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Week 21 Pitching Forecaster

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If you're one of those Fantasy owners who hates to see weekly results affected by the distribution of two-start pitchers, this could be an enjoyable week for you.

There aren't many aces who are scheduled for two starts, and the lower-end waiver options aren't all that plentiful either. While free agents should not play as much of a role in Fantasy Week 21 (Aug. 19-25) as they usually do, you can still help yourself with a pickup of one or more of a trio of one-start pitchers. Tyson Ross, Jenrry Mejia and Sonny Gray have all been fairly recent additions to their teams' rotations, and each has pitched exceedingly well. None, however, is currently owned in even half of the leagues on CBSSports.com, so they are likely available in your standard and shallow mixed leagues.

If you own Matt Moore (elbow), you may also be able to add him to your rotation, as he could be activated from the disabled list in time for the Rays' Aug. 23-25 series against the Yankees. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Moore will be re-evaluated Sunday, so owners may have the luxury of knowing his status for the coming week before Monday's lineup deadline.

Paul Maholm (wrist) could also be back late in the week, though he would only be an advisable start in deeper leagues. The bigger impact of his return would be on the rest of the Braves' rotation. Kris Medlen is the most likely to be affected, because at the very least, he would lose the second of two scheduled starts, and at worst, he could lose his rotation spot. MLB.com reports that another potential outcome is for Julio Teheran to have his start skipped. Only Mike Minor would appear to be immune from being impacted, so this is a situation that bears close watching for many owners.

We'll check back in on these situations in Monday's update, but until then, below are the 70 pitchers who are the most viable options for your standard mixed league rotations.

Monday update: Neither the Braves' nor Rays' rotation situation completely cleared up over the weekend. Moore had a successful throwing session Sunday, but it's still not a given he will be back in time for the Rays' upcoming weekend series against the Yankees.

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Maholm put in a productive rehab start, but the Braves have not announced yet when he will return to their rotation. There is some chance he could return this weekend, possibly pushing a Julio Teheran or Brandon Beachy start back. Beachy will have already made a start, but because the possibility looms for Teheran to not start at all in Week 21, I have dropped him to No. 64 in this week's rankings.

The other factor impacting the Braves' rotation was the use of Kris Medlen in relief Saturday, so he will now get only one start this week, while Beachy, as indicated above, could go twice.

Other two-start pitching developments ... The Orioles flipped Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez, giving Tillman two starts this week and Gonzalez only one ... Jenrry Mejia's bone spurs could provide a two-start week for Zack Wheeler, should the Mets use Thursday's off-day to create a four-man rotation ... Alexi Ogando's shoulder injury ruins his two-start week and could mean a trip to the DL, but it opens up the possibility of a two-start week for Matt Garza.

