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Week 22 Pitching Forecaster

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A week ago, the uncertainty around the Braves' and Rays' rotations was wreaking havoc with Fantasy rosters, and many owners are still looking for answers as we approach Fantasy Week 22 (Aug. 26- Sept. 1).

With Brandon Beachy going on the 15-day disabled list with tightness in his elbow, the Braves' rotation suddenly got less crowded, so the team has fewer means to push back Alex Wood's second start. Still, with the club having concerns over several of their starters' innings, owners shouldn't be surprised if the Braves find a way to adjust their rotation. Just maybe newly-acquired Freddy Garcia will find his way into some spot starts, possibly beginning as soon as this week.

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As for the Rays' situation, it appears Matt Moore (elbow) won't be ready to return in Week 22, as he will pitch a sim game on Saturday, and according to the Tampa Tribune, he will follow that up with another sim game start or a rehab outing. With Moore still out of commission, there is a potential two-start week waiting to be claimed, and while Roberto Hernandez is penciled in to start Tuesday, the Rays have not announced whether they will use Hernandez again on Sunday or if they will turn to someone else.

In addition to Beachy, Matt Cain (forearm) and Jake Westbrook (back) went on the DL on Friday, but their respective replacements -- Yusmeiro Petit (@COL) and Tyler Lyons (CIN, @PIT) -- should only be considered in deeper leagues.

While you may have some injuries to contend with as you set your rotations, at least you may not have to spend much time sifting through your free agent two-start options for the coming week. In this week's rankings, I have included only three two-start pitchers between Nos. 50 and 70. The waiver options are generally not very appealing, so you're probably best off using the starters you already have or seeking quality one-start alternatives.

Monday update: If you are the owner of an A's starter not named Dan Straily, you need to watch the A's rotation announcements closely. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, both Brett Anderson and Bartolo Colon are joining the team Monday, and each could make a start in Week 22. While A.J. Griffin and Straily are listed as starters for Monday and Wednesday, respectively, the rest of the week is up for grabs.

Tony Cingrani had been included in this week's initial top 70 rankings, but now that he's on the disabled list with a lower back strain, he cedes his spot on the list to Roy Halladay. The surprise return of the Phillies' veteran lands him at No. 50 this week. Like Halladay, Tyler Chatwood could re-emerge in the Rockies' rotation sooner than expected, so his owners should monitor that situation.

Changes in two-start status: With Cingrani out of the Reds' rotation, Mat Latos should now get two starts, unless Greg Reynolds picks up another spot start...The Orioles pushed Miguel Gonzalez's next start back, so while he loses a two-start week, Wei-Yin Chen gains one...Similarly, the delay in Gerrit Cole's next start opens up a two-start week for Jeff Locke...The Diamondbacks' need for a spot starter Tuesday means Brandon McCarthy likely loses his second start.

