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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
Astros option OF L.J. Hoes to Triple-A Fresno
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) The Astros have optioned outfielder L.J. Hoes to Triple-A Fresno.

Hoes was competing for a bench spot but dealt with a wrist issue recently after being hit by a pitch over the weekend. He went 7 for 25 this spring before being sent down.


Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen leaves game, says he's fine
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen didn't run out a ground ball in the eighth inning of Wednesday's game and left the field slowly before being officially replaced in the game, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

McCutchen, who dealt with a lower-body injury earlier this spring, said he was fine after coming out of the game. He indicated that he slipped on the plate and throttled things back just to be safe. The outfielder finished the game 1 for 4 at the plate.


Orioles' Chris Tillman strikes out eight in spring finale vs. Pirates
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman allowed two earned runs on three hits in five innings while racking up eight strikeouts and issuing zero walks in Wednesday's spring finale against the Pirates.

Tillman gave up both runs on a home run in the second inning by Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez but was excellent aside from the one mistake. He closes the spring with a 2.76 ERA and 18:2 K:BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings. Tillman will square off with the Rays Monday on Opening Day.


Pirates' Gerrit Cole tosses three scoreless innings vs. Orioles
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole allowed just one hit and one walk in three scoreless innings while striking out three in Wednesday's spring finale against the Orioles.

Cole closes the spring with a 3.24 ERA and 12:4 K:BB ratio in 16 2/3 innings. He's slated to pitch the taem's second game of the season, leaving him to face the Reds next Wednesday.


Pirates' Francisco Liriano allows one run in spring finale
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano surrendered one earned run on three hits in three innings while striking out two in Wednesday's spring finale against the Orioles.

Liriano hadn't surrendered a run in nine spring innings heading into Wednesday's game and finishes the spring with a 0.75 ERA and 14:4 K:BB ratio in 12 innings. His next start will come on Opening Day against the Reds Monday.


Rangers' Colby Lewis serves up three homers in spring finale
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis allowed four earned runs on seven hits and one walk in three innings while walking two and giving up three home runs in his team's 10-4 loss to the Rockies Wednesday.

Lewis also served up three home runs in one inning in his spring debut but kept the ball in the park while surrendering three runs in eight innings over his previous two appearances. He closes out the spring with a 9.75 ERA and 5:4 K:BB ratio in 12 innings. Lewis is slated to make his regular-season debut Tuesday against the A's.


Indians first baseman Nick Swisher goes 2 for 3 in spring debut
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) Indians first baseman Nick Swisher went 2-for-3 Wednesday in his first action since undergoing surgery on both knees this offseason, reports MLB.com.

"All I really wanted to do was go out there and have some fun again, man," Swisher said. "I feel like it's been Groundhog's Day for me. It's like the same thing every day. So, to be able to come out here and actually be able to compete at this level was great. It raised my spirits a little bit, for sure."

Manager Terry Francona was happy to get Swisher back in the lineup.

"I think it was really good to get him in a game," Francona said. "I think it was really good for him -- whether he got hits or not. It was nice to see him get on base a couple times. I think it's helpful to him. I think it probably gave him another little push in the right direction. I think he had fun and it makes it feel a little bit closer to the finish line."

He remains without a timetable to return for the regular season.

"I wish I could give you a timetable. I wish I could give you a day," Swisher said. "I'm just going to come back when I feel healthy. Do I feel like I could go and DH for this team and contribute right now? Sure, but that's not all I want to do. I want to make sure I'm able to go to the outfield. I want to make sure I'm able to go to first base and make sure all my movements are fluid and smooth."


Rangers' Elvis Andrus goes hitless in return Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus went 0 for 3 and struck out twice in his return to the lineup Wednesday as the Rangers fell to the Rockies, 10-4.

Andrus was scratched from Monday's lineup due to stiffness in his lower back but missed little time due to the injury. He has hit .359/.381/.590 in 39 spring at-bats.


Rockies' Kyle Kendrick allows four runs in spring finale
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) Rockies pitcher Kyle Kendrick surrendered four runs (three earned) on five hits and one walk in five innings while striking out four in his team's 10-4 win over the Rangers Wednesday.

"Personally, I feel ready to go," Kendrick said after the outing, per the Denver Post. "I worked on my curveball this spring and I used it today. That’s something that’s come along and it’s probably something that is going to be big for me this year."

Kendrick wraps up his spring with a 3.98 ERA and 12:5 K:BB ratio in 20 1/3 innings over six starts. He'll next take the mound Monday to face the Brewers on Opening Day.


Rangers reassign Ed Lucas, Carlos Peguero to minor-league camp
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) The Rangers reassigned infielder Ed Lucas and outfielder Carlos Peguero to minor-league camp Wednesday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

Lucas hit .300/.356/.375 in 40 spring at-bats but also struck out 14 times. Peguero hit .340/.415/.511 while striking out 18 times in 47 at-bats.


 
 
 
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