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Start and sit hitters for Week 6

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, May 1.

In an interleague-heavy week, take note of the AL teams traveling to NL parks, where they no longer have use of the DH. The player most likely to suffer this week is Billy Butler, who could sit out all three of the Royals' games at San Diego unless they decide to play him at first base or Eric Hosmer in right field for the first time this season. Likewise, Adam Dunn could sit out the White Sox's two games at the Cubs, though they have entertained the idea of playing him in the outfield. Dunn is low-end enough that you don't need much of an excuse to sit him. You've probably hoped for an excuse to sit Butler, given his slow start, and now, here it is.

Manny Machado returned to the lineup for the second game of a doubleheader Thursday after a lengthy rehabilitation from knee surgery. He was a must-start in Fantasy for most of last season and will eventually get back there, but you should always be cautious with players returning from injury. Plan on starting Machado Monday, but keep that fill-in handy just in case he doesn't look right this weekend.

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

Catcher

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

Scott's sleepers for Week 6
Player Own/Start %
1. Victor Martinez, 1B, DET 92/71
2. Howie Kendrick, 2B, LAA 85/73
3. Miguel Montero, C, ARI 78/66
4. Dayan Viciedo, OF, CHW 66/55
5. Carlos Ruiz, C, PHI 60/50
6. Omar Infante, 2B, KC 45/34
7. Rajai Davis, OF, DET 64/53
8. Erick Aybar, SS, LAA 51/38
9. Matt Joyce, OF, TB 47/36
10. Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, DET 67/39

Start: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies
After a disappointing 2013, Ruiz has come back with a vengeance so far in 2014 and has been especially hot of late, batting .480 (12 for 25) with a home run and four doubles, not to mention six walks to only two strikeouts, in his last seven games. He has typically performed better against left-handers in his career, hitting .300 with an .836 OPS against them even with disappointing overall numbers last year, and has three on tap this week. The Blue Jays and Mets starting rotations shouldn't present too much of a challenge either.
Instead of: Yan Gomes, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Josmil Pinto

Sit: A.J. Pierzynski, Red Sox
Pierzynski isn't off to a bad start for the Red Sox but hasn't gotten the most regular playing time, having started just two-thirds of their games heading into Friday. With the Red Sox scheduled to play only five games this week, he may not get enough at-bats to make a relevant contribution. And considering some of the pitchers on tap -- including Homer Bailey, Yu Darvish and Martin Perez -- he may not do much with the at-bats he gets.
Instead of: Pinto, Dioner Navarro, Mike Zunino

First base

Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Albert Pujols, Freddie Freeman, Edwin Encarnacion, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Abreu, Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Anthony Rizzo, Justin Morneau, Allen Craig, Carlos Santana, Matt Adams, Eric Hosmer, Mike Napoli

Start: Victor Martinez, Tigers
That Martinez isn't universally started is one thing. That he's started in so few leagues I can get away with highlighting him here is enough to make me think I'm playing a different game from everyone else. A Fantasy mainstay for much of his career, Martinez rebounded from a slow start to regain must-start status in the second half last year and has seemingly picked up where he left off, producing a near-.300 batting average while performing at a 25-homer, 90-RBI pace. Against the Astros and Twins this week, two rotations that don't have a single pitcher worth rostering in standard mixed leagues, he'll do some damage.
Instead of: Brandon Belt, Chris Colabello, Mark Teixeira

Sit: Adam LaRoche, Nationals
LaRoche's quadriceps injury doesn't seem like anything that would sideline him into the weekend, but the bigger issue for him heading into Fantasy Week 6 (May 5-11) is the schedule. They have the toughest of any team, going against Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Dan Haren, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez. He's off to a good start, but at a deep position, you're not obligated to stick with him every week.
Instead of: Martinez, Teixeira, Ryan Howard

Second base

Too obvious: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Matt Carpenter, Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist, Brian Dozier, Anthony Rendon, Jose Altuve, Chase Utley, Martin Prado, Jed Lowrie

Five Best Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Tigers HOU4, MIN3
2. Indians MIN4, @TB3
3. White Sox @CHC2, CHC2, ARI3
4. Mariners @OAK4, KC4
5. Rangers @COL2, COL2, BOS3

