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Fantasy First Pitch for Week 13

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There's nothing like the arrival of a highly-touted prospect to capture the imagination of a Fantasy owner. The Marlins created a loud buzz in the Fantasy community on Monday when they recalled Andrew Heaney, whom MLB.com named as the top left-handed pitching prospect in the minors. Heaney kept that buzz going on Thursday when he had a successful (if not winning) debut against the Mets. Heading into the weekend, the 23-year-old will continue to draw attention, as he will be one of 39 pitchers scheduled to make two starts in Fantasy Week 13 (June 23-29).

For many owners in CBSSports.com leagues, it's already too late to pick up Heaney as a free agent, as he is already spoken for in 84 percent of leagues. While Heaney should be a solid producer for this week and the season ahead, it won't pay to spend too much time regretting your late arrival to the party or figuring out how to pry him from his current owner.

Must start two-start options
1. Clayton Kershaw at KC, vs. STL
2. Felix Hernandez vs. BOS, vs. CLE
3. Chris Sale at BAL, at TOR
4. Zack Greinke at KC, vs. STL
5. Alex Cobb vs. PIT, at BAL
6. Gio Gonzalez at MIL, at CHC
7. Homer Bailey at CHC, at SF
8. Jeff Samardzija vs. CIN, vs. WAS
9. Marcus Stroman vs. NYY, vs. CHW
10. Matt Cain vs. SD, vs. CIN
11. Tim Hudson vs. SD, vs. CIN
12. John Lackey at SEA, at NYY
13. C.J. Wilson vs. MIN, at KC

There are several viable two-start options who are still available in at least 28 percent of our leagues. Namely, Marcus Stroman, Drew Smyly and Bartolo Colon are all within that ownership threshold, and Stroman even makes this week's "must-start" list. Kyle Gibson and Jeff Locke are also worth starting in standard mixed leagues, and both are currently available in more than 45 percent of our leagues.

As in most weeks, not everyone who projects to make two starts as of the beginning of the weekend will get to keep that status by the time lineups lock on Monday. Two of the most vulnerable two-start candidates are Locke and Edinson Volquez, one of whom could lose his second start -- or potentially his rotation spot -- if Gerrit Cole (shoulder) returns as planned next weekend. Matt Shoemaker is in the same position for the Angels as Locke and Volquez are for the Pirates, as the possible activation of Tyler Skaggs (hamstring) could, at best, push back his second start, and at worst, send him to the bullpen or minors.

Monday update: While the statuses of Locke and Volquez are still up in the air, Shoemaker has in fact lost his second start of the week. He will remain in the Angels' rotation, even with this weekend's likely return of Skaggs, as Hector Santiago has been moved to the bullpen. More impactful for most mixed league owners is Monday's scratch of Andrew Cashner (elbow), which will limit him to one start this week at most. If he is unable to go this weekend against the Diamondbacks, either Jesse Hahn or Odrisamer Despaigne could inherit a second start.

The shuffling of the Angels' rotation now means that C.J. Wilson is scheduled to make two starts, and he has been added to this week's "must-start" list. Justin Masterson has also been added to the ranks of two-start pitchers, but he has earned a spot on the "must-avoid" list.

Both Wilson (59 percent strikes thrown, 3.6 BB/9) and Masterson (61 percent strikes thrown, 4.7 BB/9) have displayed poor control, so why is Wilson a viable start while Masterson is not? Not only can Wilson better compensate by getting more strikeouts, thanks to a higher called strike rate, but the matchups work more in his favor. Wilson has allowed only one home run and a 2.45 ERA at Angel Stadium, and he gets to face the Twins there, in addition to getting a start at homer-dousing Kauffman Stadium against the Royals. Masterson, on the other hand, will take his 6.20 road ERA into starts at Arizona and Seattle this week.

Two-Start Pitchers on the Bubble

14. Chris Archer, TB (vs. PIT, at BAL)

Last season when Archer broke out in the second half, he was nowhere near the strikeout pitcher he had been in the minor leagues, but he had far better control. Archer is riding an even hotter streak over the last five weeks, but he's back to his old formula from his prospect days. Over his last seven starts, Archer has walked 19 batters over 40 2/3 innings but struck out 43. Because he hasn't allowed any home runs, Archer hasn't been hurt by the free passes, putting up an 0.89 ERA and 1.16 WHIP during his streak. The uptick in strikeouts has helped Archer, but an increased reliance on his sinker has helped even more, and during his seven-game run, opponents have slugged a mere .219. While occasional wildness could mean quick exits in some of his starts, Archer remains a safe two-start option.

