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Start and sit hitters for Week 15

Senior Fantasy Writer
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All stats are updated through Thursday, July 3.

Oscar Taveras' return hasn't met with the same enthusiasm in Fantasy as his initial callup a few weeks earlier. That's because his playing time will come at the expense of others' this time around. He did get a start in center field Wednesday, but otherwise, he has replaced Matt Holliday once and Allen Craig once. Matt Adams could also be at risk of losing at-bats. Holliday is the only one of the four I'm willing to call "too obvious" for this week.

Josh Willingham has sat out three of the Twins' last eight games. The first time, manager Ron Gardenhire said he just wanted to keep him fresh, but now you have to wonder if, given his injury history and 35 years of age, the Twins see him as an everyday player still. Sit him for now.

Scott's sleepers for Week 15
Player Own/Start %
1. Kole Calhoun, OF, Angels 74/60
2. Corey Dickerson, OF, Rockies 85/65
3. Lonnie Chisenhall, 1B/3B, Indians 92/72
4. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies 94/33
5. Mike Napoli, 1B, Red Sox 84/62
6. Scooter Gennett, 2B, Brewers 66/50
7. C.J. Cron, 1B, Angels 53/39
8. Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins 87/52
9. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees 86/65
10. Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves 67/44

Joey Votto continues to have leg issues dating back to his DL stint that ended nearly a month ago. The Reds hold out hope he can avoid a return trip to the DL, but given the way his production has suffered, he's less than "too obvious" for the time being.

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

Catcher

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

Start: Yan Gomes, Indians
Gomes has been especially productive in recent days, plating seven runs with a .276 (8 for 29) batting average and two homers in his last seven games. Against pitchers like Vidal Nuno, Chase Whitley, David Phelps, Hector Noesi and Scott Carroll this week, he should have plenty more RBI opportunities this week, and with seven home games, he's a good bet to take advantage. He's batting .305 with an .833 OPS there compared to .242 and .662 on the road.
Instead of: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Zunino, Jason Castro

Sit: Derek Norris, Athletics
Norris only recently returned from a back injury that sidelined him for about a week, so when the Athletics go without the DH for two games in the middle of this week, you have to think they might use it as an opportunity to rest their top catcher. Even if they don't, Norris faces long odds against pitchers like Ryan Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, Taijuan Walker, Hisashi Iwakuma and Chris Young. He does most of his damage against lefties, and only one of those pitchers fits that description.
Instead of: Gomes, Kurt Suzuki, Wilson Ramos

First base

Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Abreu, Albert Pujols, Anthony Rizzo, Freddie Freeman, Todd Frazier, Chris Davis, Jonathan Lucroy, Justin Morneau, Adam LaRoche, Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, Adrian Gonzalez

Start: Mike Napoli, Red Sox
Napoli has swung a hot bat since returning from the DL in early June, batting .309 (25 for 81) with five home runs and a .411 on-base percentage in 23 games, but his starting rate remains in the 60-percent range, about 10 percent lower than before the injury. He's a good bet to keep it going this week against the White Sox and Astros rotations, especially since three of the pitchers on tap throw left-handed.
Instead of: Allen Craig, Eric Hosmer, Ryan Howard

Sit: Steve Pearce, Orioles
You never like sitting the hot hand, but the Orioles themselves may have to do it when they travel to Washington for two games to begin this week. No DH most likely means no Pearce. And while the 31-year-old journeyman has beat up on bottom-feeders like Joe Saunders, Nick Martinez and Scott Baker in recent days, he'll be in for more of a challenge against Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka this week.
Instead of: Napoli, C.J. Cron, Mark Teixeira

Second base

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

Five Best Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Indians NYY4, CHW3
2. Rockies SD3, MIN3
3. Angels TOR3, @TEX4
4. Yankees @CLE4, @BAL3
5. Red Sox CHW4, @HOU3

Start: Scooter Gennett, Brewers
Though Gennett remains one of the hottest players in baseball, batting .412 (21 for 51) with a 1.170 OPS over his last 14 games, his Fantasy owners haven't benefited recently because of all the lefties the Brewers have faced. They do face two in their seven games this week, but some of the righties -- Kyle Kendrick, Roberto Hernandez, David Buchanan and, at least at this stage of his career, Carlos Martinez -- are as hittable as they come.
Instead of: Neil Walker, Aaron Hill, Jed Lowrie

