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Start and sit hitters for Week 14

Senior Fantasy Writer
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All stats are updated through Thursday, June 26.

First, the good news: Bryce Harper is expected back from a two-month absence for a torn thumb ligament Monday, just in time for the start of a new week in Fantasy.

Meanwhile, Christian Yelich, out since June 13 with a back issue, is expected back Sunday. Both figure to get a full week of at-bats, but you won't get to see much from either before lineups lock. Still, both are probably worth the risk this week. Harper is an obvious must-start when healthy, and Yelich was about to that point before his injury.

Scott's sleepers for Week 14
Player Own/Start %
1. Adam LaRoche, 1B, Nationals 88/69
2. Brad Miller, SS, Mariners 44/29
3. Neil Walker, 2B, Pirates 91/39
4. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals 92/65
5. Steve Pearce, 1B/OF, Orioles 24/19
6. Marlon Byrd, OF, Phillies 75/63
7. J.D. Martinez, OF, Tigers 75/64
8. C.J. Cron, 1B, Angels 37/22
9. Brock Holt, 1B/3B/OF, Red Sox 56/43
10. Erick Aybar, SS, Angels 82/66

Brandon Belt (thumb), Corey Hart (hamstring) are already on minor-league rehab assignments, with Nolan Arenado (finger) not far behind, giving all three a chance to return this week. Outside of AL- and NL-only leagues, though, you wouldn't want to gamble on just half a week's production from any of them. Arenado is a little easier to justify because of the position he plays, but you're better off holding out another week.

An MRI Wednesday revealed no structural damage to Hanley Ramirez's sore right shoulder, but he's already missed four games with the injury. Every day he sits out is even more justification for the Dodgers to put him on the DL, so if he continues to sit over the weekend, be careful. Jose Bautista, meanwhile, has missed four games with a hamstring injury, but he's aiming to return Saturday. Starling Marte, out with a jammed finger, is also probably good to go, but he's less than must-start even with favorable matchups for the Pirates.

And with that, on to the position-by-position breakdown ...

Catcher

Too obvious: Jonathan Lucroy, Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana, Devin Mesoraco, Miguel Montero, Salvador Perez, Brian McCann

Start: Mike Zunino, Mariners
Zunino has been far from reliable during his sophomore season, hitting most of his home runs in bunches. With four homers in his last four games, though, he appears to be in the thick of (and hopefully not at the end of) another such power surge. He, like most Mariners hitters, has done most of his damage on the road this year, hitting .250 with six of his 11 home runs there, so a week split between two of the more favorable places to hit in the AL, Minute Maid Park and U.S. Cellular Field, can only help.
Instead of: Kurt Suzuki, Carlos Ruiz, A.J. Pierzynski

Sit: Jason Castro, Astros
Even now at the halfway point, Castro shows no signs of snapping out of his season-long funk, batting .197 (12 for 61) with no home runs so far in June. Striking out every third at-bat certainly doesn't help, but then again, he overcame a high strikeout rate last year to finish with must-start numbers. In leagues where every team starts just one catcher, he's still probably one of your go-tos if you don't own any of the "too obvious" options, but you shouldn't expect him to snap out of his funk against Taijuan Walker, Hisashi Iwakuma, C.J. Wilson, Garrett Richards and Jered Weaver this week.
Instead of: Wilson Ramos, Zunino, Russell Martin

First base

Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Abreu, Anthony Rizzo, Freddie Freeman, Chris Davis, Victor Martinez, Brandon Moss, Joey Votto, Todd Frazier, Jonathan Lucroy, Justin Morneau, Carlos Santana, Buster Posey, Adrian Gonzalez, Allen Craig

Start: Eric Hosmer, Royals
Though Hosmer showed signs of coming around with three home runs earlier in June, he's just 5 for 36 (.139) in his last nine games. But that was with unfavorable matchups against the Tigers, Mariners and Dodgers rotations. He's facing the Twins and Indians rotations this week, two of the weaker ones in the AL. Plus, he's on the road, where he's hitting .296 compared to .203 at home, and facing nothing but right-handers, against whom he's hit all four of his home runs. I'm thinking he heats up again.
Instead of: Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard, Jon Singleton

Sit: Kendrys Morales, Twins
Morales waited so long to sign in 2014 that when it finally happened, it caused more of a stir than it probably warranted in Fantasy. His poor plate discipline makes him no better than a fringe contributor in standard Head-to-Head leagues, and with only one home run so far, he certainly isn't a hot-hand play. And of course, Target Field isn't such a great park for power hitters. He'll get his first real test there this week against pitchers like Danny Duffy, James Shields, Jason Vargas, Masahiro Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda.
Instead of: Hosmer, Adam LaRoche, C.J. Cron

Second base

Too obvious: Robinson Cano, Brian Dozier, Jose Altuve, Ian Kinsler, Anthony Rendon, Dee Gordon, Matt Carpenter, Dustin Pedroia, Daniel Murphy, Jason Kipnis, Chase Utley, Howie Kendrick

