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Fantasy First Pitch for Week 8

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This week's two-start pitchers run the gamut from Madison (Bumgarner) to Franklin (Morales), but there are enough quality options who are likely to be available either on your bench or waivers that you could revolutionize your rotation.

Ian Kennedy and Francisco Liriano both make this week's "must-start" list, even though both hurlers are benched in at least 25 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com.

Must start two-start options
1. Adam Wainwright vs. ARI, at CIN
2. Masahiro Tanaka at CHC, at CHW
3. Stephen Strasburg vs. CIN, at PIT
4. Julio Teheran vs. MIL, vs. COL
5. Justin Verlander at CLE, vs. TEX
6. Hisashi Iwakuma at TEX, vs. HOU
7. Mike Minor vs. MIL, vs. COL
8. Madison Bumgarner at COL, vs. MIN
9. Ian Kennedy vs. MIN, vs. CHC
10. Francisco Liriano vs. BAL, vs. WAS
11. Garrett Richards vs. HOU, vs. KC

Of the 12 pitchers on this week's "bubble" list, only Corey Kluber and Wily Peralta are activated in more than 70 percent of our leagues, and four of these borderline options are still available as free agents in at least 20 percent of our leagues. This week looks like it could be an especially good one for switching things up a little more than usual in your rotation.

Heading into the weekend, it also appears that none of the must-start or bubble pitchers are in danger of losing their two-start status. A couple of prospects -- the Blue Jays' Marcus Stroman and the Marlins' Anthony Desclafani -- could actually join the ranks of two-start pitchers. While neither is the safest choice for standard mixed league owners, each could benefit owners in deeper leagues, so owners in those formats should watch the developments in Toronto and Miami over the weekend.

Alex Cobb (oblique) is on course to return this week against the Athletics, so his Saturday rehab start bears watching. Not only do Cobb's owners need to monitor this situation, but so do Jake Odorizzi's, as he could lose his second start should Cobb return. Chris Sale (elbow) is not likely to return in Fantasy Week 8 (May 19-25), but should he be ready after Friday's rehab start, he would likely knock Andre Rienzo off the two-start pitchers list.

Each of the dozen borderline two-start options has some value for owners in standard mixed leagues, but some are more trustworthy than others. With one-quarter of the season in the books, some interesting trends have developed for most of these pitchers, and I'll review them and explain what they mean for each pitcher's value for the week ahead.

Monday update: The weekend's events created some turnover on the this week's two-start pitchers list. Miguel Gonzalez, Anthony Desclafani and J.A. Happ are now slated for two starts, while Yordano Ventura, Drew Smyly and Wei-Yin Chen are now scheduled to make only one start. Smyly's removal from the list is particularly worth noting, as many owners had already claimed and activated him for his apparent two- start week. However, with Rick Porcello getting moved back due to a side injury (and Robbie Ray getting re- inserted into the rotation to spot start for him), Smyly got his second start bumped to Fantasy Week 9 (May 26-June 1). With just a single start at the Indians, Smyly is now just a last-resort option in standard mixed leagues.

Cobb appears due to return to make one start this week, though the Rays have yet to announce when that will happen. It seems likely that Cesar Ramos will lose his spot in the rotation, but if not, Jake Odorizzi could lose his second start for Week 8. Sale will make at least one more rehab start, according to the Chicago Tribune, so he won't be making an appearance for the White Sox this week. Hyun-Jin Ryu is scheduled to return Wednesday at the Mets, so he is a recommended start in standard mixed leagues. Stroman, who was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo on Sunday, obviously won't be making a start, much less two, so he needs to be stashed.

Two-Start Pitchers on the Bubble

12. Corey Kluber, CLE (vs. DET, at BAL)

With his nine-strikeout performance at the Blue Jays on Wednesday, Kluber racked up at least eight Ks for the fourth time in his last five starts and for the fifth time this season. Given that Kluber rarely hands out walks, he would seem to have emerged as a must-start pitcher, whether with one start or two. However, he sports a very ordinary 1.28 WHIP, and that's not necessarily the result of bad luck. Kluber has a fluky- looking .364 BABIP, but it may not regress as much as you might expect, as he has been prone to allowing line drives at a high rate in each of his three seasons as a starter. The pattern has persisted long enough for me to keep Kluber off the must-start list -- though just by a little -- for the coming week.

Start Kluber over the following one-start pitchers: Andrew Cashner, Tony Cingrani, Marco Estrada

13. Doug Fister, WAS (vs. CIN, at PIT)

Following up on a shaky season debut at the Athletics, Fister looked more like his old self on Wednesday at the Diamondbacks, limiting the Snakes to one run on five hits and no walks in seven innings. It was classic Fister, as he got plenty of called strikes and got grounders when his opponents swung and connected. That formula worked well for Fister in each of the previous three seasons, but in case you think he may have benefitted from a favorable matchup, he does draw two teams this week who rank in the lower third in runs scored. Most likely, he doesn't need the help, and he'll be useful to start in every two-start week.