My Top 70 Starting Pitchers for Week 21
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2
1 David Price @BAL (Tillman) NYY (Nova)
2 Francisco Liriano @SD (Cashner) @SF (Lincecum)
3 Clayton Kershaw @MIA (Alvarez) N/A
4 Yu Darvish @CHW (Santiago) N/A
5 Jered Weaver CLE (Salazar) @SEA (Harang)
6 Justin Verlander MIN (Albers) N/A
7 Felix Hernandez LAA (Richards) N/A
8 Adam Wainwright ATL (Medlen) N/A
9 Jose Fernandez LAD (Ryu) COL (Manship)
10 Patrick Corbin @CIN (Cingrani) @PHI (Cloyd)
11 Max Scherzer @NYM (Gee) N/A
12 Stephen Strasburg @CHC (Wood) N/A
13 Anibal Sanchez MIN (Correia) N/A
14 Jordan Zimmermann @CHC (Samardzija) @KC (Chen)
15 Madison Bumgarner PIT (Morton) N/A
16 Zack Greinke @MIA (Eovaldi) N/A
17 Matt Harvey DET (Fister) N/A
18 Tony Cingrani ARI (Corbin) MIL (Estrada)
19 Cole Hamels ARI (Miley) N/A
20 Derek Holland HOU (Bedard) N/A
21 James Shields CHW (Quintana) N/A
22 Matt Cain PIT (Locke) N/A
23 Chris Sale TEX (Perez) N/A
24 Mat Latos ARI (Cahill) N/A
25 Lance Lynn @MIL (Lohse) ATL (Beachy)
26 Ervin Santana CHW (Danks) WAS (Haren)
27 Hyun-Jin Ryu @MIA (Fernandez) BOS (Dempster)
28 Cliff Lee COL (Nicasio) N/A
29 Danny Salazar @LAA (Weaver) MIN (Pelfrey)
30 Jake Peavy @SF (Vogelsong) N/A
31 Mike Minor @STL (Kelly) N/A
32 A.J. Burnett @SD (Ross) @SF (Vogelsong)
33 C.J. Wilson CLE (McAllister) N/A
34 Ivan Nova TOR (Rogers) @TB (Price)
35 Brandon Beachy @NYM (Wheeler) @STL (Lynn)
36 Hiroki Kuroda @TB (Hernandez) N/A
37 Shelby Miller @MIL (Estrada) ATL (Teheran)
38 Alex Wood @NYM (Niese) N/A
39 Doug Fister @NYM (Harvey) N/A
40 Hisashi Iwakuma @OAK (Griffin) N/A
41 Gio Gonzalez @KC (Davis) N/A
42 Homer Bailey MIL (Gallardo) N/A
43 John Lackey @LAD (Nolasco) N/A
44 Dan Haren @CHC (Rusin) @KC (Santana)
45 Justin Masterson @LAA (Williams) N/A
46 Bronson Arroyo ARI (Delgado) MIL (Peralta)
47 Matt Garza HOU (Harrell) @CHW (Danks)
48 Tim Lincecum BOS (Lester) PIT (Liriano)
49 Tyson Ross PIT (Burnett) N/A
50 R.A. Dickey @NYY (Pettitte) N/A
51 Jarrod Parker SEA (Harang) @BAL (Tillman)
52 Zack Wheeler ATL (Beachy) DET (Porcello)
53 Jon Lester @SF (Lincecum) @LAD (Capuano)
54 Gerrit Cole @SD (Kennedy) N/A
55 Martin Perez @CHW (Sale) N/A
56 Alex Cobb @BAL (Gonzalez) N/A
57 Sonny Gray SEA (Saunders) N/A
58 A.J. Griffin SEA (Iwakuma) N/A
59 Dillon Gee @MIN (Gibson) DET (Scherzer)
60 Marco Estrada STL (Miller) @CIN (Cingrani)
61 Kris Medlen @STL (Wainwright) N/A
62 Kyle Lohse STL (Lynn) N/A
63 Dan Straily @BAL (Norris) N/A
64 Julio Teheran @STL (Miller) N/A
65 Jose Quintana @KC (Shields) N/A
66 Travis Wood WAS (Strasburg) N/A
67 Andrew Cashner PIT (Liriano) CHC (Rusin)
68 Wade Miley @PHI (Hamels) N/A
69 Chris Archer NYY (Sabathia) N/A
70 Wily Peralta @CIN (Arroyo) N/A

Honorable mention: CC Sabathia @TB (Hernandez); Felix Doubront @SF (Gaudin); Mike Leake vs. ARI (McCarthy); Scott Kazmir vs. MIN (Gibson); Rick Porcello vs. MIN (Pelfrey), @NYM (Wheeler).

