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Fantasy First Pitch for Week 16

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It's that weird week again ... the three-game stump of a Fantasy week following the All-Star break.

Of course, some leagues opt to combine Fantasy Weeks 16 (July 14-20) and 17 (July 21-27) into a week-and-a-half-long festival of two-start pitchers, but this column isn't for those owners. We're here to sort out the 92 pitchers set to make a single start in one of the series this weekend.

In standard mixed leagues, that means somewhere between roughly two-thirds and five-sixths of all pitchers making a start will be on an active roster. That makes this week's must-avoid list pretty short, but setting your rotation involves more than just plucking out the worst pitchers on the schedule. Some of the starters you typically use in a one-start week may not be available, as they won't take the mound until Week 17.

Be sure to bench Chris Sale, Jordan Zimmermann (biceps), Justin Verlander, Scott Kazmir, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Mike Minor, John Lackey, Rick Porcello and Matt Cain before hitting the "Set Lineup" button. Cliff Lee (elbow), Jonathon Niese (shoulder) and Collin McHugh (finger) are all close to coming back from the disabled list, but none will make his return until Week 17.

If you need a replacement for these pitchers, any one of the top 74 options listed below will do. For the most part, the must-start and middle- and back-of-the-rotation options aren't rated much differently than they would be in an average week. Based on his 75 percent activation rate in CBSSports.com leagues, some may question Phil Hughes being listed as a "must-start," but I have completely bought in. He has a walk rate that rivals Hisashi Iwakuma's but with an even higher K-rate. Hughes has generally handled tough opponents well, reduced his home run rate, and if not for a 68 percent strand rate and a .317 batting average allowed on ground balls (both of which should improve), he would have the ERA and WHIP of a must-start pitcher.

Due to matchups against the Padres, all three of the Mets' starters -- Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler -- rank a little higher than they would ordinarily. The same is true for A.J. Burnett, whose strikeout and walk rates could get some help from an aggressive Braves' lineup. Tim Lincecum gets a bump, too, more because he faces the contact-poor Marlins than because of his current hot streak.

Even though they face the Astros, neither Jose Quintana nor John Danks cracked the upper half of this week's rankings. Both entered the break on a high note, but both relied in large part on high called strike rates for their recent success. The Astros may be the majors' strikeout kings, but one thing they are not is passive. Quintana and Danks didn't fare especially when facing the Astros earlier this season, and they may not be able to take advantage of their collective tendency to swing and miss.

The biggest adjustment made to a pitcher's ranking this week was for Alex Cobb, and it was of the negative sort. If Cobb had enough innnigs to qualify, he would have the majors' lowest percentage of pitches seen in the strike zone this season. He has managed to succeed because he gets batters to frequently chase pitches out of the zone (36.6 percent O-Swing rate, per FanGraphs.com), but his opponent, the Twins, are one of the least prone teams to go after errant pitches. Cobb's matchup sinks him all the way down to No. 49 in this week's rankings.

I'm also not eager to start Chris Young, Wade Miley or Alfredo Simon this week, as each has the potential to get hurt by homers. That's still true for Young, even though he'll be pitching at Angel Stadium. The park may be tough on power hitters, but the Angels have had a potent offense even at home, and Young can be combustible against good lineups just about anywhere.

Finally, as of this writing, the Braves, Indians and Cardinals had yet to finalize their rotations, though all three teams have announced their starters for Friday. Alex Wood and Julio Teheran are almost certain to start the final two games of the Braves' series against the Phillies, though it's not clear in what order they will start. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, either Zach McAllister or Danny Salazar is likely to start the second game of the Indians' Saturday doubleheader at the Tigers, while Josh Tomlin is expected to start on Sunday. Adam Wainwright is almost certain to get a start this weekend, but Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has yet to announce who would join him and Lance Lynn as the team's starters against the Dodgers.

With those three teams' rotations being subject to change, here are the current rankings of starting pitchers for Week 16.

