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Fantasy First Pitch for Week 11

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Usually when sifting through the borderline two-start options for the coming week, there are at least a handful of highly enticing pickups. Whether they're pitchers quietly building a hot streak or primed to capitalize on favorable matchups or venues, this column normally features a variety of hurlers capable of inspiring dreams of a winning week ahead.

Fantasy Week 11 (June 9-15) is not shaping up to be one of those weeks. Of the 12 pitchers bridging the must-start and must-avoid options, only Ryan Vogelsong has a profile or a schedule that truly engenders confidence. Even the other pitchers who populate the upper half of the borderline list have either an upcoming start or a recent track record that is close to terrifying. Marco Estrada with a home start? Oof. Jesse Chavez against the slugging Angels? Yikes. Francisco Liriano versus the strike zone? Tell me when it's safe to look.

Must start two-start options
1. Masahiro Tanaka at SEA, at OAK
2. Stephen Strasburg at SF, at STL
3. David Price vs. SEA, at HOU
4. Madison Bumgarner vs. WAS, vs. COL
5. Hisashi Iwakuma vs. NYY, vs. TEX
6. Corey Kluber at KC, at BOS
7. Garrett Richards vs. OAK, at ATL
8. Doug Fister at SF, at STL
9. Mike Minor at COL, vs. LAA
10. Ian Kennedy at PHI, at NYM

Yet each of these pitchers has something going for him, so if you're the type of owner who likes to load up on starts, there's upside to be had here. If you prefer to play it safe, you just might want to stick with your one-start pitchers rather than pull one of this week's borderline options off your bench or your league's waiver wire.

A few lucky owners may be able to pluck a quality one-start pitcher from their DL slots. Gio Gonzalez (shoulder) could return as soon as Wednesday, while Mat Latos (forearm) and Taijuan Walker (shoulder) have a chance to rejoin their team's rotations next weekend. The chances for Latos at this point look much better than those for Walker, and unless he slides into Tony Cingrani's slot in the rotation, his return could mean one start for Mike Leake this week instead of two.

Deeper league owners may have a reason to active Zach McAllister (back), as he may need just one more rehab start before returning for the Indians. Should McAllister make the June 15 start at the Red Sox, it could rob Corey Kluber of a second start in Week 11.

Monday update: With the Pirates' loss of Gerrit Cole (shoulder) to the 15-day disabled list, Charlie Morton inherits a two-start week and extends this week's list of borderline two-start options to 13 pitchers. Christian Bergman is set to make his major league debut for the Rockies on Monday, and if he fares well against the Braves, he should earn a second Week 11 start at the Giants. That makes Bergman someone to consider in NL-only leagues.

Assuming all goes well for Latos in a Monday rehab start, he should make a start for the Reds this weekend at the Brewers. That means that, in all likelihood, Cingrani's days in the Reds' rotation are numbered. Specifically, that number is "one," as Monday's tilt against the Dodgers could be Cingrani's last start for the Reds for awhile. McAllister also appears primed to make a weekend start for the Indians, so Kluber owners should not count on a two-start week.

Walker could still be in play for a weekend start for the Mariners, though given the uncertainty, it's probably best to sit him this week. Gonzalez will make another rehab start Thursday, so he won't make an appearance for the Nationals this week and should be stashed for this scoring period.

Two-Start Pitchers on the Bubble

11. Ryan Vogelsong, SF (vs. WAS, vs. COL)

Vogelsong continued his recent hot streak with a nine-strikeout quality start at the Reds on Wednesday, and it was encouraging to see him fare well at his first visit to a hitter's park in a month and a half. Over his last eight starts, Vogelsong has put up great Fantasy stats (4-1, 2.05 ERA, 1,06 WHIP, 8.4 K/9), even though he hasn't been throwing strikes or getting ground balls at a high rate. Without better control and stronger ground ball tendencies, it seems unlikely that Vogelsong can keep this streak going for too much longer, but he should be able to extend it for one more week. He has compiled a sub-3.00 ERA at AT&T Park, just like he did in 2011 and 2012, so with two home starts, Vogelsong is worth using.

Start Vogelsong over the following one-start pitchers: Dallas Keuchel, Tim Hudson, Nathan Eovaldi

12. Francisco Liriano, PIT (vs. CHC, at MIA)

Liriano's struggles with control hit a new low on Wednesday, as he failed to throw even half of his 109 pitches against the Padres for strikes. He left that contest after five innings, having walked six batters, but he struck out seven and only allowed two earned runs on one hit. That line is a microcosm -- albeit an extreme one -- of Liriano's season. His control won't always be quite that bad, but then again, he has typically allowed more hits and earned runs. Facing the Cubs this week should take some of the angst out of starting Liriano, as owners should get plenty of strikeouts along with a better-than-usual ERA and WHIP.

