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Start and sit hitters for Week 4

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Though normally in Fantasy Baseball, you'd start your best players every week regardless of matchups, in those weeks when you do need a fill-in, whether because of injuries or the total collapse of a trusted starter, Scott White is here to help.

At each position, he'll list the players who are "too obvious" for the upcoming week, meaning the ones you wouldn't consider sitting for anyone off the list, and then suggest a start and a sit based on a variety of short-term factors.

All stats are updated through Thursday, April 17.

Turns out this year's draft-and-stash prospect of choice -- George Springer -- didn't need to be stashed for long. He has already taken over as the Astros regular right fielder. A near 40-40 man in the minors last year, his potential is enormous, but like any player first breaking into the big leagues, he could find the going rough early. In five-outfielder leagues, you'll probably want to start him regardless, but if he doesn't show much over the weekend, you could justify sitting him in three-outfielder leagues.

On the verge of returning from a strained hamstring that has sidelined him since the first game of the season, Jose Reyes is tentatively "too obvious" at shortstop for this week, but you'll want to make sure his return goes without a hitch this weekend. Any minor setback would be reason to reserve him, especially since you already have a replacement in place.

If not for inclement weather at Double-A Portland this week, Shane Victorino would have begun a rehab assignment already. Now, he's aiming for Saturday with Triple-A Pawtucket. Seeing as he's missed the entire season so far, he'll probably need a few days there, putting his availability for the start of this week in doubt. You might want to give him a few days to shake off the rust anyway.

And with that, on to the position-by-position breakdown ...

Catcher

Too obvious: Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Santana, Matt Wieters, Wilin Rosario, Brian McCann, Salvador Perez, Evan Gattis

Scott's sleepers for Week 4
Player Own/Start %
1. Michael Morse, OF, SF 84/67
2. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B/OF, CHC 86/61
3. Devin Mesoraco, C, CIN 66/52
4. Torii Hunter, OF, DET 82/61
5. Eric Young, OF, NYM 47/38
6. Mike Moustakas, 3B, KC 58/26
7. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, CLE 71/47
8. Norichika Aoki, OF, KC 69/43
9. Rajai Davis, OF, DET 45/36
10. Corey Hart, OF, SEA 61/34

Start: Devin Mesoraco, Reds
No cupcake matchups or revealing splits here. Mesoraco is just a good old-fashioned hot-hand play. I'm generally not one for chasing streaks, but if you have your choice of any catcher started in less than 80 percent leagues, how can you go against the guy batting .500 (11 for 22) with three home runs in his six games off the DL, especially when he's a popular breakout candidate as a first-year starter? You can't, of course, which is why I don't bother to try.
Instead of: Yan Gomes, Jason Castro, Miguel Montero

Sit: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Marlins
Like the rest of the Marlins lineup, Saltalamacchia had a good first week, but like the rest of the Marlins lineup, he's gotten a dose of reality since then, batting .240 (6 for 25) with just two extra-base hits in his last eight games. In two-catcher leagues, he's obviously still a defensible option, but in one-catcher leagues, you're barking up the wrong tree, especially with him facing Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee in a six-game week.
Instead of: Mike Zunino, Montero, Mesoraco

First base

Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Davis, Prince Fielder, Freddie Freeman, Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Jose Abreu, Mark Trumbo, Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Anthony Rizzo, Michael Cuddyer, Matt Adams, Eric Hosmer, Brandon Belt

Start: Allen Craig, Cardinals
For the most part, Fantasy owners have stuck with the mainstays off to slow starts, but Craig is an exception, his starting percentage dropping to the point where I can't just stick him in the "too obvious" section and pretend like nothing has changed. For a player who's hit .312 over the last three seasons, the turnaround could be swift and intense, and he looks like he might be tiptoeing into it with a modest six-game hitting streak in which he's homered and doubled. Plus, in contrast from previous weeks, the Cardinals' matchups this week aren't such an impediment.
Instead of: Brandon Moss, Adam LaRoche, Nick Swisher

