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Start and sit hitters for Week 8

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 15.

A bunch of those players you've had stashed in your DL slots the last few weeks are set to return in the days ahead. Devin Mesoraco (hamstring) was back in the lineup Friday, putting him immediately in the "too obvious" category at catcher. Wilin Rosario (illness) still needs a rehab assignment but, but assuming it goes as planned, is high-end enough to start this week in anticipation of a Tuesday return.

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In the outfield, Michael Cuddyer, who has been out since mid-April with a hamstring injury, is on about the same timetable as Rosario, but Adam Eaton (hamstring), who has been out with a hamstring injury of his own, could return as soon as Sunday. Kole Calhoun (ankle) is expected back Tuesday, but he's returning from a more serious injury and wasn't as established as Cuddyer or Eaton at the time he went down. In standard leagues, you might want to give him a week to shake off the rust.

Starling Marte's back injury is more of the day-to-day variety, but because he has yet to start a game in Fantasy Week 7 (May 12-18), he's hardly automatic heading into this week. In five-outfielder leagues, you should probably give him the benefit of the doubt (unless he winds up on the DL, of course), but if you have any concerns about his playing time in a three-outfielder league, you don't risk losing all that much by benching him, given his performance to date.

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

Catcher

Too obvious: Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, Joe Mauer, Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Santana, Brian McCann, Miguel Montero, Salvador Perez, Devin Mesoraco, Evan Gattis

Scott's sleepers for Week 8
Player Own/Start %
1. Yangervis Solarte, 2B/3B/SS/OF, NYY 84/72
2. Seth Smith, OF, SD 37/31
3. Brett Gardner, OF, NYY 70/58
4. Yan Gomes, C, CLE 71/59
5. Torii Hunter, OF, DET 84/69
6. Pablo Sandoval, 3B, SF 72/44
7. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, CLE 68/52
8. Chase Headley, 3B, SD 68/42
9. Dustin Ackley, 2B/OF, SEA 49/34
10. Everth Cabrera, SS, SD 76/52

Start: Yan Gomes, Indians
Gomes has had his ups and downs this season, but so far in May, he's batting .308 (12 for 39) with three homers in 10 games, looking more like the player who broke out with a .294 batting average and 11 home runs in only 293 at-bats last year. While he faces the Tigers rotation at the beginning of this week, he should do enough damage against the Orioles' projected foursome of Chris Tillman, Bud Norris, Ubaldo Jimenez and Wei-Yin Chen to remain the hot-hand play.
Instead of: Jason Castro, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Carlos Ruiz

Sit: Josmil Pinto, Twins
Pinto's ownership rate peaked at only 38 percent, but for a few weeks there, he was performing like a high-end catcher, reaching base nearly 40 percent of the time with plus power. But alas, that ride appears to be over. The Twins have started him in just two of six games since bringing Chris Parmelee back to the majors, adding to their options at DH. And they won't even have the DH spot available to do them this week with all five of their games (yes, only five games) in NL parks.
Instead of: Mike Zunino, Yasmani Grandal, John Jaso

First base

Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Edwin Encarnacion, Albert Pujols, Freddie Freeman, Chris Davis, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Buster Posey, Anthony Rizzo, Victor Martinez, Justin Morneau, Eric Hosmer, Brandon Moss, Joe Mauer, Mike Napoli

Start: Mark Teixeira, Yankees
Teixeira's power surge in his return from the DL probably isn't lost on anyone, but what may be is how often he's getting on base. He's back to walking at the rate he did in his first few years with the Yankees, which helped keep him an elite Fantasy option even as his batting average tanked. If it continues, he's not necessarily just a hot-hand play, but of course, he's hot now and should be able to keep it going against Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Hector Noesi, John Danks, Scott Carroll and Andre Rienzo.
Instead of: Matt Adams, Ryan Howard, James Loney

Sit: Juan Francisco, Blue Jays
Excited to take advantage of all the home runs Francisco's been hitting in May? Pardon me while I dampen your enthusiasm. Francisco sat against a left-hander Monday and will likely continue to do so with Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie back from injuries. The Blue Jays face four lefties this week, including high-end types like Jon Lester, Scott Kazmir and Drew Pomeranz. Striking out more than every third at-bat, Francisco is due for a downturn anyway.
Instead of: Loney, Corey Hart, Garrett Jones

