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Fantasy First Pitch for Week 12

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Youth is well-represented among the borderline two-start candidates for Fantasy Week 12 (June 16-22). Trevor Bauer, Jake Odorizzi, Marcus Stroman, Drew Pomeranz and Rubby De La Rosa may not be proven, but each is brimming with upside. Each has also cracked this week's list of viable two-start alternatives in standard mixed leagues. With veteran options like Justin Verlander and Ervin Santana having been anything but reliable, this might be the time to throw in your lot with a young pitcher or two on the rise.

Must start two-start options
1. Max Scherzer vs. KC, at CLE
2. Masahiro Tanaka vs. TOR, vs. BAL
3. Julio Teheran vs. PHI, at WAS
4. Cole Hamels at ATL, at STL
5. Johnny Cueto at PIT, vs. TOR
6. Jon Lester vs. MIN, at OAK
7. Michael Wacha vs. NYM, vs. PHI
8. Dallas Keuchel at WAS, at TB
9. Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. COL, at SD
10. Tyson Ross at SEA, vs. LAD
11. Phil Hughes at BOS, vs. CHW
12. Yordano Ventura at DET, vs. SEA
13. Jered Weaver at CLE, vs. TEX

Also to be avoided is Kyle Lohse, aka Mr. Reliabiilty, and fellow Brewer Wily Peralta, as both have the misfortune of making one of their starts at Coors Field. The Rockies have laid waste to countless starters at home this season, with Mike Minor and Julio Teheran being among the most recent victims. In this topsy-turvy week, both Chris Young and Josh Tomlin actually make the cut among recommended two-start pitchers -- a distinction they may not receive again all season. Unlike Lohse and Peralta, this pair of pitchers should benefit from matchups that fit their strengths.

While Odorizzi, Stroman, De La Rosa, Young and Tomlin are still available in many mixed leagues, owners will have more to do than just scan their leagues' waiver wires this weekend. Whether Adam Wainwright (elbow) will make his next scheduled start is still unknown, as is the status of Kevin Gausman, who has made his bid to stay in the Orioles' rotation while Miguel Gonzalez (side) has been on the 15-day disabled list. Gio Gonzalez (shoulder) is set to return from his DL stint, but whether he or Tanner Roark get the nod for the Nationals' series opener against the Astros on Tuesday will determine which one will get added to this week's list of two-start pitchers.

Finally, deep league owners need to keep track of Jeremy Hellickson (elbow) and Felix Doubront (shoulder), both of whom could make their returns this week.

Monday's update: The three major sources of uncertainty heading into the weekend have all been resolved. Wainwright has been replaced by Carlos Martinez for Monday's start versus the Mets, though the Cardinals' ace is expected to return this weekend against the Phillies. Gausman will remain in the Orioles' rotation, though it is not yet clear who could be the odd man out. Ubaldo Jimenez and Bud Norris could be candidates to go to the bullpen, and the latter has options remaining and could potentially be demoted. If either exits the rotation this week, Wei-Yin Chen would likely make two starts.

As expected, Gonzalez will re-enter the Nationals' rotation, but it won't be until Wednesday, so Roark lines up to get a two-start week. There is more on Roark's value this week below, as he has been added to the list of borderline two-start pitchers.

The statuses of Gerrit Cole (shoulder), Hellickson and Doubront are still uncertain, though all could still return this weekend. If so, Brandon Cumpton, Erik Bedard and Rubby De La Rosa could all be relegated to one-start status.

Two-Start Pitchers on the Bubble

14. Trevor Bauer, CLE (vs. LAA, vs. DET)

Based on Bauer's seven starts with Triple-A Columbus this season, I figured his owners would have to sacrifice strikeouts in order to enjoy his newfound control. Instead, Bauer has cranked up his strikeout (9.5 K/9) and swinging strike (11.9 percent) rates, while maintaining above-average control (64 percent strikes thrown, no starts with more than three walks). While that display of skill makes Bauer an attractive two-start option, so do his matchups, even though he is facing two of five best power-hitting teams in the majors. The Angels and Tigers may not have their usual thump playing at Progressive Field, which has played as the worst home run park in the American League for right-handed hitters in recent seasons. Both lineups rely heavily on righties, so this could be an especially good week for Bauer.

