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Start and sit hitters for Week 17

Senior Fantasy Writer
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All stats are updated through Thursday, July 17.

The Tigers open Week 17 (July 21-27) in Arizona, which means they won't have use of a DH for three games. Their primary DH, Victor Martinez, is of course a Fantasy stud, but since he's not so capable of playing anything but first base anymore, they'll have to get creative to keep him in the lineup. They've played five games without a DH already this season and have managed to start Martinez in four of them, putting him behind the plate for two and shifting usual first baseman Miguel Cabrera over to third base for two. With that in mind, I'd plan to start Martinez this week, even with him still recovering from a back issue.

Evan Gattis, who hasn't played since June 27 because of a back issue of his own, has begun a rehab assignment but only played DH so far. As long as he catches at some point over the weekend, he's a good bet to return this week, though owners in single-season leagues may want to play it safe with him. Shane Victorino is also on the verge of returning from hamstring and back injuries, but with all the setbacks he's suffered already, you'll want to give him a week to prove his health before activating him in Fantasy.

Scott's sleepers for Week 17
Player Own/Start %
1. Corey Dickerson, OF, Rockies 78/44
2. Coco Crisp, OF, Athletics 91/54
3. Lucas Duda, 1B/OF, Mets 65/54
4. Scooter Gennett, 2B, Brewers 71/57
5. Steve Pearce, 1B/OF, Orioles 77/56
6. Torii Hunter, OF, Tigers 79/64
7. Kurt Suzuki, C, Twins 71/60
8. Adam LaRoche, 1B, Nationals 90/71
9. Jed Lowrie, 2B/SS, Athletics 79/51
10. Conor Gillaspie, 3B, White Sox 37/29

Allen Craig has started just eight of the Cardinals' 13 games since Oscar Taveras returned from the minors, and Josh Harrison has started 10 of the Pirates' 14 games since Starling Marte returned to the lineup. You could start either in a pinch, but because both have real playing time concerns going forward, neither is the most advisable play in mixed leagues.

And with that, on to the position-by-position breakdown ...

Catcher

Too obvious: Jonathan Lucroy, Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, Salvador Perez, Devin Mesoraco, Miguel Montero, Brian McCann

Start: Kurt Suzuki, Twins
After hitting .309 in the first half -- more than 50 points higher than his career batting average coming into the season -- Suzuki is due for a downturn in the second half, but it likely won't begin this week. Not only do the Twins have favorable matchups against pitchers like T.J. House, Hector Noesi and Scott Carroll, but they face three left-handers and play all seven of their games at home. Suzuki is batting .333 against lefties and .344 at home.
Instead of: Mike Zunino, Wilson Ramos, Jason Castro

Sit: Derek Norris, Athletics
With Josh Reddick on the verge of returning from a strained knee, the Athletics could soon face a playing-time crunch, and while Reddick himself figures to be a bigger victim than Norris, Norris could be spelled by either John Jaso or Stephen Vogt more often against right-handed pitchers. After a strong start against righties, Norris is now batting just .250 against them, and he's been slumping overall. Despite their favorable matchups, the Athletics face nothing but righties this week.
Instead of: Yan Gomes, Suzuki, Travis d'Arnaud

First base

Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Bautista, Jose Abreu, Albert Pujols, Anthony Rizzo, Freddie Freeman, Todd Frazier, Victor Martinez, Brandon Moss, Jonathan Lucroy, Justin Morneau, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Adams, Eric Hosmer

Start: Mark Teixeira, Yankees
Teixeira is started in too many leagues to qualify for the sleepers table above, but because he's less than "too obvious" at first base, he qualifies here. The Yankees are at home all week, where he's slugging about 60 points higher than on the road. An all-or-nothing hitter at this stage of his career, he likes to take advantage of that short porch in right field and should have plenty of opportunity against homer-prone pitchers like Miles Mikolas, Scott Baker, Colby Lewis, Drew Hutchison and J.A. Happ (who throws left-handed, making that short porch no longer on Teixeira's pull side, but still).
Instead of: Mike Napoli, Allen Craig, Ryan Howard

