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Fantasy First Pitch for Week 10

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We may be approaching Fantasy Week 10 (June 2-8), but this week's selection of two-start pitchers is far from a perfect "10." Unless your staff is led by Felix Hernandez or Clayton Kershaw, there's a good chance your ace won't be giving you a pair of starts this coming week.

The pool of two-start options has a larger selection of middle-of-the-rotation types like Jordan Zimmermann, Scott Kazmir and Alex Cobb, and you may have to be satisfied with letting them lead the way. It may be hard to compensate for the lack of quality with quantity, as there are likely to be few viable alternatives on waivers in standard mixed leagues. Of all the currently-scheduled two-start pitchers owned in fewer than 70 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com, only Jaime Garcia, Henderson Alvarez, Bartolo Colon and Charlie Morton have avoided inclusion in this week's "pitchers to avoid" list.

Must start two-start options
1. Felix Hernandez at NYY, at TB
2. Clayton Kershaw vs. CHW, at COL
3. Jordan Zimmermann vs. PHI, at SD
4. Anibal Sanchez vs. TOR, vs. BOS
5. Alex Cobb at MIA, vs. SEA
6. James Shields at STL, vs. NYY
7. Homer Bailey vs. SF, vs. PHI
8. Scott Kazmir at NYY, at BAL
9. C.J. Wilson at HOU, vs. CHW
10. Gerrit Cole at SD, vs. MIL

If you feel like your current rotation just isn't complete heading into June's first scoring period, you are probably better off picking up a one-start Francisco Liriano (at SD) than pulling a two-start Shelby Miller, Matt Garza or Jorge De La Rosa into an active roster spot. (Side note on De La Rosa: don't buy into his 1.17 WHIP. No matter how good the Rockies' infield defense may be, he won't continue to hold hitters to a .163 batting average on grounders.)

If you are an Andrew Cashner (elbow) or Taijuan Walker (shoulder) owner, you may actually gain a start without having to pick anybody up. According to MLB.com, Cashner may be ready to re-enter the Padres' rotation after pitching a simulated game Monday. If you were counting on Tim Stauffer for two starts this week, Cashner's return could spoil that. The chances for Walker's return next weekend are more remote, but the possibility still looms, so his status is worth tracking.

This week doesn't offer the most attractive list of borderline two-start options, but even risky types like Justin Masterson, Yovani Gallardo and Bartolo Colon have their appeal, given the limited alternatives. As usual, I'll review them in rank order, along with a mention of the comparable one-start options.

Monday's update: The Orioles flipped Ubaldo Jimenez with Bud Norris in their rotation, so with Jimenez now drawing a start in Tuesday's series opener at the Rangers, he will get two starts in Week 10, with Norris getting only one.

With the demotions of Liam Hendriks and Brett Oberholtzer, respectively, the Blue Jays and Astros have opted to return to a five-man rotation, and those moves give Drew Hutchison and Collin McHugh two-start weeks. Hutchison was also skipped in the just-completed weekend series with the Royals, and his re-entry into Toronto's rotation spoils what would have been a two-start week for R.A. Dickey.

Cashner will pitch a simulated game Monday, and he could be in line to return to the Padres this weekend. The Seattle Times reports that the Mariners will have Walker make at least two more rehab starts, so owners can keep him stashed for Week 10.

Two-Start Pitchers on the Bubble

11. John Lackey, BOS (at CLE, at DET)

Lackey would normally be a cinch to use in a two-start week, earning a spot on the must-start list. He misses it this week, though not by much, as he will face a lefty-loaded Indians lineup at Progressive Field, which is a very good power park for left-handed hitters, as well as the Tigers, who are simply a good power- hitting team. Lackey's 3.51 road ERA suggests that he isn't too risky to start in away games, but the .202 Isolated Power he has allowed on the road shows that he is also not entirely safe, especially with these particular matchups. However, even if Lackey gives up some long drives, he can still offer enough in strikeouts and WHIP to be worth starting.