Start Bauer over the following one-start pitchers: John Lackey, Doug Fister, Jeff Samardzija

15. Jake Odorizzi, TB (vs. BAL, vs. HOU)

Odorizzi is yet another pitcher who benefits greatly from a pair of home starts. As one would expect for a flyball pitcher, Odorizzi has been much better at offense-squelching Tropicana Field (3.13 ERA) than on the road (7.16 ERA), and better yet, the Astros have been a lesser power-hitting team in their away games. The Orioles pose the bigger threat, but given Odorizzi's mastery at home so far, holding opponents to a .217/.297/.321 slash line, he appears to be a sufficiently safe play to trust in standard mixed leagues.

Start Odorizzi over the following one-start pitchers: Doug Fister, Jeff Samardzija, Collin McHugh

16. Marcus Stroman, TOR (at NYY, at CIN)

While Stroman had been less than imposing during a brief stint in the Blue Jays' bullpen last month, as a starter, he has looked every bit as effective as he was as a minor leaguer. In moving up from Double-A to Triple-A this season, Stroman appeared unfazed by the more advanced competition, increasing his strikes-thrown and ground ball rates while continuing to post an above-average swinging strike rate. That success has carried over in each of his first three major league starts, as evidenced by 17 strikeouts, two walks and a 2.50 ERA over 18 innings. At some point, Stroman is likely to hit a snag, but his combination of high velocity, sharp control and strong ground ball tendencies makes him too good to pass up.

Start Stroman over the following one-start pitchers: Collin McHugh, C.J. Wilson, Chris Archer

17. Jason Hammel, CHC (at MIA, vs. PIT)

Two-start pitchers to avoid
27. Jason Vargas at DET, vs. SEA
28. Tom Koehler vs. CHC, vs. NYM
29. Wily Peralta at ARI, at COL
30. Roenis Elias vs. SD, at KC
31. Colby Lewis at OAK, at LAA
32. Erik Bedard vs. BAL, vs. HOU
33. Ervin Santana vs. PHI. at WAS
34. Wade Miley vs. MIL, vs. SF
35. John Danks vs. SF, at MIN
36. Jacob deGrom at STL, at MIA
37. Kyle Kendrick at ATL, at STL
38. Brandon McCarthy vs. MIL, vs. SF
39. Matt Shoemaker at CLE, vs. TEX
40. Eric Stults at SEA, vs. LAD
41. Jacob Turner vs. CHC, vs. NYM
42. Tyler Matzek at LAD, vs. MIL
43. Brandon Cumpton vs. CIN, at CHC
44. Kevin Correia at BOS, vs. CHW

Hammel has seemingly been a different kind of pitcher every year, and usually his varieties have been of the sort that aren't all that useful to standard mixed league owners. More so than any previous version, Hammel 9.0 has been about getting batters to chase and miss on pitches out of the strike zone, and it's enabled him to register a career-low 1.9 BB/9 ratio and a career-high 12.1 percent whiff rate. Because Hammel has been so inconsistent over his career, owners can be excused for not trusing him. However, he has been steady enough over this year's 13 starts to have earned more than his current 68 percent start rate for the coming week.

Start Hammel over the following one-start pitchers: C.J. Wilson, Chris Archer, Nathan Eovaldi

18. Drew Pomeranz, OAK (vs. TEX, vs. BOS)

Though Pomeranz began his tenure in the A's rotation with three straight scoreless starts, his supporting stats weren't as dazzling as Stroman's have been, raising doubts about his long-term viability. Two sources of frustration stemming from those early outings were low pitch counts and questionable control, but Pomeranz has allayed owners' fears in recent starts. He has exceeded 95 pitches in two of his last three starts and pitched seven innings in back-to-back games. In those last two starts, he has thrown 65 percent of his pitches for strikes. It's a step in the right direction for a pitcher who was already getting called strikes (if not swinging strikes) at a high rate while avoiding extra-base hits. Toss in a couple of starts at pitcher-friendly O.co Coliseum, and it's shaping up to be a good week for the lefty.