Two-Start Options to Consider

Tony Cingrani, Reds (ARI, MIL): Cingrani manhandled the Brewers on Thursday and he gets them again this week. Then again, it's not as if we need to worry about matchups with Cingrani. He has notched at least a strikeout per inning in 10 of his 15 starts, and his control has improved, as it's been very good in three of his last four starts. The biggest concern with Cingrani is that he doesn't often pitch deep into games, but that shouldn't be a problem for his owners in a two-start week.
This week's rank: 18
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Ervin Santana, Royals (CHW, WAS): Here we are in the middle of August, and Santana continues to be a beacon of consistency. We've come to expect the former Angel to be erratic, but he's given owners quality starts three of every four times out, and his efficiency has enabled him to provide 15 starts of seven innings or more. In a two-start week, you'll even get a healthy number of strikeouts, so there's no reason to sit Santana in Week 21.
This week's rank: 26
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Danny Salazar, Indians (@LAA, MIN): Salazar's third major league start did not live up to expectations, but it was far from a disaster. Though his command was not quite up to par, he still threw 65 percent of his pitches for strikes and got 12 whiffs on 71 pitches. With a mid-to-upper 90s fastball that he can command, Salazar has the potential for a big week every week, especially when he gets two starts.
This week's rank: 29
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Ivan Nova, Yankees (TOR, @TB): Since his late June recall, Nova has not allowed more than three runs in any of his nine appearances. Just like last year, Nova's been getting strikeouts, and like he did in 2011, he's getting ground balls on a majority of his hit balls. What's new is Nova's stinginess with walks, but even if he reverts to being a little wilder, he can still be plenty effective. In two start weeks, Nova can be used in virtually all formats.
This week's rank: 34
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Brandon Beachy, Braves (@NYM, @STL): Putting aside his tough season debut on July 29, Beachy has been every bit as good this year as he was prior to having Tommy John surgery. He's not back to being the strikeout pitcher he was as a rookie, but Beachy is throwing strikes and keeping runners from getting on base. He had been a solid option to start this week even when it appeared he would make one start, but now that he's been moved up to make two of them, he's worth using in just about any format.
This week's rank: 35
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Shelby Miller, Cardinals (@MIL, ATL): Miller did his best to soothe worries about his return to the mound after getting hit by a line drive on his right elbow. He threw 112 pitches against the Pirates, getting 14 swinging strikes. However, Miller allowed two home runs, which makes for a total of 10 over his last 52 innings pitched. He also can't be counted on to pitch deep into games, but as with Cingrani, that's less of a concern when owners can get two starts from him. While Miller is not as reliable as he was earlier this season, he will provide enough strikeouts to offset a potential uptick in ERA.
This week's rank: 37
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Dan Haren, Nationals (@CHC, @KC): Since coming off the disabled list in early July, Haren has vaulted himself back into Fantasy relevance. In seven starts, he has a 2.30 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 10 walks in 43 innings. An increase in strikeouts is the most notable change, though his ERA has been helped by favorable strand and BABIP rates. His improvement has coincided with a 2 mph decrease in his splitter velocity (per PitchFX data on TexasLeaguers.com), which has created greater contrast with his fastball velocity. The Washington Post had reported that Haren intended to slow down his splitter for just this reason, and it seems to have paid off.
This week's rank: 45
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Bronson Arroyo, Reds (ARI, MIL): According to Baseball-Reference.com, Arroyo leads the majors in called strikes as a percentage of total strikes. He relies on location to fool hitters, and when he's on, Arroyo can be devastating, like he was against the Cubs and Padres in his last two starts. Arroyo is also capable of baffling some of the majors' tougher lineups, and while he occasionally gets blasted, what pitcher doesn't? Arroyo can almost always lower your team's ERA and WHIP, and with two starts, he can even pitch in with strikeouts.
This week's rank: 46
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Tim Lincecum, Giants (BOS, PIT): After turning in five good starts out of his previous six, does Lincecum's disappointing effort against the Nationals on Wednesday mean that we can't trust him again? Given that Lincecum was throwing strikes, getting grounders, and aside from a disastrous fourth inning, faring well on the whole, it seems too early to give up on his recent resurgence. If not for a potentially treacherous matchup against the Red Sox, he'd be a must-start in standard mixed leagues this week.
This week's rank: 48
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Jarrod Parker, Athletics (SEA, @BAL): With a 2.73 ERA in 16 starts since mid-May, Parker has overperformed, but that's not to say he hasn't been a vastly improved pitcher. He has handed out just 2.5 walks per nine innings during that time, as compared to a 4.9 ratio over his first eight starts. Parker has also benefitted from his starts at O.co Coliseum, yielding only three home runs in his nine most recent starts there, and he'll get one more this coming week. Facing the Orioles -- the majors' home run leaders -- at their park could bring Parker's hot streak to a halt, so despite his recent success, Parker is a low-end option in standard mixed leagues this week.
This week's rank: 51
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Zack Wheeler, Mets (ATL, DET): Will Wheeler build on back-to-back starts in which he has exhibited unusually good control? Given his history of struggles with location, it's not something owners can bank on, but it's an encouraging sign from a pitcher who can help with strikeouts if not WHIP. Wheeler also get two difficult matchups, so he's not a lock to help owners in standard mixed leagues this week, but he's shown enough promise of late to be worth a gamble in those formats.
