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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
Brewers' Scooter Gennett glad to have full-time role
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:03 pm ET) Brewers infielder Scooter Gennett is glad to have a full-time role heading into 2015, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Gennett spent last season in a platoon with Rickie Weeks, but with Weeks gone, he'll assume the full-time role. Gennett said he feels far less stressed about his position on the team this spring. "Seeing as I'm pretty much the everyday guy, that eliminated the stress, or whatever you want to call it, off my back," he said. 

"Just not having to worry about stuff out of my control. I've put myself in this position where I've earned the job, I've shown them what I can do, and now it's about consistently doing it," he added. 

Manager Ron Roenicke has already said he'll give Gennett plenty of opportunities to prove himself against left-handers. 

Gennett, 24, hit .289/.320/.434 over 440 at-bats last season. 


Cubs' Arismendy Alcantara will play all over the place
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:54 pm ET) Cubs utility man Arismendy Alcantara is going to play a lot of positions this season, according to ESPN.

Alcantara saw time in center last season, but the team's trade for Dexter Fowler will alter his role. Alcantara says he's ready for the challenge. "Mentally you have to be ready for that," Alcantara said. "They want me to play second base and the outfield." He's also expected to see some time at third base. 

Manager Joe Maddon is glad to have such a versatile player on the team. "When you get a guy like that and you want to give someone a rest, you don't feel like you're losing anything," Joe Maddon said. "And the big attraction there is also in-game. It's like having an extra guy on the bench."

The 23-year-old Alcantara hit .205/.254/.367 over 278 at-bats last year. 


Rockies ask Corey Dickerson to be more patient
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:31 pm ET) The Rockies want Corey Dickerson to be a little more patient at the plate, according to MLB.com.

Dickerson had a breakout season in 2014, hitting .312/.364/.567 over 436 at-bats. He walked in 7.7 percent of his plate appearances, which was actually just above the league average. Still, the team wants Dickerson to be slightly less of a free-swinging this year.

"I talked to Corey about adding this much discipline to his game," manager Walt Weiss said. "We don't want that much, because then he wouldn't be Corey Dickerson." Weiss explained that it's difficult to deliver this type of message, as Dickerson's aggressiveness makes him effective. 

Dickerson said he would work harder to study pitchers and work on his approach during games. 

The 25-year-old is expected to open the year as the team's starter in left.


Marlins unlikely to add reliever now
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:16 pm ET) The Marlins are unlikely to add a reliever now that Francisco Rodriguez is off the market, according to MLB.com.

The Marlins were involved in negotiations for K-Rod through at least Wednesday, and were reportedly willing to offer $10 million over two years. The club has been looking for a veteran reliever for some time, but may pass now that Rodriguez has signed with the Brewers.

Both Rafael Soriano and Phil Coke have been connected to Miami, but the team would likely only sign those players to minor-league contracts.


Diamondbacks' Chase Anderson a favorite for the rotation
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:42 pm ET) The Diamondbacks consider Chase Anderson a favorite to break camp in the rotation, according to azcentral.com.

The club wants to create a lot of competition for the rotation, and it was initially believed Anderson would be competing for a spot. General manager Dave Stewart sort of quashed those rumors, saying he perceives Anderson as a strong favorite right now. "Chase Anderson won nine games for us last year; you have to strongly consider him as part of our rotation," Stewart said. 

Anderson is expected to pair with Josh Collmenter and Jeremy Hellickson for now. The club will determine the final two spots in the rotation during camp.

Anderson, 27, posted a 4.01 ERA over 114 1/3 innings last year.


Indians' Francona: Swisher 'swinging the bat really well'
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:14 pm ET) Indians manager Terry Francona has been satisfied with Nick Swisher's performance during batting practice, according to the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

"He's swinging the bat really well," Francona said. "He's under control and he probably has to be (because of his knees). But he's using the whole field. He really looks good." 

Swisher has been working with the team's hitting coaches on trying to go up the middle more often. Francona said that strategy has already translated to his batting practice sessions. 

Running still remains an issue for Swisher, however. He was able to do some drills on Thursday, but reportedly looked uncomfortable during the session. The club expects he'll be ready for games in mid-March.

Swisher, 34, hit .208/.278/.331 over 360 at-bats last year. 


Rockies' Jordan Lyles hoping new changeup leads to success
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:55 pm ET) Rockies pitcher Jordan Lyles is hoping a new changeup will lead to success this season, according to the Denver Post

Lyles started experimenting with a split-change last year, and spent all offseason honing the pitch. I've been working on that all offseason," Lyles said. "I wasn't paying too much attention to my curveball and cutter. I really wanted to give a bigger gap between mph."

Manager Walt Weiss came away impressed with the offering. "His confidence in that pitch has skyrocketed," he said. Weiss added that he views Lyles as "a staple for [the Rockies."

Lyles is expected to open the year in the team's rotation. He posted a 4.33 ERA over 126 2/3 innings last season.


Royals looking at Joe Blanton as a reliever
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:48 pm ET) The Royals will use Joe Blanton as a reliever, according to MLB.com.

Blanton has not pitched in the majors since 2013. While he started 20 games that season, the Royals view him strictly as a reliever. "The only way he is really going to help us is in the bullpen," manager Ned Yost said. "We're not going to stretch him out [to be a starter]."

Blanton posted a 6.04 ERA over 132 2/3 innings in 2013. He'll compete for a job in the Royals bullpen this spring. 


Giants' Santiago Casilla avoids injury during BP session
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:41 pm ET) Giants reliever Santiago Casilla avoided a major injury on Thursday after he was hit by a comebacker during a batting practice session, according to MLB.com.

Casilla took a line drive off the shin during the session. He laid on the ground for about a minute, but was able to walk off the field under his own power. X-rays came back negative, so Casilla is not dealing with a fracture. He may miss a day or two due to the injury, but that's it. Casilla said he wanted to simulate a real game, which is why he decided not to pitch behind a screen.

The 34-year-old posted a 1.70 ERA over 58 1/3 innings last year. He's expected to open the season as the team's closer. 


Rockies' Jon Gray happy to have his velocity back
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:33 pm ET) Rockies pitcher Jon Gray is glad to have his velocity back this spring, according to MLB.com.

Gray dealt with shoulder fatigue last season, which limited his ability to get his fastball up into the triple-digits. That hasn't been a problem during camp. "This is the first time I felt this strong since early [Class A Advanced] Modesto," Gray said. 

Teammate Corey Dickerson came away impressed. "He was one of the best pitchers today because he was painting or barely missing -- one or two inches out of the zone -- and looked smooth, not nervous, but confident," Dickerson said.

Gray believes the added velocity should help his changeup this season. "I developed a really good changeup. It was my strikeout pitch of the year. I'll take that into this year with my fastball. It's going to be awesome."

Gray is expected to compete for a spot in the team's rotation this spring. Though he's likely to start in the minors, he should reach the majors at some point this year.


 
 
 
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