My Top 70 Starting Pitchers for Week 22
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2
1 Zack Greinke CHC (Arrieta) SD (Ross)
2 Anibal Sanchez OAK (Griffin) CLE (Kazmir)
3 Justin Verlander OAK (Milone) CLE (Salazar)
4 Cliff Lee @NYM (Wheeler) @CHC (Rusin)
5 Clayton Kershaw CHC (Wood) N/A
6 Max Scherzer OAK (Parker) N/A
7 Yu Darvish MIN (Hendriks) N/A
8 Mat Latos @STL (Kelly) @COL (Nicasio)
9 Chris Sale HOU (Cosart) N/A
10 David Price LAA (Vargas) N/A
11 Felix Hernandez TEX (Perez) N/A
12 Stephen Strasburg MIA (Alvarez) N/A
13 Cole Hamels @NYM (Matsuzaka) N/A
14 Adam Wainwright CIN (Bailey) N/A
15 Mike Minor MIA (Turner) N/A
16 Matt Harvey PHI (Martin) N/A
17 James Shields @MIN (Correia) @TOR (Happ)
18 Patrick Corbin SF (Zito) N/A
19 Francisco Liriano STL (Miller) N/A
20 C.J. Wilson @TB (Hernandez) @MIL (Lohse)
21 Hisashi Iwakuma TEX (Holland) @HOU (Oberholtzer)
22 Alex Wood CLE (Salazar) MIA (Eovaldi)
23 Derek Holland @SEA (Iwakuma) N/A
24 Gio Gonzalez MIA (Koehler) N/A
25 Julio Teheran MIA (Fernandez) N/A
26 Justin Masterson @ATL (Maholm) N/A
27 Doug Fister OAK (Straily) N/A
28 A.J. Burnett STL (Lynn) N/A
29 Madison Bumgarner @COL (Chacin) N/A
30 Hyun-Jin Ryu SD (Stults) N/A
31 John Lackey BAL (Norris) N/A
32 Jose Fernandez @ATL (Teheran) N/A
33 Zack Wheeler PHI (Lee) @WAS (Haren)
34 Tyson Ross @ARI (McCarthy) @LAD (Greinke)
35 Lance Lynn @PIT (Burnett) N/A
36 Jered Weaver @MIL (Peralta) N/A
37 Hiroki Kuroda @TOR (Redmond) N/A
38 Jordan Zimmermann NYM (Gee) N/A
39 R.A. Dickey NYY (Hughes) KC (Guthrie)
40 Homer Bailey @STL (Wainwright) N/A
41 Jake Peavy CHW (Danks) N/A
42 Ervin Santana @TOR (Buehrle) N/A
43 Shelby Miller @PIT (Liriano) N/A
44 Dan Haren NYM (Wheeler) N/A
45 Danny Salazar @ATL (Wood) @DET (Verlander)
46 Jonathon Niese PHI (Kendrick) @WAS (Ohlendorf)
47 Ivan Nova BAL (Feldman) N/A
48 Felix Doubront BAL (Chen) CHW (Rienzo)
49 Jon Lester BAL (Tillman) N/A
50 Roy Halladay @CHC (Samardzija) N/A
51 Dillon Gee @WAS (Zimmermann) N/A
52 Kris Medlen CLE (Jimenez) N/A
53 Gerrit Cole MIL (Gallardo) N/A
54 Chris Archer LAA (Richards) N/A
55 Wade Miley SD (Erlin) N/A
56 Alex Cobb @OAK (Gray) N/A
57 Jarrod Parker @DET (Scherzer) N/A
58 Martin Perez @SEA (Hernandez) N/A
59 Kyle Lohse @PIT (Lohse) LAA (Wilson)
60 Marco Estrada LAA (Weaver) N/A
61 Wei-Yin Chen @BOS (Doubront) @NYY (Hughes)
62 Matt Garza MIN (Pelfrey) N/A
63 Dan Straily @DET (Fister) N/A
64 Jose Quintana HOU (Clemens) N/A
65 Tim Lincecum @ARI (Delgado) N/A
66 Travis Wood @LAD (Kershaw) N/A
67 Garrett Richards @TB (Archer) N/A
68 Bronson Arroyo @COL (Manship) N/A
69 A.J. Griffin @DET (Sanchez) TB (Hellickson)
70 Charlie Morton MIL (Gorzelanny) N/A

Honorable mention: Wily Peralta vs. LAA (Weaver); Jhoulys Chacin vs. SF (Bumgarner); Andrew Cashner @LAD (Capuano); Bruce Chen @MIN (Albers).