Start: Howie Kendrick, Angels
Kendrick, like Victor Martinez, is too high-end to be so overlooked when he's performing so well. Having hit .386 (17 for 44) with two doubles, one triple, two home runs and three stolen bases in his last 12 games, he entered Friday's action ranked fourth among second basemen in both Head-to-Head and Rotisserie leagues. Granted, he won't maintain this pace, and second base is a deep position, but if you don't have one of the "too obvious" options, you might as well play the hot hand, especially with him facing David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, Dustin McGowan and J.A. Happ this week.
Instead of: Dee Gordon, Emilio Bonifacio, Neil Walker

Sit: Brandon Phillips, Reds
Coming off a year when a disproportionate RBI total helped inflate his value, Phillips has somewhat predictably disappointed Fantasy owners so far and has been especially useless lately, batting .179 (10 for 56) over his last 14 games. Though he may be overrated, he can't possibly be this bad, but with the Reds playing only five games this week, you probably won't regret sitting him even if he has some kind of turnaround.
Instead of: Kendrick, Bonifacio, Omar Infante

Third base

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

Start: Nick Castellanos, Tigers
The Tigers have stellar matchups this week, facing pitchers like Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer, Brad Peacock, Dallas Keuchel, Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson and Samuel Deduno. Castellanos hasn't been especially productive, but given his upside, he's as likely to take advantage as anyone in the lineup. At a position that doesn't seem to offer enough to go around, he's still available in one-third of CBSSports.com leagues.
Instead of: Pablo Sandoval, Brett Lawrie, Will Middlebrooks

Sit: Marcus Semien, White Sox
Despite a high strikeout rate and low batting average, Semien's all-around production has made him a sneaky Fantasy play in the early going, but those days may be nearing an end. He was only able to move to third base when Gordon Beckham returned from an oblique injury because Conor Gillaspie was sidelined by a hand injury, but with Gillaspie expected back Wednesday, Semien could be forced to the bench mid-week. Even with favorable matchups for the White Sox, you should look into alternatives.
Instead of: Trevor Plouffe, Castellanos, Todd Frazier

Shortstop

Too obvious: Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Jean Segura, Ian Desmond, Ben Zobrist, Jose Reyes, Elvis Andrus, Alexei Ramirez, Jed Lowrie, Starlin Castro

Five Worst Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Nationals LAD3, @OAK3
2. Red Sox CIN2, @TEX3
3. Dodgers @WAS3, SF4
4. Pirates SF3, STL3
5. Cardinals @ATL3, @PIT3

Start: Erick Aybar, Angels
Though never a high-end option, Aybar has had his stretches of mixed-league relevance and seems to be in the midst of one now, batting .459 (17 for 37) with five doubles, a home run and a stolen base in nine games. The streak coincides with an adjustment from the left side of the plate, where he now stands more upright. You hate to chase the streaks, but against pitchers like David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, Dustin McGowan and J.A. Happ, Aybar is a good bet to keep this one going.
Instead of: Xander Bogaerts, J.J. Hardy, Jhonny Peralta

Sit: Everth Cabrera, Padres
Though he has hit pretty well since the start of the season, everyone has wondered where the stolen bases have gone for Cabrera. And now, everyone has an answer: He still hasn't fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered April 14, according to manager Bud Black. Cabrera had a couple steals more recently, so he may be on the road to recovery, but against pitchers like Yordano Ventura, James Shields, Jose Fernandez and Nate Eovaldi, you might want to play it safe with him. Also, the Padres aren't facing a single left-handed pitcher this week. Cabrera, a switch-hitter, hit .365 with a .934 OPS against them compared to .248 and .651 against righties last year.
Instead of: Aybar, Jimmy Rollins, Brad Miller

Outfield

Too obvious: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Gomez, Matt Holliday, Adam Jones, Justin Upton, Hunter Pence, Alex Rios, Jayson Werth, Yasiel Puig, Ben Zobrist, Nelson Cruz, Charlie Blackmon, Yoenis Cespedes, Wil Myers, Shin-Soo Choo, Allen Craig, Starling Marte, Domonic Brown, Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, Matt Kemp, Alex Gordon, Carlos Beltran, Coco Crisp, Austin Jackson, Michael Brantley, Michael Morse