This week's rank: 52
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Jon Lester, Red Sox (@SF, @LAD): On the surface, Lester looks to be turning his season around, as he has compiled a 3.19 ERA over his last five starts. Beneath the relative paucity of runs is an increasing tendency to allow flyballs. That trend may not hurt him much this week, especially in his start against the Giants. That's probably enough to make Lester safe to use, though owners in shallower leagues should think twice before starting him.
This week's rank: 53
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Dillon Gee, Mets (@MIN, DET): Gee's K output has been a little disappointing, but he's made up for it with improved control. Since late May, Gee has thrown 68 percent of his pitches for strikes, and he's issued 21 walks over his last 95 1/3 innings. He's also held opponents to a .365 slugging percentage and .131 Isolated Power over that span, though he hasn't had to pitch in many tough environments. That won't change, though, in Week 21, so Gee needs to be added in a healthy percentage of standard mixed leagues.
This week's rank: 59
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Marco Estrada, Brewers (STL, @CIN): Admittedly, I'm doing an about-face on Estrada by including him in this week's top 70. Just last week, I wrote he could be avoided whenever he plies his trade in good hitter's ballparks, and he'll be in two of them this week. It could be worrisome that he got only one swinging strike in his last start at Texas, but he handled the Rangers much better than I anticipated. He also got seven swinging strikes in 76 pitches in his previous start against the Giants, and they have been a good contact-hitting team. Estrada is enough of a strike-thrower that he could muster enough production in these two starts, even if he succumbs to the long ball, to be worth using in standard mixed leagues.
This week's rank: 60
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Andrew Cashner, Padres (PIT, CHC): Cashner hasn't been the strikeout pitcher that many envisioned this year, but through the end of June, at least he had been good at inducing grounders and avoiding walks. Neither of those have been true since, and not surprisingly, he hasn't been very effective. Cashner also hasn't had many home starts lately, and it does help that he'll pitch at PETCO Park twice this week. He could be worth starting in an RP spot in points leagues, but otherwise, he should only be started in deeper leagues.
This week's rank: 67
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Rick Porcello, Tigers (MIN, @NYM): Porcello is having another productive run, but this time owners have been less enthusiastic about adding him. Maybe it's because he burned many of his new owners in Weeks 12 and 13, or maybe it's because he's not getting as many strikeouts this time. In any event, it's probably best to resist the urge, because his 2.62 ERA over his last seven starts is largely the product of a high strand rate that won't likely last. Standard mixed league owners don't need to bother with Porcello this week.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Chris Tillman, Orioles (TB, OAK): Tillman's two starts have helped to lift his activation rate to 75 percent. Given that he is 14-3 and coming off a five-game stretch that features a 2.88 ERA, it might seem like Tillman is worth a flier, but in many formats, he's not. His flyball-leaning ways have hurt him at home this season, where he has allowed 18 home runs and a 4.36 ERA in 76 1/3 innings. Owners also can't count on him to continue to be among the major-league leaders in run support received. At least in standard and shallow mixed leagues, avoid the urge to start Tillman this week, especially since he has two home starts.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies (@PHI, @MIA): How it is that De La Rosa has allowed only two homers in 69 2/3 home innings with a 2.58 ERA, I don't understand, but that's not this week's problem. Citizens Bank Ballpark isn't an easy place to pitch either, but a start against the Marlins -- anywhere -- can do a hurler good. De La Rosa could turn in a low ERA this week, but he's always a threat to raise your WHIP, so he's still more of a deeper league option.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Randall Delgado, Diamondbacks (@CIN, @PHI): Delgado made back-to-back scoreless starts to finish off July, but his three starts since then haven't gone nearly as well. Opposing hitters have slugged .588 against Delgado on the way to scoring 13 runs (11 earned) in 18 innings. Those two scoreless starts happened to be against the Padres and Giants, whereas his more recent outings have come against more potent lineups, namely, the Orioles, Rays and Red Sox. It's hard to trust Delgado against the Reds, and neither their nor the Phillies' ballpark will be of much help.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Jeff Samardzija, Cubs (WAS, @SD): Samardzija's recent slump is getting distressingly long, and a scan of his supporting stats don't offer much encouragment. According to the game logs on FanGraphs.com, Samardzija's average fastball velocity hasn't cracked 94 mph in any of his last four starts, whereas he was frequently above 95 mph in May and June. He's getting fewer swings-and-misses and has walked more than five batters per nine innings over eight July and August starts. He's been bad enough for long enough that it's time to bench Samardzija ouside of very deep mixed leagues and NL-only formats.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Ryan Vogelsong, Giants (BOS, PIT): Though it could appear as if Vogelsong has returned from the DL with one good start and one bad start, the overall picture is pretty bleak. According to BrooksBaseball.net, his average fastball velocity in both starts was just 88 mph, and whiffs and grounders have been in short supply. Of course, two games constitute a small sample, but it's not as if Vogelsong had been a reliable Fantasy option prior to breaking his hand. Rather than start Vogelsong in the belief that he'll pitch like he did in 2011 and 2012, you're better off waiting until he shows his old form over the course of a few starts.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start.