Two-Start Options to Consider

Alex Wood, Braves (CLE, MIA): As mentioned above, it appears Wood will make both of his scheduled starts. Not that it matters whether he does or not, as Wood has pitched his way into must-start status. He's been automatic over his last five starts, holding opponents to a .196/.243/.290 slash line. While those numbers are bound to rise somewhat going forward, xFIP estimates that Wood is deserving of a 2.95 season-to-date ERA -- not too much higher than his 2.50 mark.
This week's rank: 22
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Zack Wheeler, Mets (PHI, @WAS): Week after week, I've been less optimistic about Wheeler than many other Fantasy owners and analysts, as I've worried about him issuing too many walks. Wheeler's given me one less thing to complain about, as he has walked 12 batters over his last 31 innings -- a completely respectable ratio. There is still the matter of his flyball tendencies, but they're not extreme and won't spoil his week all on their own. He looks like a safe play as long as he keeps throwing strikes.
This week's rank: 33
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Tyson Ross, Padres (@ARI, @LAD): Ross' streak of five straight quality starts ended Tuesday when he allowed four earned runs in 6 1/3 innings against the Pirates, but it was his sixth start in a row in which he got 10 or more swinging strikes. After putting up subpar whiff rates in each of the last two seasons, Ross is getting hitters to pursue and miss on 11 percent of his pitches this season. Increased fastball velocity is surely playing a role, so he could maintain his 8.0 K/9 rate. Ross still struggles with control, so his 1.17 WHIP could rise, but that won't ruin his viability for this two-start week.
This week's rank: 34
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays (NYY, KC): Even though Dickey has allowed four runs in each of his two last starts, he has built on his recent pattern of getting whiffs at a high rate and throwing more strikes in general. That doesn't mean he is without risk this week, as Dickey is also building on his precedent of struggling at Rogers Centre, and he gets two starts there. Opponents have slugged .506 versus Dickey in his home starts, but at least he'll face the Royals, who remain one of the American League's lesser power-hitting teams. If you have Dickey benched, you might as well view his glass as half-full, since you are unlikely to find a two-start pitcher with similar upside on waivers.
This week's rank: 39
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Danny Salazar, Indians (@ATL, @DET): After having a start pushed back in consecutive weeks -- thus erasing a second scheduled start in each week -- I've practically given up hope that Salazar will ever actually get a two-start week. It doesn't matter, though. Salazar is worth starting in nearly all formats as a one-start pitcher, just to get his strikeouts and low WHIP.
This week's rank: 45
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Jonathon Niese, Mets (PHI, @WAS): Niese has put his early-season control issues behind him, and since mid-May, he's been more like his old self. Even well before his midseason disabled list stint, Niese had begun to throw strikes more consistently and limit his walks. Over his last nine starts, Niese has failed to hold opponents to three runs or fewer just once. He's been steady enough to work his way back to standard mixed league viability, and he can be started with confidence in a two-start week.
This week's rank: 46
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Felix Doubront, Red Sox (BAL, CHW): Doubront entered his most recent start in the midst of a minor skid, having posted a 4.73 ERA over his previous five turns in the rotation. Some of his troubles stemmed from apparent bad luck on balls in play (.365 BABIP), but a dip in his swinging strike rate raised the spectre of more balls getting put in play. While Doubront bounced back Wednesday against the Giants, he still managed to get just six whiffs in 114 pitches. Though Doubront's inconsistency may cause owners to squirm when placing him in their rotation this week, he's still a better use of an active roster spot than most of your waiver options.
This week's rank: 48
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Kyle Lohse, Brewers (@PIT, LAA): Aside from a difficult May, Lohse has been a consistent producer in Fantasy despite his usual lack of strikeouts. He helps himself with a low walk rate, but given how much contact Lohse allows, he can be vulnerable to bad outings. Lohse's upcoming home outing against the Angels in particular looks like an opportunity for his ERA and WHIP to take a hit. That's especially true if Carlos Gomez is not patrolling center field, as he has probably played a role in helping Lohse to low BABIPs on flyballs (.078) and line drives (.550), though Gomez's return to the lineup Friday is an encouraging sign.
This week's rank: 59
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles (@BOS, @NYY): Chen has been remarkably steady this season, having allowed more than three runs in only two of his 16 starts. Though he is rarely dominant, he appears to be solid enough to trust with two starts. My only hesitation in recommending him in a week like this is that I don't trust his 0.9 HR/9 ratio. For a flyball pitcher who has made the bulk of his starts in hitter-friendly environments, he could be due for a bumper crop of taters at any moment. At worst, he should still be able to lower your team's WHIP, so Chen is worth a start.
This week's rank: 61
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