Second base

Too obvious: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Matt Carpenter, Ian Kinsler, Brian Dozier, Anthony Rendon, Jose Altuve, Dee Gordon, Chase Utley, Daniel Murphy, Howie Kendrick

Five Best Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Yankees @CHC2, @CHW4
2. Giants @COL3, MIN3
3. Mariners @TEX2, HOU4
4. Padres MIN2, CHC4
5. Tigers @CLE3, TEX4

Start: Yangervis Solarte, Yankees
He's listed here at second base, but in standard CBSSports.com leagues, you can start Solarte at third base, shortstop or even the outfield. Wherever he best meets your needs, you want him active this week and potentially long after that. He's shown excellent bat control and plate discipline in first big-league season, boasting a 1-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio that makes his high batting average not so far-fetched. He'll get to beat up on the Cubs and White Sox rotations this week and is plenty hot to begin with, batting .429 (15 for 39) with three home runs in his last 10 games.
Instead of: Martin Prado, Neil Walker, Jedd Gyorko

Sit: Brandon Phillips, Reds
A non-factor for much of the season, Phillips has actually been swinging a hot bat in May, batting .349 (15 for 43) with two home runs in 11 games, but because of his putrid plate discipline and lackluster supporting cast, he's been only the 13th-best second baseman in Head-to-Head point leagues during that stretch. That's more disappointing than bad, but against Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Tanner Roark and Adam Wainwright this week, he figures to take a step back from there.
Instead of: Solarte, Walker, Dustin Ackley

Third base

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

Start: Pablo Sandoval, Giants
Though still not hitting for his usual power, Sandoval has piled up singles in his last five games, batting .400 (8 for 20) with only two strikeouts. If it's a sign of him breaking out of his early-season funk, he's picked the right week. The Giants are in Colorado for three games and then host Minnesota for three, making Ricky Nolasco the best pitcher they'll face all week. He's not as promising as Solarte, of course, but at a thin position, he's usable.
Instead of: Brett Lawrie, Trevor Plouffe, Casey McGehee

Sit: Martin Prado, Diamondbacks
Though he's been getting more hits in recent days, Prado still hasn't made much of an impact this season, and while his track record says it's only a matter of time (it certainly was last year, when he hit .324 in the second half), his matchups this week won't help his cause. He's facing six righties, including Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, and Rafael Montero, and what little he's done this year has come against lefties, against whom he's 10 for 30.
Instead of: Solarte, Sandoval, Chase Headley

Shortstop

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

Five Worst Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Rangers SEA2, @DET4
2. Pirates BAL2, WAS4
3. Blue Jays @BOS3, OAK3
4. Reds @WAS3, STL3
5. Twins @SD2, @SF3

Start: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
A forgotten man this season after a disappointing 2013 campaign, Cabrera has started to perform more like the player who made the All-Star team in 2011 and 2012, batting .471 (16 for 34) with two homers, five doubles and a steal in his last eight games. Granted, he had his share of hot streaks last year as well, but once you get past the "too obvious" options at a weak position, you'll cling to whatever you can. His matchups against Chris Tillman, Bud Norris, Ubaldo Jimenez and Wei-Yin Chen should at least give him a chance to keep it going.
Instead of: Andrelton Simmons, J.J. Hardy, Xander Bogaerts

Sit: Jonathan Villar, Astros
Fittingly, as soon as I got on the Villar bandwagon, making him my "start" at this position last week, he began doing what he probably should have been doing all along: making out after out after out. He's 3 for 30 over his last nine games, his batting average falling to where you'd expect it to be for a player who strikes out every third at-bat. Expect no letup against Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Jered Weaver, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma this week.
Instead of: Asdrubal Cabrera, Everth Cabrera, Alcides Escobar

Outfield

Too obvious: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Gomez, Yasiel Puig, Shin-Soo Choo, Ryan Braun, Adam Jones, Justin Upton, Matt Holliday, Hunter Pence, Alex Rios, Jayson Werth, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Charlie Blackmon, Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Kemp, Michael Brantley, Brandon Moss, Wil Myers, Desmond Jennings, Michael Morse, Austin Jackson, Jason Heyward

