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Week 20 Pitching Forecaster

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We are entering the home stretch of the Rotisserie season, and it's do-or-die time for owners in Head-to-Head leagues, many of which begin their playoffs after this coming week. It's critical to make the best possible decisions for your Fantasy Week 20 (Aug. 12-18) rotations, because the wrong ones could effectively end your season.

Most Added Starters (as of 8/9)
Player % change
1. Danny Salazar, SP, Indians 32
2. Chad Gaudin, SP, Giants 17
3. Bruce Chen, SP, Royals 16
4. Wade Miley, SP, D-Backs 15
5. Bud Norris, SP, Orioles 12
6. Jeremy Guthrie, SP, Royals 11
7. Henderson Alvarez, SP, Marlins 10
8. Garrett Richards, SP, Angels 10
9. Dan Haren, SP, Nationals 9
10. Randall Delgado, SP, D-Backs 8

The Fantasy gods have picked an inconvenient time to jumble up several of the majors' rotations. As of this writing, the Rays and Cardinals are providing owners with the biggest headaches. Chris Archer (forearm) is currently slated to make two starts (at home versus the Mariners and Blue Jays), but if Matt Moore (elbow) and/or Alex Cobb (concussion) come off the disabled list, he could lose a start. Or Archer himself could go on the DL and get zero starts. Due to all the uncertainty, I have left him off this week's top 70 for now, though by Monday's update, he could be back in the rankings.

Shelby Miller (arm) is expected to take a turn in the rotation against the Pirates, but what will the Cardinals do with Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha, both recently added to the rotation? The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Wacha will not get sent down, but when he makes his next start or how long he'll be up are still unknown.

Yovani Gallardo (hamstring), Trevor Cahill (hip) and Jason Vargas (arm) could also make their returns from the DL this week, so owners in deeper mixed leagues and single-league formats need to monitor their statuses. And who will get a two-start week for the Orioles: Miguel Gonzalez or Scott Feldman? As of now, it appears to be Gonzalez, but according to MLB.com, either pitcher could make the Monday start at Arizona that would line someone up for a pair of starts.

By Monday's update, some -- if not all -- of these situations should become clearer, so setting your rotations may not involve as much guesswork as it would appear to need as of now. For the time being, though, here are the 70 pitchers who look poised to deliver the greatest return for the coming week.

Monday update: As expected, several rotations got shuffled over the weekend, resulting in the following changes. Matt Harvey, Erasmo Ramirez, Scott Feldman and Todd Redmond all gained two-start status, while Miguel Gonzalez, Josh Johnson and Aaron Harang each lost one of their two previously-scheduled starts. Jason Vargas also appears to be set for a two-start week, as he is expected to re-enter the Angels' rotation Tuesday at the Yankees. Given his long layoff and a start at Yankee Stadium, it's probably best to sit Vargas this week outside of deeper leagues, even though he could get a second start against Houston. Tommy Hanson, as a result, loses his two-start week, and possibly his rotation spot.

Alex Cobb will be back for the Rays this week, and Chris Archer won't lose his turn in the rotation, but Matt Moore's status is still unclear, so he's been left out of this week's rankings. Scott Kazmir has been dealing with a dead arm, so he'll be skipped in the Indians' rotation and could miss Week 20 altogether. The Cardinals have kept Michael Wacha on their roster, but he will move to the bullpen, so there's no need to use him in Fantasy this week.