Start Lackey over the following one-start pitchers: R.A. Dickey, Ervin Santana, Ian Kennedy

12. Ubaldo Jimenez, BAL (at TEX, vs. OAK)

Even with a pair of starts in which he failed to advance beyond five innings, Jimenez had a strong month of May. He struck out 38 batters over 34 2/3 innings and compiled a 58 percent ground ball rate (according to FanGraphs.com) on his way to a 3.12 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. While he has continued to be erratic in his ability to get swings and misses, Jimenez has developed some consistency in getting grounders, inducing nine or more in five of his last seven starts. He is once again safe to use in two-start weeks, at the very minimum.

Start Jimenez over the following one-start pitchers: R.A. Dickey, Ervin Santana, Ian Kennedy

13. Chris Archer, TB (at MIA, vs. SEA)

Archer started May off with a four-game stretch in which he seemingly forgot where the strike zone was, issuing 15 walks over 20 1/3 innings. Even during that slump, there was a scoreless 5 2/3-inning affair at the Angels and a five-inning start against the Orioles in which he threw 62 of 100 pitches for strikes and walked just one batter. In other words, the demise of Archer has been greatly exaggerated. He has bounced back with consecutive quality starts that produced 18 strikeouts and five unintentional walks in 12 innings. Even at his best, Archer's control hasn't been great this year, but given that he is getting strikeouts and avoiding extra-base hits (.091 Isolated Power allowed), you can live with a slightly-elevated walk rate.

Start Archer over the following one-start pitchers: Ervin Santana, Ian Kennedy, Doug Fister

14. Justin Masterson, CLE (vs. BOS, at TEX)

It would be hard to exaggerate how bad Masterson has been over his last five starts, yet here he is in the upper half of a list of borderline two-start pitchers. If not for this cold snap, Masterson would be an automatic start this week, and he has demonstrated enough upside -- even this season -- to deserve some benefit of the doubt. As of May 3, Masterson had 41 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings and an 11 percent whiff rate. He also had 16 walks at that point, which isn't such an impressive ratio, but it wasn't alarming either. Masterson's velocity has been down this year, but it didn't keep him from missing bats earlier in the season, so if he can pitch with better control, he should be effective enough to use. He has emerged from periods of poor control before, so in most mixed league formats, it's worth the gamble to start Masterson this week.

Start Masterson over the following one-start pitchers: Doug Fister, Wily Peralta, Phil Hughes

15. Jaime Garcia, STL (vs. KC, at TOR)

Two-start pitchers to avoid
24. Drew Hutchison at DET, vs. STL
25. Matt Garza vs. MIN, at PIT
26. Jake Arrieta vs. NYM, vs. MIA
27. Shelby Miller vs. KC, at TOR
28. Jorge De La Rosa vs. ARI, vs. LAD
29. Tim Lincecum at CIN, vs. NYM
30. Danny Duffy at STL, vs. NYY
31. Kyle Gibson at MIL, vs. HOU
32. Chase Anderson at COL, vs. ATL
33. Jake Peavy at CLE, at DET
34. Samuel Deduno at MIL, vs. HOU
35. Tim Stauffer vs. PIT, vs. WAS
36. David Phelps vs. SEA, at KC
37. Roberto Hernandez vs. NYM, at CIN
38. Joe Saunders vs. BAL, vs. CLE
39. Randy Wolf vs. TB, at CHC
40. David Buchanan at WAS, at CIN

Because of his chronic injury issues, many owners have grown weary of Garcia, but now that he is healthy and in the Carindals' rotation, he is looking like a solid Fantasy option again. Garcia has picked up where he left off, throwing strikes and getting ground balls. He is also throwing with his greatest velocity to date in his major league career, so just maybe, he can mainain the near-strikeout-per-inning pace (19 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings) he has established over his first three starts. Garcia has had double-digit whiff rates in each year of his career, so that's not an unthinkable scenario. Though the Blue Jays pose a threat to practically any starter, Garcia has enough going for him to be worth an active roster spot in his first two-start week in 2014.