Sit: Michael Morse, Giants
Morse has been terrible since about mid-June, batting .218 (19 for 87) with one home run and a .579 OPS in 25 games, so you probably don't expect much from him in a week he's facing Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu anyway. But because four of those pitchers throw left-handed, it's just about a lost cause. For reasons that remain as of yet unexplained, Morse is batting just .196 (18 for 92) against lefties.
Instead of: Teixeira, Lucas Duda, Steve Pearce

Second base

Too obvious: Robinson Cano, Jose Altuve, Brian Dozier, Ian Kinsler, Dee Gordon, Anthony Rendon, Matt Carpenter, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Kipnis, Chase Utley, Daniel Murphy, Ben Zobrist, Howie Kendrick, Neil Walker

Five Best Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Tigers @ARI3, @LAA4
2. White Sox KC3, @MIN4
3. Indians @MIN3, @KC4
4. Yankees TEX4, TOR3
5. Athletics HOU3, @TEX3

Start: Scooter Gennett, Brewers
He may not have earned any more playing time over Rickie Weeks, but Gennett just keeps piling up Fantasy points, averaging 19.8 over the last five weeks. He had his best week in terms of Head-to-Head scoring just before the All-Star break, so he's poised to take advantage of the Brewers' six games against right-handed pitchers this week. He's at the point where he's worth starting anytime he's in line for full-time at-bats.
Instead of: Josh Harrison, Kolten Wong, Omar Infante

Sit: Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks
Hill, meanwhile, is at a point where you'd need an awfully good reason to get him in your lineup. He homered once the week before the All-Star break, which is more than his owners have gotten used to seeing from him, but he's still batting just .190 (8 for 42) in July and .215 with a .526 OPS in his last 48 games. Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Anibal Sanchez and Cliff Lee should ensure he doesn't try anything funny this week.
Instead of: Gennett, Jed Lowrie, Martin Prado

Third base

Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, Anthony Rendon, Todd Frazier, Josh Donaldson, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Kyle Seager, Matt Carpenter, Ryan Zimmerman, Manny Machado, Carlos Santana, Pedro Alvarez

Start: Conor Gillaspie, White Sox
Though he's maintained a batting average over .300 all season, Gillaspie has been at his best so far in July, finally adding power to the mix with a .378 (14 for 37) batting average and four home runs. The White Sox don't have a strict policy against starting him against left-handers, but when they sit him, that's usually why. The only two they face this week are the especially hittable Bruce Chen and Kris Johnson, giving Gillaspie a chance of not only playing, but playing well. And he should feast on Jeremy Guthrie, Kevin Correia and Yohan Pino regardless.
Instead of: Pablo Sandoval, Lonnie Chisenhall, Casey McGehee

Sit: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
Arenado was a must-start in Fantasy before missing six weeks with a broken finger and was showing signs of coming around with two multi-hit games in his last three before the break. So you'd think he'd be an obvious choice to start with the Rockies at home for six games this week, but the first three are against Doug Fister, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg. Besides, Arenado is one of those rare Rockies hitters who's at his best on the road, batting just .254 at Coors Field. If you have options at third base, you might want to avoid him for one more week.
Instead of: Aramis Ramirez, Martin Prado, Brock Holt

Shortstop

Too obvious: Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Dee Gordon, Ian Desmond, Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro, Ben Zobrist, Elvis Andrus, Erick Aybar, Jimmy Rollins

Five Worst Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Rays @STL2, BOS3
2. Giants @PHI4, LAD3
3. Reds @MIL3, WAS3
4. Cardinals TB2, @CHC3
5. Cubs SD3, STL3

Start: Jed Lowrie, Athletics
After watching his batting average steadily drop from .286 at the end of April to .221 at the end of June, Lowrie has finally begun to hit like he's capable, batting .429 (15 for 35) with four doubles over his last nine games. The toughest pitcher the Athletics face this week is Collin McHugh, and they get three games at hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Particularly in Head-to-Head points leagues, where his walks and doubles count for something, it might be time to trust in him again.
Instead of: Andrelton Simmons, Jhonny Peralta, Xander Bogaerts