My Top 70 Starting Pitchers for Week 20
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2
1 Yu Darvish @HOU (Oberholtzer) SEA (Ramirez)
2 Max Scherzer @CHW (Santiago) KC (Chen)
3 Adam Wainwright PIT (Morton) @CHC (Wood)
4 Madison Bumgarner @WAS (Gonzalez) @MIA (Koehler)
5 Mat Latos @CHC (Wood) @MIL (Peralta)
6 Matt Harvey @LAD (Ryu) @SD (Stults)
7 David Price SEA (Harang) N/A
8 Clayton Kershaw @PHI (Kendrick) N/A
9 Cole Hamels @ATL (Teheran) LAD (Nolasco)
10 Justin Verlander KC (Shields) N/A
11 Felix Hernandez @TEX (Perez) N/A
12 Chris Sale DET (Fister) @MIN (Albers)
13 Gio Gonzalez SF (Bumgarner) @ATL (Teheran)
14 Francisco Liriano @STL (Miller) N/A
15 Stephen Strasburg @ATL (Minor) N/A
16 Zack Greinke @PHI (Lee) N/A
17 Patrick Corbin BAL (Tillman) N/A
18 Homer Bailey @CHC (Samardzija) @MIL (Estrada)
19 Matt Cain @MIA (Alvarez) N/A
20 Anibal Sanchez KC (Guthrie) N/A
21 Doug Fister @CHW (Sale) KC (Davis)
22 Cliff Lee LAD (Greinke) N/A
23 Julio Teheran PHI (Hamels) WAS (Gonzalez)
24 Hiroki Kuroda LAA (Richards) @BOS (Lackey)
25 Derek Holland SEA (Iwakuma) N/A
26 Mike Minor WAS (Strasburg) N/A
27 Lance Lynn @CHC (Villanueva) N/A
28 A.J. Burnett @STL (Westbrook) N/A
29 Hisashi Iwakuma @TEX (Holland) N/A
30 Jake Peavy @TOR (Buehrle) N/A
31 Jordan Zimmermann SF (Lincecum) N/A
32 Danny Salazar @MIN (Albers) @OAK (Colon)
33 Jered Weaver @NYY (Nova) N/A
34 James Shields @DET (Verlander) N/A
35 Hyun-Jin Ryu NYM (Harvey) N/A
36 Justin Masterson @OAK (Straily) N/A
37 Jose Fernandez @KC (Chen) N/A
38 Matt Garza MIL (Thornburg) N/A
39 John Lackey NYY (Kuroda) N/A
40 C.J. Wilson @NYY (Hughes) N/A
41 Tony Cingrani @MIL (Lohse) N/A
42 Wade Miley BAL (Feldman) @PIT (Locke)
43 Ervin Santana MIA (Turner) N/A
44 Alex Wood WAS (Jordan) N/A
45 Felix Doubront NYY (Pettitte) N/A
46 Tim Lincecum @WAS (Zimmermann) N/A
47 A.J. Griffin CLE (Jimenez) N/A
48 Shelby Miller PIT (Liriano) N/A
49 Travis Wood CIN (Latos) STL (Wainwright)
50 Dan Straily @TOR (Happ) CLE (Masterson)
51 Brandon Beachy PHI (Lannan) N/A
52 Ivan Nova LAA (Weaver) N/A
53 Chris Archer SEA (Ramirez) TOR (Redmond)
54 R.A. Dickey @TB (Hernandez) N/A
55 Hector Santiago DET (Scherzer) @MIN (Deduno)
56 Alex Cobb SEA (Saunders) N/A
57 Jose Quintana @MIN (Correia) N/A
58 Kris Medlen PHI (Martin) N/A
59 Jacob Turner @KC (Santana) N/A
60 Jarrod Parker HOU (Cosart) N/A
61 CC Sabathia LAA (Vargas) @BOS (Dempster)
62 Bartolo Colon HOU (Lyles) CLE (Salazar)
63 Gerrit Cole ARI (McCarthy) N/A
64 Jon Lester @TOR (Johnson) N/A
65 Jenrry Mejia @LAD (Nolasco) @SD (Volquez)
66 Dan Haren SF (Vogelsong) N/A
67 Kyle Lohse CIN (Cingrani) N/A
68 Jeff Locke ARI (Miley) N/A
69 Jeff Samardzija CIN (Bailey) N/A
70 Garrett Richards @NYY (Kuroda) HOU (Keuchel)

Honorable mention: Mike Leake @MIL (Gorzelanny); Tyson Ross vs. NYM (Wheeler); Sonny Gray vs. HOU (Bedard); Ricky Nolasco vs. NYM (Mejia), @PHI (Hamels); Wily Peralta vs. CIN (Latos).