Start: Dayan Viciedo, White Sox
Batting .432 (19 for 44) with seven doubles, one triple and one home run in his last 12 games, Viciedo has been the hot hand for a while now -- long enough for you to wonder how much longer this streak could possibly last. But with six walks to just four strikeouts during that stretch, he's seeing the ball exceptionally well still and doesn't face the stiffest competition this week in Edwin Jackson, Jake Arrieta, Brandon McCarthy, Wade Miley and Mike Bolsinger.
Instead of: Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, Khris Davis

Sit: Brett Gardner, Yankees
Though his five steals in his last five games make him seem like a hot-hand play, Gardner is another potential victim of this week's interleague-heavy schedule. He doesn't play DH himself, but the Yankees may see Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano, who alternate between DH and the outfield, as more integral to the lineup and bump Gardner to the bench, with Beltran in right field and Soriano in left, for their three games at Milwaukee. It's no certainty, of course, but with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza on tap, Gardner would be an inadvisable start anyway.
Instead of: Torii Hunter, Norichika Aoki, Matt Joyce

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
Rays' Cash: Desmond Jennings been on fire offensively all spring
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(8:15 am ET) It took 12 games for Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings to hit his first home run this spring, but despite the lack of home run power, the 28-year-old outfielder is still doing pretty well in Grapefruit League games.

Jennings, who hit a solo home run Thursday against the Yankees, is batting .483 (14 for 29) with two RBI, four runs, four walks and two stolen bases.

“He’s been on fire all spring, his at-bats, everything,” manager Kevin Cash said, per The Tampa Tribune. “The impressive thing is, the other day he didn’t have his best day, looked a little lot of sorts, but he came back two days after that and just erased it. He’s knocking balls all over the place.”


Athletics' Jesse Chavez happy with spring showing
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:55 am ET) Athletics pitcher Jesse Chavez allowed four runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings while striking out one in Thursday's 6-4 win over the Giants.

Chavez, who was on the mound just two days after the birth of his daughter, is happy with his performance this spring, the Bay Area News Group reports.

"I feel good," Chavez said. "I’ve put some men on, but I’ve pitched out of some jams. I’ve showed them I won’t let it snowball."

Chavez believes he needs to improve at changing the eye level of batters.

"I’ve got to get them to change eye levels better," Chavez said. "The last two or three starts, I haven’t been able to do that. The pitches that I’m trying to elevate they’re fouling off (instead of swinging and missing) and that runs up my pitch count."

Chavez has posted a 4.50 ERA in 16 innings as he competes for a spot in the rotation.


Giants' Bochy: Joe Panik pressing, remains starter at second base
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:09 am ET) Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday that while infielder Joe Panik might be pressing, he remains the team's starter at second base without reservations, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Panik is just 8 for 50 this spring after going hitless in four at-bats Thursday, though he has delivered three doubles and two home runs. He's looking for a strong follow-up to an impressive rookie season in which he hit .305/.343/.368 in 269 at-bats.


Pirates P A.J. Burnett changes tune about shifting
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:38 am ET) Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett has not had the highest of opinions when it comes to infield-shifting in the past. In 2013, he let some reporters know what he thought about shifting at the time.

When asked about a shift of shortstop Clint Barmes that year, Burnett stated, “I do not have a problem with (Barmes), I had a problem with the (expletive) shift. We play people in the wrong spot.”

But Burnett seemed to change his tune when reflecting upon the subject.

“As much as I complained about the shifts, they helped,” Burnett said. “They really did. It's that one a game, you've got a no-hitter for four or five innings and one gets through, and where you're like … ‘(expletive) shift.'

“But (shifts) saves you more than anything, and that's the truth.”

The 38-year-old has lost some steam on his fastball at this point in his career and he knows that.

“It took me getting a little older to realize that I'm not able to blow it by guys anymore and ground balls are just as good,” he said.

Burnett has posted a 6.39 ERA with nine earned runs, eight walks and 12 strikeouts in four starts this spring.


Time running out for Matt Lindstrom to win spot with Angels
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:35 am ET) Angels pticher Matt Lindstrom can opt out of his contract if he's not placed on the active roster five days before the regular-season opener, and he believes he may not have an opening to fill in the bullpen, MLB.com reports.