Start Archer over the following one-start pitchers: Jered Weaver, Doug Fister, Hyun-Jin Ryu

15. Andrew Heaney, MIA (at PHI, vs. OAK)

After some minor first-inning jitters, Heaney was sharp in Thursday's major league debut against the Mets. Though he recorded only three strikeouts over six innings, owners can be encouraged by the nine swinging strikes Heaney induced. That's actually quite a feat against the Mets, who swing at pitches at the lowest rate of any team in the National League, and it puts some teeth behind the 9.3 K/9 ratio he compiled in the minors this season. Especially with a Week 13 start against the patient A's, Heaney may not be a huge strikeout contributor this time around, but at the very least, he should help owners with ERA and WHIP.

Start Heaney over the following one-start pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross

16. Nathan Eovaldi, MIA (at PHI, vs. OAK)

Particularly since he has been allowing more flyballs over the past six weeks, Eovaldi has been resembling Phil Hughes more and more, as no other pitchers work inside the strike zone as frequently as these two. Whereas Hughes has recovered from a difficult April, Eovaldi's season has taken a downward turn, with an acceleration over his last seven starts. During that time, Eovaldi's ERA has risen from 2.86 to 3.76, and what has separated him from Hughes is his relative inability to get batters to chase pitches out of the zone. That's a big reason why he has struck out only 26 batters during his recent 43-inning slump. No longer a reliable source of Ks, Eovaldi is not an automatic play in two-start weeks. However, the first five games of his slump did produce four quality starts, and his control is still superb. Eovaldi still offers enough upside to be considered in standard mixed leagues.

Start Eovaldi over the following one-start pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross

17. Mark Buehrle, TOR (vs. NYY, vs. CHW)

Buehrle's dream season has yet to hit any major speed bumps, but it seems like only a matter of time before he gets jolted. Even though his 0.4 HR/9 and 18 percent double play rate look too good to be true, the version of Buehrle we have come to know in the past is still good enough to use in two-start weeks. He is still extremely efficient and durable with above-average control. The odds are high that he will deliver at least a dozen innings across his two starts, and with the backing of the Blue Jays' potent offense, Buehrle could present his owners with two more wins this week. Let the other pitchers on your staff worry about the strikeouts; Buehrle can help you with everything else.

Start Buehrle over the following one-start pitchers: Kevin Gausman, Yordano Ventura, Jonathon Niese

18. Kyle Gibson, MIN (at LAA, at TEX)

Gibson is on an incredible run, having made three consecutive scoreless starts of seven innings, giving him four scoreless outings out of his last five. He had several strong performances earlier in the season, too, but Gibson has been a remarkably better pitcher over his current seven-start run. Not only has he posted a 2.00 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over this stretch, but he has increased his ground ball-to-flyball ratio by 73 percent and his whiff rate has roughly doubled from 5.7 percent to 11.3 percent. Because Gibson isn't getting many called strikes, he still isn't racking up many strikeouts, but in avoiding walks and extra-base hits, he's been highly productive. If he keeps this up, Gibson will soon be on the must-start list, but the suddenness of his transformation makes him hard to trust completely. That said, Gibson is worth a try in most mixed leagues, and yet somehow, he is still owned in only 51 percent of our leagues, though that mark has risen from 33 percent at the start of the weekend.

Start Gibson over the following one-start pitchers: Kevin Gausman, Yordano Ventura, Zack Wheeler

19. Alfredo Simon, CIN (at CHC, at SF)

In what is shaping up to be his first full season as a starter, Simon is profiling very much like Buehrle's harder-throwing, right-handed cousin. He has very good control and has been efficient enough to last six innings or more in 12 of his 14 starts. Like Buehrle, Simon falls short of being a must-start option -- even in two-start weeks -- because he doesn't get many strikeouts and is potentially vulnerable to home runs in his home ballpark. Simon has, in fact, allowed eight of his 11 home runs at Great American Ball Park. Though he is taking a little trip this week, visiting the Cubs and Giants, both teams have been fairly good at hitting for power in their home parks. You may be surprised to learn (as I was) that the Cubs have the majors' eighth-highest Isolated Power in home games this season. It should still be a relatively good week for Simon, but not one completely without risk.

