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Start and sit hitters for Week 18

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Though normally in Fantasy Baseball, you'd start your best players every week regardless of matchups, in those weeks when you do need a fill-in, whether because of injuries or the total collapse of a trusted starter, Scott White is here to help.

At each position, he'll list the players who are "too obvious" for the upcoming week, meaning the ones you wouldn't consider sitting for anyone off the list, and then suggest a start and a sit based on a variety of short-term factors.

All stats are updated through Thursday, July 24.

Edwin Encarnacion is almost fully recovered from a strained quad, and the Blue Jays seem motivated to get him back in the lineup as soon as possible. He may not get a rehab assignment, but you shouldn't worry about rust for a player as high-end as him.

Jedd Gyorko is also on the verge of returning. He's been out since June 3 with plantar fasciitis, but the Padres could welcome him back to the lineup as early as this weekend. As cold as he was before the injury, though, he'll need to do some damage before you consider activating him in mixed leagues.

Scott's sleepers for Week 18
Player Own/Start %
1. Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers 79/63
2. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates 94/70
3. Corey Dickerson, OF, Rockies 83/70
4. Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins 89/75
5. Mike Napoli, 1B, Red Sox 85/66
6. Stephen Vogt, C/1B/OF, Athletics 63/56
7. Adam LaRoche, 1B, Nationals 89/72
8. Coco Crisp, OF, Athletics 90/70
9. Jed Lowrie, 2B/SS, Athletics 76/58
10. Denard Span, OF, Nationals 70/58

Eric Hosmer (hand), Mark Teixeira (lat), Scooter Gennett (quad), Manny Machado (back) and Pedro Alvarez (knee) are all dealing with day-to-day injuries that could potentially linger into next week. Of them, Teixeira's and Hosmer's are probably the most serious, so you may want to go ahead and line up replacements for them.

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, Evan Gattis, Brian McCann

Start: Stephen Vogt, Athletics
A sore foot may be preventing Vogt from caching, but it hasn't slowed down his bat. He's 7 for 17 (.412) in his last five games, giving him a .357 batting average since his arrival June 1. If it was all singles, I could understand the lack of interest, but he has provided enough pop to rank among the top performers at catcher since his arrival. No reason for that to change in a week he's facing Brad Peacock, Scott Feldman, Dallas Keuchel, Jeremy Guthrie and Bruce Chen.
Instead of: Derek Norris, Kurt Suzuki, Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Sit: Yan Gomes, Indians
Gomes has seemingly earned his place among the "too obvious" at the position with a .313 (31 for 99) batting average and six home runs in his last 28 games, but he has benefited from a favorable schedule during that stretch. Not so this week. Not only do the Indians have some of the toughest matchups of any team, facing pitchers like Hisashi Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez, Chris Young and Yu Darvish, but all six of their games are against right-handers. Gomes, ever the lefty killer, is batting just .239 against righties this year.
Instead of: Vogt, Wilson Ramos

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, Buster Posey, Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Davis, Matt Adams, Carlos Santana

Start: Mike Napoli, Red Sox
Napoli has kind of flown under the radar because of a disproportionately low RBI total, but with the Red Sox upping their scoring in recent days, his .294 (40 for 136) batting average, seven home runs and .885 OPS in 38 games since returning from a DL stint for a finger sprain may begin to pay dividends. He's been especially hot lately, batting .385 (10 for 26) in his last seven games, and gets six games at home this week, where he's batting .290.
Instead of: Mark Trumbo, Michael Morse, Steve Pearce

Sit: Allen Craig, Cardinals
The suggestion to sit Craig is hardly the scandal it was before Oscar Taveras began stealing his at-bats three weeks ago, but especially this week, he figures to be a waste of a lineup spot. The one time you can count on him to play is when the Cardinals face a left-handed pitcher (thanks to his favorable splits against them), and they face exactly none this week. Their matchups against Tyson Ross, Jesse Hahn, Wily Peralta and Kyle Lohse aren't especially promising either.
Instead of: Napoli, Adam LaRoche, Ryan Howard

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. Reds ARI3, @MIA4
2. Tigers CHW3, COL3
3. Athletics @HOU3, KC3
4. Blue Jays @BOS3, @HOU4
5. Cubs COL4, @LAD3

Start: Emilio Bonifacio, Cubs
The good news is Bonifacio started the Cubs' first three games after returning from an oblique injury Tuesday. The bad news is he didn't do much of anything in them, going 4 for 14 (.286) with no stolen bases. He has a better chance of making his presence known this week, though, with six lefties on tap. Typically, a team won't face even half that many in a given week, so Bonifacio has an especially rare chance to capitalize on his .377 batting average against lefties. And the matchups, at least for that first series against Colorado, work in his favor as well.
Instead of: Kolten Wong, Omar Infante, Jordy Mercer