Sit: Justin Morneau, Rockies
If you're trolling the waiver wire for help at first base -- and woe to you in that unlikely event -- Morneau's .346 and .924 OPS will probably catch your attention. But don't be lured by his lofty percentages. The reason he's available is because his totals are lacking, and the reason they're lacking is because he doesn't play every day. Michael Cuddyer has already spelled him four times this year, most often against left-handers. The Rockies have three of those on tap this week. Plus, the matchups aren't so good to begin with against the Giants and Dodgers.
Instead of: Corey Hart, Ryan Howard, Swisher

Second base

Too obvious: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Kipnis, Matt Carpenter, Ian Kinsler, Martin Prado, Ben Zobrist, Chase Utley, Jose Altuve, Anthony Rendon, Aaron Hill

Five Best Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Tigers CHW4, @MIN3
2. Athletics TEX3, @HOU4
3. Cubs ARI4, @MIL3
4. Dodgers PHI4, COL3
5. Giants @COL3, CLE3

Start: Daniel Murphy, Mets
After an underwhelming start to the season, Daniel Murphy has stepped up his production over his last seven games -- not only batting .333 (11 for 33), but also showing the same willingness to run that elevated him to must-start status last year. As has been true for most of his career, he was especially good against right-handed pitchers last year, batting .292 with a .790 OPS compared to .273 with a .616 OPS against lefties, and depending who the Cardinals choose to fill in for Joe Kelly Monday, he could face as many as seven this week.
Instead of: Brian Dozier, Neil Walker, Brandon Phillips

Sit: Jedd Gyorko, Padres
Gyorko has been either a start or sit at second base every week so far, and through it all, he's bombed, hitting a ghastly .161 (9 for 56). He went all of last April without a home run and still managed to hit 23 in an injury-plagued season, so slow starts are nothing new to him. But that doesn't mean you have to suffer through this one. In a week he's facing Wily Peralta, Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan -- all righties, it's worth nothing -- he's unlikely to break through.
Instead of: Dee Gordon, Emilio Bonifacio, Murphy

Third base

Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Matt Carpenter, Josh Donaldson, Martin Prado, Aramis Ramirez, Anthony Rendon, Pedro Alvarez, Carlos Santana

Start: Mike Moustakas, Royals
I know. You're tired of seeing him. You're tired of hearing about him. You just want Moustakas to go away. But I have to recommend someone to start at third base, and in case you haven't noticed, it's slim pickings. For the second straight week, Moustakas has favorable matchups, facing struggling starters like Danny Salazar, Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Miguel Gonzalez. And because six of the seven pitchers on tap are righties, you don't have to worry about him losing at-bats to Danny Valencia. He has shown modest improvement with a homer, two doubles and just one strikeout over his last six games, so he could be on the verge of something.
Instead of: Todd Frazier, Nolan Arenado, Brett Lawrie

Sit: Trevor Plouffe, Twins
Plouffe was the third base replacement of choice last week, which was understandable given his hot start, but he's 2 for 15 (.133) in five games since. He's never been more than a .254 hitter in the majors, so he's due for continued correction and could face it in a week of especially tough matchups for the Twins. They're one of just a handful of teams playing six games, including three against front liners David Price, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander.
Instead of: Pablo Sandoval, Kyle Seager, Moustakas

Shortstop

Too obvious: Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Jean Segura, Ian Desmond, Ben Zobrist, Jose Reyes, Elvis Andrus, Alexei Ramirez, Dee Gordon, Andrelton Simmons, Everth Cabrera

Five Worst Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Twins @TB3, DET3
2. Braves MIA3, CIN3
3. Angels @WAS3, @NYY3
4. Pirates CIN4, @STL3
5. Marlins @ATL3, @NYM3

Start: Jed Lowrie, Athletics
For the second straight week, Lowrie gets the nod here because even though he's lived up to every expectation so far in Fantasy Week 3 (April 14-20), his starting percentage has barely budged at what is widely considered the weakest position in Fantasy. It's a little too high for him to qualify for the sleepers table above, but it's clear he's undervalued. The Athletics once again have terrific matchups against the Rangers and Astros rotations, so unless you have someone "too obvious" at the position, you need to start Lowrie, who's currently on pace for 173 walks and 115 runs.
Instead of: Brad Miller, Jimmy Rollins, J.J. Hardy