Start Simon over the following one-start pitchers: Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese, Trevor Bauer

20. Drew Smyly, DET (at TEX, at HOU)

Two-start pitchers to avoid
26. Chase Whitley at TOR, vs. BOS
27. Justin Masterson at ARI, at SEA
28. Jeremy Guthrie vs. LAD, vs. LAA
29. Lance Lynn at COL, at LAD
30. Shelby Miller at COL, at LAD
31. Colby Lewis vs. DET, vs. MIN
32. Wei-Yin Chen vs. CHW, vs. TB
33. Edinson Volquez at TB, vs. NYM
34. Scott Feldman vs. ATL, vs. DET
35. Jhoulys Chacin vs. STL, at MIL
36. Jorge De La Rosa VS. STL, at MIL
37. Aaron Harang at HOU, at PHI
38. Roberto Hernandez vs. MIA, vs. ATL
39. David Buchanan vs. MIA, vs. ATL

Starting Smyly offers the promise of greater reward than starting Simon, but it also entails a much higher degree of risk. On the plus side, Smyly is on an encouraging run of three straight quality starts, and he has induced at least nine swinging strikes in seven of his 11 starts. He has also allowed opponents to slug .422 against him, which is not at all surprising given his 40 percent flyball rate. Smyly has been especially prone to flyballs since the beginning of May, and the suddenly powerful Astros could make him pay. Then again, the Astros could struggle to make contact and allow Smyly to have a huge game. Even in the worst case scenario, the Rangers should salvage Smyly's week, as they have not mustered much power this season.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Smyly: Yordano Ventura, Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese

21. Yovani Gallardo, MIL (vs. WAS, vs. COL)

To judge by his 3.34 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, Gallardo is having his finest season to date, but that hasn't kept him from being a source of frustration for his Fantasy owners. He doesn't throw with the same velocity as he did just two seasons ago, and he hasn't been the same strikeout pitcher since. Though his overall stats look good, Gallardo has essentially had three different seasons already: an early stretch in which he was effective, followed by a seven-game skid marked by abysmal command and a 6.23 ERA, and a recent three-game string of dominant performances. To assess Gallardo by his most recent starts, owners would have to use him in nearly all formats, but he's been too inconsistent to trust on that level.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Gallardo: Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese, Trevor Bauer

22. Bartolo Colon, NYM (vs. OAK, at PIT)

Over the first month-and-a-half of this season, it was feast or famine for Colon, as he balanced five quality starts with three utter disasters in which he allowed six earned runs or more. Since then, Colon has establshed some consistency -- of the good kind. He has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last six starts, compiling a 1.66 ERA and 0.92 WHIP along the way. The script isn't much different from that of Colon's last two seasons; he has been among the best control pitchers in the game, but he has also allowed contact at an almost freakishly high rate. While an ultra-low walk rate makes Colon worth considering in two-start weeks, he's far from a lock, as he has overperformed during his recent streak. Colon is probably very fortunate to have allowed hitters to bat just .230 on balls in play during this stretch, and the .294 slugging percentage against him also looks due to rise dramatically.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Colon: Jonathon Niese, Trevor Bauer, Jason Hammel

23. Jose Quintana, CHW (at BAL, at TOR)

Quintana has been so reliable that it was noticeable when he posted back-to-back sub-quality starts earlier this month. He got back on track in his most recent outing, holding the Twins to two runs over seven innings in another tough-luck loss, but he broke his streak of nine straight starts without allowing a home run. That's remarkable for a pitcher with only mild ground ball tendencies, especially one who pitched four of those games at U.S. Cellular Field. Quintana won't go back to his hitter-friendly home park this week, but he will face two power-hitting lineups at inhospitable venues. Though Quintana rarely turns in an awful performance, it wouldn't be an upset to see him do it at least once this week.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Quintana: Jason Hammel, Jake Arrieta, Collin McHugh

24. Jeff Locke, PIT (at TB, vs. NYM)

If nothing else, this week will be an interesting test for Locke. During his time in the minors this year, he hadn't appeared to solve the serious control problems that overtook him in 2013, yet since his recall two weeks ago, Locke has done nothing but throw strikes. It would be easy to attribute his lack of walks -- two over his last 21 innings -- to having faced the Brewers and Reds as two of his three opponents, as neither team walks much. The fact remains that Locke is working more frequently in the strike zone, locating 46 percent of his pitches there over his last three starts, according to FanGraphs.com. This week's opponents, the Rays and Mets, are not good offensive teams, but they do walk a lot. The matchups could be good ones for Locke, but they will offer a better indication of whether his improvements in control are for real.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Locke: Jake Arrieta, Collin McHugh, Wily Peralta

25. Matt Garza, MIL (vs. WAS, vs. COL)

Garza's first month with the Brewers was highly disappointing, as he ended April with a 1-3 record and a 5.00 ERA, but he has settled into being the NL's version of Jose Quintana. Over his last nine starts, Garza has had only one that could truly be classified as dominant, but he has been steady, failing only twice to register a quality start. His K/9 ratio has fallen for the third straight season, but with a rebounding ground ball rate, Garza hasn't been as susceptible to extra-base hits, especially during his recent month-and-a-half run. If he can maintain his rate of production from the last few weeks, he will be a worthwhile use of your last rotation spot.

