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Week 14 Pitching Forecaster

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It doesn't really seem like a Pitching Forecaster without the inclusion of David Price in the top 70, but after spending a month-and-a-half on his first-ever trip to the disabled list, the Rays' ace will be back for Fantasy Week 14 (July 1-7). Better yet, he will reward his owners with two starts, as he is scheduled to face the Astros and White Sox.

Cole Hamels, like Price, was initially lined up for two starts, but with his next start pushed back a couple of days, he is reduced to being a one-start option. Still, I have him ranked 20th for the coming week, even though he doesn't make the cut to rank among the top 70 starting pitchers in Fantasy points. Some of that has to do with his 2-11 record, which is a product of poor run support that can only improve going forward. It's also the result of a 67 percent strand rate that is a departure from the 75 percent-plus rates he has compiled in each of the previous three seasons. Hamels, as much as any pitcher in Fantasy right now, looks like a strong bounceback candidate.

Most Added Starters (as of 6/30)
Player % change
1. Taylor Jordan, SP, Nationals 24
2. John Lackey, SP, Red Sox 15
3. Jhoulys Chacin, SP, Rockies 14
4. Jake Westbrook, SP, Cardinals 12
5. Kyle Gibson, SP, Twins 12
6. Martin Perez, SP, Rangers 11
7. Justin Grimm, SP, Rangers 10
8. Jeremy Hefner, SP, Mets 10
9. Stephen Fife, SP, Dodgers 10
10. A.J. Griffin, SP, Athletics 9

While Hamels' skill stats (e.g., K/9, BB/9, ground ball rate) are only slightly off his career norms and bode well for better results in the weeks to come, Jeff Locke looks poised for a fall. Locke's 1.6 K/BB ratio isn't something you'd associate with a pitcher who is among the majors' ERA leaders, but that just goes to show how misleading ERA can be at times. While Hamels' strand rate is likely to rise, Locke's 84 percent rate is practically certain to fall dramatically, which is why he is ranked all the way down at No. 44, even though he has two starts.

Still, that makes Locke a recommended start in most mixed leagues, but the same cannot be said yet of Anibal Sanchez, who may miss another week due to his shoulder injury. At best, he could return for the Tigers' weekend series at Cleveland. Wei-Yin Chen (oblique) could also make his return to the Orioles' rotation, but until his status is more certain, owners should keep him stashed for another week.