Start Garcia over the following one-start pitchers: Wily Peralta, Phil Hughes, Trevor Bauer

16. Jose Quintana, CHW (at LAD, at LAA)

With Chris Sale getting pushed up to take Quintana's scheduled start on Sunday, Quintana loses his second start for Week 9, but gains a second start in Week 10. In gaining his ninth quality start in 11 tries earlier this week, Quintana continues to be a model of metronomic consistency. He rarely dominates, so with a pair of tough matchups, Quintana might appear vulnerable, but it's not as if he has benefitted from a favorable schedule. Among his quality starts are a pair of games against the Tigers and a visit to Coors Field. Quintana remains a safe, if unexciting, two-start option this week.

Start Quintana over the following one-start pitchers: Phil Hughes, Trevor Bauer, Kyle Lohse

17. Henderson Alvarez, MIA (vs. TB, at CHC)

Because of his extreme pitch-to-contact ways, Alvarez isn't always viable in standard mixed leagues, even with two starts. But because he is such a reliable inducer of ground balls, Alvarez can be worth using in two-start weeks with the right matchups. Facing the Cubs, who rank among the majors' lowest-scoring teams, and the power-deprived Rays constitutes having "the right matchups." The biggest threat to Alvarez's value this week would be his health, as he was pulled early from his most recent outing with stiffness in his pitching elbow, but he doesn't appear to be in danger of getting skipped in the Marlins' rotation.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Alvarez: Doug Fister, Wily Peralta, Phil Hughes

18. Hiroki Kuroda, NYY (vs. OAK, at KC)

Plenty of pitchers are prone to the gopher ball at Yankee Stadium, but prior to this season, Kuroda hadn't been one of them. After yielding 20 homers in 220 1/3 innnings over the last two years in the Bronx, Kuroda has already allowed seven home runs in just 35 1/3 home innings. Given that he is no less of a ground ball pitcher than he was a year ago, at some point Kuroda's home run rate and ERA are due to plummet. That will be good news for Fantasy owners, but not necessarily this week. While a visit to the Royals should result in a productive start for Kuroda, the slugging A's present a major challenge for any pitcher, much less one pitching at Yankee Stadium.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Kuroda: Wily Peralta, Phil Hughes, Jered Weaver

19. Zack Wheeler, NYM (at CHC, at SF)

Wheeler has started to dig out from under a six-start run in which he walked 22 batters over 32 2/3 innings, which put his season-to-date ERA at 4.53 and his WHIP at 1.60 on May 13. He has issued only one walk over his last two starts combined, and Wheeler's improved control actually dates back to three starts ago, when he threw 63 of 89 pitches for strikes against the Nationals. However, Wheeler's two most recent opponents, the Phillies and Diamondbacks, may not offer the best test of whether he has truly overcome his control issues. The Diamondbacks rarely take a walk, and the Phillies are generally prone to swing at pitches that would otherwise be balls. Throw a Giants lineup that has been one of the more potent ones this season onto Wheeler's Week 10 schedule, and it's not a given that he will continue his recent progress.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Wheeler: Phil Hughes, Jered Weaver Trevor Bauer

20. Charlie Morton, PIT (at SD, vs. MIL)

This is about as good as it gets for Morton, who has struggled mightily with control at times this season and has allowed a higher OBP (.340) than slugging percentage (.331). The Padres and Brewers don't walk much, and neither lineup is loaded with fearsome lefty threats. Morton has actually limited left-handed hitters to a .213 batting average this season, but should he revert to his prior form (career .309 batting average allowed to lefties), his matchups should be reassuring. He doesn't offer much upside, but Morton can usually help with ERA, and he shouldn't be a liability to your WHIP this week.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Morton: Kyle Lohse , Tyler Skaggs, Jason Hammel

