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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
Battered Brewers starter Lohse expresses frustration
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:37 pm ET) Brewers veteran starter Kyle Lohse actually improved his ERA after giving up six runs in six innings Saturday.

And that frustrates him.

Lohse fell to 0-3 with his loss in Pittsburgh. His ERA is 10.34.

"I know what to do. I just got to go out there and do it," he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "The frustrating part is it's so close. But it doesn't matter because the results are really crappy. I've got to go out there and make better pitches. That's the bottom line."

The 36-year-old Lohse, the team's Opening Day starter, is 54-30 over the last four seasons and his ERA has not topped 3.54 during that time.


D'backs pitcher Daniel Hudson looking to throw back-to-back days
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:26 pm ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Daniel Hudson may not have pitched back-to-back games yet this season, but he feels confident he can if needed, reports AZCentral.com.

"I think that's honestly helped me out to bounce back better mentally, and it's helped my arm, too," Hudson said. "Having gone through what I've gone through the last 2 1/2 years, I knew most of it was going to be mental. The thought of something bad happening was always going to be in the back of my mind. But that last outing, knowing I could get to that point and my arm not fall off, it kind of took a lot of pressure off me."

Hudson has thrown 4 2/3 scoreless innings so far this season with one strikeout and no walks.

"I don't think there's ever going to be a day anymore where they're not asking me how I'm feeling," Hudson said. "It's just kind of communicating with them whether or not I can go every night and luckily they've been able to not let me go back to back, but I feel like I could do it if needed because my arm has been bouncing back so well, knock on wood."


RHP Brandon Gomes gets call from Rays
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:20 pm ET) The Rays have promoted reliever Brandon Gomes from Triple-A Durham to replace Grant Balfour on the roster.

Gomes pitched in 29 games for Tampa Bay in 2014.


Rays DFA reliever Balfour after Saturday pounding
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:11 pm ET) The Rays have seen enough of faltering reliever Grant Balfour. After he surrendered a grand slam Saturday night to Chris Young, he was designated for assignment, per the Tampa Tribune.

The 37-year-old Balfour has been struggling since last season, when he arrived in Tampa as the closer and quickly lost the job. He had pitched 3 2/3 shutout innings this season before walking three and giving up the blast to Young on Saturday.


Athletics 3B Lawrie after beaning: 'Why fuel the fire?'
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:01 pm ET) Fresh off a game in which he was plunked by Royals fireballer Yordano Ventura, Athletics third baseman Brett Lawrie was asked why he didn't go ballistic.

"They want me to blow up, but why fuel the fire?" Lawrie told MLB.com. "Why dump another thing of gasoline on it when I can just put a smile on?"

Lawrie had been the center of controversy after his hard slide Friday night injured Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar. The hit-by-pitch came right after Josh Reddick homered to give Oakland a 5-0 lead.


Cubs third baseman Mike Olt has no ligament damage in wrist
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:01 pm ET) Cubs third baseman Mike Olt is on the 15-day DL with a hairline fracture in his wrist, but said he has no ligament damage in the hand, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"We did a different kind of X-ray in Colorado (when he suffered the injury against the Rockies) and my pain wasn't too bad, so we didn't look into it further. Then it just didn't progress as well as we thought, so we did an MRI," Olt said.

He will be battling for his job when he is healthy enough to come back as the team has called up prospect Kris Bryant, who has started two games since he went on the disabled list.


Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon working longer counts in 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:56 pm ET) Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon has a goal this season: see more pitches at the plate, reports MLB.com. Blackmon is currently on a career-high pace at the plate with a .263 batting average in 10 games. He credits it to his patience at the plate early on.

"I started trying to see a few more pitches in spring training," Blackmon said. "I'm better deep in the count. It's better for the team to go deeper in the count. As a leadoff hitter you give your guys more chance to see the other pitcher's arsenal, and maybe earn a walk here or there."

Sometimes, Blackmon will take cuts just to keep pitchers from finding a rhythm.

"There will be times I'll be very aggressive to keep pitchers honest," he said. "That's by design. I don't always try to see 4.13 pitches. If I notice teams fall into a pattern one way or another, I'll come out of that and start hacking."


Dee Gordon a rare bright spot for Marlins with five hits
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:51 pm ET) The Marlins lost again Saturday night, but don't blame leadoff hitter Dee Gordon. All he did was go 5-for-5 and drive in three of their four runs.

Gordon doubled and added four singles, including one in the ninth inning that scored two runs and cut the deficit to 5-4. He sweetened his slash line to an impressive .400/.415/.520 along the way.

He is now 14-for-29 with seven RBI over his last seven games.


Mets LHP Alex Torres needs three pitches to gain first save
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:44 pm ET) With overused closer Jeurys Familia unavailable Saturday night and Carlos Torres knocked out of the game, southpaw Alex Torres was forced to try to shut down a Marlins offense in the ninth inning that was kicking up its heels.

No sweat.

The Marlins had scored three runs to cut the gap to 5-4, but Torres dashed their hopes by striking out Christian Yelich on three pitches and notching his first career save.


Mets SS Wilmer Flores keys offense in Saturday win
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:38 pm ET) Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores didn't perform like an eight-hole hitter Saturday night against Miami. And he didn't perform like a batter with no multi-hit games this season.

Flores slugged a two-run homer to cap a three-run sixth and added a single in the victory. He nudged his average 40 points to .222 in the process and is batting .300 in his last six games.


 
 
 
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