Start Pomeranz over the following one-start pitchers: Tim Hudson, Sonny Gray, Ian Kennedy

19. Tanner Roark, WAS (vs. HOU, vs. ATL)

Roark is not overpowering; in fact, his average fastball velocity is nearly 2 mph lower than it was last year. As in 2013, Roark is getting called strikes at an above average (20 percent) rate, which allows him to be a decent strikeout pitcher. His control has remained immaculate, so even in one-start weeks, Roark offers owners a chance to lower their staff's WHIP. In normal two-start weeks, he could easily provide double-digit strikeouts, but against the Astros and Braves, 10-plus Ks is practcally a lock. Though Roark will rarely be viable in standard mixed leagues as a one-start pitcher, he is a very safe option for Week 12.

Start Roark over the following one-start pitchers: Sonny Gray, Ian Kennedy, Josh Beckett

20. Jonathon Niese (at STL, at MIA)

Niese has been pitching so deep into games that you could call his starts Jon-a-thons. He is averaging 6.5 innings per start and has pitched at least seven innings in seven of his 13 outings. Aside from good, but not great, control, there is nothing else that really stands out about Niese's skill set, but especially in points leagues, his efficiency makes him a very useful option in two-start weeks. While an 80 percent strand rate has allowed Niese to overperform with a 2.54 ERA, his low WHIP and high innings count makes him worth using, even with a healthy number of two-start options from which to choose this week.

Start Niese over the following one-start pitchers: Ian Kennedy, Josh Beckett, Zack Wheeler

21. Rubby De La Rosa, BOS (vs. MIN, at OAK)

After tossing seven shutout innings in his season debut, De La Rosa has been less impressive in two successive starts. Even in losing to the Tigers and Orioles, De La Rosa has shown why he is so promising, racking up 12 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings and throwing 132 of his 201 pitches for strikes. The latter is especially encouraging, as control has typically been De La Rosa's main weakness. He could regresses in that area, especially with the patient A's and Twins lineups on his schedule this week, so there are reasons to hesitate in using him. If you're looking for a reason to start De La Rosa, keep in mind he still has a history of double-digit whiff rates and high ground ball rates to fall back on, should his control fail him.

Start the following one-start pitchers over De La Rosa: Sonny Gray, Ian Kennedy, Josh Beckett

22. Tommy Milone, OAK (vs. TEX, vs. BOS)

Milone has been gaining popularity in CBSSports.com leagues, as he has gone 4-0 with a 2.00 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over his last seven starts. An ultra-high strand rate has helped to lower his ERA, but Milone's low WHIP tells us he's doing something right. That something is cutting back on walks, as he has issued only nine over his last 45 innings, and getting frequent popups, which he has done at a 13.1 percent rate this season. Those were keys to Milone's success two seasons ago, as was a good track record in home starts. He had a 2.74 ERA in Oakland in 2012, and he's improved that mark to 1.93 this year. Milone won't miss many bats, but between his return to form and his two home starts, he could help many owners this week.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Milone: Ian Kennedy, Josh Beckett, Zack Wheeler

23. Kyle Lohse, MIL (at ARI, at COL)

Since Lohse became a reliable Fantasy option three seasons ago, he has made only two visits to Coors Field. A 2011 quality start was followed by a five-run, nine-hit disaster the following season, but you can throw that limited track record out the window. In those seasons, the Rockies had a good offense, but they were not the juggernaut they have been this season. With any other matchup for his second start of the week, at worst Lohse would rank in the upper half of this list of borderline two-start candidates. That, sadly for Lohse's owners, is not the case, and the Rockies' season-long assault on major league pitching simply makes him too risky to use in standard mixed leagues unless you are fairly desperate to get an extra two-start pitcher into your rotation.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Lohse: Lance Lynn, Kevin Gausman, Matt Cain

24. Justin Verlander (vs. KC, at CLE)

Speaking of desperate, that's what you would have to be to start Verlander this week. His control has abandoned him, and hitters have learned to lay off his offerings. When batters have swung at Verlander's pitches, they have been connecting more frequently than in the past. Over his last six starts, Verlander has gotten called strikes at a puny 13.3 percent rate while getting whiffs on only 8.5 percent of his pitches. If you're waiting for a velocity increase to fix the problem, don't bother. Verlander has averaged over 95 mph on his fastball in each of his last three starts, according to BrooksBaseball.net, yet the carnage has continued. Because he had been so good over the previous five seasons, you may want to start Verlander in the hopes that he can overcome the struggles that have defined these mere past two-and-a-half months. At this point, that is the only reason to start him.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Verlander: Kevin Gausman, Matt Cain, Jaime Garcia