My Top 70 Starting Pitchers for Week 14
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2
1 Clayton Kershaw @COL (Oswalt) @SF (Lincecum)
2 Stephen Strasburg MIL (Peralta) SD (Erlin)
3 Max Scherzer @TOR (Johnson) N/A
4 Jordan Zimmermann MIL (Gallardo) SD (Marquis)
5 Kris Medlen MIA (Koehler) @PHI (Pettibone)
6 Cliff Lee ATL (Hudson) N/A
7 Adam Wainwright @LAA (Blanton) N/A
8 David Price @HOU (Bedard) CHW (Danks)
9 Felix Hernandez @TEX (Holland) N/A
10 Justin Verlander @TOR (Rogers) N/A
11 Doug Fister @TOR (Wang) @CLE (Kluber)
12 Jered Weaver STL (Lynn) BOS (Lackey)
13 Mat Latos SEA (Harang) N/A
14 James Shields CLE (Jimenez) N/A
15 Madison Bumgarner LAD (Ryu) N/A
16 Matt Harvey ARI (Delgado) N/A
17 Yu Darvish HOU (Keuchel) N/A
18 John Lackey SD (Erlin) @LAA (Weaver)
19 Chris Sale @TB (Moore) N/A
20 Cole Hamels @PIT (Cole) N/A
21 Patrick Corbin @NYM (Hefner) COL (Oswalt)
22 Lance Lynn @LAA (Weaver) MIA (Koehler)
23 Shelby Miller @LAA (Williams) N/A
24 Jose Fernandez SD (Marquis) @STL (Kelly)
25 Francisco Liriano @CHC (Samardzija) N/A
26 Gio Gonzalez SD (Cashner) N/A
27 Matt Moore @HOU (Keuchel) CHW (Sale)
28 Hisashi Iwakuma @TEX (Perez) N/A
29 Josh Johnson DET (Scherzer) N/A
30 Matt Cain @CIN (Leake) N/A
31 A.J. Griffin CHC (Feldman) @KC (Mendoza)
32 Homer Bailey SF (Lincecum) SEA (Saunders)
33 Julio Teheran MIA (Turner) N/A
34 Jeff Samardzija PIT (Liriano) N/A
35 R.A. Dickey DET (Alvarez) MIN (Diamond)
36 CC Sabathia @MIN (Walters) N/A
37 Hyun-Jin Ryu @SF (Bumgarner) N/A
38 Mike Minor MIA (Nolasco) N/A
39 Zack Greinke @COL (Chatwood) N/A
40 Derek Holland SEA (Hernandez) N/A
41 Hiroki Kuroda BAL (Britton) N/A
42 Yovani Gallardo @WAS (Zimmermann) NYM (Marcum)
43 Andy Pettitte @MIN (Diamond) BAL (Tillman)
44 Jeff Locke PHI (Pettibone) @CHC (Feldman)
45 Ervin Santana OAK (Straily) N/A
46 Matt Garza @OAK (Colon) N/A
47 C.J. Wilson BOS (Doubront) N/A
48 Jon Lester SD (Volquez) N/A
49 Justin Masterson DET (Porcello) N/A
50 Corey Kluber @KC (Mendoza) DET (Fister)
51 Bronson Arroyo SF (Kickham) SEA (Bonderman)
52 Wade Miley @NYM (Marcum) COL (Pomeranz)
53 Bartolo Colon CHC (Garza) N/A
54 Mike Leake SF (Cain) N/A
55 Shaun Marcum ARI (Miley) @MIL (Gallardo)
56 Andrew Cashner @WAS (Gonzalez) N/A
57 Scott Feldman @OAK (Griffin) PIT (Locke)
58 Tony Cingrani SF (Zito) N/A
59 Ian Kennedy @NYM (Gee) N/A
60 Ryan Dempster @LAA (Buckner) N/A
61 Dan Straily @KC (Santana) N/A
62 Gerrit Cole PHI (Hamels) N/A
63 Kyle Kendrick ATL (Maholm) N/A
64 Tommy Milone @KC (Davis) N/A
65 Travis Wood @OAK (Parker) N/A
66 Roy Oswalt LAD (Kershaw) @ARI (Corbin)
67 Jeremy Hefner ARI (Corbin) @MIL (Peralta)
68 Jeremy Hellickson CHW (Axelrod) N/A
69 Justin Grimm SEA (Saunders) HOU (Bedard)
70 Jacob Turner @ATL (Teheran) N/A

Honorable mention: Paul Maholm @PHI (Kendrick); Tyler Chatwood vs. LAD (Greinke); Tim Hudson @PHI (Lee); Dillon Gee vs. ARI (Kennedy).

Two-Start Options to Consider

John Lackey, Red Sox (SD, @LAA): After Lackey dominated the Rockies on Wednesday, teammate Shane Victorino told MLB.com, "That's the Lackey of old." The numbers back up Victorino's claim and then some, as Lackey's 4.3 K/BB ratio and 1.60 ground-out-to-air-out ratio are by far the best of his career. He has been especially sharp over his last eight starts, missing a quality start only once and striking out 46 batters over 51 2/3 innings, while dishing out only nine walks. Only owners in shallow leagues have a dilemma over whether to start Lackey these days, even in one-start weeks.
This week's rank: 18
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Jose Fernandez, Marlins (SD, @STL): Fernandez has been remarkably effective and consistent, especially for a 20-year-old who had never pitched above Advanced Class A. Owners may still worry that Fernandez's value could be limited by pitch counts or a lack of run support, but he's been pitching into the seventh inning with some regularity, and the Marlins are starting to score some runs. There's no reason to bench Fernandez for the coming week.
This week's rank: 24
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