Sit: Josh Harrison, Pirates
Though manager Clint Hurdle said just a couple weeks ago that he needs to find playing time for Harrison, general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday that the team wants to keep the 26-year-old in a utility role. It's not a strict contradiction, but many hoped Harrison would take over at shortstop once Neil Walker and Starling Marte returned from their injuries. Against some of the best the Cardinals and Reds have to offer, you might want to play it safe and bench him this week.
Instead of: Gennett, Brandon Phillips, Mookie Betts

Third base

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

Start: Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians
Though he still boasts a .344 batting average and .960 OPS for the season, Chisenhall's starting rate has dropped from 84 to 72 percent over the last three weeks. It's not like he's fallen flat on his face during that time, batting a disappointing but not debilitating .203 (12 for 59) with a .688 OPS in 16 games, and he has a good chance of bouncing back against Vidal Nuno, Chase Whitle, David Phelps, Hector Noesi and Scott Carroll this week.
Instead of: Manny Machado, Casey McGehee, Martin Prado

Sit: Nick Castellanos, Tigers
Castellanos looks like a hot-hand play with his .330 (35 for 106) batting average over his last 29 games, but a lack of power and patience has limited his productivity during that stretch, which explains his comparatively low .874 OPS. He'll open this week against Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke before traveling to pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium for four games, which should bring him down to size. He's a .226 hitter away from Tiger Stadium this year.
Instead of: Nolan Arenado, Trevor Plouffe, Brock Holt

Shortstop

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

Five Worst Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Orioles @WAS2, WAS2, NYY3
2. Dodgers @DET2, SD4
3. Athletics SF2, @SF2, @SEA3
4. Pirates @STL4, @CIN3
5. Phillies @MIL4, WAS3

Start: Andrelton Simmons, Braves
Though six games in the two-hole haven't fundamentally changed Simmons as a hitter -- he's batting .276 (8 for 29) since moving there on a near-everyday basis -- it has improved his run-scoring potential enough to make him relevant in mixed leagues again. Already, he has 12 Head-to-Head points in Fantasy Week 14 (June 30-July 6), putting him just three away from his season high. With him set to play seven more games this week, you could do worse at the weakest position in Fantasy.
Instead of: Jimmy Rollins, Alcides Escobar, Jhonny Peralta

Sit: Jed Lowrie, Athletics
Just when you think Lowrie is on the verge of snapping out of his two month-long funk, the Athletics end up having some of the toughest matchups of any team this week, going against Ryan Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, Taijuan Walker, Hisashi Iwakuma and, yes, even Chris Young, who's suddenly good again. All of those games are in a pitcher's parks, too. Hey, you've already gotten used to benching him, right?
Instead of: Simmons, Asdrubal Cabrera, Xander Bogaerts

Outfield

Too obvious: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton, Yasiel Puig, Carlos Gomez, Adam Jones, Jacoby Ellsbury, Hunter Pence, Nelson Cruz, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Brantley, Justin Upton, Matt Holliday, Shin-Soo Choo, Alex Rios, Melky Cabrera, Jason Heyward, Jay Bruce, Alex Gordon, Billy Hamilton, Charlie Blackmon, Michael Morse, Khris Davis, Martin Prado, Matt Kemp, George Springer, Ryan Zimmerman, Gregory Polanco, Bryce Harper, Josh Hamilton, Coco Crisp, Brett Gardner, Jayson Werth, J.D. Martinez

Start: Kole Calhoun, Angels
Calhoun has been so hot lately, batting .375 (27 for 72) with five home runs and a 1.064 OPS in his last 21 games that you haven't so much cared about him sitting against left-handers. Well, guess what? He faces only one of those in seven games this week, and some of the righties on tap include R.A. Dickey, Nick Tepesch, Colby Lewis, Nick Martinez and Miles Mikolas. Cha-ching!
Instead of: Desmond Jennings, Marcell Ozuna, Adam Eaton

Sit: Austin Jackson, Tigers
Though the lineup crunch hasn't been as notable in recent days with Victor Martinez nursing a sore ribcage (he just returned Thursday), Jackson is one of the more logical choices to forfeit his at-bats to the red-hot J.D. Martinez given that he himself is batting just .211 (35 for 166) with a .557 OPS over his last 46 games. Granted, his defense ensures he'll at least get semi-regular at-bats, but those won't be enough to satisfy you in Fantasy, especially with tough matchups against the Dodgers and Royals on tap.
Instead of: Calhoun, Corey Dickerson, Christian Yelich

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.

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

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Player News
David Murphy begins physical activities
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:02 pm ET) Indians outfielder David Murphy began core exercises Thursday, manager Terry Francona told reporters.

