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Fantasy First Pitch for Week 2

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If you still have the same Fantasy rotation that you had when lineups locked on opening night, it might be time to pay the waiver wire a visit.

In Fantasy Week 2 (April 7-13), it's largely the third and fourth starters for major league teams that are getting two starts. In other words, there are many more two-start pitchers up for grabs in the free agent pool, and though very few are close to ace quality, at least a few of them are good enough to try in standard mixed leagues. Kyle Lohse, Charlie Morton, Jason Vargas and Felipe Paulino are all available in at least 30 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com, and while you may be able to find better options for your final rotation slot, each is at least worth considering.

Then again, you may not need to pick up a free agent to upgrade your rotation. In Week 1, both Scott Kazmir and John Lackey showed the form that made them useful Fantasy starters last season, not to mention notable comeback stories. A large share of owners slotted Kazmir into their rotations over the weekend, but Lackey is still being started in fewer than 75 percent of our leagues. If you own one or both of them and you don't help to raise their activation rates, you'll likely regret it by the end of next week.

Must start two-start options
1. Max Scherzer at LAD, at SD
2. Michael Wacha vs. CIN, vs. CHC
3. Tony Cingrani at STL, vs. TB
4. Gio Gonzalez vs. MIA, at ATL
5. C.J. Wilson at HOU, vs. NYM
6. Hiroki Kuroda vs. BAL, vs. BOS
7. Scott Kazmir at MIN, at SEA
8. Matt Moore at KC, at CIN
9. John Lackey vs. TEX, at NYY

Ervin Santana is another option to come off the bench, as he is scheduled to make his Braves debut Wednesday. Mat Latos (knee) will make another rehab start Tuesday, so there is some chance he could take the mound Sunday against the Rays. Santana is a viable standard mixed league start, ranking between Zack Wheeler and A.J. Burnett, while Latos should be viewed as a last resort, given the continuing uncertainty about his return date..

If these bench and DL options aren't available to you, then you might as well look into the pitchers featured below. And remember, sometimes the best two-start addition is no addition at all. You are probably better off with a solid one-start pitcher than with any of the two-start pitchers who made the "avoid" list further below.

Monday update: Due to having his next start pushed back a day, Tyson Ross is no longer a two-start option for Week 2, but Robbie Erlin now gets two starts for the Padres ... After having his start rained out last Friday, Chris Young now moves temporarily into the Mariners' bullpen. His exit from the rotation opens the door for a likely two-start week from James Paxton ... Josh Beckett (ankle, thumb) is a candidate to get activated from the DL for Wednesday's start against the Tigers. The addition of a fifth starter to the Dodgers' rotation, whether it's Beckett or minor leaguers Stephen Fife or Matt Magill, endangers Dan Haren's chances to make a second start this week ... Should Latos return on Sunday, Tony Cingrani could theoretically lose his second start, but it seems unlikely, given that he can start in place of Alfredo Simon on Saturday and still be on regular rest ... Tyler Chatwood (hamstring) is on track to return from the DL on Sunday, but if he has a setback, Jordan Lyles would get a two-start week.

Two-Start Pitchers on the Bubble

10. Ubaldo Jimenez, BAL (at NYY, vs. TOR)

From late May forward, Jimenez was sensational last season for the Indians, as he posted his highest swinging strike rate in three seasons. He also improved his control but was still all too amenable to the flyball. Jimenez gave owners a scare against the Red Sox on Wednesday, as he yielded only one ground ball over six innings in his Orioles' debut. Two of the 15 airborne balls resulted in home runs, which in turn produced four runs. While Jimenez is flyball-leaning, he is certain to get more grounders in his starts this week. Benching a pitcher who was superb over his last 23 starts last year because of one start would be an overreaction in the vast majority of mixed leagues.

Start Jimenez over the following one-start pitchers: Justin Masterson, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jon Lester

11. Ivan Nova, NYY (vs. BAL, vs. BOS)

Nova got the Astros to hit 11 grounders on Thursday, but otherwise, it was a very atypical start for the 27-year-old. He got one lone swinging strike in 5 2/3 innings and threw only 53 percent of his pitches for strikes, resulting in one strikeout and five walks. We have seen our share of aberrant performances in this first week so far, and Nova's was about as bizarre as anyone's. Unless he strings a few of these together, look for him to rediscover his command in Week 2. And as a groundball pitcher, Nova is not to be feared with two starts at Yankee Stadium, where he actually posted a 2.44 ERA last season.