A.J. Griffin, Athletics (CHC, @KC): There aren't many starting pitchers who can keep their ERA and WHIP low by relying on a low BABIP rate, but Griffin looks to be an exception. Though he's merely an average strikeout pitcher, Griffin has allowed only 88 hits over 103 2/3 innings this season, as opponents are hitting just .248 on balls in play. Throughout his professional career, Griffin has been good at inducing popups, and this year, he's been getting them at a phenomenal 14 percent rate. He's essentially turned the average batter who faces him into Vernon Wells. (Actually, his opponents' collective .226/.273/.385 slash line is eerily close to Wells' .223/.264/.369 line.) Especially with a couple of good matchups, Griffin is a safe start this week.
This week's rank: 31
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays (DET, MIN): June was the first month this year in which Dickey kept his ERA under 4.00, but he still has yet to demonstrate much consistency. Along with a pair of dominant starts, Dickey had a mediocre showing against the Rangers, and was blasted by the Orioles and White Sox. Looking at the composite picture over the past month, there's been more to like than dislike, as Dickey has been throwing more strikes and with greater velocity. The signs look good for Dickey to finally get on a roll, so he should be started in nearly all leagues.
This week's rank: 35
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Andy Pettitte, Yankees (@MIN, BAL): Because Pettitte's ERA and WHIP have taken a turn for the worse this season, it would be easy to assume that he is on the slippery slope of steep decline at age 41. However, Pettitte hasn't lost velocity and is still posting decent strikeout, walk and ground ball rates. A big part of Pettitte's problem has been the .280 batting avearge he has allowed on grounders that is largely beyond his control. Unfortunately for him, the Yankees' staff as a whole has yielded a .259 ground ball batting average to opponents, so that figure may not improve much for Pettitte. Though Pettitte's ground ball tendencies could work against him, it won't to the extent that you shouldn't use him in a two-start week.
This week's rank: 43
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Corey Kluber, Indians (@KC, DET): After a strong one-month stretch that catapulted Kluber into mixed-league relevance, he's endured a pair of rough starts, allowing nine earned runs and 19 hits over 10 1/3 innings. The enticing thing about Kluber from a Fantasy perspective is that he has great command and a knack for strikeouts, and those things have remained intact as he's hit a speed bump. Kluber has allowed too many line drives in his last two starts, but as long as that trend doesn't continue over the course of several weeks, there's no reason for concern here.
This week's rank: 50
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Bronson Arroyo, Reds (SF, SEA): Heading into Tuesday's start at Oakland, Arroyo had been steady this season, turning in 11 quality starts 15 tries. The A's hammered him for seven runs in four innings, adding nearly half a run to his ERA, which now stands at 3.61. Because Arroyo allows so much contact, he will have his fair share of blowups, but overall, he's been helpful in ERA and WHIP, if not strikeouts. He's just the sort of pitcher made for two-start weeks, as he can double up on his modest K totals.
This week's rank: 51
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Wade Miley, Diamondbacks (@NYM, COL): Miley has rebounded from a difficult May in which he allowed seven home runs and 28 earned runs over 34 1/3 innings. In five June starts, Miley did allow five more dingers, but he only allowed five additional extra base hits, all of which were doubles, and that helped him to compile a 3.56 ERA for the month. Miley gets grounders frequently enough that eventually his homer pace should recede, and with only 15 walks over his last 59 2/3 innings, Miley is proving once again to be every bit the control artist that he was last season.
This week's rank: 52
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Shaun Marcum, Mets (ARI, @MIL): It took Marcum 10 starts and two relief appearances to do it, but he finally got in the win column in Wednesday's start at the White Sox. He has deserved a better fate this season, but an utter lack of run support and a 59 percent strand rate have conspired to rob Marcum of Fantasy value. The Mets' lineup doesn't look poised to improve, but Marcum should be able to help himself to more wins and a better ERA by getting his strand rate back to its normal level in the mid-70s. As long as he does that, Marcum will be worth starting in most two-start weeks and even some one-start scoring periods.
This week's rank: 55
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Scott Feldman, Cubs (@OAK, PIT): It feels a little bit like Feldman is reliving his 2009 season, when he collected 17 wins with a little help from a lower-than-average BABIP rate. This year, Feldman is faring even better on balls in play, allowing a .264 average as compared to the .275 mark he recorded in '09, but skill-wise, he's a better pitcher now than he was then. Feldman's control and ground ball tendencies are just strong enough for him to succeed, even though he allows contact at a fairly high rate.
This week's rank: 57
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Roy Oswalt, Rockies (LAD, @ARI): Oswalt is admittedly a very risky choice, but in his first two starts with the Rockies, he has shown that there is still some potential for him to rediscover his status as a solid standard mixed league contributor. According to FanGraphs.com, Oswalt is averaging 92 mph on his fastball, which is his highest velocity since 2010, and he's been getting swinging strikes and Ks at exceedingly high rates. Despite that, Oswalt has offered little Fantasy value, thanks to a 7.36 ERA and 1.73 WHIP, but that can be blamed on a .515 BABIP rate. Whatever flaws Oswalt might have, it is extremely unlikely that he -- and his defense -- will allow anywhere close to half of his balls in play to become hits going forward. Take away an appropriate share of those hits, and Oswalt's stats would be looking very good right now.
This week's rank: 66
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Jeremy Hefner, Mets (ARI, @MIL): Like the aforementioned Marcum, Hefner's season is going underappreciated in part because of poor run support. He is one inning shy of having posted seven consecutive quality starts, and just as he did as a rookie, Hefner is throwing strikes and being stingy with walks. He's more likely to get hurt by extra-base hits and less likely to get rewarded with a win than fellow control pitcher Kyle Kendrick, but if Kendrick can make the top 70 with one start, Hefner deserves some consideration with two of them.
This week's rank: 67
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Justin Grimm, Rangers (SEA, HOU): Let's just get this out of the way: Grimm pitched miserably in June. He lacked command and didn't fool batters often, and the result was a .310/.375/.600 slash line by his opponents. Grimm's last start was arguably his best of the month, and perhaps not coincidentally, he faced the Yankees, who were the weakest opponent he had seen in awhile. Grimm gets two more good matchups in Week 14 with the Mariners and Astros, and just maybe he can recapture the form he showed in several of his earlier starts. He's far from a sure thing, but if you really want to add a last-minute two-start pitcher in a standard mixed league, there are worse risks to take.
This week's rank: 69
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Phil Hughes, Yankees (@MIN, BAL): As has been the case for much of his career, Hughes is pitching much better away from Yankee Stadium, though he's had a few hiccups on the road as well. Given that the Twins are power-poor and play in a stadium that squleches home runs, Hughes could get one good start under his belt this week. Then there's his home start against the Orioles, who lead the majors in home runs. That could ruin Hughes' week enough to make him worth sitting in standard and shallow mixed leagues. Stay tuned, though, because if Ivan Nova is re-inserted into the Yankees' rotation this week, Hughes may not even make that second start.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