"There's a ton of guys in here that have shown they can compete at this level," Lindstrom said. "I just hope I can be one of those guys that breaks camp with the team. It'd be fun to be on a team like this, that has so much potential, especially with how many games they won last year. The pitching staff's going to be solid no matter which way they go, but I'm hoping to be a part of that."

Lindstrom has given up seven runs in 4 2/3 spring innings but is excited about how his arm feels this spring.

"I can just tell the ball's coming out better," Lindstrom said. "Hopefully, that can just translate to outs."


Giants' Tim Lincecum strikes out seven Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:22 am ET) Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits and two walks in five innings while racking up seven strikeouts in Thursday's spring start against the A's.

"It comes down to one or two pitches per inning," Lincecum said on alternating good and bad innings, per MLB.com. "I just have to keep my pitches down. The ones that they're hitting are the ones that are up. Leadoff batters are locking in to some of the first pitches."

Lincecum has dealt with neck issues and mediocre performances but has looked much better over the last week, following a one-run outing Saturday by matching his seven strikeouts in his previous four outings. He appears on track to open the season as the team's No. 5 starter.


Rockies' Brandon Barnes displays new swing this spring
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:16 am ET) Rockies outfielder Brandon Barnes brought a brand-new swing to spring training that features a high leg kick as he looks to cut down the strikeouts and "be the best version of me," the Denver Post reports.

"I tried to refine who I am and what type of player I am in the box," Barnes said Thursday. "I'm not a guy who's going to hit 30 home runs. I know that. I'm the big guy who needs to be a pest, drive the ball into gaps, hit doubles, use my speed to my advantage, bunt, all those things."

Barnes lost 10 pounds this offseason as he looked to come to camp more athletic and less stiff in the batter's box.

"We have this tremendous athlete, and you see him in the outfield and it shows up daily," manager Walt Weiss said. "But you saw him in the box last season, and there was some stiffness to his approach. And I'm saying, 'Be that guy in the box.' It made sense to him."

Barnes indicated that he's committed to the new approach that pulls the focus away from home runs.

"I had to go back and do some soul-searching to figure out who I was," Barnes said. "I'm the guy who goes out and plays really hard."


Rangers' Shin-Soo Choo goes hitless in return Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/26/2015) Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo (triceps) returned to the lineup Thursday, going 0 for 4 while serving as the designated hitter in his team's 6-3 win over the Rockies.

Choo had been sidelined since March 15 due to a triceps injury and was reported to be targeting a return Saturday, but he was able to remain in for the entire game Thursday, picking up four at-bats in his role as DH. He's managed just four hits in 22 at-bats this spring.


Rangers' Fujikawa confident in return from Tommy John surgery
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/26/2015) Rangers pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa is scheduled to pitch Friday, and the Rangers will be keeping a close eye on the pitcher to determine if he has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery or if he'll need time in the minors to open the season, MLB.com reports.

Fujikawa hasn't allowed a run in four Cactus League outings but has struggled a bit in two camp games. He remains confident his recovery is on track.

"This is still spring training, not the regular season," Fujikawa said. "It's only going to get better. Coming into spring training, the surgery was out of my mind. As a player, I am really confident. I am not sure what my role will be, but I'll be confident whatever the situation is."

Manager Jeff Banister is looking for the pitcher to build off his spring success.

"The guy is coming off Tommy John," Banister said. "There are good days and bad days. He has logged a couple of good ones. Let's see that continue."


Twins Trevor Plouffe wants to cement his place at third
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/26/2015) Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe is completely aware of the threat that Miguel Sano brings when it comes to the third base spot. Sano is considered by many to be a can't-miss player. But Plouffe is trying not to let that affect him or his play. 

“You can’t think about anything like that,” Plouffe said. “You can’t worry about what other people are saying about you. I’m more focused on getting this organization out of this rut that we’ve dug ourselves over the last four years.”

After moving around the infield for years, Plouffe seems to have found his place at third. The 28-year-old has a batting average of .245 with 62 home runs, 224 RBI and 398 strikeouts in five seasons.


 
 
 
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