25. Chris Young, SEA (vs. SD, at KC)

There may never be another pitcher who has walked almost as many batters (32) as he has struck out (35) to appear on this list, but Young is not an ordinary pitcher. He's a 35-year-old with a mid-80s fastball and control issues, but he laps the pool of major league starting pitchers in flyball rate. Having batters loft 51 percent of all hit balls isn't always a bad thing. Young gets popups at an outrageoius 16.2 percent rate, which has helped him to hold opponents to a .222 batting average, but of course, the downside is a .404 slugging percentage. At Safeco Field, that latter number shrinks to .304, and it will likely fall even further after facing the Padres this week. Young's start at the Royals promises to be just as fruitful, as their .109 Isolated Power is the lowest in the majors. There is always substantial risk in starting Young, but there may never be another week in which the reward promises to be so great.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Young: Kevin Gausman, Matt Cain, Jaime Garcia

26. Josh Tomlin, CLE (vs. LAA, vs. DET)

Like Young, Tomlin is known for being an extreme contact pitcher, though 46 innings into this season, he is posting a respectable 7.4 K/9 ratio. However, that's not the reason to start Tomlin, as a decent srikeout rate is just gravy for him. His low walk rate (career 1.7 BB/9) and flyball tendencies make him a good source of low WHIP, and against certain lineups at home, he can avoid getting hurt by the long ball. More often than not, Tomlin is a huge home run risk, but he has held right-handed hitters to a 1.1 HR/9 ratio at home. While that's not especially good, it's good enough for him to succeed, given his strengths. As mentioned above, Progressive Field is very tough on right-handed power hitters, and the Angels and Tigers are largely reliant on right-handed power for their production. A week in which one faces Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez can be dangerous for any pitcher, but Tomlin could do enough to keep the righties in the Angels' and Tigers' lineups in check to escape with a good week.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Wood: Matt Cain, Jaime Garcia, Drew Hutchison

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
Athletics pitcher Kendall Graveman posts another stellar performance
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:55 pm ET) Athletics pitcher Kendall Graveman continues to impress this spring. Sunday, he went 6 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits with three strikeouts and no walks. Manager Bob Melvin loves how the young pitcher has performed this spring, reports MLB.com.

"He doesn't blow you away, although you look at the radar gun and at times we've seen 93, 94 this spring," Melvin said. "But he's a pitcher; he's pretty cerebral in the way he does it.

"He reads swings very well. You know, it's late movement off the barrel of the bat, whether it's sink, whether it's cut, offspeed just enough. But he knows what he's doing and he's aware of what the hitters are trying to do against him."

Graveman has a minuscule 0.74 ERA in five starts this spring.

"There's a reason that he went from [Class] A-ball to the big leagues [in 2014 with Toronto], and then continued to pitch this well for us. It means he's real confident in what he's doing," Melvin said.


Nationals pitcher Doug Fister struggles again in outing Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:49 pm ET) Nationals pitcher Doug Fister surrendered six runs in four innings of work Sunday against the Marlins, pushing his spring training ERA to 7.02 in five starts. Fister gave up three more home runs in the outing.

"I can't let any of that affect me. I know I have to get the ball down regardless," Fister said to MLB.com. "I felt good today. I felt I was almost back in the swing of things. There are obviously some things I have to fine tune at the end of spring.

"I left the ball up, and it allowed the Marlins to get good contact on the ball. I don't let outside influences affect the game. It's a game I have to control and make adjustments."


Tigers targeting 200 pitches for pitcher Anibal Sanchez
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:45 pm ET) Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez tossed 10 strikeouts in Sunday's game against the Phillies, going 6 1/3 innings and surrendering four runs on five hits. 

"That means he's hitting his spots. It means he's locating," manager Brad Ausmus said to MLB.com. "When a guy takes a pitch, he thinks it's a ball or just off the corner and they end up getting the call. ... So he must have been locating. It looked like he was locating his fastball."

Ausmus also indicated he hopes to see Sanchez reach 200 innings this season.

"If we get 200 innings out of Sanchy, I'll be extremely happy. I think we'll be in a very good spot," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Sunday morning. "We talk about a lot of things, but if Sanchy can stay healthy, that would be an enormous plus for us."