Murphy began his exercises Thursday, though it sounds as if he is limited at this point. Murphy is expected to be out until at least mid-September due to a strained right oblique. 


Steven Souza starting rehab at Class A Hagerstown
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:50 am ET) Nationals outfielder Steven Souza will begin his rehab assignment Thursday at Class A Hagerstown Thursday, as he continues his recovery from a shoulder injury.

According to the Washington Post, Souza is expected to play at Hagerstown before moving to Class A Potomac for a few more games. It is not clear when he will be considered a candidate to return to the majors.  


Justin Verlander appears set for Saturday start after bullpen
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:40 am ET) Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander seems likely to make his scheduled start Saturday against the Twins, after getting through a bullpen session Thursday.

Verlander, who missed his last turn in the rotation with shoulder soreness, got through a 35-pitch session without issue. According to MLive.com, he walked into manager Brad Ausmus's office after the session to deliver a high five, undoubtedly a good sign.

Verlander has not pitched since lasting just one inning in his Aug. 9 start against Pittsburgh. 


Miguel Cabrera serving as DH with ankle issue
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:38 am ET) Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera was serving as the designated hitter for Thursday's game against the Rays after aggravating an ankle injury Wednesday, manager Brad Ausmus told reporters.

Cabrera has served as the DH in 13 of his 123 games this season. Ausmus does not think this injury is much of a concern moving forward. 


Masahiro Tanaka set for live BP Saturday
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:12 am ET) Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will take another step forward this weekend, as he is set to face hitters in a live batting practice session Saturday, manager Joe Girardi announced.

Tanaka, who is working his way back from a partially torn UCL, will face hitters for the first time since suffering the injury. He has been working in bullpen sessions in recent weeks as part of his rehab, and the next step will likely be determined after he gets through Saturday's session.

Tanaka has been out since early July due to the injury, but remains hopeful he will be able to return to action this season.  


Carlos Beltran sidelined again Thursday
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:52 am ET) Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran is out of the lineup for the second day in a row Thursday against the Astros, as he continues to deal with an elbow injury.

Beltran was examined Wednesday, but the results of that are not yet known. He had a cortison injection in the elbow, his third of the season, and manager Joe Girardi told reporters Thursday he expects to know if Beltran will be available moving forward by Saturday. 

The elbow began bothering him again in recent days, possibly as a result of his return to the outfield last week. He has just one hit in his last 28 at-bats.  


Following bullpen struggles, Chase Whitley sent down
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:47 am ET) The Yankees optioned pitcher Chase Whitley to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Thursday, to clear a roster spot for a callup.

Whitley has spent the last month pitching out of the Yankees bullpen, but has struggled in that role. He has allowed 10 runs over his last 7 1/3 innings, raising his season ERA to 5.43 overall.  


Zelous Wheeler gets the call from Triple-A
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:43 am ET) Yankees infielder Zelous Wheeler was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Thursday, the team announced.

Wheeler was sent down in early August to make room for the team's trade deadline acquisitions. He hit .267/.267/.467 in 30 at-bats with the Yankees earlier in the season. 


Manager encouraged by Bryce Harper's approach
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:37 am ET) Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper put together a three-hit game Wednesday against the Diamondbacks, his second since returning from the disabled list, the Washington Post reports.

Harper sparked the team's game-winning rally in the ninth inning with his third single of the game, and manager Matt Williams said how he got the hit was the most encouraging part of the performance.

"He hit the ball back through the middle [Wednesday], which is really important for him," Williams said.

Harper has struggled to find his power swing this season thanks to a thumb injury, but he is hitting .282 with a .375 on-base percentage since the All-Star break. Impressed by his approach Wednesday, Williams believes the power will follow.

"But if he stays through the middle like that, he's going to get a lot of hits, and I feel if he trusts himself to do that, the home runs will come," Williams said. "They will come. They'll come on hanging breaking balls and change-ups up in the zone, if he can stay middle of the diamond. And he's working hard on that. So I'm proud of his approach."


DL stint not ruled out for Joaquin Benoit
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:07 am ET) As of Thursday, Padres closer Joaquin Benoit has not appeared in a game in over a week, due to a shoulder issue, and MLB.com reports he might not be close to returning.

The Padres have apparently not yet ruled out a DL trip for Benoit to allow his shoulder to heal, though it is also not yet clear what the specific issue is at this point. A decision is expected to be made in the next few days, with Kevin Quackenbush expected to continue filling in as closer while Benoit is sidelined.


 
 
 
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