Sit: Brad Miller, Mariners
After the tease that was his month of July, when he hit .298 (25 for 84) with five home runs and an .867 OPS, Miller has slipped back into his old ways in July, batting .176 (6 for 34) in 10 games so far. The Mariners are home for all seven of their games this week, where he's batting just .159 for the season, so even at a thin position like shortstop, you can probably do better.
Instead of: Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera, Eugenio Suarez

Outfield

Too obvious: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gomez, Adam Jones, Yasiel Puig, Jacoby Ellsbury, Hunter Pence, Nelson Cruz, Michael Brantley, Justin Upton, Ryan Braun, Jayson Werth, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss, Matt Holliday, Alex Rios, Melky Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Jason Heyward, Jay Bruce, Alex Gordon, Billy Hamilton, George Springer, Ryan Zimmerman, Gregory Polanco, J.D. Martinez, Josh Hamilton, Kole Calhoun, Shin-Soo Choo, Charlie Blackmon, Khris Davis, Matt Kemp, Bryce Harper, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Ben Zobrist

Start: Corey Dickerson, Rockies
Dickerson has the same tough matchups as Nolan Arenado to begin the week, but unlike Arenado, he should actually take advantage of the Rockies' six games at home, where he's batting .349 with a 1.047 OPS. He was slowed by a wrist injury just before the break, which might explain his so-so start to July, but he's had plenty of time to recover now. And because the Rockies face five righties, you know he'll play just about every day even with Carlos Gonzalez back in the mix.
Instead of: Marcell Ozuna, Marlon Byrd, Adam Eaton

Sit: Desmond Jennings, Rays
Jennings may also play every day, but the Rays are one of two teams playing only five games this week. If that's not bad enough, four of those games are against high-end hurlers Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Jon Lester and John Lackey, and five are against right-handers. Jennings' OPS is about 200 points lower against righties than lefties.
Instead of: Dickerson, Coco Crisp, Torii Hunter

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Having lowered his ERA to 3.81, Kuroda will take on the Blue Jays at home Friday.


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Carlos Beltran available again
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/14/2014) Though Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran wasn't in the starting lineup for Sunday night's game at Baltimore, he told ESPN he was available for the contest if needed and that he believes he could start Monday.

Beltran, who hasn't played since Tuesday, recently decided he would wait until the offseason to have surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow.


Dana Eveland done for season
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/14/2014) Mets left-hander Dana Eveland, who has pitched only once in September because of inflammation in his elbow, has been ruled out for the season, according to MLB.com. Eveland's elbow is structurally sound. He received a cortisone shot in late August.

"[The elbow is] feeling better every day," Eveland said. "I hate to leave here, because I do feel like, you know, maybe in another week or so I'd probably be able to pitch again."

Eveland had a 2.63 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings in 30 appearances for the Mets.


Derek Norris not playing at 100 percent
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/14/2014) Athletics manager Bob Melvin told MLB.com Sunday that catcher Derek Norris' hip isn't at 100 percent.

"He's all right. He's a catcher," Melvin said.

Norris went 0 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout Sunday at Seattle and is batting just .238 (39 for 164) with two home runs since the All-Star break.


Alex Avila leaves with lightheadedness
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/14/2014) Tigers catcher Alex Avila, who missed time with a concussion earlier this month, had to be removed in the eighth inning Sunday against the Indians because of lightheadedness.

"He took one off the mask earlier in the day, but at the time, he didn't show the reaction that is normally associated with someone that's been concussed," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He kind of went about his business. And it wasn't until he actually went to hit his last plate appearance that someone said to me that he didn't seem right on the bench."

Avila struck out on three pitches and, when questioned upon his return to the dugout, complained of a headache. He went 1 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts in the contest.

Avila traveled with the team to Minnesota after the game, but Ausmus told mLive.com he likely wouldn't play Monday against the Twins.


David Ortiz leaves for family issue
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/14/2014) Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz had to leave Sunday's game at Kansas City because of a family emergency, according to the Boston Herald. Ortiz went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts before being replaced by Christian Vazquez.

"He's fine. He got called away from this game," manager John Farrell said. "There was a family emergency that he had to attend to and he jumped on a flight late this afternoon."

Farrell added that Ortiz should rejoin the team Tuesday at Pittsburgh.


 
 
 
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