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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
Gibbons: P Felix Doubront coming up, could fill spot in rotation
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:15 pm ET) John Gibbons has confirmed via the MLB Radio Network that veteran left-hander Felix Doubront is set to be promoted by the Blue Jays on Friday and could fill the fifth spot in the rotation when the team plays against the host White Sox next week.

The 27-year-old Doubront has yet to pitch in the majors this season. But he was performing well at Triple-A Buffalo with a 2.44 ERA and just 36 hits allowed in 48 innings.


Phillies' Cesar Hernandez keeps hot streak going with three-hit game
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:04 pm ET) Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez continued his offensive surge Thursday against the Brewers with three more hits -- all singles -- in five at-bats. He had one run, one walk and two strikeouts.

Hernandez pushed his hitting streak to seven games Thursday, but he has been on a nice roll offensively for a few weeks. Since June 10, he is batting .371 with a .471 slugging percentage and .900 OPS in his last 18 games. He has one triple, five doubles, eight RBI, 14 runs, six walks, 14 strikeouts and eight stolen bases in that span.


Tigers SS Jose Iglesias produces 17th multihit game
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:54 am ET) Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias totaled two hits, including his seventh double, in three at-bats Thursday against the Pirates. He had one run, one walk and one strikeout in the 8-4 loss.

Iglesias has totaled 17 multihit games in 67 appearances. He is batting .325 with two doubles, four RBI, six walks, five runs, 10 strikeouts and two stolen bases in his last 22 games.


Twins place OF Shane Robinson on family emergency list
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:54 am ET) Twins outfielder Shane Robinson has been placed on the family emergency list, per MLB.com.

Robinson has played sparingly, particularly in recent weeks. He has started just three of the team's last 15 games and owns a slash line of .250/.303/.315 on the year.


Twins OF Aaron Hicks activated off DL
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:49 am ET) Outfielder Aaron Hicks has been activated off the disabled list by the Twins, MLB.com has reported.

Hicks, who has been sidelined for three weeks with a forearm strain, returns with a mediocre slash line of .247/.293/.301.


Taylor's recall won't change Miller's status as M's starting shortstop
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:37 am ET) Although Chris Taylor started at shortstop Thursday immediately following his recall from the minors, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said Brad Miller will remain the starting shortstop, per MLB.com.

"Brad is in a pretty good groove right now," McClendon said. "There's still a lot of room for improvement, but he is improving every day. He has his moments [defensively], but most of the time it's just a mechanical thing where he doesn't move through the ball or he stands straight up. I would say the last 12-15 days, he's been a lot better at that."

Taylor will serve as a backup middle infielder and could get some playing time at other positions as well.

"It's still a progression, but I'm feeling a lot more comfortable and a lot better [at the plate]," Taylor said. "It was good to go down there and take some of the pressure off. I was able to stop pressing and just worry about going out there and having some fun again. I'm feeling a lot better now and I'm ready to go."


Cubs SS Starlin Castro catching break Friday against Marlins
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:34 am ET) Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has had successive multi-hit games for the first time in two weeks, but a third one is quite unlikely. He is on the bench for the Friday afternoon game against visiting Miami.

Castro has started all but two games at shortstop this season, but he has been fairly unproductive after a bounce-back season in 2014. He owns a slash line of .263/.298/.341 with just 26 runs scored as midseason approaches.


Blue Jays 2B Devon Travis returns from day off with three hits
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:32 am ET) Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis bounced back nicely after receiving a day off Wednesday by tying a season high with three hits during a 12-6 loss to the Red Sox on Thursday. He has totaled three hits three times.

Travis had three singles, one RBI and one run Thursday. He continues to do well since coming off the DL on June 26, as he has hit safely in five of his first six games since returning. He is batting .381 (8 for 21) with two doubles, two RBI, four runs and two strikeouts in that span.


Giants 2B Joe Panik has six multihit games in last 11 starts
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:28 am ET) Giants second baseman Joe Panik produced his third straight multihit game during a 5-4 loss to the Marlins on Thursday. He went 2 for 4 with one run, one double and one walk.

Panik has racked up six multihit games in his last 11 starts. He is batting .378 (17 for 45) with four RBI, five doubles, six runs, five walks, five strikeouts and one stolen base in that span.

Panik has 25 multihit games and 21 doubles through 77 appearances this season.


D-Backs' Yasmany Tomas contributes two RBI Thursday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:23 am ET) Diamondbacks outfielder/third baseman Yasmany Tomas extended the lead to 5-1 on Thursday against the Rockies with a two-RBI double off Scott Oberg in the bottom of the seventh inning. It was his only hit in four at-bats. He also scored a run.

Tomas has two multi-RBI and four multihit games in his last nine starts. He is batting .333 with one home run, three doubles, six RBI, six runs, three walks and four strikeouts in that span.


 
 
 
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