 3.60. He is on pace to throw 210 innings this season, his highest total since joining the Red Sox in 2010.


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(11:46 am ET) "The Thing" has a hold on Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez - and it could cost him his starting job.

"The Thing" in baseball parlance is an inexplicable inability to throw accurately to the point it becomes a mental block. Alvarez has 23 errors this season, more than any player in any position in the major leagues, and 21 have come on throws. He has hidden when the media has come around to ask him about it, according to the Beaver County Times.

Alvarez has apparently allowed the problem to affect his hitting. He has not had a multi-hit game since July 10 and has just five hits in his last 25 at-bats. He has not scored or driven in a run in the last six games as his stat line has been weakened to .238/.326/.407. Despite cutting down a bit on his strikeouts this season, his production has suffered, though he has still managed 15 home runs and 47 RBI.


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"That would be ideal," he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I think everyone else would agree. Not even just pitchers. He's fit in the clubhouse great, too, with everybody."

General manager Terry Ryan expressed satisfaction with Suzuki despite admitting he rates poorly in regard to pitch-framing.

Toronto, San Francisco and Baltimore are believed to be most interested. All three had scouts at Twins games over the weekend.


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(11:06 am ET) Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer was slotted second in the batting order Monday against the Giants for the third time this season and second time in three games.

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"I think he gives us, against left-handed pitching, probably the best dynamic in that spot right now," manager Clint Hurdle said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "From last season into this season, he’s been one of our better hitters against left-handed pitching. He’s a guy we’ve used to play some small ball with, a guy who’s shown an ability to barrel the ball. He’s leading the team in RBIs against left-handed pitching in probably less at-bats than the other guys had."

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Smith is arguably enjoying his finest season for the offensively challenged Padres with a stat line of .295/.392/.510. He is coming off a 12-for-21 stretch in which he scored five runs and drove in four. He has 11 homers and 44 walks, but just 30 at-bats against left-handers this season with seven hits.


Deep league owners need Billy Burns
by Al Melchior | Data Analyst
(10:38 am ET) On Monday night, Billy Burns made his major league debut, pinch-hitting for Josh Reddick and lining out. It's wasn't an auspicious beginning for the Athletics' callup, but there should be better times ahead.

Though he had not advanced beyond Double-A, Burns had already demonstrated Fantasy potential with his blazing speed. Burns stole 51 bases in 56 attempts for Double-A Midland after notching 74 steals across two levels in the Nationals' system in 2013. He has very little power, but Burns has shown good plate discipline and has some potential to help owners with batting average and on-base percentage.

Even as just a pinch-running specialist, Burns would have value for owners in AL-only leagues, but he will be more than that. According to MLB.com, Burns will fill the role vacated by Craig Gentry, who went on the 15-day disabled list with a broken right hand. That means he will platoon in center field against left-handed pitchers. That additional playing time gives Burns some appeal in deeper mixed leagues.


 
 
 
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