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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
Report: Mets have insurance on David Wright's contract
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:57 am ET) If Mets third baseman David Wright misses 60 games this season, the team would recoup 75 percent of his contract while he is unable to play, sources told FoxSports.

Wright is on the disabled list with a back issue. He has only appeared in eight games this season and he has not played since April 14.


Albert Pujols gets two hits in Angels' loss
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:54 am ET) The Angels only managed five hits against San Diego in a shutout loss, and first baseman Albert Pujols had two of them. 

Pujols went 2 for 4, lifting his average to .235


Matt Kemp's bases-loaded double gives Padres win
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:51 am ET) Padres right fielder Matt Kemp hit a bases-clearing, two-out double in the tenth inning to help beat the Angels on Tuesday. 

Kemp went 2 for 5 and broke a scoreless tie with his bases loaded hit. His three RBI gave him 25 on the year. He also scored a run. The double was his tenth this season and the only extra base hit for either team in the game.


Angels' Joe Smith gives up four 10th inning runs to lose
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:49 am ET) Angels reliever Joe Smith gave up four runs in 2/3 of an inning to lose to San Diego on Tuesday.

Smith started the tenth and loaded the bases on a single and two walks. He gave up a two-out, bases clearing double, then left the game. The runner he left on base eventually came around to score. 

Smith had gone nine straight appearances without allowing a run before Tuesday. 


Padres' Dale Thayer earns win in relief
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:46 am ET) Padres reliever Dale Thayer earned his first win of the season, Tuesday, over the Angels. 

Thayer came on with one out in the ninth inning and retired the only two batters he faced, to send the game to extra innings. The Padres scored four in the tenth to give him a 1-0 record on the year.

Thayer lowered his ERA to 3.00. 


Report: Braves send Eric Stults, Ian Thomas, Juan Jaime to Dodgers
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:45 am ET) As part of the trade sending Braves infielder Alberto Callaspo to the Dodgers in exchange for Juan Uribe, the Braves will also send Eric Stults, Ian Thomas and Juan Jaime to the Dodgers, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Braves are reportedly expected to receive pitcher Chris Withrow in the deal as well, reports FoxSports.


Angels' Matt Shoemaker has seven scoreless in no-decision
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:43 am ET) Angels starter Matt Shoemaker picked up a hard-luck no-decision after pitching seven scoreless innings against San Diego. 

Shoemaker allowed four hits and walked one, while striking out six. He cut his ERA to 5.44.

The next start for Shoemaker is Sunday, against Detroit. 


Padres' Odrisamer Despaigne has six shutout innings in no-decision
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:41 am ET) Padres starter Odrisamer Despaigne had six shutout innings against the Angels on Tuesday, but he left with a no-decision. 

Despaigne struck out five, allowed five hits and didn't walk a batter. He lowered his ERA to 5.23 with the performance.

The next start for Despaigne is Sunday, against Pittsburgh. 


Athletics' Ben Zobrist gets two hits in first game back
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:37 am ET) Athletics second baseman Ben Zobrist returned to the lineup for the first time in more than a month and didn't look rusty.

Zobrist played for the first time since April 24, when he went to the disabled list with a knee injury.

Zobrist went 2 for 4 in the A's shutout loss to Detroit on Tuesday. He hit his sixth double of the year, one of only two extra base hits in the game for either team.   


Tigers will start Kyle Ryan in place of Alfredo Simon on Wednesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:35 am ET) With Tigers pitcher Alfredo Simon on the bereavement list to deal with his ailing father, manager Brad Ausmus said the team will turn to Kyle Ryan to start Wednesday's game at Oakland, reports the Detroit Free Press. Ryan must still travel to Oakland in order to play in the game.

Ryan went 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA over six games last season for the Tigers.


 
 
 
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