Start Fister over the following one-start pitchers: John Lackey, Scott Kazmir, Tyson Ross

14. Dallas Keuchel, HOU (at LAA, at SEA)

If you had put me in a time machine and sent me back to mid-April, then told me I would soon be recommending Keuchel as a two-start pitcher, I wouldn't have believed you. Just eight starts into the season, Keuchel has made a believer out of me. He has been solid or better in each of his last seven starts and backed up his Fantasy stats with a 12.1 percent whiff rate, 1.9 BB/9 ratio and a 66 percent ground ball rate. If you took the best parts of Marco Estrada and Charlie Morton and transplanted them into a lefty, this is what you'd get. It's a combination that makes Keuchel worth starting almost every week, as long as he keeps this going.

Start Keuchel over the following one-start pitchers: Lance Lynn, Nathan Eovaldi, Gerrit Cole

15. Trevor Bauer, CLE (vs. DET, at BAL)

Bauer is finally up for more than a spot start, and better yet, his first week as a regular member of the Indians' rotation this season provides him with two starts. With a 63 percent strikes thrown rate at Triple-A Columbus (according to StatCorner.com), it would appear that Bauer has ironed out his control issues at last, though he has posted a less-than-impressive 9.2 percent whiff rate and 8.6 K/9. If Bauer has to sacrifice some strikeouts in order to have control, it's a bargain that's worth striking, but owners shouldn't expect a humungous strikeout total, now that he is facing major leaguers. Though he has two opportunities to collect Ks, he will face the Tigers and Orioles, and neither team strikes out much.

Start Bauer over the following one-start pitchers: Nathan Eovaldi, Gerrit Cole, Jeff Samardzija

16. Wily Peralta, MIL (at ATL, at MIA)

Two-start pitchers to avoid
24. Jake Odorizzi vs. NYY, at SD
25. Yovani Gallardo at ATL, at MIA
26. Anthony Desclafani vs. PHI, vs. MIL
27. Mike Leake at WAS, vs. STL
28. Jason Vargas vs. CHW, at LAA
29. Colby Lewis vs. SEA, at DET
30. Scott Feldman at LAA, at SEA
31. Andre Rienzo at KC, vs. NYY
32. J.A. Happ at BOS, vs. OAK
33. Scott Carroll at KC, vs. NYY
34. Franklin Morales vs. SF, at ATL
35. Felix Doubront vs. TOR, at TB

With just one walk over 13 innings in his last two starts, Peralta's makeover as a control pitcher is showing some staying power, but his ability to induce whiffs and grounders has abandoned him. Peralta got only two swinging strikes off his slider in his most recent start and none in his prior start, and according to BrooksBaseball.net, he got very little horizontal movement on the pitch in his most recent outing. It's a minor red flag, and with the whiff-happy Braves and Marlins on his plate this week, Peralta could get his K-rate moving in the right direction again.

Start Peralta over the following one-start pitchers: Nathan Eovaldi, Gerrit Cole, Jeff Samardzija

17. Drew Pomeranz, OAK (at TB, at TOR)

Since replacing Dan Straily in the A's rotation just over a week ago, the only thing that Fantasy owners can fault Pomeranz for is not going beyond five innings in either of his starts. He has yet to allow a run or an extra-base hit as a starter, and he has struck out 13 batters while walking just two. Pomeranz had also been effective over his nine relief appearances, but over those outings, we could see some of the potential pitfalls of relying on him. He threw only 61 percent of his pitches for strikes and had allowed a couple of homers over 13 2/3 innings. That's not a big sample, but poor control and moderate ground ball tendencies were hallmarks of his Rockies career. The latter shouldn't hurt Pomeranz much in his home starts (or at pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field this week), but his visit to Toronto could bring back some bad memories from his time in the Mile High City.