21. Collin McHugh, HOU (vs. LAA, at MIN)

McHugh continued his surprising run last week, tossing seven shutout innings against the Royals with nine strikeouts and no walks. He has had few problems getting whiffs, even against a superb contact-hitting team like the Royals, but that matchup wasn't a good test to see how much of a problem his flyball tendencies could be. So far, McHugh has held hitters to a .287 slugging percentage, but that seems far too good to last. The Twins shouldn't pose too much of a challenge, but even though McHugh held the Angels to three singles and an Albert Pujols solo home run in a start two weeks ago, he could fare much worse this time around.

Start the following one-start pitchers over McHugh: Kyle Lohse , Tyler Skaggs, Jason Hammel

22. Yovani Gallardo, MIL (vs. MIN, at PIT)

Gallardo overcame a 61 percent strikes thrown rate in April with a combination of good luck in the form of a 90 percent strand rate (per FanGraphs.com) and a .264 BABIP. Since then, his control has worsened, and his ERA has risen from 1.91 to 3.56. Though Gallardo hurts his own chances for success with too many walks and not enough swings-and-misses, he does have high ground ball and called strike rates going for him. In most weeks, that would not be enough to recommend Gallardo as a two-start option, but with a pair of opponents who rank in the lower half of all teams in runs scored, he could make it worth your while to sit one of your lesser one-start pitchers.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Gallardo: Tyler Skaggs, Jason Hammel, Francisco Liriano

23. Bartolo Colon, NYM (at PHI, at SF)

Colon's overall stats (4.73 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) could be misleading, as he has registered quality starts in seven out of 10 tries. In those three sub-quality starts, Colon has allowed 22 earned runs on 32 hits over 15 1/3 innings. It just so happens that two of those three starts came against the teams who have arguably been his toughest opponents: the Rockies and Angels. The Giants also boast one of the majors' better lineups, so even though Colon will get to pitch at AT&T Park, that could be a difficult assignment for him this week. Colon just may have a very productive scoring period, but as his three bad starts have shown, there is significant downside here.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Colon: Jason Hammel, Francisco Liriano, Aaron Harang

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
Hanley Ramirez looking at Sunday return
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:34 pm ET) Dodgers infielder Hanley Ramirez is looking at a Sunday return, according to the Los Angeles Times

Ramirez has been sidelined since August 8 due to an oblique injury. Manager Don Mattingly said he expects Ramirez to be good to go Sunday. Ramirez has hit .277/.367/.455 over 354 at-bats. 


Joaquin Benoit believes he'll avoid the disabled list
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:31 pm ET) Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit believes he'll avoid a stint on the disabled list, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Benoit was able to throw a bullpen session prior to Thursday's game. He said the session went well, and doesn't think he'll need to spend time on the DL. Benoit has a 1.64 ERA over 49 1/3 innings. 


Garrett Richards potentially still worth keeping
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7:30 pm ET) What a sad day for Garrett Richards and his Fantasy owners. What an unfortunate end to a brilliant season that probably hasn't gotten the pub it deserved.

He was the ace for the best team in baseball at the time of his injury. And because his breakthrough was so unexpected, he was a waiver claim in most Fantasy leagues. With that kind of production at that low of a cost -- and from a dual-eligible pitcher, no less -- you could argue Richards was the most valuable player in Fantasy for the 5 1/2 months he was healthy.

But now, he's not -- and because an injury no one would have expected. We've all learned to brace ourselves for the next torn up elbow, but not knee -- not for a pitcher, anyway -- which means we don't really know what comes next. The timetable for Richards is 6-9 months, which is an extremely wide range. It gives him some hope of returning by opening day but also allows for him to miss up to half the season.

My guess he misses some time -- enough to diminish his keeper value in a league where you keep just a handful of players, and all on equal terms. But if you keep as many as one-third of your players, and you keep them relative to what they cost you, again, given the price tag for Richards coming into the year, I'd hold on to him.