Start: Seth Smith, Padres
Particularly with Carlos Quentin back, Smith probably isn't the safest long-term bet in Fantasy. A big reason why he's on everyone's radar now is because the Padres have faced only two left-handed pitchers in their last 14 games. He sat against both and figures to continue sitting against lefties going forward, but once again, the Padres face only one this week. With a .513 batting average and 1.526 OPS over his last 11 games, Smith is as hot as it gets right now and could keep it going against pitchers like Kevin Correia, Phil Hughes, Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta.
Instead of: George Springer, Nick Markakis, Marcell Ozuna

Sit: Chris Colabello, Twins
You know how Chris Parmelee's promotion has impacted Josmil Pinto's playing time? With the DH unavailable to the Twins for their five games in NL parks this week, it could impact Colabello's as well. Clearly encouraged by his .305 batting average and .920 OPS at Triple-Rochester, the Twins have started Parmelee against both lefties and righties so far, and he's justified it with his performance. Colabello, meanwhile, is 0 for 18 in his last six games and 8 for 69 (.116) in his last 18, so sending him to the bench isn't much of a stretch. Even if he plays, he'll face Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross and Madison Bumgarner in three of those five games.
Instead of: Smith, Brett Gardner, Torii Hunter

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
Mets' Jacob deGrom working on perfecting his curveball
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:42 am ET) Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom is working on perfecting his curveball this spring, according to the New York Post

"This spring is so different," deGrom said. "I can really come in here and work on things. Last year when I was over on the big league side, I didn’t throw my curveball one time because I was trying to make the team and prove I could get outs in spring training."

After experiencing some success in the majors, deGrom said he is more willing to work on stuff this time around. While he actually started using his curve more late last season, it seems like deGrom is going to work on perfecting the pitch during camp. 

"It’s a great pitch whether it be strike one or a strikeout pitch," deGrom said. "Talking to Gee, Wheeler and all those guys and see how they throw theirs and taking little bits of information from them and trying it in bullpens. Sometimes I throw it at 78 (mph) and that’s a big difference from the slider. It gets the hitter off balance."

deGrom, 26, posted a 2.69 ERA over 140 1/3 innings last season.


Rockies' Charlie Blackmon hoping for more consistency
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:15 am ET) Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon is hoping for more consistency in 2015, according to the Denver Post

Blackmon had a breakout season in 2014, but admits it's hard to be on every single game. "Last year, I swung the bat really well at certain times," he said. "But you go through a lot of ups and downs over 162 games, and that was a learning experience. I think that's going to help me this year."

Blackmon said his strong start made him a target for other teams, and that may have contributed to a slight slump during the season. Blackmon added that he's hoping to hit the ball to all fields this season.

Manager Walt Weiss is hoping Blackmon can deliver more of the same. "I don't know if he necessarily has to have an encore. I'm thinking more of the same," Weiss said. "I think Charlie would say that he wants to be more consistent."

The 28-year-old Blackmon hit .288/.335/.440 over 593 at-bats last year. 


Twins' Gibson feels 'a little more comfortable' with curveball
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:29 am ET) Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson surrendered one run on two hits and one walk in two innings while striking out two in his spring debut Thursday, using the outing to work on his curveball, the Associated Press reports.

"I felt really good," Gibson said. "I'm working on some stuff, and some stuff worked out that I was working on. I threw more curveballs than normal. That's what spring training's for. It's just fun to be able to work on a particular pitch. I feel a little more comfortable."

Gibson, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011, completed his first full major-league deal in 2014, going 13-12 with a 4.47 ERA and 107:57 K:BB ratio in 179 1/3 innings.


Blue Jays' Barton hoping his glove wins him a spot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) Blue Jays first baseman Daric Barton is hoping his glove can win him a spot on the 25-man roster, according to the Toronto Sun.

Barton isn't much of a power hitter, but gets strong marks for his defense at first. Manager John Gibbons is well aware of Barton's skills. "One thing that put Daric on the map was that he was such a disciplined hitter and a great defender," Gibbons said. He added that the first baseman is involved in a large chunk of plays, so defense at the position is probably more important than people realize.

