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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
Twins' Byron Buxton named No. 1 prospect by MLB.com
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:00 am ET) Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was named the top prospect in baseball by MLB.com Friday.

Buxton played just 31 games in 2014 due to wrist and concussion issues and finished with a .240/.313/.405 line along with four home runs, 16 RBI and six stolen bases in 121 at-bats with high Class A Fort Myers. He also went 0 for 3 at the Double-A level. Buxton is making his second straight appearance atop MLB.com's top prospect list.

The rest of MLB.com's top-five prospects (in order) are Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, Astros shotstop Carlos Correa, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and Cubs shortstop Addison Russell. None of the quartet appeared in the top five of last year's MLB.com prospect list, though all four cracked the top 12.


Red Sox designate Drake Britton for assignment
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Red Sox designated pitcher Drake Britton for assignment Friday, clearing a roster spot for pitcher Alexi Ogando.

Britton appeared in seven games with the Red Sox in 2014, tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out four batters and walking two. He posted a 5.86 ERA and 37:38 K:BB ratio in 58 1/3 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket.


Peter Moylan 'doing fantastic' in return from Tommy John
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Free-agent pitcher Peter Moylan indicated Friday that he's "doing fantastic" in his return from his second Tommy John surgery, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"I’m doing fantastic, mate. Dropped 35 pounds," Moylan said. “My goal is to be 100 percent by end of spring. Ball is coming out great, though. Probably have to throw for some teams right around the start of spring to gauge interest, but there have already been some nibbles, which is encouraging."

Moylan underwent the procedure last March after receiving a non-roster invitation from the Astros. He's throwing from about 70 percent strength off a mound and in the process of deciding whether to sign a a deal in the near future or after the season begins. He hopes to resume pitching in the big leagues by midseason at the earliest.

Moylan has made 309 appearances since debuting in 2006, compiling a 21-9 record, 2.80 ERA and 213:121 K:BB ratio in 276 innings.


Braves' Shelby Miller: Sinker is 'going to take me to the next level'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Braves starting pitcher Shelby Miller had an up-and-down season with the Cardinals in 2014. He began the season by going 6-2 with a 2.79 ERA before going 2-7 with a 5.11 ERA over his next 16 appearances (15 starts).

Miller, however, was able to finish the season on a high note, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and .190 opponents' batting average over his final seven starts. Miller attributes his success down the stretch to incorporating a sinker into his repertoire, per FOX Sports South.

"I said I'm going to throw some of these, and we'll see where it's at," Miller said of a conversation he had with catcher A.J. Pierzynski before an Aug. 23 start against the Phillies. "It felt good so we just went with it. I started throwing it literally within three days. It's a good pitch that I picked up quick.

"I still need a lot of work with it. I need a lot of work with all my pitches. There's all sorts of ways to get better. But I think that's definitely a pitch that will help me be more efficient and take me deeper into games. That's [the sinker] going to be a huge pitch for me this year that's ultimately going to take me to the next level. Not only that but kind of mixing it all together, becoming more of a complete pitcher more than a thrower."

Miller added he will also begin to work more on his changeup, which he threw just 2.2 percent of the time in 2014, per FanGraphs.com.

"I know [Braves pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] has been known for changeups," Miller said. "A lot of great pitchers have come through this organization, [and] that's a pitch I would love to pick up. I want to be able to throw it more consistently, [and] have a little bit more confidence in it."


Scott Baker agrees to minor-league deal with Yankees
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Yankees agreed to a minor-league deal with pitcher Scott Baker, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. If Baker makes the major-league roster, he will be paid $1.5 million.

Baker made 25 appearances (eight starts) for the Rangers in 2014, going 3-4 with a 5.47 ERA. He had 55 strikeouts in 80 2/3 innings.


Rockies designate Jayson Aquino for assignment
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) After completing a two-team trade Friday, the Rockies decided to designate Jayson Aquino for assignment, the team announced.

Aquino spent 2014 bouncing around the minor league, pitching in 18 games with a 5.13 ERA in 107 innings pitched. He went 5-10 with 83 strikeouts in stints with both Double-A Tulsa and Class A Modesto.


Report: Red Sox express willingness to trade Edward Mujica
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Red Sox have expressed a willingness to trade reliever Edward Mujica, a source told FOX Sports. The right-handed reliever is set to make $4.75 million in 2015.

Mujica, who was an All-Star with St. Louis in 2013, went 2-4 with a 3.90 ERA and eight saves in his first season with Boston in 2014.


Orioles 1B/OF Steve Pearce agrees to $3.7M salary for 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Orioles avoided arbitration with outfielder/first baseman Steve Pearce, agreeing to a $3.7 million salary for 2015, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Pearce reportedly filed for $5.4 million, while the Orioles reportedly offered $2 million.

Pearce is coming off his best season as a major leaguer, batting .293 with a .373 on-base percentage, .556 slugging percentage, .930 OPS, 21 home runs, 26 doubles and 49 RBI in 102 games.


Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is 'staying put'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) A team source told CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman that Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is "staying put."  Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told FOX Sports earlier in the week that it is "highly, highly unlikely" Tulowitzki will be traded before opening day.

Tulowitzki, who has been linked to trade rumors involving the Mets this offseason, is under contract through 2020 on a six-year, $118 million deal. He is also recovering from August hip surgery.


Red Sox agree to deal with pitcher Alexi Ogando
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Red Sox have agreed to a deal with pitcher Alexi Ogando, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. It is a one-year, $1.5 million contract, which includes $1.5 million in bonuses, according to USA Today.

Ogando has been a free agent since being non-tendered by the Rangers in December. Ogando made just 27 relief appearances in 2014 due to an elbow injury. He went 2-3 with a 6.84 ERA.

Ogando, who was an All-Star in 2011, also has experience starting at the major-league level, going 19-12 with a 3.40 ERA in 48 career starts.


 
 
 
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