Start Nova over the following one-start pitchers: Lance Lynn, Clay Buchholz, Tyson Ross

12. Corey Kluber, CLE (vs. SD, at CHW)

Kluber continues our run of pitchers who fell short of expectations in their season debut. The A's clobbered Kluber for eight hits and five runs in 3 1/3 innings, as hitters easily squared up on his sinker. According to BrooksBaseball.net, he limited himself to 12 sliders, which was his most effective pitch in 2013. These are trends worth watching, but as with Jimenez and Nova, Kluber's more extended track record should guide owners, rather than an uncharacteristic first start. Last season, Kluber established himself as a pitcher who can miss bats and minimize walks.

Start Kluber over the following one-start pitchers: Lance Lynn, Clay Buchholz, Tyson Ross

13. Kyle Lohse, MIL (at PHI, vs. PIT)

If we shouldn't expect Jimenez and Kluber to be flyball dispensers going forward, then in all fairness, we shouldn't look to Lohse to be a strikeout machine. His eight-strikeout performance against the Braves was a pleasant surprise -- and also likely matchup-driven, as the Braves like to swing the bat. What Lohse has done exceedingly well and consistently since 2011 is throw strikes, and with ultra-low walk rates, he has been helping owners with ERA and WHIP, if not Ks. Lohse's matchups look good, as the Pirates have struggled to score and the Phillies don't have many on-base threats. It could be an especially good week for ERA and WHIP, and with two starts, strikeouts are less of a concern.

Start Lohse over the following one-start pitchers: R.A. Dickey, Chris Archer, Zack Wheeler

14. James Paxton, SEA (vs. LAA, vs. OAK)

The penchant for throwing strikes that Paxton showed during his four-game trial in Seattle last season seemed too good to be true, given the control issues that sometimes plagued him in the minors. Then again, Paxton's control did improve steadily as he climbed the ranks of the Mariners' organization. Don't be surprised if he turns in some brief starts at times, but the lefty's upside makes him someone to use in two-start weeks in standard mixed leagues, at least for now. The only reason to hesitate at all for this scoring period is the possibility (which seems slim) of Chris Young getting inserted into the Mariners' rotation this week, which could push Paxton's Sunday start back.

Start Paxton over the following one-start pitchers: R.A. Dickey, Chris Archer, Zack Wheeler

15. Charlie Morton, PIT (at CHC, at MIL)

Two-start pitchers to avoid
22. Mark Buehrle vs. HOU, at BAL
23. Trevor Cahill at SF, vs. LAD
24. Felix Doubront vs. TEX, at NYY
25. Henderson Alvarez at WAS, at PHI
26. Tanner Scheppers at BOS, vs. HOU
27. Robbie Erlin at CLE, vs. DET
28. Kyle Kendrick vs. MIL, vs. MIA
29. Zach McAllister vs. SD, at CHW
30. Aaron Harang vs. NYM, vs. WAS
31. Edwin Jackson vs. PIT, at STL
32. Brett Oberholtzer at TOR, at TEX
33. Jarred Cosart vs. LAA, at TEX
34. Kevin Correia vs. OAK, vs. KC

Morton got 2014 started the right way, tossing six shutout innings against the Cubs. The North Siders appear to be one of the majors' friendlier matchups, and Morton gets them again in Week 2. Meanwhile, the Brewers have enough thump in their lineup that they will eventually shake their early-season doldrums, but Morton has been one of the majors' best pitchers at keeping the ball in the park. He's a poor bet to sustain the strikeout-per-inning pace of his first start, but Morton should lower your staff's ERA this coming week. That makes him a viable two-start option in some mixed leagues, but because his control is nowhere as good as Lohse's, he's a less attractive waiver option.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Morton: Lance Lynn, Clay Buchholz, R.A. Dickey

16. Tim Hudson, SF (vs. ARI, vs. COL)

If owners had concerns about Hudson's return from a fractured ankle, he assuaged them in his season debut. Hudson tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings in which he allowed only three hits and no walks and induced 12 swinging strikes. High whiff counts probably won't be the norm for Hudson, but sharp control and a lack of extra-base hits should be. As a sinkerballer with a below-average strikeout rate, Hudson has similar appeal to Morton, and like his Pirates' counterpart, he's fringy in standard mixed leagues, even with two starts.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Hudson: R.A. Dickey, Chris Archer, Zack Wheeler