Must-start pitchers

1. Max Scherzer (vs. CLE)
2. Clayton Kershaw (at STL)
3. David Price (at MIN)
4. Felix Hernandez (at LAA)
5. Madison Bumgarner (at MIA)
6. Yu Darvish (at TOR)
7. Stephen Strasburg (vs. MIL)
8. Zack Greinke (at STL)
9. Adam Wainwright (vs. LAD)
10. Julio Teheran (vs. PHI)
11. Jake Arrieta (at ARI)
12. Cole Hamels (at ATL)
13. Johnny Cueto (at NYY)
14. Hisashi Iwakuma (at LAA)
15. Tyson Ross (vs. NYM)
16. Jon Lester (vs. KC)
17. Alex Wood (vs. PHI)
18. Ian Kennedy (vs. NYM)
19. Garrett Richards (vs. SEA)
20. Sonny Gray (vs. BAL)
21. Corey Kluber (at DET)
22. Jered Weaver (vs. SEA)
23. Jeff Samardzija (vs. BAL)
24. Gio Gonzalez (vs. MIL)
25. Phil Hughes (vs. TB)

Mid-to-back-of-the-rotation options

26. Anibal Sanchez (vs. CLE)
27. Marcus Stroman (vs. TEX)
28. Lance Lynn (vs. LAD)
29. Ervin Santana (vs. PHI)
30. Jason Hammel (vs. BAL)
31. Yordano Ventura (at BOS)
32. James Shields (at BOS)
33. Tim Hudson (at MIA)
34. Henderson Alvarez (vs. SF)
35. Chris Archer (at MIN)
36. Charlie Morton (vs. COL)
37. Doug Fister (vs. MIL)
38. Zack Wheeler (at SD)
39. Bartolo Colon (at SD)
40. Kyle Lohse (at WAS)
41. Kevin Gausman (at OAK)
42. Dallas Keuchel (at CHW)
43. Rubby De La Rosa (vs. KC)
44. Tim Lincecum (at MIA)
45. A.J. Burnett (at ATL)
46. Yovani Gallardo (at WAS)
47. Jeff Locke (vs. COL)
48. Dillon Gee (at SD)
49. Alex Cobb (at MIN)
50. Jose Quintana (vs. HOU)
51. Tyler Skaggs (vs. SEA)
52. Clay Buchholz (vs. KC)
53. Kyle Gibson (vs. TB)
54. Hiroki Kuroda (vs. CIN)
55. Mike Leake (at NYY)
56. Mark Buehrle (vs. TEX)
57. Trevor Bauer (at DET)
58. R.A. Dickey (vs. TEX)
59. Drew Smyly (vs. CLE)
60. Nathan Eovaldi (vs. SF)
61. Chris Young (at LAA)
62. Josh Tomlin (at DET)
63. Danny Duffy (at BOS)
64. Francisco Liriano (vs. COL)
65. John Danks (vs. HOU)
66. Alfredo Simon (at NYY)
67. Jarred Cosart (at CHW)
68. Wei-Yin Chen (at OAK)
69. Matt Garza (at WAS)
70. Wade Miley (vs. CHC)
71. Brandon McCarthy (vs. CIN)
72. Josh Collmenter (vs. CHC)
73. Scott Feldman (at CHW)
74. Dan Haren (at STL)

Must-avoid pitchers

75. Shelby Miller (vs. LAD)
76. Brett Anderson (at PIT)
77. Robbie Ray (vs. CLE)
78. Chris Tillman (at OAK)
79. Kyle Kendrick (at ATL)
80. Travis Wood (at ARI)
81. Odrisamer Despaigne (vs. NYM)
82. Zach McAllister (at DET)
83. David Phelps (vs. CIN)
84. Jorge De La Rosa (at PIT)
85. Colby Lewis (at TOR)
86. Tyler Matzek (at PIT)
87. Kevin Correia (vs. TB)
88. Edwin Jackson (at ARI)
89. Hector Noesi (vs. HOU)
90. Brad Hand (vs. SF)
91. Nick Tepesch (at TOR)
92. Trevor Cahill (vs. CHC)

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Player News
M's Taijuan Walker allows one unearned run in seven innings for win
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(11:55 pm ET) Mariners starting pitcher Taijuan Walker (1-2) allowed one unearned run in seven innings on Monday to defeat the Rangers and earn his first win of 2015.