Two-Start Options to Consider

Danny Salazar, Indians (@MIN, @OAK): Salazar dominated the Tigers for seven innings Wednesday, before Miguel Cabrera deposited a 96 mph fastball in the center field seats. The 23-year-old has given every indication that he will deliver strikeouts and keep the basepaths clear, though he could be at risk of allowing more than an occasional dinger. That shouldn't be much of a concern at Target Field and O.co Coliseum, so there's really no reason to avoid starting Salazar in most formats this week. That's even true if Salazar winds up not making his Oakland start, should Scott Kazmir's re-entry into the rotation push him back a day.
This week's rank: 32
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Wade Miley, Diamondbacks (BAL, @PIT): Miley continued his recent string of strong starts, holding the Rays to one run over seven innings Tuesday. That's fortunate for his Fantasy owners, because that one start would have to suffice, as his second scheduled start for the week got pushed to Monday against the Orioles. Miley seemed to turn a corner in late June, but he didn't have many tough matchups for most of his hot streak. He's tamed the Rays in his last two starts, so Miley should be able to handle a potent Orioles lineup and an improving Pirates offense.
This week's rank: 42
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Travis Wood, Cubs (CIN, STL): Wrigley Field can be hospitable to right-handed power hitters, but at home, Wood has shut lefties down. That will help him to contain the Reds' main power threats -- Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo in particular. Wood has had mixed results against the Cardinals this season, and they have a chance to spoil his week. While the southpaw is having a fine season, he's a fringier pick this week than he's been at other times this year.
This week's rank: 49
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Dan Straily, Athletics (@TOR, CLE): Straily hasn't done much for Fantasy owners since the All-Star break, losing all four starts while posting a 4.95 ERA. He continues to have swing-and-miss stuff with good control. According to Baseball-Reference.com, 38 percent of Straily's hit balls in the second half have been line drives, and with that rate being roughly double the major league average, it's hard to dismiss his recent stretch as a garden variety slump. It's still too soon to bench Straily, and in fact, his 17 percent activation rate is far too low. Straily is still worth using in standard mixed leagues, but given his recent struggles, it's equally justifiable to bypass him this time around.
This week's rank: 50
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Chris Archer, Rays (SEA, TOR): Despite getting lifted from his last start with forearm tightness, Archer is set to take his next turn in the Rays' rotation. Even if he gets squeezed from his second start this week by the return of Matt Moore, Archer is worth starting in standard mixed leagues. He's been pitching with superb command, and getting to start at Tropicana Field doesn't hurt either.
This week's rank: 53
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Hector Santiago, White Sox (DET, @MIN): Though Santiago has been decent since settling into the White Sox's rotation in June, Fantasy owners have resisted the urge to go all in on him. His ownership rate in our leagues has yet to exceed 53 percent, which might look low for a pitcher with a mid-3.00s ERA and more than a strikeout per inning. Actually, though, Santiago is riskier than those surface stats suggest, as his wildness and flyball tendencies have led to some poor starts. His home start this week against the Tigers is just one of those potential landmines. He could neutralize the impact of it with his outing against the Twins, but there's certainly no urgency to use Santiago in standard mixed leagues.
This week's rank: 55
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

