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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
Allen Webster gets hit hard again Saturday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:11 pm ET) Red Sox pitcher Allen Webster was hit hard Saturday night against the Rays in Tampa. The right-hander permitted six runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three over four innings of work.

Webster has coughed up six earned runs in each of his last two starts. He owns a 6.69 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP over seven starts (35 innings). He will make his next scheduled start on Thursday against the Yankees in New York.

Bartolo Colon gets roughed up in loss to Phillies
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:06 pm ET) Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon was roughed up for his 11th loss of the season Saturday night at home against the Phillies. The veteran right-hander yielded six runs on nine hits and no walks while striking out two over 5 1/3 innings of a 7-2 defeat.

Colon moved to 12-11 on the season. He owns a 4.01 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP over 26 starts (172 2 /3 innings). He will make his next start Friday at Cincinnati.

Jerome Williams wins third straight decision
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:03 pm ET) Phillies pitcher Jerome Williams won his third straight decision Saturday night against the Mets in New York, improving to 5-5 on the year. The right-hander permitted two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out three over 6 1/3 innings of a 7-2 victory.

Over his last three starts covering 21 1/3 innings, Williams has allowed only four earned runs. He owns a 5.23 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP over 84 1/3 innings of work. His next start will come Friday at Washington.

Chris Bassitt gets roughed up in doubleheader loss
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:57 pm ET) White Sox pitcher Chris Bassitt was roughed up and took the loss in a spot start in Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader against the Tigers. He permitted five runs on seven hits and four walks while striking out four over 6 1/3 innings of an 8-4 defeat. It remains to be seen if he'll remain with the team moving forward.

Kyle Ryan twirls a gem in spot-start vs. White Sox
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:53 pm ET) Tigers pitcher Kyle Ryan twirled a gem for the win in Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader against the White Sox in Chicago. Ryan permitted five hits and two walks while striking out one over six scoreless innings of an 8-4 victory. He will likely be sent back down to Triple-A Toledo.

Zach Britton strikes out two in perfect frame for the save
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by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:47 pm ET) Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman was unable to factor into the decision Saturday night at home against the Twins. The right-hander permitted one run on six hits and three walks while striking out six over five innings of a 3-2 victory.

Tillman has allowed one earned run or fewer in each of his last three starts. He owns a 3.36 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP over 29 starts (176 2/3 innings). He will make his next start Thursday at home against Cincinnati.

Kyle Gibson settles for no-decision Saturday
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(10:44 pm ET) Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson wasn't a factor into the decision Saturday night against the Orioles in Baltimore. The right-hander permitted one run on four hits and three walks while striking out six over five innings of a 3-2 defeat.

Gibson has allowed three runs or fewer in a start for just the second time in his last six starts. He owns a 4.23 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP over 26 starts. He will make his next start Thursday at home against the Angels.

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(10:40 pm ET) The Orioles have acquired infielders Kelly Johnson and Michael Almanzar from the Red Sox for infielders Jemile Weeks and Ivan De Jesus, MLB.com reports.

Aaron Harang drops another tough decision
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(10:28 pm ET) Braves pitcher Aaron Harang was hit with the loss Saturday night at home against the Marlins, dropping to 10-9 on the year. The right-hander permitted four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits and three walks while striking out five over 5 2/3 innings of a 4-0 defeat.

Over his last three starts covering 19 1/3 innings, Harang has allowed 10 earned runs. He owns a 3.64 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP over 28 starts (173 innings). He will get another crack at the Marlins, this time in Miami on Friday.

 
 
 
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