Start Pomeranz over the following one-start pitchers: Jeff Samardzija , Hyun-Jin Ryu , Justin Masterson

18. Josh Beckett, LAD (at NYM, at PHI)

After failing to go deep into games earlier in the season, Beckett has been both effective and durable over his last four starts, posting a 2.28 ERA over 27 2/3 innings. Beckett has been both good and lucky over that stretch, notching 24 strikeouts and a 10 percent whiff rate, but he has also benefitted from a .233 BABIP. Even with more hits likely to fall in future starts, Beckett might not hurt your team's WHIP, but he can be vulnerable to extra-base hits, as a .200 opponents' Isolated Power over his recent stretch shows. If either the Mets or Phillies were good power-hitting teams, Beckett might not have made the cut for this week's bubble list, but he just might get away with middling ground ball tendenies and mediocre control this week.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Beckett: Jeff Samardzija, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Justin Masterson

19. Bronson Arroyo, ARI (at STL, at NYM)

Arroyo's rebound from an early-season slump just keeps getting better, as he has pitched successively deeper into each of his last five starts. That trend is about to reverse, as Arroyo tossed a complete game in his last start against the Nationals, but with three straight starts of seven innings or more, he appears back to being the efficient innings-eater he was with the Reds. Arroyo's finesse only takes him so far in Fantasy; he is still too much of a contact pitcher to use in most one-start weeks. In a two-start week that includes the National League's two worst power-hitting teams, Arroyo is a safe, if unspectacular, option.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Arroyo: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Justin Masterson, C.J. Wilson

20. Rafael Montero, NYM (vs. LAD, vs. ARI)

Montero walked away from Wednesday's major league debut against the Yankees with a quality start, and his prospect status and minor league track record would seem to recommend him as a solid choice for Fantasy owners in his first-ever two-start week. Control has never been a major issue for Montero, and during brief stints in the Eastern and Florida State Leagues, he showed promise as a strikeout pitcher. His strikeout rate dipped once advancing to the Pacific Coast League, and throughout his minor league career, Montero had never shown much of a knack for inducing grounders. That's what makes his five swinging strikes and 14 flyballs against the Yankees concerning. There's enough upside here to make Montero an intriguing two-start option, but his inexperience and uneven profile make him a risky one as well.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Montero: C.J. Wilson, Robbie Erlin, Jesse Chavez

21. Jason Hammel, CHC (vs. NYY, at SD)

Hammel is no stranger to inconsistency, but his most recent start ended a string of strong outings that dates all the way back to his season debut. He has walked more than two batters in a start only once (and that was a three-walk game) and has gotten at least nine swinging strikes in six of his eight starts. A lack of foul balls has probably cost Hammel some strikeouts, but he is once again showing the potential to be an above-average strikeout pitcher. Hammel is still not getting grounders like he did in his 2012 career year with the Orioles, but at least for his upcoming start against the Padres, that shouldn't hurt him too much. He is nowhere near as good as his 0.91 WHIP would suggest, but Hammel is showing enough encouraging signs to be worth using as a last-resort option in standard mixed leagues.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Hammel: C.J. Wilson, Robbie Erlin, Jesse Chavez

22. A.J. Burnett, PHI (at MIA, vs. LAD)

Though we are only seven weeks into the season, Burnett has already gone through three distinct phases. He began the year miserably, pitching with no signs of control. Then Burnett ran off a string of four consecutive quality starts in which he walked two or fewer batters in each outing while striking out close to a batter per inning. In his last two starts, Burnett's control has gone missing yet again, though he has continued to miss bats. As with Hammel, inconsistency is nothing new to Burnett, but there has been enough good so far to earn him a spot on this list, if just barely. If you're looking for an encouraging sign, the Dodgers are among the teams most prone to swinging at pitches outside the strike zone.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Burnett: Jesse Chavez, Dan Haren, Tyler Skaggs

23. Miguel Gonzalez, BAL (at PIT, vs. CLE)

With a 4.76 ERA, Gonzalez might not look like a viable two-start pitcher, but if not for the seven home runs he has allowed in 39 2/3 innings, he would appear to be much more intriguing. Over his career, Gonzalez has been far more prone to allowing homers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards than on the road, as one would expect. His first start of the week will be against the Pirates at pitcher-friendly PNC Park, so owners will be able to enjoy the benefits of Gonzalez's enhanced strikeout rate (7.9 K/9) without the usual home run risk. His second start is at home, but against an Indians lineup that lacks home run thump. Especially since Gonzalez is a relatively late addition to this list, he is highly available and could provide a nice return as a last-second free agent pickup.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Gonzalez: Dan Haren, Tyler Skaggs, Jonathon Niese

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
Ryan Vogelsong twirls a gem vs. Brewers
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:35 am ET) Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong twirled a gem and received more than enough run support Friday night against the Brewers, scattering two runs on four hits over seven innings to improve to 8-9 on the season. He struck out seven and walked one in a 13-2 victory.

Over his last four starts covering 23 1/3 innings, Vogelsong has allowed nine earned runs. He owns a 3.73 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP over 27 starts (157 innings). His next start will come Wednesday against Colorado at Coors Field.

Wily Peralta gets roughed up in loss to Giants
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:35 am ET) Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta had a tough start Friday against the Giants.