Rays pitcher Drew Smyly targeting April for a return to the mound
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:39 pm ET) Rays pitcher Drew Smyly threw a fourth bullpen session Sunday to rehab from shoulder tendinitis and his hoping to be back in action in April, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

"I'm very hopeful that I'll be pitching in April, for sure," he said. "Something would have to go wrong, there'd be a step backward for me not to pitch in April I feel like."

Smyly is hoping to throw batting practice at some point this week.


Rays to use Brad Boxberger as fill in closer to start season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:36 pm ET) Rays pitcher Brad Boxberger is expected to fill in to the closer role for at least the first month of the season while Jake McGee recovers from elbow surgery, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

"He will be in a lot of meaningful situations," manager Kevin Cash said. "With some other guys, but for what Box did last year and the confidence we have in him, I would definitely anticipate him pitching in those leverage situations."


Brewers release pitcher David Herndon
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:33 pm ET) The Brewers have decided to part ways with pitcher David Herndon, the team announced Sunday. Herndon last pitched in the majors in 2012, posting an 0-1 record with a 4.70 ERA in five appearances.

Rangers pitcher Nick Tepesch struggles in outing Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:25 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Nick Tepesch surrendered seven runs on nine hits, including one home run, in just 3 2/3 innings of work Sunday against the Dodgers.

"He threw the ball well for three innings, then it got a little loose," manager Jeff Banister said. "He got the ball up a little and got it flat. But he had three solid innings. The fastball was there and the breaking ball was in play."

Tepesch is now 1-2 in spring training with a 10.38 ERA.


Rays 2B Logan Forsythe looking for consistency at the plate
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:20 pm ET) Rays second baseman Logan Forsythe is working to become a more consistent hitter, regardless of his role on the team, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

"I think consistency depends on how you feel at the plate if the rhythm and timing are there," Forsythe said. "Last year I think that my swing was at a good point to where the rhythm and timing were there going into playing every day, so when I got into that consistency of more at-bats, more playing time, my swing kind of came out more. It's not hit or miss, but I think there's certain times in the season when the swing is there and it's not there. That's baseball."

Forsythe hit .223 with 26 RBI in 301 plate appearances in 2014. He is feeling good about his approach with Opening Day right around the corner.

"There's time when you feel good about your swing. It comes based on results you get in a game,” Forsythe said. "That feedback doesn't necessarily always have to be, 'Oh I got a hit.' Or, "I drove a run in.' Or 'I hit a home run.' As long as you put the barrel to the ball, it can be a line drive out or a web gem made on you, that confidence is boosted, and the more opportunity you get when your confidence is up, you're going to get better results."


Twins pitcher Mike Pelfrey makes first appearance out of the bullpen
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:15 pm ET) Twins pitcher Mike Pelfrey threw one scoreless inning Sunday, sending the Orioles down in order. Pelfrey, who made his frustrations about the transition known, settled down a bit and felt somewhat comfortable in the appearance, reports MLB.com.

"It was good," Pelfrey said. "At the end of the day, I have a lot of respect for him. I got a lot of things off my chest, and he got a lot off his. So it was a very good discussion. Obviously, my emotions probably got the best of me yesterday. So I told him I'm going to be professional and go to the 'pen and give it everything I have."

He has made just four appearances out of the bullpen in his career compared to 183 starts.

"I wanted to see how fast I could do it, and it was surprising to me I only needed those 10-12 pitches," Pelfrey said. "So that was pretty good. I think the hardest part was playing catch before the game and then waiting around and doing it again."


Diamondbacks pitcher Daniel Hudson goes 3 2/3 innings Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:05 pm ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Daniel Hudson tossed 3 2/3 innings Sunday, allowing no runs on three hits with four strikeouts against the Rockies. It was Hudson's longest outing of spring training.

"For a couple of hitters there, I'd lose the release point and fly open a little bit and fall behind," Hudson said to MLB.com. "My two-strike pitches were better today, but I wasn't getting ahead as much as I wanted. It'll come.

"I was pretty disappointed about the way I threw to hitters in the first part of the game. It's the first time I've gone [into] four innings in 2 1/2 years. It kind of comes with it."


 
 
 
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