17. Dan Haren, LAD (vs. DET, at ARI)

Things could have gone much worse for Haren in his first start of the season, given that he induced only six swinging strikes and seven ground balls. Those are numbers one wouldn't normally associate with six innings of scoreless ball, so Haren's 2014 debut may be a bit misleading. He's not a good bet to improve on his ground ball rate, but he's long been a control artist with average-to- above-average strikeout rates. That profiles makes Haren sittable in some one-start weeks, but there should be few two-start weeks where you should bench him. The problem this week is knowing whether Haren will in fact be a two-start pitcher, since it's not yet known when Paul Maholm will make his next start and whether the Dodgers will give Hyun-Jin Ryu extra rest. That puts the order of their entire Week 2 rotation in question.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Haren: R.A. Dickey, Chris Archer, Zack Wheeler

18. Jason Vargas, KC (vs. TB, at MIN)

This is the sort of week in which I typically clear an active roster spot for Vargas. He has two starts against teams with generally mediocre lineups, and both of his venues are tough on home-run hitters. Because Vargas is prone to the long ball, he needs to be avoided outside of these scenarios, but because he is fairly stingy with walks and gets infield flies frequently, he usually registers low ERAs and WHIPs in pitchers' parks. Perhaps if the better hitters in the Rays' lineup weren't righties (plus switch-hitting Ben Zobrist), I would rank Vargas a little higher. Given his .434 slugging percentage allowed against righties, there is enough risk involved with Vargas' one home start for owners to view the lefty as a last resort in standard mixed leagues.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Vargas: Ervin Santana, A.J. Burnett, Marco Estrada

19. Bartolo Colon, NYM (at ATL, at LAA)

Heading into the weekend, Colon is owned in 70 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com. As a two- start pitcher, that percentage could climb even higher, but his new and current owners could wind up disappointed with his Week 2 results. Colon is still notoriously contact-friendly, in two seasons in Oakland, he was surprisingly effective due to low walk and home run rates. He showed against the Nationals this week that he still throws strikes, but he may have previewed a new proclivity for allowing homers, as Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth took him out of the park. No longer protected by spacious O.co Coliseum, Colon could be due for a rude awakening, at least at homer-neutral Turner Field against a powerful Braves lineup.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Colon: Martin Perez, Yordano Ventura, Michael Pineda

20. Jose Quintana, CHW (at COL, vs. CLE)

After a miserable Cactus League season in which Quintana allowed 20 earned runs in 11 innings with six strikeouts and seven walks, he bounced back with a decent effort against the Twins. Quintana emerged with improved command (64 percent strikes thrown) and a higher K/9 ratio (8.2) from July forward last season, and he looked more like that pitcher in his season debut. Though Quintana allowed five runs in six innings versus Minnesota, only two of them were earned, and he threw 69 of 109 pitches for strikes and finished with eight strikeouts. In a normal two-start week, that might be enough to embolden owners to start him, but with his first start coming at Coors Field, it's probably best to save Quintana for another two-start week in standard mixed leagues.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Quintana: Michael Pineda, Dan Straily, Dillon Gee

21. Felipe Paulino, CHW (at COL, vs. CLE)

Paulino, like Quintana, turned in a mildly encouraging start against the Twins, and he too will have to tame Coors Field in a Week 2 start. In some ways, Paulino appears to be a better option than Quintana, as he throws harder and has been more of a strikeout pitcher over his career. With the harder cheese also comes more wildness, and he is just as much of a home run risk as his teammate. Though Paulino will likely allow less contact than Quintana, he's a bigger threat to your team's ERA, if not its WHIP.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Paulino: Dillon Gee, Jenrry Mejia, Tanner Roark

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

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Player News
Wirfin Obispo outrighted Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:38 pm ET) Pirates pitcher Wirfin Obispo has been outrighted to Triple-A.

Obispo was recently designated for assignment, and accepted an option to the minors. He's posted a 3.80 ERA over two minor-league levels.


Zach Walters on the verge of mattering
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:36 pm ET) For the fourth time with the Indians and the seventh time in 72 big-league at-bats this year, Zach Walters homered Thursday. And judging by his 29 homers in 487 at-bats at Triple-A last year and his 17 homers in 268 at-bats at Triple-A this year, it's something he'll continue to do.

Though he's been playing DH for the Indians, Walters' most important attribute is that he's eligible at shortstop. Offensive production as a whole is scarce at the position, and power hitting especially.

So it's a match made in Fantasy heaven, at least in theory -- the same one that had Fantasy owners flocking to Javier Baez upon his arrival.