Start Liriano over the following one-start pitchers: Lance Lynn, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson

13. Marco Estrada, MIL (at NYM, vs. CIN)

It's been an ugly four-game stretch for Estrada, as he has allowed eight home runs over 23 2/3 innings on his way to a 6.08 ERA. The long ball has long been a nemesis of Estrada's, and this season, he has allowed at least one home run in all but one of his 12 starts and multiple homers in five starts. Even in the worst-case scenario, Estrada can lower your team's WHIP, and with the Mets on the schedule, maybe Estrada can take a break from tossing gopher balls. Owning Estrada has been discouraging lately, but just remember as recently as mid-May, he was still an extreme flyball pitcher yet managed to own a 3.28 ERA.

Start Estrada over the following one-start pitchers: Collin McHugh, Chris Archer, Kyle Lohse

14. Jesse Chavez, OAK (at LAA, vs. NYY)

Chavez has cooled off considerably since his surprisingly strong April, as only once in his last six starts has he advanced beyond six innings. His control remains solid, but he has ceased to be an above-average strikeout pitcher, averaging 7.0 Ks per nine innings since the beginning of May. The relative lack of strikeouts is less important in a two-start week, but as he showed in recent starts against the Blue Jays and Tigers, good power hitting teams can knock him around. The Angels pose a similar challenge to Chavez this week, though he showed on Wednesday that he can handle the Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury's three-run homer aside.

Start Chavez over the following one-start pitchers: Chris Archer, Kyle Lohse, Trevor Bauer

15. R.A. Dickey, TOR (vs. MIN, at BAL)

After rattling off a seven-game skein of quality starts, Dickey has run into trouble yet again. Owners could give Dickey a pass for yielding a dozen flyballs to the Tigers, but to do the same against the slap- hitting Royals raises some suspicions. D‪ickey's ground ball-to-flyball ratios have been inconsistent all season long, but he's been steady in his ability to get swings-and-misses on his knuckler. Though you can never be sure what Dickey will produce in a given start, he has been good enough at preventing hits in most starts to be worth a try.

Start Dickey over the following one-start pitchers: Trevor Bauer, Zack Wheeler, Wily Peralta

16. Tyler Skaggs, LAA (vs. OAK, at ATL)

Like Dickey, Skaggs has let owners down in his two most recent starts, as somehow he managed to walk eight batters over 11 innings, even though he'd thrown 64 percent of his pitches for strikes. He also allowed 12 hits, but only two were for extra bases. While Skaggs has yet to put together a string of several good starts in a row, he has been consistent as an inducer of ground balls, and since late April, his control has been reliable. If not for a matchup against the power-hitting A's, who have already roughed Skaggs up twice this year, he would rank at least a few spots higher in this week's rankings. Even so, his start against the Braves alone could make for a productive week.

Start Skaggs over the following one-start pitchers: Zack Wheeler, Wily Peralta, Hyun-Jin Ryu

17. Charlie Morton, PIT (vs. CHC, at MIA)

Morton's control has been shaky in three straight starts, over which he has walked 11 batters in 16 innings. Not only has that inflated Morton's WHIP, but it's contributed to a lack of efficiency that led to early exits in each contest. In a two-start week, owners can put up with a lot from Morton, as long as he continues to induce grounders, and in that regard, he hasn't slowed down one bit. That's how, despite all of the free passes, Morton posted a 2.81 ERA over those three starts and held opponents to a .298 slugging percentage. Unless you can't afford to lose ground in your league's WHIP standings, Morton is a reasonably safe play this week.

Start Morton over the following one-start pitchers: Zack Wheeler, Wily Peralta, Hyun-Jin Ryu