CC Sabathia, Yankees (LAA, @BOS): Sabathia's fastball velocity hasn't been an issue since mid-May, but throwing harder hasn't helped him to miss bats or prevent runs. Over his last 15 starts, Sabathia owns a 5.63 ERA and a 7.1 K/9 ratio, and he's allowed hitters to compile a .479 slugging percentage. Because he's been able to get swinging strikes, there's a chance that Sabathia's strikeout rate could rebound, but having allowed at least one home run in 12 out of those 15 starts, he is still at risk of allowing too many runs. You can start Sabathia for the potential Ks, but due to the risk of a high ERA, he is no longer a must-start option, even with two scheduled outings.
This week's rank: 61
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Bartolo Colon, Athletics (HOU, CLE): Colon's streak of 15 straight starts of six innings or more ended decisively Wednesday when the Reds sent him packing in the third inning. When you allow as much contact as Colon does, you're bound to get knocked around at some point. Also, for the second start in a row, Colon showed surprisingly poor control, throwing 37 of his 67 pitches for strikes. He does get to make both starts at home, but Colon's recent wildness makes him more of a low-end option in standard mixed leagues this week.
This week's rank: 62
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Jenrry Mejia, Mets (@LAD, @SD): Between Tommy John surgery, subsequent elbow woes and shuttling between starting and relief roles, it's been difficult to forecast what sort of future Mejia holds. If his three recent starts in the Mets' rotation are any indication, Mejia could become a staple in Fantasy leagues. Granted, he's faced struggling offenses in each of his starts, but the 23-year-old has had no problem in getting whiffs and grounders. Since many of the two-start options available on waivers are shaky this week, why not give Mejia and his considerable upside a shot?
This week's rank: 65
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Garrett Richards, Angels (@NYY, HOU): With Tyler Chatwood on the disabled list, I needed someone for this week's top 70 who doesn't get a lot of strikeouts but has cut down on his walks and is a reliable inducer of ground balls. Well, I don't actually need to include Richards for those reasons, but he does have Chatwood's potential to bring a low ERA and wins to your rotation. It also doesn't hurt that he faces the punchless Yankees and whiff-happy Astros. The only thing that could endanger Richards' status as an advisable start is if Jason Vargas (arm) returns to the rotation next week, potentially taking away one of his starts.
This week's rank: 70
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Ricky Nolasco, Marlins (NYM, @PHI): Ricky, go ahead and lose this number: you have a 1.54 WHIP over your last five starts. That's led to five consecutive starts of fewer than six innings. Too many hits on balls in play have been Nolasco's primary problem, as he's allowed hitters to amass a .325 BABIP over those five starts. While that can be a sign of mild bad luck for most pitchers, he has posted a rate of at least .322 in each of his previous four seasons. Nolasco hasn't gotten blasted in many games this season, but he's enough of a risk to your team's WHIP that he is no more than a borderline option.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies (SD, @BAL): Chacin's season makes less and less sense as it goes along. He's turned into a Coors Field version of Bartolo Colon, and while you would think the A's control artist wouldn't fare well in high altitude, Chacin's been successful in home and road starts alike. Chacin has a 2.97 ERA over his last five home appearances, even though he's allowed contact at a high rate and has shown just moderate ground ball tendencies. There's no reason why Chacin's approach can't work well in pitcher's parks, but at venues like Coors Field and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, it seems like just a matter of time before his luck runs out.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Scott Feldman, Orioles (@ARI, COL): Feldman had been a decent two-start option earlier this year, but he has been inconsistent more recently, especially since his arrival in Baltimore. He has not fared well in three of his four starts at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and Chase Field could spell trouble for the former Cub and Ranger, too. There are better options in standard mixed leagues this week.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Randall Delgado, Diamondbacks (BAL, @PIT): Delgado's had his share of highs and lows over his 10 starts in the Arizona rotation, but for the most part, he's been hit hard. Opposing hitters are batting .286 and slugging .471 against Delgado in his starts, and only a high strand rate has helped him to keep his ERA in those appearances at a tidy 3.30. There's also a chance that Trevor Cahill (hip) will rejoin the Diamondbacks' rotation and steal a start from Delgado this week. Put all that together, and it's hard to find a reason to start Delgado outside of deeper leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Bruce Chen, Royals (MIA, @DET): Chen has now been in the Royals' rotation for five turns, and each time he's delivered a quality start, including two of the scoreless variety. The veteran lefty lives and dies by the flyball, so if he can limit the long ball, he can have success by inducing popups at a high rate. Neither Chen's 16 percent infield fly rate nor his six percent home run-to-flyball ratio look built to last, though, so regression is likely just around the corner. The powerful Tigers just might expedite that process.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Samuel Deduno, Twins (CLE, CHW): Deduno appeared to have reinvented himself as an above-average control pitcher this season, but he's been throwing fewer strikes and issuing more walks in recent weeks. That has led to a 1.47 WHIP over his last six starts, though Deduno's ability to induce grounders has helped to keep his ERA in the mid-3.00s. There's little reason to doubt that Deduno can maintain a low ERA, and he has a winning record (7-5) despite getting some of the worst run support (3.3 runs per nine innings) in the majors. Deduno can help enough in those two categories to have some deeper mixed league appeal, but that's the extent of his value.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Eric Stults, Padres (@COL, NYM): Stults' pitch-to-contact ways have caught up to him over his last eight starts, during which he has put together a 4.15 ERA. He still has good control and still pitches home games at PETCO Park, so he has his uses in Fantasy, even in standard mixed leagues at times. That's just not the case in a week in which he pitches at Coors Field, where his 4.64 road ERA could grow a little larger.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Marco Estrada, Brewers (@TEX, CIN): Don't be fooled by Estrada's triumphant return from the disabled list, in which he held the Giants to one hit and no runs over five innings. He may have caught a break by facing one of the majors' most tepid offenses at their pitcher-friendly home park. Estrada has had a hard time keeping the ball in Miller Park, and he could have similar difficulties when he goes to Texas. It could be an especially rough week, so even owners in deeper mixed leagues should consider letting Estrada sit this one out.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start

Ryan Dempster, Red Sox (@TOR, NYY): Last week, when it appeared Dempster was lined up for a two-start week, I wrote that Dempster had declined to the point where he cannot be trusted in practically any sort of mixed league. Even with his most recent start coming against the Astros, the badness continued. Like many other pitchers facing the 'Stros, Dempster got his Ks (seven in six innings), but he still gave up five runs. Even after that performance, Dempster is being started in 39 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com. It's time to bench him, now that he's facing tougher competition.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start

Edinson Volquez, Padres (@COL, NYM): With a 5.44 ERA and 1.58 WHIP, it's no secret that Volquez is having an awful year. He's starting in only 10 percent of our leagues, despite an upcoming two-start week, but that rate is still too high. If you're in an NL-only league, just be sure you get Volquez out of your rotation before lineups lock. If his season-to-date stats don't provide enough incentive, a 7.20 ERA and 2.03 WHIP in six career starts at Coors Field should.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Bench in all formats

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs .

