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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
Giants SP Ryan Vogelsong mashed again in third straight loss
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:08 am ET) One might have thought it couldn't get much worse for Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong. One might have been wrong.

Vogelsong has been downright masterful lately in comparison to the pounding he took Thursday in Colorado. He surrendered eight runs on 11 hits in just three innings for his third consecutive defeat. He walked none and fanned one.

The right-hander yielded a two-run homer to sizzling Carlos Gonzalez in a four-run first inning in which he gave up six hits and it was all downhill from there. 

Vogelsong, who is trying in vain to maintain a rotation spot, has given up 14 runs over his last 11 innings to send his ERA soaring to 4.58.


Rockies SP Chris Rusin tosses second complete game at Coors
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(9/3/2015) Rockies left-hander Chris Rusin didn't just beat the Giants on Thursday night. He made history.

Rusin became the first Colorado pitcher to toss two complete games at Coors Field in the same season since Aaron Cook in 2008. He allowed three runs on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts. He threw 69 of 103 pitches for strikes.

Oddly, two of the three runs he allowed came off the bat of opposing pitcher Ryan Vogelsong, who took him yard in the third.

Rusin has four quality starts over his last five outings and has lowered his ERA to 4.78, which is not bad considering he gave up 11 runs in two innings in a start two weeks ago.


Padres demote RP Caleb Thielbar, RP Chris Rearick
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(9/3/2015) Padres left-handed relievers Caleb Thielbar and Chris Rearick both cleared waivers and have been outrighted, per U-T San Diego.

Thielbar has been sent to Triple-A El Paso while Rearick is headed to Double-A San Antonio.


Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez shuts down Pirates
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(9/3/2015) Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez didn't exactly heighten the tension in his performance against visiting Pittsburgh on Thursday. That's just the way he wanted it.

Rodriguez needed a mere eight pitches to dispose of the Pirates in the ninth inning after arriving with a 5-3 lead. He induced three groundouts to record his 33rd save in 34 opportunities.


PIrates SP Francisco Liriano falls apart in loss to Brewers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(9/3/2015) The Pirates had won 11 consecutive games started by southpaw Francisco Liriano when they arrived at the ballpark Thursday in Milwaukee.

Liriano didn't allow them to make it 12. He continued to slump with a weak effort in which he allowed four runs on seven hits in just five innings with five walks and four strikeouts. The walk total was his highest since April 26.

He was fine through four, but a Khris Davis double tallied one in the fifth and a walk, triple and double to start the sixth sent him to the showers.

Liriano now owns a 3.40 ERA, its highest point since May 29. He has given up 19 runs in 32 1/3 innings since the beginning of August.


Ryan Zimmerman continues torrid pace in Nationals' blowout win
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(9/3/2015) First baseman Ryan Zimmerman continued his recent offensive tear on Thursday, as the Nationals finished off a 15-1 shellacking of the Braves. 

Zimmerman went 3 for 3 with two doubles, four RBI and two runs scored. He is on quite a roll right now, batting an even .400 with seven home runs, four doubles and 22 RBI over his last 10 games.


Brewers SP Taylor Jungmann shines again in beating Pirates
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(9/3/2015) Rookie starter Taylor Jungmann continued to be a bright light in a dark season for the Brewers on Thursday against the playoff-bound Pirates.

Jungmann gave up just one run on three hits in six innings to raise his record to 9-5 and shrink his ERA to 2.42. He walked two and whiffed three.

The right-hander escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third, then locked in to retire the next eight batters he faced. A groundout tallied the lone run against him in the fifth.

Jungmann has yielded just one run over his last 12 innings.


Nationals' Bryce Harper goes hitless, scores four times in big win
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(9/3/2015) Bryce Harper did not record a hit in Thursday's game, but the Nationals star outfielder made some history

Harper became the first player since 1914 to 0-for-0 with four walks, four runs scored and an RBI, per MLB.com. The Nationals went on to put a beating on the Braves in a 15-1 final.

This is actually the second game this season that Harper scored four runs without registering a single hit. He's the only player in history to accomplish that feat.


Braves' Matt Wisler torched for seven runs in blowout Thursday
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(9/3/2015) Braves starter Matt Wisler had a rather forgettable outing against the Nationals on Thursday. The rookie right-hander lasted just 1 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs on five hits and three walks. Wisler needed 48 pitches (27 strikes) to record his five outs, en route to the 15-1 blowout loss.

Wisler (5-6, 5.97 ERA) has really struggled since the calendar turned to August. Over his last seven starts, he has allowed 32 earned runs over 31 1/3 innings of work, leading to a gaudy 9.20 ERA. He also owns a 18:20 K:BB ratio over that stretch.


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(9/3/2015) Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann turned in a solid effort against the Braves on Thursday, and he was backed by an offensive explosion. Zimmermann limited the Braves to just one run on two hits over six innings.

He struck out five and matched a season-high with four walks. He threw 53 of his 87 pitches for strikes in the 15-1 blowout.

Zimmermann (12-8, 3.38 ERA) posted his second consecutive quality start, and the fourth in his last six outings. 


 
 
 
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