Sit: Josh Rutledge, Rockies
In the rare event you're forced to scour the waiver wire for a hot-hand play at what has been one of the deeper positions in Fantasy this year, Rutledge may appear to be an even better choice than Emilio Bonifacio with his .400 (8 for 20) batting average in five games filling in for the injured Troy Tulowitzki. But this week, he'll be on the road, away from the hitter's haven that is Coors Field, and closes it out against Jake Arrieta, Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello and Anibal Sanchez. I'm leaving him for NL-only leagues.
Instead of: Martin Prado, Bonifacio, Tommy La Stella

Third base

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

Start: Chase Headley, Yankees
While Headley's overall numbers are still most accurately described as stinky, his performance so far in July suggests he may have some hope for a turnaround, especially with the recent move from a pitcher's park to a hitter's park. He's on the road this week, but with a .320 (24 for 75) batting average for the month and an explanation for the turnaround that sounds halfway legitimate -- he went back to gripping the bat like he did prior to last spring, when he broke his right hand -- he might actually do some damage against pitchers like Colby Lewis, Nick Martinez, Jake Peavy and Clay Buchholz.
Instead of: Martin Prado, Xander Bogaerts, Chris Johnson

Sit Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians
With nothing but right-handers on tap for the Indians, Chisenhall might seem like a decent candidate for a rebound week. But his recent struggles -- he's batting .213 (26 for 122) with a .622 OPS in his last 34 games -- have nothing to do with platoon splits. In fact, he actually has a higher batting average against lefties (.333) than righties (.313) this season. Considering four of his six games are against Hisashi Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez, Chris Young and Yu Darvish, you can probably do better at third base.
Instead of: Aramis Ramirez, Nolan Arenado, Brock Holt

Shortstop

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

Five Worst Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Marlins WAS3, CIN4
2. Brewers @TB3, @STL3
3. Phillies @NYM3, @WAS4
4. Indians SEA3, TEX3
5. Twins @KC3, @CHW3

Start: Jed Lowrie, Athletics
Lowrie's two month-long slump did a pretty good job of sinking his numbers, which makes his resurgence now easy to overlook. But particularly at shortstop, where half the teams in your league could probably stand to upgrade, you want to know when a player of his caliber is batting .379 (22 for 58) with a .901 OPS in his last 15 games. He could have even more in store against Brad Peacock, Scott Feldman, Dallas Keuchel, Jeremy Guthrie and Bruce Chen this week.
Instead of: Jean Segura, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta

Sit: Andrelton Simmons, Braves
Well, that didn't last long. Not only is Simmons out of the two-hole, where he finally managed to contribute something in Fantasy as a table setter for Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton and company, but he's just 3 for 25 (.120) in his last seven games. He doesn't steal bases and, at least this year, he doesn't hit home runs, so when he's not hitting for average, what's the incentive to start him? His matchups this week could better as well. He faces Ian Kennedy twice and Zack Greinke and Tyson Ross once each.
Instead of: Lowrie, J.J. Hardy, Arismendy Alcantara

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, Josh Hamilton, Kole Calhoun, J.D. Martinez, Charlie Blackmon, Bryce Harper, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Ben Zobrist, Torii Hunter

Start: Austin Jackson, Tigers
Maybe Jackson's recent hot streak -- he's batting .429 (24 for 56) with a 1.163 OPS in his last 13 games -- is all the reason you need to start him this week, but I'll give you two more. The Tigers are facing bottom feeders like Hector Noesi, John Danks and Franklin Morales, not to mention whoever the Rockies dig up to start Saturday's game, and four of the six pitchers on tap throw left-handed. Jackson is batting .326 with an .847 OPS against lefties.
Instead of: Marlon Byrd, Marcell Ozuna, Steve Pearce

Sit: Khris Davis, Brewers
Davis may have homered Thursday, but he's clearly in a funk right now, batting .208 (11 for 53) in his last 14 games. In a season of extreme highs and lows (he hit just .215 in his first 39 games, remember), he could be due for a downturn. His matchups against Jake Odorizzi, Alex Cobb, David Price, Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn certainly don't help his case.
Instead of: Jackson, Gregory Polanco, Corey Dickerson

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Player News
Athletics' Dan Otero earns win Monday with four scoreless innings
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:48 am ET) Athletics relief pitcher Dan Otero came up big for his team Monday, giving up just one hit in four scoreless innings of relief while striking out four and walking none to earn the win in his team's 6-3 victory over the Angels.

Otero (1-1) combined with Evan Scribner and Tyler Clippard to throw six scoreless innings of one-hit ball after starter Kendall Graveman lasted just three innings.