Oliver Perez hit with the loss Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:29 pm ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Oliver Perez was hit with a loss Thursday against the Nationals.

Perez entered a tie game in the eighth inning, and was able to hold the Nationals scoreless for an inning. He came out to start the ninth, but was pulled after giving up a single to Denard Span. Span would steal second against Evan Marshall, and came around to score on a throwing error for the walkoff win. Perez was charged with the run and the loss. He dropped to 2-3.


Salvador Perez's MRI comes back clean
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:25 pm ET) An MRI on Royals catcher Salvador Perez came back clean, according to MLB.com.

Perez has been dealing with knee issues, but both he and manager Ned Yost have been adamant the injury is not serious. Perez first complained of tightness Monday, but played in Tuesday's game. He was held out Wednesday, though, and the club decided to send him for an MRI. Perez is hitting .268/.304/.417 over 441 at-bats.


Hyun-Jin Ryu able to throw bullpen session Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:19 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu was able to throw a bullpen session Thursday, according to MLB.com.

Ryu is working his way back from a glut injury. He's not expected to go on a rehab assignment. Ryu has been sidelined since August 13 due to the injury. He has a 3.28 ERA over 137 1/3 innings. 


Rafael Soriano picks up rare win Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:12 pm ET) Nationals closer Rafael Soriano picked up a rare win Thursday against the Diamondbacks. 

Soriano entered with the game tied, and was able to get through the inning without giving up any runs. He did issue a walk, but worked out of trouble with an inning-ending double play. Soriano was the beneficiary of the Nationals hot stretch. In the bottom of the inning, the Nats were able to mount a comeback, scoring on a throwing error to end the game. With the win, Soriano improved to 4-1. 


More reason to like Steve Pearce again
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7:10 pm ET) I've wondered allowed if Steve Pearce's recent turnaround could be a sign of things to come and more than once compared him to Brandon Moss, thinking he could be another late-bloomer if only he'd get the chance.

Based on what CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman said on Thursday's Fantasy Baseball Today, he absolutely will.

The video goes into more detail, of course, but to summarize, the Orioles really like Pearce. They believe in him, which doesn't explain the way they used him in July, but whatever, it's a new month.

Considering he hit .336 with a 1.003 OPS over a two-month span earlier this season and .294 with an .893 over nine minor-league seasons, I'm willing to take a flier on him if I need a corner infielder or a late-season power boost.


Gio Gonzalez tosses fantastic start, but can't win
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:07 pm ET) Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez turned in a fantastic start Thursday against the Diamondbacks. 

Gonzalez allowed four hits over seven scoreless innings. He struck out six and walked three during the outing. Gonzalez did a good job limiting the Diamondbacks early. He was able to get through the first two innings by facing the minimum six batters. He did allow a hit in the second, but got out of it with a double-play. Gonzalez was also challenged in the third, putting the first two men on. After a sac bunt moved them into scoring position, Gonzalez was able to keep them from scoring. He loaded the bases in the fifth inning, but was able to get Cliff Pennington to pop out to end the threat. 

Gonzalez was matched by Wade Miley throughout the start, and ultimately wound up with a no-decision. He'll take on the Phillies in his next start.


Wade Miley struggles with control, but manages good start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:02 pm ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley struggled with his control Thursday, but still managed a strong start.

Miley allowed eight hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out four and walked six during the outing. Wiley worked his way out of trouble a number of times during the game. The Nationals put two men on base in each of the first three innings, but Miley kept them from scoring. Miley was able to pitch out of a bases-loaded situation in the fifth, striking out Adam LaRoche. He again escaped the sixth after putting two men on base. 

Miley went up against Gio Gonzalez, who kept Arizona off the scoreboard. Miley picked up a no-decision for his efforts. He’ll take on the Dodgers in his next start.


 
 
 
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