Peralta gave up six runs on nine hits over three innings. He struck out one and walked two during the outing. Peralta got himself in trouble immediately. After recording one out in the first inning, Peralta allowed four straight singles. By the end of the inning, three runs had come across for the Giants. The issues continued in the second. San Francisco started the inning with a single and a double. Both runs would come around to score. Peralta would go on to give up his final run on a single the following inning.

With the loss, Peralta fell to 15-9. He’ll take on the Cubs in his next start.

Andrew Cashner stays sharp in no-decision
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:25 am ET) Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner turned in a strong start Friday against the Dodgers.

Cashner allowed one run on six hits over six innings. He struck out eight and did not issue any walks during the outing. Cashner was fantastic over the first two innings, striking out four without giving up a hit. That streak ended in the third, as Cashner gave up two singles to open the inning. Hanley Ramirez wound up hitter a run-scoring double, driving in the only run against Cashner. Cashner was able to get through his final three innings of work without giving up another run.

Cashner wasn't a factor into the decision. He’ll take on the Diamondbacks in his next start.

Dan Haren settles for no-decision vs. Padres
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:23 am ET) Dodgers pitcher Dan Haren tossed a quality start Friday against the Padres.

Haren gave up two runs, one earned, on five hits over six innings. He struck out three and walked one during the outing. Haren’s first run came as the result of an error. In the second inning, Haren walked the leadoff man. The second batter of the inning would reach on a throwing error by Dee Gordon, advancing the leadoff man to third. A sac fly would plate that run and give Haren the early deficit. The Dodgers would tie the game up the following inning, but Haren couldn’t hold on. With two outs in the fourth, Haren gave up three straight singles. The final hit wound up driving in a run.

Haren wasn't a factor into the decision. He’ll take on the Nationals in his next start.

Cory Rasmus will get the starting nod Saturday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:15 am ET) Angels pitcher Cory Rasmus will get the starting nod Saturday against the A's, according to the Orange County Register. Rasmus has posted a 2.68 ERA over 37 innings this season out of the bullpen. He has not pitched three innings or thrown more than 51 pitches in an outing this season.

Felix Hernandez gives up four home runs Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:08 am ET) Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez had a rough start Friday against the Nationals.

Hernandez allowed five runs on 10 hits over seven innings. He struck out one and walked one during the outing. Home runs were a major issue for Hernandez. For the first time in his career, Hernandez gave up four home runs in one game. Anthony Rendon got things started in the first inning, hitting a solo shot off Hernandez. Jason Werth would take Hernandez deep for a two-run shot in the third. In the fourth, two other Nationals got into the act. Both Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos clubbed solo shots, putting five runs on the board against Hernandez. Despite the rough start, he gave the Mariners seven innings.

With the loss, Hernandez fell to 13-5. He’ll take on the Athletics in his next start. 


Jordan Zimmermann wins his 10th game Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:07 am ET) Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann turned in a strong start Friday against the Mariners.

Zimmermann allowed two runs on seven hits over six innings. He struck out eight and issued one walk during the appearance. Zimmermann was tagged for both runs early. After picking up a strikeout for the first out of the game, Zimmermann allowed a triple against Dustin Ackley. After a walk to Robinson Cano, Zimmermann gave up two run-scoring singles. He was able to get things together after a visit to the mound. Zimmermann would make it through the next six innings without surrendering another run.

With the win, Zimmermann improved to 10-5. He’ll take on the Dodgers in his next start. 


Jered Weaver stays dominant in win over Athletics
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:03 am ET) Angels pitcher Jered Weaver dominated the Athletics on Friday, scattering only three hits over sevens shutout frames to improve to 15-7 on the year. He struck out three and walked three in a 4-0 victory.

Over his last two starts covering 13 2/3 innings, Weaver has allowed three earned runs. He owns a 3.57 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP over 29 starts (181 1/3 innings). His next start will come Thursday at Minnesota.

Jon Lester hit with tough-luck loss Friday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:02 am ET) Athletics pitcher Jon Lester put together another solid start on Friday but was hit with a tough-luck loss against the Angels in Anaheim. The left-hander permitted three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits and one walk while striking out five over six innings of a 4-0 defeat.

Over his last two starts covering 13 innings, Lester has allowed only three earned runs. He owns a 2.55 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP over 27 starts (183 2/3 innings). His next start will come Wednesday at home against Seattle.

Addison Reed picks up a save Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:41 am ET) Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed picked up his 31st save Friday against the Rockies.

Reed entered with a three-run lead, and shut the door. He faced three batters during the outing. Reed notched two strikeouts and picked up one groundout during the appearance. 


 
 
 
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