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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 .

Want an edge in your draft? Download the Fantasy Draft Kit App.

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Player News
Glen Perkins picks up save No. 32
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:48 pm ET) Twins pitcher Glen Perkins saved his 32nd game Thursday against the Indians.

Perkins entered with a three-run lead and shut the door quickly. He tossed a perfect inning of work against Cleveland. Perkins struck out one batter during the outing. The save puts Perkins just four away from his career-high of 36 saves from last season. Perkins has a 2.48 ERA.


Still no timetable for Homer Bailey's return
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:44 pm ET) There's no timetable for Reds pitcher Homer Bailey yet, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Bailey did have a PRP injection to combat the injury. He's been sidelined since August 7 with elbow and neck issues. Bailey had a 3.71 ERA over 145 2/3 innings prior to the injury.


Jake McGee locks down save No. 14
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:40 pm ET) Rays pitcher Jake McGee picked up his 14th save Thursday against the Tigers.

McGee entered the ninth with a one-run lead. He induced a groundout to begin the inning, but couldn't work around Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera singled, putting the tying run on first. That was the extent of the Tigers comeback. McGee got Victor Martinez to fly out, and J.D. Martinez to pop out to end the game. It was the first appearance in which McGee did not record a strikeout since July 4. 


Allen Craig could have offseason foot surgery
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:36 pm ET) Cardinals infielder Allen Craig could have offseason surgery on his foot, according to WEEI. 

Craig is dealing with a Lisfranc injury, and will attempt to play through it down the stretch. He could opt for offseason surgery if he can't handle an increased workload moving forward. Craig has hit .237/.291/.348 over 371 at-bats.


Alex Cobb comes out ahead in pitcher's duel
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4:32 pm ET) Rays pitcher Alex Cobb got the best of former teammate David Price Thursday, as he came out ahead in a 1-0 win over the Tigers.

Cobb was at the top of his game in the pitcher's duel, as he tossed seven shutout innings in the win. He allowed just two hits and a pair of walks, while striking out six batters on 101 pitches.

Cobb opened the season with losses in three of his first four decisions, but is unbeaten since June 13. He is 9-6 with a 3.01 ERA overall, heading into his start Tuesday against the Orioles. 


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by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4:29 pm ET) Tigers pitcher David Price tossed the ball well against his former teammates Thursday, but the Rays still got the best of him as Detroit fell, 1-0.

Price tossed an eight-inning complete game in the loss, and allowed just one unearned run in the first inning. He was pretty much flawless otherwise, allowing just one hit and no walks while striking out nine batters on 100 pitches in the tough-luck loss.

Price is 1-1 in four starts since joining the Tigers, as his record now stands at 12-9 for the season. He has allowed eight runs in 30 2/3 innings with Detroit to lower his season ERA to 3.00, heading into his start against the Yankees next Wednesday. 


Phil Hughes wins fourth straight
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4:23 pm ET) Twins pitcher Phil Hughes twirled yet another gem Thursday, in a 4-1 win over the Indians, his fourth straight.

Hughes allowed just one run for the fourth start in a row, while completing seven full innings yet again. He scattered five hits without walking a batter, and struck out eight over 97 pitches for the win.

Hughes improved his record to 14-8 with the win, while lowering his ERA to 3.65. He will try to stretch his winning streak to five starts when he takes on the Royals Wednesday. 


Ryan Zimmerman able to throw Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:21 pm ET) Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman was able to throw Thursday, according to The Washington Post.

Zimmerman participated in a light throwing session prior to Thursday's game. He plans to repeat the drill from different distances depending on how his hamstring responds. Manager Matt Williams said it was a small step in Zimmerman's return to action. "It’s part of the strengthening process and getting him back to some baseball activity and working through that," Williams said. "That’s the early stages of it but it’s a step for sure."

Zimmerman has been working on an anti-gravity treadmill over the past weeks. He'll have to hit, run at full speed and run the bases before he returns. The last of which will be the most difficult according to Williams because Zimmerman "has to react and turn and create different angles." 

Williams told reporters Wednesday that he believes Zimmerman will return in September.


Corey Kluber takes rare loss despite quality start
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(4:17 pm ET) Indians pitcher Corey Kluber stumbled just a bit Thursday against the Twins, and it led to him dropping his first decision since late June in a 4-1 loss.

Kluber still came away from the outing with a quality start, his seventh in a row, but struggled with his command a bit. Kluber walked four batters and allowed six hits en route to three runs allowed over seven innings, though he also struck out eight batters in the loss.

Kluber falls to 13-7 as his six-decision winning streak came to an end, while his ERA rose slightly to 2.46. He still ranks third in the American League in ERA heading into his next start, set for Wednesday against the White Sox. 


Red Sox missing punch in middle of lineup Thursday
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(3:53 pm ET) The Red Sox will be without designated hitter David Ortiz (soreness), third baseman Will Middlebrooks (hamstring) and first baseman Mike Napoli (back) for Thursday's game against the Angels, as all three are out of the starting lineup. They remain day to day collectively moving forward. 

 
 
 
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