But while Baez has long been touted as a face-of-the-franchise type, Walters was just a spare part for the Nationals -- one easily expended at the trade deadline. While the disparity no doubt says something about Walters' upside, it may say even more about his downside. Quite simply, his shortcomings may prove to be more than he can overcome.

He's a swing-at-anything type, striking out more than 100 times more than he walked at Triple-A last year. He hit only .253 as a result, which doesn't bode well for his chances in the majors. If you need cheap homers, he's a sneaky way to get them out of a middle infield spot. Just don't expect much more than a .200 batting average from him.


Zach Walters officially on home run binge
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:35 pm ET) Indians infielder Zach Walters continued his home run binge Thursday against the Twins. 

Walters struck in the fifth inning. He took an 89 mph cutter from Phil Hughes out to right for the solo shot. He finished 1 for 3, with one run scored and one RBI. Walters struck out in his other two at-bats. Walters has now homered in four of his last eight games.


Stolmy Pimentel to start rehab assignment Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:20 pm ET) Pirates reliever Stolmy Pimentel will begin a rehab assignment Thursday, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Pimentel will throw one inning with the Double-A club in Altoona. He'll start Thursday's game and toss an inning. Pimentel has been out since August 13 with an ankle injury. He's posted a 5.40 ERA over 31 2/3 innings. 


Brandon Belt says he'll be back this season
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:14 pm ET) Giants first baseman Brandon Belt said he expects to be back before the end of the season, according to 95.7 The Game.

Belt will be re-evaluated in three weeks. He's been out since August 6 due to concussion-related issues. Belt has hit .237/.296/.446 over 186 at-bats. 


Brandon McCarthy hitting his stride
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:11 pm ET) Brandon McCarthy has had a wild career, hasn't he? Between the minor-league accolades, the early struggles with the White Sox and Rangers, the eventual breakthrough with the Athletics, the career-threatening head injury and the disastrous stay in Arizona, nailing down just who he is has been an exercise in futility.

Which is why I don't mind just riding the wave with him.

The signs for what he's doing now where there even before joining the Yankees. He may have had a 3-10 record and 5.01 ERA in 18 starts with the Diamondbacks, but he also had a 3.82 FIP, which estimates what a pitcher's ERA really should be. And that FIP would have been even lower if not for a suspiciously high home run rate for a pitcher who induces as many ground balls as he does.

I'll admit I didn't put much stock in that argument at the time of the trade, believing McCarthy's FIP was inflated by a couple of high-strikeout games earlier in the season and that the home runs would only increase in Yankee Stadium. Instead, the strikeouts have become more frequent and the home runs less frequent.

It culminated with a complete-game shutout Thursday afternoon against the Astros, his fifth start in eight as a Yankee with seven or more strikeouts. Looks like the Athletics version of McCarthy is back.


Angels acquire Gordon Beckham from White Sox
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:40 pm ET) The Angels have acquired second baseman Gordon Beckham from the White Sox Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times

Beckham has hit .221/.263/.336 over 390 at-bats. In return, the White Sox will receive a player to be named later or cash. 


Joey Votto calls out his critics
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:36 pm ET) Reds first baseman Joey Votto responded to comments that he's not tough enough to play, according to MLB.com.

Votto stressed that he's dealing with a serious injury, and tried to play through the pain earlier in the season. He reiterated that he didn't ask to be injured, and would return as soon as he's healthy.

"The second I’m capable of playing and I’m no longer injured, I’ll be back on the field," Votto said. "In the meantime, you can assume I’m injured. I shouldn’t get some sort of different treatment, as if this is — I’ve noticed little comments here and there and just a general perception that this is something I elected to do. I didn’t elect to be injured. I am injured. People get injured. I am injured. What can I do? At some point I’ll be back playing like I was playing before."

Votto has been sidelined since July 5 with a quad injury. He's hit .255/.390/.409 over 220 at-bats. 


Yan Gomes left after being hit with deflected ball
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:31 pm ET) Indians catcher Yan Gomes left Thursday's game after being hit in the head with a deflected ball, according to the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Gomes was initially taken out with an illness, but that doesn't appear to be the case. The team doctor did not say whether Gomes was dealing with a concussion. He'll continue to be monitored for now. 


Bradin Hagens outrighted from 40-man roster
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:20 pm ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Bradin Hagens has been outrighted from the 40-man roster, according to azcentral.com.

Hagens posted a 3.95 ERA over two minor-league levels this season. He received a brief stint in the majors, but only pitched 2 2/3 innings. 


 
 
 
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