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Player News
Royals, Edinson Volquez agree to two year contract
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:44 pm ET) The Royals and free agent pitcher Edinson Volquez have an agreement on a two-year deal, worth $20 million in the first two years, pending a physical, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. 

Volquez, who pitched for the Pirates in 2014, went 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA and 140 strikeouts. 


Blue Jays sign outfielder Ryan Kalish to minor-league contract
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:57 pm ET) The Blue Jays announced Wednesday the signning of outfielder Ryan Kalish to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training. 

Kalish appeared in 57 games in 2014 for the Cubs, hitting .248 with four triples and five RBI.


Giants, Sergio Romo agree to two-year, $15 million deal
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:02 pm ET) The Giants have reportedly re-signed closer Sergio Romo to a two-year, $15 million deal, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

FOXSports.com Baseball Writer Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the signing. 

Romo recorded 23 saves in 2014 for San Francisco, posting a 3.72 ERA in 58 innings of work. Romo was also reportedly being pursued by the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox this offseason. 


Marlins' Derek Dietrich to miss rest of winter ball with ankle injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:53 pm ET) Marlins infielder Derek Dietrich is going to miss the rest of the winter ball season after suffering an ankle injury that required him to be carried off the field Tuesday, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Dietrich was hurt while playing in the Dominican league when covering second base and a runner collided with him trying to grab the ball. 

Dietrich played in 20 games for Miami in 2014, hitting .290 with two triples and 11 RBI. It is unknown if this injury will keep Dietrich out into spring training and the beginning of the regular season. 


Indians' Jason Kipnis undergoes surgery on damaged finger tendon
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:28 pm ET) Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis underwent surgery for a damaged tendon in his finger Tuesday, but is expected to be ready for the beginning of the upcoming season, the team announced Wednesday.

Kipnis, who was in and out of the lineup for Cleveland in 2014 with a hamstring injury, hit .240 last year with six home runs and 41 RBI. He has spent his four-year career in Cleveland, managing a .262 career average.


RHP Bawcom gets DFA tag from Mariners
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:50 pm ET) The Mariners have designated for assignment right-hander Logan Bawcom.

Bawcom has yet to pitch in a major league game. His production slipped at the Triple-A level last season as he compiled a career-worst 4.72 ERA.


RHP Mitch Atkins heading to Rangers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:44 pm ET) The Rangers have signed right-hander Mitch Atkins to a minor league contract. The 29 year old most recently hurled in the Atlanta system.

Atkins has pitched just 22 innings at the major league level, but none since 2011.


Report: Angels going nowhere in talks with 2B Beckham
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:41 pm ET) The Angels remain interested in bringing back second baseman Gordon Beckham, but negotiations have stalled, according to the Orange County Register.

The free agent landed with the Angels late in the season before being non-tendered two weeks ago. His numbers have been unimpressive since a strong rookie year of 2009. Beckham managed a slash line of .227/.271/.348 in 2014.


Red Sox acquire right hander Anthony Varvaro from Atlanta
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:18 pm ET) The Red Sox have acquired right-handed pitcher Anthony Varvaro from the Braves after he was designated for assignment, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. 

The Red Sox sent minor-league pitcher Aaron Kurcz and cash considerations.

Varvaro was moved to make room for newly acquired Alberto Callaspo Tuesday. Vavaro threw 54 2/3 innings in 2014 with a 2.63 ERA. 


Cubs, Mariners agree on deal for OF Justin Ruggiano
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:50 am ET) Cubs outfielder Justin Ruggiano has been sent to the Mariners in a deal that will send minor league pitcher Matt Brazis to Chicago, the team announced Wednesday. 

Ruggiano, who played in 81 games in 2014, hit .281 with six home runs and 28 RBI for the Cubs. He spent the previous two seasons with the Marlins, where in 2012, he hit a career high .313 with 23 doubles and 36 RBI.

Brazis went 8-6 with 14 saves and 2.89 ERA in three years with four teams in the Mariners minor league organization. 


 
 
 
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