With that said, Barton may need a trade to make the opening day roster. As currently constructed, the Blue Jays may carry three catchers. If the team retains Dioner Navarro, Barton could find himself in the minors.

The 29-year-old Barton hit .158 over 57 at-bats last year.


Pirates' Pedro Alvarez feeling comfortable at first
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:21 am ET) Pirates infielder Pedro Alvarez is feeling comfortable at first base, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

After playing third the past couple of seasons, Alvarez will transition to first base full-time in 2015. The 28-year-old is still getting used to the position, but he seems comfortable with the change.

"It’s just a matter of getting used to seeing the field from that point of view, get the reps in so that the responsibilities that come with playing the position become second nature," he said. "That’s just with time and repetitions."

Alvarez hit .231/.312/.405 over 398 at-bats last season. 


Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman gets strong marks at first
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:17 am ET) Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman received strong reviews after playing his first game at first base this spring, according to MLB.com.

"He is still in the stages of having to think about it out there, because it's not natural yet," manager Matt Williams said. "He looked fine. He has fantastic hands." Zimmerman was tested during the start, and had to make two scoops in order to prevent possible throwing errors. 

He's been taking extra practice at the position this spring, and was fairly happy with how his first game turned out. "You can do so many drills, exercises and things like that until you have to go out there and play," Zimmerman said. "So it's nice to have a few chances. The more I play over there, the more comfortable I will get. I feel fine."

Zimmerman, 30, hit .280/.342/.449 over 214 at-bats last year. 


Orioles' Brian Matusz tosses scoreless inning in return
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:09 am ET) Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz tossed a scoreless inning in his return to the mound.

Matusz came into camp dealing with a shoulder issue, but said he was pretty close to 100 percent. He allowed one hit during his one inning of work, and struck out one batter. Matusz is expected to open the season in the team's bullpen. 

The 28-year-old posted a 3.48 ERA over 51 2/3 innings last year.


Red Sox's Rusney Castillo wouldn't alter plan if sent down
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:06 am ET) Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo won't be upset if he winds up being sent down to the minors, according to the WEEI.

That's not a likely outcome, but with his recent oblique injury, there's a chance Castillo could fall behind the other outfielders on the roster. "To me it wouldn’t be anything that would alter my plan, or my attitude, or my perspective," he said. "If that’s what it’s got to be, that’s what it’s got to be. I’m just worrying playing and continuing to get reps and reps wherever they may come."

Castillo did note that he's feeling a lot better, and is expected to return in about a week. Castillo hit .333 over 36 at-bats in the majors last year. 


Red Sox's Jackie Bradley Jr. showing off new swing
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/5/2015) Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is showing off his new swing this spring, according to the Boston Herald

Bradley started working out at the team's facility in November, and started hitting in January. He worked with assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez for a good portion of the offseason. "Jackie was dedicated," Rodriguez said. "He listened, too. He was open to what we talked about."

Manager John Farrell has noticed the change in Bradley's approach. "In BP, to me, it seems like there’s more of a willingness to stay in the middle of the field and not look to lift a ball too much," Farrell said. "I think it’s more of his natural swing, which he was drafted with."

Bradley said his swing has been a "work in progress." While it doesn't appear Bradley has a starting role, his defense should make him a useful major-league asset.

The 24-year-old hit .198/.265/.266 over 384 at-bats last year. 

 


Molitor: Eduardo Escobar 'will be' important part of Twins in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/5/2015) Twins manager Paul Molitor marked infielder Eduardo Escobar as "an important part" of the team in 2014 and believes he will be the same this season, the Star Tribune reports.

"He was an important part of our team last year," Molitor said. "He will be this year, too."

Escobar delivered the best performance of his career in 2014, hitting .275/.315/.406 with six home runs and 37 RBI in 433 at-bats. However, he arrived at camp to learn he was in a competition for the shortstop role with last year's center fielder, Danny Santana. Breaking the news to Escobar was a delicate conversation for the manager.

"Obviously," Molitor said. "You’ve got a guy who came in and played every day for you last year, and then you’re thinking about doing something different. I’ve tried to explain it to him the best I could. His answers, at least for now, are, 'No problem. I understand.'"


 
 
 
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