18. Justin Verlander, DET (at CHW, vs. MIN)

Two-start pitchers to avoid
24. Rick Porcello at CHW, vs. MIN
25. Dan Haren at CIN, vs. ARI
26. Jarred Cosart at ARI, vs. TB
27. Josh Collmenter vs. HOU, at LAD
28. Gavin Floyd at COL, vs. LAA
29. A.J. Burnett vs. SD, vs. CHC
30. Ricky Nolasco at TOR, at DET
31. Jake Peavy at BAL, vs. CLE
32. Brad Peacock at ARI, vs. TB
33. John Danks vs. DET, vs. KC
34. Edwin Jackson at PIT, at PHI
35. Chris Tillman vs. BOS, vs. TOR
36. Brandon Workman at BAL, vs. CLE
37. Juan Nicasio vs. ATL, at SF
38. Vidal Nuno at KC, at OAK
39. Bud Norris vs. BOS, vs. TOR
40. Nick Martinez vs. CLE, at SEA
41. Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. MIL, vs. SD
42. J.A. Happ vs. MIN, at BAL
43. Hector Noesi vs. DET, vs. KC
44. T.J. House at TEX, at BOS
45. Christian Bergman vs. ATL, at SF
46. Erasmo Ramirez at TB, vs. TEX

Through the first six weeks of the season, Verlander sported a 2.67 ERA, yet still frustrated owners with subpar strikeout and walk rates that contributed to a 1.31 WHIP. That early portion of the 2014 campaign is now what Verlander owners call "the good ole days." In five starts since then, Verlander has turned in only one quality start and a 6.75 ERA, as his command has deteriorated further. Part of his problem may be a slider that he is throwing with less horizontal movement and that is resulting in fewer strikes, according to PitchFX data on BrooksBaseball.net. Verlander has been working on his mechanics and claims that he is seeing improvement, but we have yet to see it in his results. Until Verlander's work starts to pay off, owners should strongly consider sitting him.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Verlander: Kyle Lohse, Trevor Bauer, Zack Wheeler

19. Josh Beckett, LAD (at CIN, vs. ARI)

By all outward appearances, Beckett is having a comeback season. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight of his 11 starts, so not only is Beckett helping owners with a 2.57 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, but he's offering consistency. His performance is among the most deceiving in the majors this season, though, as Beckett isn't really doing anything much differently than he had in recent seasons. He's getting strikeouts at an above- average rate, but that's nothing new, and meanwhile, he is still allowing a few too many home runs (1.4 HR/9) and walks (3.1 BB/9). The difference-maker for Beckett is the .133 batting average that he is allowing on grounders, which is 98 points lower than his career mark. The best infield defenses can't help a pitcher that much, and the Dodgers don't have one of the better ones. Beckett is due for serious regression, and a start against the Reds at Great American Ball Park (where they have posted a .167 Isolated Power) sounds like a likely place for that to begin.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Beckett: Trevor Bauer, Zack Wheeler, Wily Peralta

20. Bronson Arroyo, ARI (vs. HOU, at LAD)

For years, Arroyo has been all about efficiency and durability, and despite contending with a bulging disc during spring training, that hasn't changed this season. Arroyo has been in prime form since late April, making eight straight starts of six innings or more and averaging seven innings per start. Though, as usual, Arroyo hasn't filled those innings with strikeouts, those frames have hardly been empty. He has given owners a 2.89 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP during this stretch, as Arroyo has pitched with his trademark control as well as a newfound knack for getting grounders. Though he has had a few hiccups in his recent outings, Arroyo is still a worthwhile use of your last rotation spot in standard mixed leagues.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Arroyo: Zack Wheeler, Wily Peralta, Hyun-Jin Ryu

21. Mike Leake, CIN (vs. LAD, at MIL)

In many ways, Leake is like Arroyo's harder-throwing twin. Efficiency and pinpoint control are the keys to Leake's success, and like Arroyo, he has managed to hike up his ground ball rate this season. Leake has even turned in subpar starts in his last two outings, just like his former teammate has. Given their similar appeal, it was hard to determine whom to rank higher this week, so I used matchups and venues as a tiebreaker. Both pitchers face the Dodgers this week, but Leake has to do it at Great American Ball Park, and he gets the Brewers instead of the Astros for his other start.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Leake: Wily Peralta, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Drew Hutchison

22. Jason Vargas, KC (vs. NYY, at CHW)

Though Vargas' control isn't as sharp as Arroyo's or Leake's, he continues this string of effective finesse pitchers in this week's rankings. As a flyball pitcher, Vargas is a little more dangerous than his counterparts, as opponents can rack up substantial damage when they find the gaps or leave the park. Much in the way that Bartolo Colon has been, it's usually feast or famine for Vargas, who has 10 quality starts in 13 tries, but he has allowed a combined 19 earned runs on 29 hits over 16 innings in his three other starts. Because they play in a homer-friendly park, the White Sox could pose a difficult test for Vargas, but fortunately for him, they're one of the lineups most prone to hitting ground balls.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Vargas: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Drew Hutchison, Jason Hammel

