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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.

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Player News
Yankees' Carlos Beltran says his elbow feels fine
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:23 pm ET) Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran said his elbow felt fine after Friday's game, according to the Journal News.

Beltran went 0-2 with a walk during the game, but didn't wear a brace on his arm. He said it's now just a matter of getting his timing down before the regular season. The 37-year-old is expected to open the season as a starter in the outfield.

Beltran hit .233/.301/.402 over 403 at-bats last season. 


Pirates' Jameson Taillon to face hitters next week
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:50 pm ET) Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon will face hitters next week, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Taillon underwent Tommy John surgery last April, but is working his way back. Taillon tossed a 30 pitch bullpen session on Friday. He's expected to do it again on Tuesday. If his Tuesday session goes well, Taillon will throw live batting practice on Friday.

Taillon said he's feeling pretty good about his progress. "I'm feeling really strong, throwing the ball cleaner than I ever have," Taillon said. "Everything has been feeling really good. The elbow has been responding really well."

Taillon is expected to open the season in the minors, but could be promoted to the majors if he gets off to a strong start. 


Brewers' Adam Lind dealing with back injury
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:23 pm ET) Brewers first baseman Adam Lind is dealing with a back injury, according to MLB.com.

Lind's back flared up while taking grounders on Thursday. He was scratched from Friday's game, and is considered day-to-day. Lind was acquired by the club during the offseason, and is expected to see significant time at first base.

The 31-year-old Lind hit .321/.381/.479 over 290 at-bats last season. 


Report: Mets' Daniel Murphy dealing with bruised hand
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:18 pm ET) Mets infielder Daniel Murphy is dealing with a bruised right hand, according to ESPN.

X-rays reportedly came back "OK," and Murphy shouldn't miss much time. Murphy was hit in the hand during Friday's game against the Tigers. He stayed in the game to run the bases, but was replaced at the start of the next inning. 

The 29-year-old Murphy hit .289/.332/.403 over 596 at-bats last season. 


Diamondbacks' Chris Owings takes batting practice on Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:10 pm ET) Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings was able to take batting practice on Friday, according to MLB.com.

Owings is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, and has been limited early in camp. Manager Chip Hale said he was happy with Owings progress, and noted it was a big day for the infielder.

"Everything he's done has been right on time," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "We've slowed him down, because it's important that that swing is right. This was a huge day for him."

Owings will likely go through another round of BP before he's ready for game action. The team may also opt to give him at-bats in minor-league games before using him during actual spring training games.

The 23-year-old Owings hit .261/.300/.406 over 310 at-bats last season. He's expected to open the year as the team's starting shortstop. 


Angels' Matt Lindstrom feeling 100 percent this spring
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:03 pm ET) Angels reliever Matt Lindstrom is feeling pretty good after having ankle surgery last season, according to the Los Angeles Times

Lindstrom struggled with oblique and ankle injuries last season, but has drawn some rave reviews during camp. "Right now, his stuff is very similar to when he was throwing the ball well early last year," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's exciting. This guy has closer's stuff. It's just a matter of how consistent he is and if he can keep it going."

Lindstrom admitted he came back from ankle surgery too soon last year, and it impacted his numbers. He was able to rehab the injury during the offseason, though, and feels much better now. "I can tell the ball is coming out of my hand better, the way it's supposed to," Lindstrom said. "It wasn't right last year, but now, I don't have any reservations. I can concentrate on getting people out."

The 35-year-old posted a 5.03 ERA over 34 innings last season. He's competing for a role in the Angels bullpen this spring. 


Orioles sign Elih Villanueva to a minor-league deal
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:54 pm ET) The Orioles have signed pitcher Elih Villanueva to a minor-league deal, according to MLB.com.

Villanueva has played in just one game in the majors. He gave up eight runs over three innings in a start for the Marlins back in 2011. Villanueva had a strong showing in the Dominican League, leading the circuit with a 2.63 ERA.


Reds' Stephenson hoping to make an impact this season
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:49 pm ET) Reds pitcher Robert Stephenson is hoping to make an impact in the majors this season, according to MLB.com.

Stephenson may not open the year in the majors, but is hoping he arrives sooner rather than later. "My goal by the end of the year is to be in Cincinnati," Stephenson said. "It's your dream growing up as a kid. It would be awesome to be there but at the same time, I want to get to a point where I deserve to be there and belong there."

Stephenson is considered the team's top prospect. He dealt with shoulder issues earlier in camp, but is cleared for action now. 

Manager Bryan Price said Stephenson has a few things to work on, but seemed optimistic about his long-term outlook. With Robert, it's command -- not necessarily throwing strikes, but the quality of the strikes," Price said.

The 22-year-old should start the year in the minors, but could earn a promotion based on how well he pitches.


Mariners' Chris Taylor homers, triples on Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:42 pm ET) Mariners shortstop Chris Taylor hit a home run and tripled on Friday against the Dodgers.

Taylor came into camp competing for the team's shortstop position with Brad Miller. While Miller likely has the upper hand, he's coming off a down season. Taylor, on the other hand, played well in the minors in 2014, and hit .287 in a brief major-league debut. It's believed whoever loses out on the starting role will be sent to the minors. 


Reds' Tony Cingrani goes two scoreless innings in debut
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:36 pm ET) Reds pitcher Tony Cingrani tossed two scoreless innings in his spring debut on Friday.

Cingrani allowed two hits in two innings of work. He walked one and struck out two during the outing. After an injury-riddled 2014, Cingrani has received a clean bill of health, and is competing for a spot in the team's rotation. 

The 25-year-old posted a 4.55 ERA over 63 1/3 innings last season. 


 
 
 
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