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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
Angels RP Huston Street picks up save Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:28 am ET) Angels pitcher Huston Street recorded the final three outs of Monday's 5-4 win over the Indians to earn his 26th save of the season.

Street allowed one hit and struck out one during the appearance. He has converted 26 of his 29 save opportunities this season.


Mariners send RP Jose Ramirez to Triple-A on Monday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:28 am ET) The Mariners optioned reliever Jose Ramirez to Triple-A Tacoma following Monday's 8-7 win over the Rockies. Ramirez, who was acquired from the Yankees for Dustin Ackley, has not yet pitched for his new club. 

But the Mariners will opt to send him down and call up a fresh arm for the bullpen. Although, the corresponding move won't be announced until Tuesday. 


Astros' Luis Valbuena slugs 20th home run in loss on Monday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:23 am ET) Astros infielder Luis Valbuena has recorded his first career 20-home run season, as he went 2 for 3 with a solo shot in Monday's 12-9 loss to the Rangers.

Valbuena's blast was his 20th of the year, but it also broke a 23-game homerless drought. Even with the two-hit effort, Valbuena is still batting a low .206 on the year.


Indians SP Corey Kluber gives up 10 hits in Monday's loss
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:21 am ET) Indians pitcher Corey Kluber was not sharp during Monday's 5-4 loss to the Angels.

Kluber allowed five runs on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings. He also struck out four and did not walk a batter. His biggest mistake came in the sixth inning when he gave up a two-run home run to Conor Gillaspie.

Kluber is now 6-12 with a 3.60 ERA, but he has earned a quality start in six of his last eight outings.


Angels SP Garrett Richards fans 11 in Monday's win
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:15 am ET) Angels pitcher Garrett Richards struck out a season-high 11 batters during Monday's 5-4 win over the Indians.

Richards allowed four runs on four hits over 7 1/3 innings. He also walked three. His biggest mistake was giving up a two-run home to Yan Gomes in the first inning.

He received his 11th win of the season for his effort to break his two-game losing streak. Richards has earned a quality start in two of his last four outings.


Orioles' Chris Davis continues power surge with HR on Monday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:11 am ET) Orioles slugger Chris Davis got his team off to a good start on Monday, as he crushed a three-run home run with one out in the first inning, en route to a 9-2 win over the A's. Davis' home run was his 27th of the year, surpassing his total of 26 from a season ago.

It was the only hit of the night for Davis, who is batting .276 with five homers and 15 RBI over his past eight games.


A's SP Jesse Chavez gets blasted by Orioles on Monday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:08 am ET) Athletics starter Jesse Chavez was hit early and often in his outing against the Orioles on Monday. The right-hander allowed six runs on nine hits over just 3 2/3 innings. He threw 46 of 77 pitches for strikes, as the A's lost 9-2 on Monday.

Chavez (5-11) got off to a rocky start in this one, as he was down 3-0 before getting a chance to settle in. He gave up a three-run home run to Chris Davis in the very first inning. Caleb Joseph also touched up Chavez for a two-run blast in the fourth inning, as Chavez suffered his worst start of the season.

With the poor outing, Chavez's ERA rose to 3.88. He has now given up four or more runs in four of his past six starts, posting a 6.52 ERA over that stretch.


D-Backs SP Chase Anderson may make one more rehab start
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:08 am ET) After throwing four innings during a rehab outing in the minors Sunday, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said pitcher Chase Anderson may need another rehab start before returning to the team, reports The Arizona Republic.

Anderson was expected to replace Zack Godley in the rotation, but Hale said he is considering using a six-man rotation.

"That would help that, just get guys extra days," Hale said. "With [Patrick Corbin] coming back from Tommy John and all our young guys starting to pile up the innings. But it's tough to do that with still keeping seven bullpen guys. We would probably have to lose a position player. That's a very tough decision to make."


Orioles' Tyler Wilson posts strong start on Monday vs. A's
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:02 am ET) Orioles starter Tyler Wilson was excellent in his outing against the A's on Monday. The right-hander threw 100 pitches over 7 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out three, and did a good job of limiting the damage against him in the 9-2 victory.

Wilson (2-1) was making just his second start of the year for the Orioles. He made some relief appearances in between the starts, but was sent down to Triple-A on June 20. 

He gave up a run in the fourth and one on the eighth before being pulled from the game. His ERA actually rose to 2.19 ERA in the strong outing. 


Mariners OF Nelson Cruz hits 30th home run of season Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:56 am ET) Mariners outfielder Nelson Cruz connected off Rockies pitcher Eddie Butler for his 30th home run of the season during Monday's 8-7 win. The solo shot was his only RBI of the game. He finished the contest 3 for 4 with one walk.

Prior to Monday's win, Cruz was hitting .407 with eight home runs and 12 RBI in his last 13 games.


 
 
 
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