23. Travis Wood, CHC (at PIT, at PHI)

Wood just might be having a breakout season, but his 5.04 ERA and 1.41 WHIP are helping to keep it a secret. According to BrooksBaseball.net's PitchFX data, the lefty has been getting much more vertical movement on his pitches, and he's been getting fewer swings on his sinker in particular. That could be contributing to Wood's 20 percent called strike rate and 7.9 K/9 rate, which are major upgrades from his previous norms. He is likely to improve on the .279 batting average he has allowed on grounders as well as on a 65 percent strand rate. Wood has had enough flyball-fueled poor starts to warrant caution, but with improving peripherals and two good matchups, he's worth considering this week.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Wood: Drew Hutchison, Jason Hammel, Justin Masterson

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
White Sox's Alexei Ramirez drives in two runs in comeback win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:23 am ET) White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez went 1 for 4 with two RBI in his team's 4-3 win over the Indians Monday.

The White Sox entered the bottom of the ninth inning stuck in a 3-0 deficit, but the offense was able to engineer a win by racking up six hits and a walk with one out in the inning. Ramirez drove in the first two runs of the inning with his double with men on second and third base.

The double was the third of the year for Ramirez, who has hit .184/.250/.263 with no home runs and eight RBI in 38 at-bats.


Cubs OF Jorge Soler remains on roll with four-hit game
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:22 am ET) Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler didn't just extend his hitting streak to seven games Monday night against Pittsburgh. He did it in style.

Soler slammed four hits, including a seventh-inning double that contributed to a three-run inning that gave his team the lead for good. He is 12-for-32 during his tear and now boasts a slash line of .320/.364/.520 with two home runs and nine RBI in just 12 games.


Indians' Ryan Raburn slugs first home run Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:20 am ET) Indians designated hitter Ryan Raburn went 2 for 3 with a walk and a solo home run in his team's 4-3 loss to the White Sox Monday.

Raburn was slotted into the fifth spot of the lineup for the first time this season and rewarded manager Terry Francona for the move. The designated hitter entered the game with plenty of success against starter John Danks, hitting .341 with three home runs in 44 career at-bats, and he followed the trend with a second-inning home run, his first of the season.

Raburn has hit .316/.333/.684 with four doubles and five RBI in 19 at-bats. He could have trouble cracking the starting lineup in the coming week with the team set to face a string of right-handed pitchers.


Mets 1B Lucas Duda proving to be late bloomer
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:16 am ET) Greatness is generally achieved at a younger age than 29 by players that have it within them. But Mets emerging standout Lucas Duda isn't about to complain that he's just now reaching a very high peak.

Duda is off to a blistering start with a .347/.396/.551 slash line and eight RBI in 13 games. He is making more consistent contact for a team that has been the surprise of baseball in 2015.

"He is on the verge of absolute stardom, right on the cusp," Mets hitting coach Kevin Long told the New York Post. "He has strength and size and ability and aptitude and work ethic. He is hitting lefties and he is going to keep hitting lefties. I think he is close to having no deficiencies."

Duda is 5 for 9 against left-handers this season.


Athletics' Dan Otero earns win Monday with four scoreless innings
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:48 am ET) Athletics relief pitcher Dan Otero came up big for his team Monday, giving up just one hit in four scoreless innings of relief while striking out four and walking none to earn the win in his team's 6-3 victory over the Angels.

Otero (1-1) combined with Evan Scribner and Tyler Clippard to throw six scoreless innings of one-hit ball after starter Kendall Graveman lasted just three innings.

"That's big," Melvin said after the game, per MLB.com. "Confidence for a lot of guys, too. You're talking about Otero getting a little confidence back, Scribner used in a little different role and getting three key outs and finally getting to Clippard in a save situation. We hadn't been able to do that this year."

Otero came into Monday's game with a 6.75 ERA in four innings over five appearances. He said catcher Stephen Vogt spotted something with his left shoulder in his delivery last week, and he's been working to adjust.

"I was just kind of turning my left shoulder in a little bit," he said. "Getting a little too rotational. That's something I've been cognizant of throwing in the outfield, warming up every day. Noticed it tonight it was good, and it helps all my other pitches when I can stay in line, can stay through the catcher instead of spinning off to the first baseman."

Otero has now posted a 3.38 ERA and 6:0 K:BB ratio in eight innings.


Tigers' Greene on trade from Yankees: 'I felt like I got dumped'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:41 am ET) Tigers pitcher Shane Greene has given up just one earned run in 23 innings in his first three starts and has played with a chip on his shoulder after being traded by the Yankees this offseason, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"I felt like I got dumped," Greene said of being traded.