Jacob Turner, Marlins (LAD, COL): For a month-and-a-half, Turner was a solid play in standard mixed leagues, but since the All-Star break, he has been a liability in Fantasy. He began the second half with a five-game stretch in which he threw an abysmal 58 percent of his pitches for strikes. Matters got much worse on Wednesday when that rate fell to 43 percent in his start against the Royals. Until he regains his command, mixed league owners can take a pass on Turner.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start.

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Player News
Twins' Chris Colabello set for MRI, X-rays on injured thumb
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:20 am ET) Twins first baseman/outfielder Chris Colabello is scheduled to undergo an MRI and X-rays this week on his ailing right thumb, according to the Pioneer Press. Colabello said he still feels numbness and tingling in his right thumb as a result of getting jammed on a pitch during an April 23 game against the Rays, according to the Worcester Telegram.

Indians expected to pick up Mike Aviles' option
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:36 am ET) The Indians are expected to pick up Mike Aviles' option for next season, according to the Northeast Ohio Media Group. 

The team has until shortly after the World Series to decide whether to pick up a $3.5 million club option on Aviles. It's expected the club will exercise that option. Aviles hit .247/.273/.343 over 344 at-bats. 


Tigers expected to keep Joakim Soria
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:32 am ET) The Tigers are expected to exercise their option on pitcher Joakim Soria, according to MLB.com.

Soria has a $7 million club option for next season. The team will need to make a decision on the option shortly after the end of the World Series. While general manager Dave Dombrowski said the final decision hasn't been made yet, he hinted at the club picking up Soria's contract. "It's a situation where we look at him as being an important acquisition toward this [coming] year also," Soria said. 