The Rangers took advantage of a throwing error in the fourth inning to score their lone run.

Walker struck out five and walked one in the victory.

Walker's next start is scheduled for Saturday in Houston.

Tigers' Jose Iglesias flirts with cycle Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:50 pm ET) Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias fell a double shy of hitting for the cycle during Monday's 5-4 win over the Twins.

Iglesias collected a single, triple and home run, but needed a double to collect the cycle. He finished the game 3 for 5 with one RBI. His batting averaged now stands at .397. The home run came in the first inning when Iglesias connected off Tommy Milone for a solo shot.


Dodgers OF Carl Crawford leaves Giants game with injury
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:50 pm ET) Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford left Monday night's game with an apparent injury. 

A video uploaded from SB Nation's True Blue LA shows Crawford wincing in pain after sliding into third base after hitting a triple. After that play was when Crawford exited the game. His day ended 1 for 1 from the plate. 

He's now batting .245/.260/.425. 


Report: Blue Jays SS Jose Reyes (rib) headed to disabled list
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(11:47 pm ET) Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes (rib) will be placed on the disabled list and replaced on the roster with infielder Jonathan Diaz, who will be called up from the minors, sources have told ESPN.

Reyes had been trying to play through a cracked rib and muscle strain in his left side, which had prevented the switch hitter from batting from the left side.

Reyes, who went 1 for 4 in Monday's loss, is 3 for his last 24.

Twins SP Tommy Milone struggles in Monday's loss
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:42 pm ET) Twins pitcher Tommy Milone surrendered five runs on eight hits during Monday's 5-4 loss to the Tigers.

Milone tossed four innings during the game while striking out two and walking two. He gave up home runs to Jose Iglesias and Yoenis Cespedes. He was pulled after giving up two singles to lead off the fifth inning.

His next projected start will be Saturday against the White Sox.


Tigers SP David Price picks up win Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:35 pm ET) Tigers pitcher David Price earned his second win of the season during Monday's 5-4 win over the Twins.

Price allowed three runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked two. Price (2-1) was yanked in the seventh inning after allowing two of the first three batters to reach base. His ERA now stands at 3.48.

His next projected start will be Saturday at Kansas City.


Phillies select Severino Gonzalez from minors, option Hector Neris
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:15 pm ET) The Phillies have selected the contract of pitcher Severino Gonzalez and optioned pitcher Hector Neris to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the team announced Monday. 

Gonzalez was reportedly expected to get a call up to make the start for Philadelphia Tuesday against the Cardinals, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Gonzalez posted a 1-1 record in Triple-A with a 3.57 ERA and nine strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings pitched. Neris worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings this season with two strikeouts and one walk.

To make room for Gonzalez, pitcher Jonathan Pettibone was transferred to the 60-day DL with a shoulder injury. 


Nationals call up A.J. Cole to start Tuesday against the Braves
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:10 pm ET) The Nationals have called up pitcher A.J. Cole to pitch in Tuesday's game against the Braves, according to MASN Sports.

Washington needed a pitcher to fill in for Max Scherzer, who will be skipped in the rotation while he recovers from a thumb injury. Manager Matt Williams wants to allow Scherzer to get his thumb 100 percent healthy before starting him again. 

Cole has made three starts for Triple-A Syracuse, posting a 2.40 ERA with 10 strikeouts and one walk in 15 innings. The team has yet to make a corresponding roster move.


Phillies C Carlos Ruiz goes perfect from the plate in win
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:08 pm ET) Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz had a perfect day in the batter's box in Monday's 4-1 win over the Cardinals. 

Ruiz went 4 for 4 in the game, which included hitting his first double of the season. Ruiz's other three hits were singles. He also scored two of Philadelphia's four runs. Ruiz now holds a slash line of .260/.339/.280. 


Phillies' Jonathan Papelbon earns fifth save
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:02 pm ET) Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon picked up his fifth save of the season in Monday night's 4-1 victory over the Cardinals. 

Papelbon gave up one hit but struck out two batters in the save opportunity. His ERA for the season is now 1.08. Only once in seven appearances has Papelbon given up a run this season. 


 
 
 
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