Sit: Adeiny Hechavarria, Marlins
Hechavarria's hot start attracted some attention on the waiver wire since he's young and still relatively unknown, but he's mostly just a defensive whiz and has come back to earth at the plate, going 1 for 15 in his last four games. He's in line to face some bat-missers against the Braves and Mets this week. Other bottom-feeders like Asdrubal Cabrera and Derek Jeter have more favorable matchups and are showing sign of life, so at least in mixed leagues, you have alternatives at the position.
Instead of: Cabrera, Jeter, Chris Owings

Outfield

Too obvious: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Braun, Adam Jones, Bryce Harper, Jose Bautista, Shin-Soo Choo, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gome z, Matt Holliday, Jay Bruce, Justin Upton, Hunter Pence, Alex Rios, Mark Trumbo, Jayson Werth, Yasiel Puig, Wil Myers, Jason Heyward, Allen Craig, Domonic Brown, Starling Marte, Ben Zobrist, Martin Prado, Matt Kemp, Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes, Adam Eaton, Carlos Beltran, Michael Cuddyer, Nelson Cruz

Start: Michael Morse, Giants
Just when Fantasy owners were ready to buy into him with his hot start through two weeks, Morse went into hiding, batting .125 (2 for 16) in his last five games. If he really is back to full health, though, his slumps shouldn't last long, judging by his .296 batting average with the Nationals from 2010 to 2012. His favorable matchups this week include three games at Coors Field, where he's 20 for 40 in his career and two games against the unstable Carlos Carrasco and erratic Danny Salazar. Give him another shot, why don't you?
Instead of: Christian Yelich, Billy Hamilton, Brett Gardner

Sit: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies
It was a fun ride while it lasted, but judging by his 1-for-10 performance over his last three games, Blackmon's storybook start is on its last few pages. It's amazing he's kept his batting average above .400 this long, so no need to push your luck. Not only do the Rockies have tough matchups against Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Hyun-Jin Ryu, but three of their six games are against lefties. And as hot as Blackmon has been, manager Walt Weiss has still seen fit to sit him more often than not against them. You may be looking at only four starts this week from a player due to regress.
Instead of: Torii Hunter, Norichika Aoki, Eric Young

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

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Player News
Rockies' Wilin Rosario receives positive reviews at first base
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:17 pm ET) Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario received positive reviews after playing first base on Tuesday, according to MLB.com.

Rosario showed off his athleticism, saving two possible errors during the appearance. The club is trying to work Rosario in at the position after signing Nick Hundley in the offseason. Rosario has been taking extra fielding practice at first during camp. Rosario is expected to see equal time at first and behind the plate this spring.

The 26-year-old hit .267/.305/.435 over 382 at-bats last year.


D-backs' Yasmany Tomas does well in spring training debut
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:06 pm ET) Diamondbacks third baseman Yasmany Tomas went 1-for-2 in his spring training debut against Arizona State. The Cuban born player thought he did just okay for his first game.

"Everybody knows it was my first day," Tomas said. "It was a good day. I put in the hard work to see it happen, and it felt like overall a good day."

Tomas played in five innings on the day. Manager Chip Hale said he thinks Tomas is right where he expected him to be offensively.

"With the bat, I thought this was how he would look," Hale said. "He looked very comfortable. He looked very relaxed."


Diamondbacks' Goldschmidt not concerned about hand this year
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:01 pm ET) Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is not concerned about his hand this year, according to MLB.com.

Goldschmidt saw his first game action since last season on Tuesday, singling in his first at-bat since August 1. Goldschmidt missed the final two months of 2014 due to a broken hand, but said the injury has not been an issue during camp. 

"It was the last thing on my mind," Goldschmidt said. "It's not the first time I've gotten hit. It's not the first time I've gotten injured. Hopefully it doesn't happen again, but chances are something is going to happen in the future."

Goldschmidt has been wearing a small pad in his batting glove in order to prevent the injury should he get hit in the same spot. He's used the pad during batting practices, and said he doesn't even feel it. 