Start the following one-start pitchers over Garza: Collin McHugh, Wily Peralta, Kyle Lohse

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
Report: Mets not close to trading pitcher Dillon Gee
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:11 am ET) While various clubs have expressed interest in Mets pitcher Dillon Gee, the Mets are not in negotiations to trade him anytime soon, reports MLB.com.

In 2014, Gee went 7-8 with a 4.00 ERA. The Mets are less than a month away from spring training and are also believed to be hesitant to depart with any of their starting pitchers.


Report: Matt Albers to throw in Houston on Feb. 10
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:59 am ET) Wanting to prove his health, free-agent pitcher Matt Albers will hold a throwing session Feb. 10 in Houston, reports 1500ESPN.

Albers was shut down last season because of shoulder tendinitis after throwing 10 innings for the Astros. All teams were invited to the session.


Report: Angels talk extension with closer Huston Street
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:30 am ET) The Angels have broached the subject of a contract extension with closer Huston Street and plan to start negotiations during spring training, reports MLB.com. The team exercised its $7 million opion on Street early in the offseason and "would like to lock the 31-year-old right-hander up before he hits free agency next winter," the report said.

Street converted 41 of 44 save opportunities last year, going 2-2 with a 1.37 ERA.


Marlins announce signing of Ichiro Suzuki
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/27/2015) The Marlins announced Tuesday they signed outfielder Ichiro Suzuki to a one-year contract.

The deal was expected to be announced once Suzuki passed his physical. He is expected to be the Marlins fourth outfielder as well as a left-handed bat off the bench.


Rays pitcher Matt Moore begins throwing off mound
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/27/2015) Rays pitcher Matt Moore took a significant step forward in his receovery from Tommy John surgery when he threw off a mound Tuesday, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

"It felt pretty good," Moore said.

Moore had the surgery in April and said he is pleased with the progress he has made.

"I would have thought a while ago I would have been nervous, but I was looking forward to it," Moore said. "And I felt like I had a lot more that could have come out. That's a feeling I've had the last month or so, and that's a feeling I like to have. I think we're in a good spot right now."


Angels' Garrett Richards to begin throwing off mound in February
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/27/2015) Angels pitcher Garrett Richards is ahead of schedule in his return from left-knee surgery and will begin throwing off a mound in the second week of February, reports the Los Angeles Times.

General manager Jerry Dipoto said they have been pleased with the progress Richards has made from the surgery.

"Ordinarily, he'd have thrown off a mound a couple times at this point in January, so he's not too far behind where he'd be in his normal throwing preparation," Dipoto said. "It's a matter of making sure the knee is stable and his lower body is in good shape. We're very optimistic, as we have been throughout."

In 2014, Richards went 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA.


Orioles finalize trade with Pirates for Travis Snider
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/27/2015) As part of the trade sending outfielder Travis Snider to the Orioles, the Pirates will receive prospect Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later, the team announced.

The left-handed Tarpley pitched at Class A in 2014 and went 3-5 with a 3.68 ERA.

Snider hit .264 with 13 home runs and 38 RBI in 2014 and will be a free agent after the 2016 season. Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said Snider fits in well with the team, reports MASNsports.com. 

"Snider is a solid dependable power-hitting outfielder and is an excellent fit for Camden Yards," Duquette said.

To make room for Snider, the Orioles designated Michael Ohlman for assignment


Rangers plan to stretch out Ross Detwiler's starts in spring training
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/27/2015) Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday the team plans to stretch out pitcher Ross Detwiler's starts to open spring training, reports foxsportssouthwest.com

Detwiler did not start a game in 2014, making 47 relief appearances with a 4.00 ERA. In 2013, he started 13 games for the Nationals and went 2-7 with a 4.04 ERA.


Red Sox trade Anthony Ranaudo to Rangers for Robbie Ross
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/27/2015) The Red Sox and Rangers announced a two player trade Tuesday where Boston sent Anthony Ranaudo to Texas and the Rangers sent Robbie Ross to the Red Sox, both teams announced.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday Ranaudo is in play to become the No. 5 starter in the rotation, but if he doesn't win the job, he will likely start in the minors.

Ranaudo posted a 4-3 record with a 4.81 ERA in 2014 for Boston in 39 1/3 innings pitched. Ross went 3-6 with a 6.20 ERA in 78 1/3 innings for the Rangers.


Report: Blue Jays also interested in Jonathan Papelbon trade
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/27/2015) Along with the Brewers, the Phillies have also discussed trading closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Blue Jays, soruces told MLB.com.

Papelbon is due $13 million next season, which is believed to be one of the sticking points in negotiations. In 2014, Papelbon had 39 saves with a 2.04 ERA.


 
 
 
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