A.J. Griffin, Athletics (@DET, TB): When Griffin finished last season with a 3.06 ERA, xFIP said: not so fast, Fantasy owners. The advanced metric accounted for, among other things, Griffin's 78 percent strand rate and estimated that, with lesser luck, he should have tacked on nearly a run to his ERA. As foreshadowed by xFIP, Griffin has not been good for your rotation's ERA this year, but at least he's offered a low WHIP. Actually, even that hasn't been the case over his last three starts, as Griffin's control has suddenly and inexplicably abandoned him. If he rights himself, Griffin could be a decent two-start option, but that's a lot to expect, especially with two tough opponents on the schedule. If that's not reason enough to be cautious about using Griffin, keep in mind that he may lose his second start to either Brett Anderson or Bartolo Colon.
This week's rank: 69
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Mike Leake, Reds (@STL, @COL): Leake coasted to a 2.52 ERA through the end of June, but given his mediocre strikeout rate, he seeed primed for regression in the second half. His 4.25 ERA since then may not be much of a surprise, and it's discouraging that he's been a far worse pitcher from a skills perspective. Leake has been allowing more contact, particularly of the airborne variety, and that's enabled batters to slug .472 against him over his last nine starts. Given that trend, a trip to Coors Field should raise a bright red flag.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Jeff Locke, Pirates (MIL, STL): Locke has been due for a correction for some time, and he's regressed with a vengeance over his last five starts, having allowed 19 earned runs over 22 innings. It's not just that he has been less fortunate with hits on balls in play and stranding runners; his control, which was not pristine to begin with, has gotten worse. He's proven himself too risky for standard mixed leagues, but owners in deeper formats shouldn't completely give up on Locke. He's still a fine inducer of ground balls, and he still gets to call PNC Park home. Those factors could make him useful in deeper mixed leagues this week.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Phil Hughes, Yankees (@TOR, BAL): If Hughes were just a little less amenable to giving up homers, he could be started safely in two-start weeks, offering a similar level of value and risk as Miguel Gonzalez or A.J. Griffin. He's not likely to be, having posted HR/9 rates in excess of 1.25 in three of the last four seasons. Hughes is too much of a potential burden on your ERA to make it worth chasing strikeouts and WHIP in a two-start week.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Jeremy Hellickson, Rays (@KC, @OAK): Just as Hellickson seemed to be breaking loose from his malaise, he's mired in a funk once again. During his initial slump this season, Hellickson's struggles were born of the combination of a high flyball rate and a surprisingly low strand rate, but at least he was getting strikeouts at a reasonable clip. Over his last five outings, Hellickson has recorded a mere 12 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings, as swings-and-misses have been less common. While he could be helped by pitching in favorable environments this week, it's not as if Hellickson has been that good at pitcher's parks this year.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Andre Rienzo, White Sox (HOU, @BOS): Rienzo hasn't been getting many swings-and-misses or strikeouts, but he's carried the gains he made in Triple-A in getting grounders over to his first few starts as a major leaguer. Perhaps he'll have a big strikeout game against the Astros, but he'll need to keep the ball down against the Red Sox if he is to escape Week 22 unscathed. That will be no easy feat, as Boston ranks among the top teams in Isolated Power and flyball rate.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Brett Oberholtzer, Astros (@CHW, SEA): Oberholtzer has remained true to the form he displayed in his minor league career, showing strong control while allowing a fair amount of contact. That has worked well enough for Oberholtzer to have notched quality starts in his first four turns in the Astros' rotation, and he hasn't had the easiest of schedules. Unless he reduces his 47 percent flyball rate, the southpaw is probably due for a comeuppance, even though he's facing lesser competition this week. The Mariners aren't a bad power-hitting team, and not surprisingly, the White Sox have hit homers more frequently when at U.S. Cellular Field.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Nate Eovaldi, Marlins (@WAS, @ATL): Eovaldi's owners are still stinging from last week's battering at the hands of the Giants, but that was one of only two sub-quality starts he has turned in this season out of a dozen tries. Though he throws hard, nothing in Eovaldi's skill ratios really stands out. The most noticeable feature in his stat line is the five home runs allowed in 70 2/3 innings, and that's not especially surprising, as Eovaldi hasn't made many visits to hitter-friendly parks. Nationals Park and Turner Field both play as neutral venues, so while it may not be a terrible week for Eovaldi, it's not a week to trust him in anything shallower than a very deep mixed league.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Kyle Kendrick, Phillies (@NYM, @CHC): There was a time when Kendrick was getting just enough strikeouts to be a factor in two-start weeks, but we haven't seen that version of him in two months. While Kendrick is still adept at throwing strikes and getting grounders, he allows too much contact to be trusted in mixed leagues. He should be better going forward than his 6.62 ERA from his last 10 starts would indicate, but Kendrick is still just relevant for NL-only leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start

Jeremy Guthrie, Royals (TB, @TOR): It's hard to fathom how Guthrie has managed a 12-10 record, but even with those wins, he is currently the 62nd-ranking pitcher in Fantasy points in standard formats. That ranking gives Guthrie the appearance of being someone to consider for two-start weeks, but he's even risky to start in AL-only leagues. According to FanGraphs.com, Guthrie has allowed contact at the second-highest rate in the majors, and with opponents slugging .446 against him, the contact he's allowing is often brutal in nature.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start

Jake Arrieta, Cubs (@LAD, PHI): Arrieta got his Cubs career off to a good start with two successful outings, but the third time was not the charm. His subpar control got the worst of him, as he threw only 44 of 78 pitches for strikes and issued four walks in four innings. Even though Arrieta could pile up strikeouts in a two-start week, he's been extremely wild in most of his appearances this season. Not only can he clog up the bases, but with a history of poor strand rates, Arrieta has been all too good at emptying the bases by way of home plate.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start

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Player News
Reds sign Brennan Boesch to minor league deal
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Reds have signed outfielder Brennan Boesch to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Boesch, 29, is a career .256/.309/.412 hitter over five seasons for the Tigers, Yankees and Angels.