Five Best Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Dodgers CLE3, @COL4
2. Pirates ARI3, PHI3
3. Braves NYM3, ARI3
4. Royals @MIN3, @CLE3
5. Angels @CHW3, HOU4

Start: Neil Walker, Pirates
Fresh off the DL, Walker has yet to regain the power stroke that put him on a career-best home run pace before his appendectomy in early June. But thanks in part to that pace, he was too valuable to sit before the procedure, making him a pretty easy recommendation now. His matchups against Wade Miley, Chase Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, Roberto Hernandez and David Buchanan should get him back on track, as should his six games at home, where he's batting .293 compared to .222 on the road since the start of last season.
Instead of: Brandon Phillips, Aaron Hill, Scooter Gennett

Sit: Gordon Beckham, White Sox
Though he's added to his home run tally during that stretch, Beckham is batting just .140 (7 for 50) over his last 13 games and has the kind of matchups this week that should only put him in a deeper hole. He'll face Garrett Richards, Jered Weaver, Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker in a six-game week. At a deep position, you can do better.
Instead of: Josh Harrison, Omar Infante, Gennett

Third base

Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Josh Donaldson, Todd Frazier, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, Matt Carpenter, Anthony Rendon, Kyle Seager, Carlos Santana, Lonnie Chisenhall, Ryan Zimmerman, Pedro Alvarez, Pablo Sandoval, Aramis Ramirez

Start: Brock Holt, Red Sox
Though everything from his less-than-stellar pedigree to his egregiously high BABIP to the law of averages suggests it's too good to be true, Holt maintains a batting average well over .300. And with a .348 (8 for 23) mark over his last five games, it's actually on the rise. The Red Sox play all six of their games at home this week, where he's batting about 50 points higher than on the road, and have favorable matchups against pitchers like Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Ubaldo Jimenez.
Instead of: Manny Machado, Casey McGehee, Chase Headley

Sit; Matt Dominguez, Astros
Dominguez may have homered Thursday, but it was his first hit in seven games. Clearly, he's in a funk right now, and his matchups this week won't help him break out of it. Some of the pitchers he's facing include Taijuan Walker, Hisashi Iwakuma, C.J. Wilson, Garrett Richards and Jered Weaver. With a career .245 batting average, he's certainly not beyond dropping for a hot-hand play.
Instead of: Holt, Chris Johnson, Mike Moustakas

Shortstop

Too obvious: Troy Tulowitzki, Dee Gordon, Starlin Castro, Ian Desmond, Jose Reyes, Elvis Andrus, Alexei Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins, Ben Zobrist

Five Worst Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. White Sox LAA3, SEA3
2. Rockies @WAS3, LAD4
3. Astros SEA3, @LAA4
4. Reds @SD3, MIL3
5. Padres CIN3, SF3

Start: Brad Miller, Mariners
"Bad Miller" is back to being Brad again with a .394 (13 for 33) batting average and three home runs over his last 10 games. For all of June, he's batting .311 with four home runs and an .887 OPS, looking more or less like the player so many projected him to be coming into the year. His overall numbers are still terrible, but he's kept it going long enough to earn a second look at a weak position, especially with the Mariners visiting hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park and U.S. Cellular Field this week.
Instead of: Xander Bogaerts, Jed Lowrie, Andrelton Simmons

Sit: Jean Segura, Brewers
While Segura got the nod here last week for his struggles against left-handed pitchers, this time it's for his struggles overall. He hasn't done anything worthwhile all season, and it's only gotten worse in June with a .196 (19 for 97) batting average for the month. Plus, the Brewers are the only team playing just five games this week, and though they don't face a true ace in any of those five, their matchups against Drew Hutchison, Alfredo Simon, Homer Bailey and Mat Latos aren't a walk in the park either.
Instead of: Miller, Erick Aybar, Alcides Escobar

Outfield

Too obvious: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Yasiel Puig, Adam Jones, Ryan Braun, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brandon Moss, Matt Holliday, Hunter Pence, Nelson Cruz, Alex Rios, Melky Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Gordon, Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Charlie Blackmon, Khris Davis, Jay Bruce, Billy Hamilton, Shin-Soo Choo, Jayson Werth, Coco Crisp, Corey Dickerson, Josh Hamilton, Allen Craig, Matt Kemp, George Springer, Ryan Zimmerman, Gregory Polanco, Michael Morse

Start: Steve Pearce, Orioles
Pearce, who had previously earned a reputation as a Quadruple-A player, is finally making an impact at the big-league level. He has a .331 batting average and .961 OPS for the season and has only gotten hotter since entering the starting lineup in mid-June, batting .406 (13 for 32) with three home runs in his last eight games. David Lough is certainly no threat to his playing time, so Pearce has a chance of adding a home run or two more against pitchers like Joe Saunders, Nick Martinez, Nick Tepesch and Jake Peavy this week. He may not be a permanent solution for your Fantasy team, but there's nothing wrong with riding the hot hand.
Instead of: Desmond Jennings, Dexter Fowler, Austin Jackson