John Danks, White Sox (BAL, @TB): Back-to-back spankings at the hands of the Astros and Twins sent Danks' ERA north of 5.00, but astoundingly, his WHIP remained below 1.20. That's because Danks is making Bartolo Colon look like Ricky Vaughn, as he has walked only four batters over 42 1/3 innings. The lefty performed much better against the Mets on Wednesday, but was that a sign of a recovery or simply a matchup against a team with a weak lineup? Given that Danks' velocity has yet to rebound, it's best to pass on him for now in standard mixed leagues, though he could still be a factor in those formats later this season.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Samuel Deduno, Twins (NYY, @TOR): As a minor leaguer, Deduno showed the potential to be a good strikeout pitcher, but he appeared to have a limited ceiling due to poor command. In his seven starts with the Twins this year, we've witnessed Bizarro Deduno, a contact pitcher with passable command. Deduno hasn't been especially consistent with his location, so especially without a high strikeout rate to bolster his value, starting Deduno is still a risky proposition. Maybe there's something to his 3.32 ERA, but I'd like to see if he can sustain this for a few more starts before trusting him in standard mixed leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Chien-Ming Wang, Blue Jays (DET, MIN): Wang looked as if he might have stepped back in time to his best years with the Yankees after handling the Rangers and Orioles in successive starts. Then on Thursday, he failed to make it out of the second inning against the Red Sox. So while we should probably put Wang's Comeback Player of the Year award on hold, it is still encouraging to see that he is getting ground balls at an exceptionally high rate again. His ultra-low K-rates limit his Fantasy value and make him vulnerable to at least the occasional poor start, but there could still be some appeal for owners in deeper mixed leagues. For now in those formats, owners can afford to hold off.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start

Jason Hammel, Orioles (@CHW, @NYY): Hammel has teased us with a few good starts over the past month, but for the most part, he's still not getting grounders the way he did a year ago. According to the pitch movement data on BrooksBaseball.net, Hammel's sinker simply isn't sinking the way it did in 2012. With visits to U.S Cellular Field and Yankee Stadium, that can only mean bad things, even if the home teams aren't exactly pounding the ball.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start

