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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
Mets 1B Lucas Duda to begin rehab assignment Saturday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:49 am ET) Mets first baseman Lucas Duda is set to start a rehab stint with Double-A Binghamton on Saturday, according to MLB.com. Duda has been sidelined for two weeks with a thoracic herniation in his back.

It remains to be seen when he will be cleared to return to the Mets. He owns a strong .247/.346/.472 slash line with 21 homers and 56 RBI on the year.


Tigers promote RP Jeff Ferrell
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:38 am ET) Tigers reliever Jeff Ferrell has been recalled from Triple-A Toledo, MLive.com is reporting. He made two appearances for the team in early July before getting sent back down.

The 24-year-old Ferrell hasn't exactly been tearing it up in Toledo. He owns a 4.76 ERA in 11 appearances there after a strong stretch in Double-A. But he has performed better lately with a 3.12 ERA in his last eight games.


Tigers DH Victor Martinez could be benched or dropped in order
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:31 am ET) Struggling Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez could soon either lose playing time or fall a spot or two in the batting order.

He recently fell from the cleanup spot to fifth, but that has not kick-started him at the plate. He has pretty much been in a season-long slump. Martinez is batting .130 (6-for-46) with no extra-base hits and no RBI over the last 12 games.

"Trust me, all has been considered," Ausmus told MLive.com. "[Benching Martinez or lowering him in the order] could be a possibility right now. He hit the ball hard three times (Thursday) night. We'll see how he feels (Friday)."

Martinez lost time this year to a knee issue that is still making it tough for him to unleash power against right-handed pitching.

"I think he's getting a little frustrated," Ausmus added. "A combination of, he hasn't hit very well, but ... he's run into some bad luck. I think from the time of the knee injury, I don't know if he was ever the same, but at times you see flashes. He's just been scuffling lately. That's part of baseball. Sometimes you scuffle."


Cardinals demote RP Nick Greenwood to Triple-A
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:17 am ET) Just one day after promoting reliever Nick Greenwood from Triple-A Memphis, the Cardinals have sent him back down to the same team, per milb.com.

Greenwood did not get a chance to pitch in his latest stint with the team. He did make one appearance in July and allowed two runs without recording an out.


Indians targeting return next week for SP Carlos Carrasco
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:11 am ET) Indians starter Carlos Carrasco is slated to throw a bullpen session Friday in Detroit. He has been on the disabled list with an ailing shoulder, per the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

If all goes well, he could be activated to start at some point next week against the White Sox.

Carrasco was arguably the team's hottest pitcher before going down. He had five consecutive quality starts during which he allowed only six runs in 39 2/3 innings. He has 173 strikeouts in 158 innings on the year.


Dodgers' Corey Seager goes 2 for 4, drives in two in MLB debut
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(2:00 am ET) Dodgers rookie Corey Seager had an impressive big-league debut on Thursday. The young infielder went 2 for 4 four with a double, two RBI and two runs scored in the 10-7 loss to the Padres.

Since 1914, Seager is just one of two Dodgers rookies to have at least two hits, two RBI and a double in his Major League debut. Russell Martin was the other.

Seager struck out in his first big-league at-bat, but he shook that off for what was a very fine debut. 


Padres RP Joaquin Benoit answers call to get save on Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:51 am ET) Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit worked a perfect ninth inning to seal the 10-7 win over the Dodgers on Thursday. Benoit picked up his second save of the season, needing just 13 pitches to retire the side in order.


Padres' Jedd Gyorko belts go-ahead home run in win Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:49 am ET) Padres infielder Jedd Gyorko provided the biggest hit of the night in the 10-7 win over the Dodgers on Thursday. Gyorko, who went 2 for 4 on the night, blasted a two-run home run in the eighth inning to turn a 7-6 deficit into an 8-7 lead. 

The home run was Gyorko's 11th of the season, and he is now batting .316 with three homers and nine RBI over his last 10 games. 


Padres' Yangervis Solarte busts out of slump with four-hit night
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:45 am ET) Padres utility man Yangervis Solarte had quite a night at the plate on Thursday. Batting from the lead-off spot in the order, Solarte went 4 for 5 with two doubles, a home run, two RBI and three runs scored.

Solarte saved his biggest hits for late in the game. In the seventh inning, he crushed a pitch to deep left field for his 12th homer of the season--a solo shot which brought the Padres to within a run. 

In the next inning, he laced an RBI-double to pad the Padres' lead to their final score of 10-7 in the victory over the Dodgers. 

Solarte was in need of a big offensive performance, as he entered the game stuck in a 4-for-26 skid.


Padres SP Colin Rea holds his own against Dodgers on Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:40 am ET) Padres rookie starter Colin Rea pitched well on Thursday, but was unable to hang around long enough to get a win against the Dodgers. Rea went five innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out a career-high six batters. He was handed a no-decision in the 10-7 victory.

Rea was staked to an early 4-0 lead after the second inning, and he was able to keep the Dodgers off the board over the first four frames. But he allowed two runs to score in his final inning of work, though he left with a two-run lead.

The bullpen coughed up that lead, costing Rea a chance for his third big-league win. 


 
 
 
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