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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
Report: Phillies, Wandy Rodriguez agree to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:27 pm ET) The Phillies and pitcher Wandy Rodriguez have agreed to a minor-league deal, pending a physical, CSNPhilly.com reports.

Rodriguez missed much of 2014 with a knee injury, finishing 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA and 20:8 K:BB ratio in 26 2/3 innings over six starts. Prior to 2014, he posted ERAs under 3.80 in each of his previous six seasons.


Orioles P Steve Johnson cleared to play catch
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4:24 pm ET) Orioles pitcher Steve Johnson posted on his social media page that he's been cleared to start playing catch.

Johnson underwent surgery shortly after the end of the 2014 season to remove a large bone spur behind his right shoulder. He registered a 6.23 ERA in 47 2/3 innings at three different levels in the minors, with most of his action coming with Triple-A Norfolk. He's expected to be ready for spring training.


Report: Rafael Furcal to miss winter league with torn hamstring
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) Free-agent infielder Rafael Furcal will miss the winter league playoffs after suffering a torn hamstring, according to ESPN Deportes. 

The 37-year-old Furcal struggled with injuries last year, playing in just nine games. He hit .171 over 35 at-bats with Miami. Furcal went on the disabled list two separate times with hamstring issues last season.


Report: Wandy Rodriguez close to signing with the Phillies
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) Pitcher Wandy Rodriguez is traveling to Philadelphia in order to take a physical, according to Phillies Spanish play-by-play man, Angel Castillo. 

If that physical goes well, Rodriguez is expected to sign with the club. The 35-year-old had knee surgery in June, but decided to pitch in winter ball in order to show major-league teams he had something left in the tank. Rodriguez posted a 6.75 ERA over 26 2/3 innings with the Pirates before he was shut down for the season. 


Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to return to Japan
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda will return to pitch in Japan next season, confirms CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. A Hiroshima newspaper was the first to have the report.

The 39-year-old Kuroda spent seven seasons in the United States. He posted a career 3.45 ERA over 1319 innings. After spending the first four seasons of his career with the Dodgers, Kuroda joined the Yankees. He remained with the organization for three seasons, but made sure his contract went year-to-year so that he could return to Japan when ready. Kuroda plans to continue his baseball career in Japan, and will pitch for the Hiroshima Carp next year. 


Report: Giants my look at Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) The Giants may look into acquiring Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist, according to Gammons Daily. 

Gammons notes that several general managers believe the club will deal prospects to acquire the 33-year-old Zobrist. San Francisco is currently slated to start Joe Panik at second, but Zobrist can play multiple positions. It's unclear where the Giants would elect to use Zobrist the most. He hit .272/.354/.395 in 570 at-bats last season. Zobrist is entering the final year of his contract, and is due $7.5 million next season.


Report: Yankees have yet to be informed of Hiroki Kuroda's plans
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) The Yankees have yet to be informed of pitcher Hiroki Kuroda's plans for next year, according to the New York Times.

A Hiroshima newspaper reported Kuroda will return to Japan next season, ending a seven-year run in the United States. The 39-year-old posted a 3.71 ERA over 199 innings with New York last season. Kuroda had signed one-year deals the past couple of offseasons so that he could return to Japan when ready.


1B Clint Robinson hooks up with Nationals
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) The Nationals have signed first baseman Clint Robinson to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.

Robinson had been in the Dodgers organization. He compiled a strong .312/.401/.535 slash line at the Triple-A level a year ago.


Report: RHP Hiroki Kuroda heading back to Japan
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) Veteran right-hander Hiroki Kuroda is heading back to Japan, thereby ending his career with the Yankees, per various reports.

Kuroda, who will be 40 years old in February, pitched seven seasons in the major leagues, including the last three in the Big Apple. He finished 2014 with an 11-9 record and 3.71 ERA.


Astros LHP Downs, IF Petit heading to Fresno
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) The Astros have outrighted left-hander Darin Downs to Triple-A Fresno after having cleared waivers. 

The team has also announced that infielder Gregorio Petit has accepted an assignment to Fresno. He and Downs are set to join the squad in spring training.


 
 
 
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