Tim Lincecum, Giants (@CIN, LAD): Lincecum has been much worse on the road than at home, posting a 5.23 ERA and 1.77 WHIP away from AT&T Park. He's put up those awful numbers, even though he's pitched in good home run parks in only two of his eight road starts (Coors and Chase Fields). He could be hurt by a solid Reds lineup at their bandbox park. Lincecum's home start versus the Dodgers looks more promising, but it's not as if Lincecum has been all that good at home. Even in a two-start week, Lincecum is strictly an NL-only option.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start

Jason Marquis, Padres (@MIA, @WAS): Marquis' good fortune with stranding baserunners ran out in Tuesday's start against the Phillies, as he allowed six earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings. Marquis walked five batters in that affair, marking the 11th time in 16 starts that he has handed out at least four free passes. Never mind that the Marlins and Nationals have put together two of the most anemic offenses in the majors this season; Marquis simply can't be trusted outside of NL-only leagues in any given week.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start

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Player News
Astros LHP Downs, IF Petit heading to Fresno
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:07 pm ET) The Astros have outrighted left-hander Darin Downs to Triple-A Fresno after having cleared waivers. 

The team has also announced that infielder Gregorio Petit has accepted an assignment to Fresno. He and Downs are set to join the squad in spring training.


Nationals taking chance on 2B Dan Uggla
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:48 am ET) Second baseman Dan Uggla, who has spent most of his recent years creating a breeze at the plate, has signed a minor league deal with the Nationals with a spring training invite.

Uggla received a career-low 141 at-bats last season with Atlanta and San Francisco. He compiled a disturbing slash line of .149/.229/.213 with 46 strikeouts. His batting average has fallen in each of the last four years.


Diamondbacks bring in LHP Dan Runzler
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:57 am ET) Left-hander Dan Runzler did not stick around in Japan for long. He spent the last two months of the 2014 season there, but is back in the states after signing a minor league contract with the Diamondbacks.

Runzler compiled a 3.30 ERA and fanned 53 in 46 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level for San Francisco last season before bolting to Japan.


RHP Juan Gutierrez remains with Giants
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:52 am ET) The Giants have re-signed right-hander Juan Gutierrez to a minor league contract. The deal likely includes an invitation to spring training, per Baseball America.

Gutierrez appeared in 61 games for San Francisco in 2014, compiling a 3.96 ERA and allowing 60 hits in 63 2/3 innings.


Darin Downs outrighted to Triple-A Fresno
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:41 am ET) The Astros sent left-handed reliever Darin Downs outright to Triple-A Fresno. Downs made 45 appearances with the Astros last season. He posted a 5.45 ERA, a 1.36 WHIP and 27:19 K:BB ratio over 34 2/3 innings.

Report: Diamondbacks sign Jordan Pacheco to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/25/2014) The Diamondbacks will re-sign infielder Jordan Pacheco to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training, MLBDailyDish.com reports.

Pacheco hit .255/.299/.333 in 153 at-bats between Colorado and Arizona in 2014. He made appearances at catcher, first base, second base and third base last season.


Indians sign Jeff Manship to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) The Indians have signed pitcher Jeff Manship to a minor-league deal. Manship posted a 6.65 ERA and 16:14 K:BB ratio in 23 innings with the Phillies in 2014.

Rockies sign Roger Bernadina to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) The Rockies have signed outfielder Roger Bernadina to a minor-league deal. He hit .167/.304/.258 in 66 at-bats with the Reds and Dodgers in 2014.

Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez resumes hitting
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Rockies outfieler Carlos Gonzalez revealed this week that he has been cleared to practice hitting for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in August, MLB.com reports.

Gonzalez had been having issues with the troublesome knee for more than a year before undergoing a procedure to repair a patella tendon on Aug. 18. He also dealt with appendicitis in January and a persistent finger injury throughout the season. The issues led to a down year for the outfielder, as Gonzalez hit just .238/.292/.431 with 11 home runs and 38 RBI in 260 at-bats.


Reds sign Michael Bowden to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) The Reds have signed pitcher Michael Bowden to a minor-league deal, MLBDailyDish.com reports.

Bowden, who has 133 2/3 innings of experience in the majors, spent the 2014 season with the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball, where he delivered a 4.50 ERA and 30:24 K:BB ratio in 40 innings.


 
 
 
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