The 27-year-old hit .300/.396/.542 over 406 at-bats last season. 


Athletics' Craig Gentry hoping for a fast start in 2015
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:53 pm ET) Athletics outfielder Craig Gentry is hoping for a fast start in 2015, according to the Bay Area News Group.

Gentry missed time early last year with a back injury, but feels refreshed this season. "Last year was definitely frustrating, because you want to be here with your new team, and I wasn’t healthy," Gentry said. "Now I feel great and I’m really excited about this season."

Gentry stressed that he's working on stealing bases this spring, as he plans to be aggressive once the regular season begins. "I want to be aggressive and practice is what does it. I need to work on getting jumps, trying to read the pitcher and all of that."

Gentry, 31, hit .254/.319/.289 over 232 at-bats last season. 


Phillies' Chad Billingsley expected to be out until late April
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:46 pm ET) Phillies pitcher Chad Billingsley is not expected to be ready until late April, according to MLB.com.

Billingsley is coming off two elbow surgeries, and is behind to start camp. Billingsley was expected to compete for a spot in the team's rotation if healthy. The 30-year-old owns a career 3.65 ERA over 1,175 1/3 innings.  


Diamondbacks' Ender Inciarte fighting for a spot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:25 pm ET) Diamondbacks outfielder Ender Inciarte is hoping to prove he deserves a spot, according to azcentral.com.

Inciarte flashed potential during the second half of the season in 2014, but is on the fringes of the 25-man roster this spring. For right now, he's open to any role the team will give him.

"There's a lot of competition here, but you only control what you can control," Inciarte said. "I know I can play defense. I know I can run. And I know I can hit. I've just got to do my job. I want to have a chance to play, but I'm ready to take any opportunity they give me or any role."

Manager Chip Hale praised Inciarte's versatility, saying Inciarte is "the type of player you like to have because he can do so many different things."

Inciarte knows the odds are against him, but knows whatever decision the team makes will be for the best. "I know whatever happens is going to be the best thing for me," he said. "I know if I go to Triple-A, I'm going to do my best and find my way back."

The 24-year-old hit .278/.318/.359 over 418 at-bats last year. 


Phillies' Chase Utley able to workout on Tuesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:16 pm ET) Phillies second baseman Chase Utley was able to work out on Tuesday, according to MLB.com.

Utley did not participate in workouts on Monday due to a sore ankle. He's expected to miss a few spring games due to the injury, but the fact that he was able to put in work on Tuesday should be seen as an encouraging sign.

The 36-year-old hit .270/.339/.407 over 589 at-bats last season. 


Giants' Tim Lincecum encouraged after first appearance
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:06 pm ET) Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum is encouraged after making his first spring appearance, according to MLB.com.

Lincecum can on in relief on Tuesday, giving up one run in one inning of work. He struck out two batters, and generally felt good about the outing. "I felt pretty good out there," Lincecum said. "My fastball had some life and my changeup was good at times."

Manager Bruce Bochy seemed to agree, saying he believed Lincecum had good command of his fastball. 

Lincecum is expected to open the season in the team's rotation. He posted a 4.74 ERA over 155 2/3 innings last year. 


Indians' Fracona on McAllister: 'I thought he was pretty good'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:59 pm ET) Indians pitcher Zach McAllister allowed one run on three hits in two innings while striking out three in Tuesday's Cactus League opener, and manager Terry Francona was pleased with his performance, MLB.com reports.

"He was actually pretty good," Francona said. "He gave up the two-out hit, but I thought he was down in the zone, showed good arm strength and used all his pitches. I thought he was pretty good."

McAllister is out of options and competing for the fifth spot in the rotation this spring.


Diamondbacks' Rubby De La Rosa gets the nod on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:58 pm ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Rubby De La Rosa will start on Wednesday when the team takes on the Rockies, according to MLB.com.

De La Rosa was acquired by the team during the offseason, and is expected to compete for a role in the starting rotation. The 25-year-old posted a 4.43 ERA over 101 2/3 innings last season. It's unclear how long De La Rosa will pitch on Wednesday.


 
 
 
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