He was in the minors for most of last season, hitting .332 with 25 homers for the Angels Triple-A affiliate. 


Royals acquire infielder Ryan Jackson from Dodgers
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Royals have acquired infielder Ryan Jackson from the Dodgers for cash considerations. Jackson was out for most of last season with a wrist injury. 

Jackson hit .278 with 34 RBI at Triple-A Memphis, playing 122 games at shortstop and third base in 2013.


Report: Talks break down between Yanks, Phils about Rollins deal
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Yankees and Phillies reportedly discussed a deal for 35-year-old shortstop Jimmy Rollins before talks broke down, according to ESPN reporter Jayson Stark.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Rollins is "one of the best shortstops in baseball still" but wouldn't confirm Yankees interest in the veteran. Amaro also said Rollins is "somebody we want on our club and would be very hard to replace."

Rollins is due $11 million this season and his contract is up at the end of 2015. Rollins hit .243 with 55 RBI and stole 28 bases in 2014. 


Padres' Blaine Boyer clears waivers, heads for free agency
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Padres right-handed pitcher Blaine Boyer cleared waivers Wednesday and will enter free agency, according to U-T San Diego. Boyer was designated for assignment last week.

Boyer appeared in 32 games last season for the Padres and posted a 3.57 ERA. 


Rays designate Sean Rodriguez for assignment
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Rays have designated 29-year-old Sean Rodriguez for assignment. 

Rodriguez hit .211 with 12 home runs last season. 


Jose Molina, Cole Figueroa clear waivers, released by Rays
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Catcher Jose Molina and infielder Cole Figueroa cleared waivers and were released by the Rays Wednesday. 

Both Molina and Figueroa were designated for assignment Thursday. Molina, 39, hit .178 over 225 at-bats last year, while Figueroa hit .233 in 43 at-bats. 


Rays sign right-hander Ernesto Frieri to major-league contract
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Rays have announced signing of right-hand pitcher Ernesto Frieri to a one-year contract. Frieri will make a base salary of $800,000, going up to $3.15 million with incentives, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Frieri, who had a career-high 37 saves in 2013, had 11 last season with a 7.34 ERA.


Yankees' Sabathia confident he can return to being 200-inning pitcher
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia continues to deliver positive updates coming off July knee surgery.

"The knee, I have no complaints," Sabathia told YES Network. "I’m able to do all of my workouts. … I’m changing a few things. Not as much pounding and running. I’m in the pool a lot, on different machines to get cardio, (on the) bike. Just adding a few different things to get some cardio in."

Despite coming off surgery and being limited to eight starts (46 innings) in 2014, Sabathia feels he can get back to being a 30-start, 200-inning pitcher in 2015.

"Yeah, for sure," he said. "I feel like I can. If you asked me that a couple of months ago, I would have said, ‘I don’t know,’ but the way I’m feeling now and being able to work out, definitely."


Report: Indians expressing interest in Kendrys Morales
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Indians have expressed inerest in DH/first baseman Kendrys Morales

Morales, who split time between the Twins and Mariners last season, hit .218 with 42 RBI.


Brewers' Ryan Braun 'cautiously optimistic' coming off thumb surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is optimistic coming off October thumb surgery. Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure in Los Angeles on Oct. 2, in which a needle was inserted at the base of his right thumb to essentially freeze a nerve.

"It definitely worked," Braun said Wednesday, per MLB.com. "It makes a huge difference."

Braun swung a bat 10 days after the procedure and was happy the pain in his thumb was gone.

"Right now, I don’t feel any [discomfort], and I haven’t been able to say that for two years," he said. "I think I’ve told you guys, it [bothered him] shaking hands, writing -- you know, just everyday activities. Now I don’t feel it at all, so I’m excited."

While Braun is definitely optimistic, he is also a bit cautious because he isn't in the grind of playing baseball every day. He has received full clearance, however, for all offseason activities.

"I’m encouraged by how it feels, but at the same time, I think I have to be cautiously optimistic [until] I get into spring training and see how it responds," Braun said. "But it hasn’t felt this good in a really long time."


 
 
 
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