Soria posted a 3.25 ERA over 44 1/3 innings split between Texas and Detroit. 


Giants will know more about Tim Lincecum Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:29 am ET) The Giants will have more information on pitcher Tim Lincecum Thursday, according to Bleacher Report.

Lincecum left after his back tightened up in the eighth inning. The club expects him to be OK, but will have a better idea about the severity of his injury Thursday. Lincecum was able to pitch 1 2/3 innings before departing. 


Royals' Lorenzo Cain won't stop hitting
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:06 am ET) Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain continued to assault baseballs Wednesday against the Giants.

Cain has been on a tear during the postseason, and that didn't stop Wednesday. After doubling in his first at-bat, Cain would come around to score the team's first run of the night. He would later single to lead off the sixth inning, and would come around to score again later in the frame. Cain finished 2 for 4, with two runs scored and no RBI. 


Royals' Omar Infante comes up big Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10/22/2014) Royals infielder Omar Infante came up big Wednesday against the Giants.

Infante wasted no time getting to work, doubling in his first at-bat. He would come around to score during the frame, giving the Royals a 2-1 lead. Infante would strike again in the bottom of the sixth. With a man on base, Infante belted a 98 mph fastball out to left for the two-run shot. He finished 2 for 3, with two runs scored and two RBI. 


Royals' Billy Butler drives in two Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10/22/2014) Royals designated hitter Billy Butler drove in two runs Wednesday against the Giants.

Butler struck in his first at-bat. With men on first and second, Butler managed to tie the game on a single to the left fielder. He would find himself in the exact same situation in the sixth inning, and responded in the same fashion. Butler again singled in a run on a hit to left field. He would finish 2 for 3, with no runs scored and two RBI. 


Royals' Yordano Ventura gives up two runs Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10/22/2014) Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura allowed two runs Wednesday against the Giants.

Ventura gave up two runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out two and did not issue any walks during the outing. Ventura got himself into trouble immediately. To lead off the game, Gregor Blanco deposited a 98 mph fastball out to right for a solo home run. Ventura would settle in over the next two innings before giving up another run in the fourth. With a man on second, Ventura allowed an RBI double against Brandon Belt. Ventura would pitch into the sixth inning, but was pulled after giving up two singles. He threw 87 pitches during the outing and did not factor into the decision.


Giants SP Jake Peavy gives up four runs in World Series Game 2 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/22/2014) Giants pitcher Jake Peavy was saddled with a loss in Game of the World Series Wednesday, allowing four earned runs on six hits and two walks in five-plus innings while striking out one in his team's 7-2 defeat against the Royals.

Peavy (1-1) ran in to trouble immediately Wednesday, giving up a run on three hits and a walk in the first inning after the offense had given him a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. He surrendered another run on an RBI double in the second, but the offense evened the game in the fourth. Peavy opened the sixth inning by giving up a single and a walk before being removed, and the Royals went on to post five runs in the inning en route to running out to an insurmountable lead.

Peavy has posted a 3.68 ERA and 6:8 K:BB ratio in 14 2/3 innings over three postseason starts. The two teams head into Friday's Game 3 tied 1-1 in the series.


Giants OF Gregor Blanco slugs leadoff HR in World Series Game 2
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/22/2014) Giants outfielder Gregor Blanco went 1 for 4 with a walk and a solo home run in his team's 7-2 loss in Game 2 of the World Series against the Royals.

Blanco opened the game by running Royals starter Yordano Ventura to a full count before crushing a ball over the right-field fence to give the Giants an early lead, but the Royals evened the score in the bottom half of the first and didn't trail for the rest of the night. Blanco has hit just .176/.276/.255 in 51 postseason at-bats but has turned it up since Game 3 of the NLCS, going 5 for 15 with three walks, the home run and three RBI. The two teams head to San Francisco Friday tied 1-1 in the series.


 
 
 
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