Sit: Torii Hunter, Tigers
Kind of a tricky call here. While on the one hand, the Tigers matchups' against the Athletics and Rays (and stalwarts like Scott Kazmir, Jesse Chavez, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer and David Price) are especially bad news for J.D. Martinez given that four of the pitchers on tap are left-handed and he's batting just .118 against lefties, I can't bring myself to sit someone as hot as he is. Hunter could be one of the players who loses at-bats to him going forward, though, especially since he's batting just .207 (18 for 87) in his last 24 games. Plus, he could be rusty coming back from a hamstring injury and won't exactly benefit from those matchups himself.
Instead of: Pearce, Marlon Byrd, Lorenzo Cain

Though normally in Fantasy Baseball, you'd start your best players every week regardless of matchups, in those weeks when you do need a fill-in, whether because of injuries or the total collapse of a trusted starter, Scott White is here to help.

At each position, he'll list the players who are "too obvious" for the upcoming week, meaning the ones you wouldn't consider sitting for anyone off the list, and then suggest a start and a sit based on a variety of short-term factors.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Padres' Blaine Boyer clears waivers, heads for free agency
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:08 pm ET) Padres right-handed pitcher Blaine Boyer cleared waivers Wednesday and will enter free agency, according to U-T San Diego. Boyer was designated for assignment last week.

Boyer appeared in 32 games last season for the Padres and posted a 3.57 ERA. 


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(1:55 pm ET) Catcher Jose Molina and infielder Cole Figueroa cleared waivers and were released by the Rays Wednesday. 

Both Molina and Figueroa were designated for assignment Thursday. Molina, 39, hit .178 over 225 at-bats last year, while Figueroa hit .233 in 43 at-bats. 


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(1:33 pm ET) The Rays have announced signing of right-hand pitcher Ernesto Frieri to a one-year contract. Frieri will make a base salary of $800,000, going up to $3.15 million with incentives, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Frieri, who had a career-high 37 saves in 2013, had 11 last season with a 7.34 ERA.


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by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
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"The knee, I have no complaints," Sabathia told YES Network. "I’m able to do all of my workouts. … I’m changing a few things. Not as much pounding and running. I’m in the pool a lot, on different machines to get cardio, (on the) bike. Just adding a few different things to get some cardio in."

Despite coming off surgery and being limited to eight starts (46 innings) in 2014, Sabathia feels he can get back to being a 30-start, 200-inning pitcher in 2015.

"Yeah, for sure," he said. "I feel like I can. If you asked me that a couple of months ago, I would have said, ‘I don’t know,’ but the way I’m feeling now and being able to work out, definitely."


Report: Indians expressing interest in Kendrys Morales
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Brewers' Ryan Braun 'cautiously optimistic' coming off thumb surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:54 am ET) Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is optimistic coming off October thumb surgery. Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure in Los Angeles on Oct. 2, in which a needle was inserted at the base of his right thumb to essentially freeze a nerve.

"It definitely worked," Braun said Wednesday, per MLB.com. "It makes a huge difference."

Braun swung a bat 10 days after the procedure and was happy the pain in his thumb was gone.

"Right now, I don’t feel any [discomfort], and I haven’t been able to say that for two years," he said. "I think I’ve told you guys, it [bothered him] shaking hands, writing -- you know, just everyday activities. Now I don’t feel it at all, so I’m excited."

While Braun is definitely optimistic, he is also a bit cautious because he isn't in the grind of playing baseball every day. He has received full clearance, however, for all offseason activities.

"I’m encouraged by how it feels, but at the same time, I think I have to be cautiously optimistic [until] I get into spring training and see how it responds," Braun said. "But it hasn’t felt this good in a really long time."


Red Sox GM: Cespedes 'in our plans for next year'
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(11:13 am ET) Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said in a radio interview Wednesday that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is in the team's plans for next year. 

“We acquired him at the deadline in the [Jon] Lester trade because we felt that was the best deal at the time, we still feel that way. He’s in our plans for next year and his versatility and skill in the outfield and gives us the flexibility, could play any of the three positions," Cherington said. "We’ll just see what the rest of the offseason brings. We have a long way to go, and as we get to January, closer to spring training, we’ll know more about who’s here and how it all adds up.”

Cespedes hit .260 with 100 RBI last season between Oakland and Boston. 


Mets SP Matt Harvey eager for the start of spring training
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Harvey, who was an All-Star in 2013, is 12-10 with a 2.39 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 36 career starts. He is also striking out 9.9 batters per nine innings.


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(10:50 am ET) Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts could be a new name that pops up on the Mets' radar as they search for a new starting shortstop.

While it appears Bogaerts will remain with Boston with newly signed Hanley Ramirez moving to left field, a Mets source told the New York Post the team will be watching the Red Sox's situation.

"It’s not like we’re knocking down their door to see if [Bogaerts] is available," the source said. "But we’ll wait and see how things shake out."


 
 
 
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