Greene went 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA and 81:29 K:BB ratio in 78 2/3 innings with the Yankees last year during his rookie season.

"I proved to myself that I was good enough," Greene said. "I guess I didn’t prove it to everybody else."

Greene is the only starting pitcher not scheduled to face the Yankees during the team's current four-game series. He expected to pitch during the series in spring training after being penciled in as the No. 5 starter, but the injury to Justin Verlander altered the team's rotation plans.

"I knew," Greene said. "April 22 would have been the day if I was No. 5."

Greene's next chance to face the team that traded him will come when the Tigers travel to the Bronx in June.

"I’ll get that chance," he said. "That time will come."


Brewers' Braun has favorable history against Reds' Marquis
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:36 am ET) Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun finally connected for his first home run of the season Monday against the Reds. Still, despite the home run, Braun has gotten off to a slow start in 2015.

Although, he might be able to keep the momentum of Monday's performance going Tuesday.

On the hill for Cincinnati will be veteran right-hander Jason Marquis. Braun has fared pretty well against Marquis in his career. He is batting .520 (13 for 25) with one home run, five doubles, six RBI, three walks and three strikeouts against Marquis.


Padres' Wil Myers on being traded by Rays: 'I felt they'd given up on me'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:27 am ET) Coming into 2015, you could make the argument Padres outfielder Wil Myers hadn't yet reached his full potential or lived up to the hype that followed him as a top prospect in the minors. Apparently, any type of talk like that didn't sit too well with the 24-year-old outfielder.

"He told me early in spring training that he heard little whispers this winter that maybe he was not the player everyone made him out to be," Padres manager Bud Black said, per MLB.com. "I think that bothered him."

Myers has already been traded twice in his young career, with the latest deal being in December that shipped him from the Rays to the Padres. 

"More than anything, I am playing with a chip on my shoulder," Myers said. "Last year was the first bad year I had in my pro career. When Tampa traded me away, I felt they had given up on me.

"Almost everything I do is to be able to prove (the Rays) wrong."

Thus far, Myers is off to a good start to his Padres career. Myers, who is primarily hitting leadoff, is batting .283 with one home run, five doubles, eight RBI and 13 runs in 14 games.

"He told me early in spring training he was going to show that he should hit third, fourth or fifth," Black said. "I said, 'Wait a minute. You are not going to hit third or fourth because of the two guys [Justin Upton and Matt Kemp] we have here. Let's go in my office and sit down. Let's put a projected team together out there. You don't want to hit leadoff, so who's going to hit leadoff?' I told him, 'If you hit leadoff every day you might get the most at-bats in the NL,'" 


Royals' Paulo Orlando makes triples history Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:25 am ET) Royals right fielder Paulo Orlando went 1 for 3 with a triple, a walk and two RBI in Monday's 7-1 win over the Twins.

The triple was Orlando's fifth in his first seven games, setting a new major-league record for the fewest games to hit five triples to open a career, MLB.com reports. He said he knows pretty soon after making contact whether he has a chance at a triple.

"Usually when it gets over the infielder's head," he said. "… The whole game, I tried to pull everything. But the last pitcher, we got a report that he threw a little cutter, so I tried to think right side."

Orlando has an added chance at collecting base hits at home due to Kaufman Stadium's spacious gaps.

"It helps," manager Ned Yost said of the bigger ballpark. "But if you watch him fly around the bases, he's going to hit triples in any ballpark when he puts the ball in the gap."

Orlando has hit .269/.345/.654 in 26 at-bats.


Astros' bullpen steps up in win vs. Mariners Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:18 am ET) The Astros bullpen delivered five innings of one-run ball Monday to play a key role in the team's 7-5 victory, with lefty Tony Sipp picking up the win after delivering 1 1/3 perfect innings.

"You can tell everyone out there has confidence," Sipp said after the game, per MLB.com. "You can flip a coin and put any guy out there at any given time. And you know it's like a friendly competition -- see who can be the best guy out there and you know, hopefully we're all out there sitting on ones [ERA] at the end of the year, high-fiving, trying to see who can get down to point zero something. It's one of those things like winning [being] contagious; successful bullpens kind of feed off each other also."

The bullpen has delivered a 2.06 ERA in 48 innings, giving them the third-best mark in the majors. Astros relievers have also struck out 49 batters while issuing just 11 walks.

"The way we're lined up, we've got a lot of weapons in the bullpen," manager A.J. Hinch said. "Eventually, we'd like to not use them so often and so early, but tonight we needed everything we could."


 
 
 
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