"That's big," Melvin said after the game, per MLB.com. "Confidence for a lot of guys, too. You're talking about Otero getting a little confidence back, Scribner used in a little different role and getting three key outs and finally getting to Clippard in a save situation. We hadn't been able to do that this year."

Otero came into Monday's game with a 6.75 ERA in four innings over five appearances. He said catcher Stephen Vogt spotted something with his left shoulder in his delivery last week, and he's been working to adjust.

"I was just kind of turning my left shoulder in a little bit," he said. "Getting a little too rotational. That's something I've been cognizant of throwing in the outfield, warming up every day. Noticed it tonight it was good, and it helps all my other pitches when I can stay in line, can stay through the catcher instead of spinning off to the first baseman."

Otero has now posted a 3.38 ERA and 6:0 K:BB ratio in eight innings.


Tigers' Greene on trade from Yankees: 'I felt like I got dumped'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:41 am ET) Tigers pitcher Shane Greene has given up just one earned run in 23 innings in his first three starts and has played with a chip on his shoulder after being traded by the Yankees this offseason, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"I felt like I got dumped," Greene said of being traded.

Greene went 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA and 81:29 K:BB ratio in 78 2/3 innings with the Yankees last year during his rookie season.

"I proved to myself that I was good enough," Greene said. "I guess I didn’t prove it to everybody else."

Greene is the only starting pitcher not scheduled to face the Yankees during the team's current four-game series. He expected to pitch during the series in spring training after being penciled in as the No. 5 starter, but the injury to Justin Verlander altered the team's rotation plans.

"I knew," Greene said. "April 22 would have been the day if I was No. 5."

Greene's next chance to face the team that traded him will come when the Tigers travel to the Bronx in June.

"I’ll get that chance," he said. "That time will come."


Brewers' Braun has favorable history against Reds' Marquis
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:36 am ET) Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun finally connected for his first home run of the season Monday against the Reds. Still, despite the home run, Braun has gotten off to a slow start in 2015.

Although, he might be able to keep the momentum of Monday's performance going Tuesday.

On the hill for Cincinnati will be veteran right-hander Jason Marquis. Braun has fared pretty well against Marquis in his career. He is batting .520 (13 for 25) with one home run, five doubles, six RBI, three walks and three strikeouts against Marquis.


Padres' Wil Myers on being traded by Rays: 'I felt they'd given up on me'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:27 am ET) Coming into 2015, you could make the argument Padres outfielder Wil Myers hadn't yet reached his full potential or lived up to the hype that followed him as a top prospect in the minors. Apparently, any type of talk like that didn't sit too well with the 24-year-old outfielder.

"He told me early in spring training that he heard little whispers this winter that maybe he was not the player everyone made him out to be," Padres manager Bud Black said, per MLB.com. "I think that bothered him."

Myers has already been traded twice in his young career, with the latest deal being in December that shipped him from the Rays to the Padres. 

"More than anything, I am playing with a chip on my shoulder," Myers said. "Last year was the first bad year I had in my pro career. When Tampa traded me away, I felt they had given up on me.

"Almost everything I do is to be able to prove (the Rays) wrong."

Thus far, Myers is off to a good start to his Padres career. Myers, who is primarily hitting leadoff, is batting .283 with one home run, five doubles, eight RBI and 13 runs in 14 games.

"He told me early in spring training he was going to show that he should hit third, fourth or fifth," Black said. "I said, 'Wait a minute. You are not going to hit third or fourth because of the two guys [Justin Upton and Matt Kemp] we have here. Let's go in my office and sit down. Let's put a projected team together out there. You don't want to hit leadoff, so who's going to hit leadoff?' I told him, 'If you hit leadoff every day you might get the most at-bats in the NL,'" 


Royals' Paulo Orlando makes triples history Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:25 am ET) Royals right fielder Paulo Orlando went 1 for 3 with a triple, a walk and two RBI in Monday's 7-1 win over the Twins.

The triple was Orlando's fifth in his first seven games, setting a new major-league record for the fewest games to hit five triples to open a career, MLB.com reports. He said he knows pretty soon after making contact whether he has a chance at a triple.

"Usually when it gets over the infielder's head," he said. "… The whole game, I tried to pull everything. But the last pitcher, we got a report that he threw a little cutter, so I tried to think right side."

Orlando has an added chance at collecting base hits at home due to Kaufman Stadium's spacious gaps.

"It helps," manager Ned Yost said of the bigger ballpark. "But if you watch him fly around the bases, he's going to hit triples in any ballpark when he puts the ball in the gap."

Orlando has hit .269/.345/.654 in 26 at-bats.


Astros' bullpen steps up in win vs. Mariners Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:18 am ET) The Astros bullpen delivered five innings of one-run ball Monday to play a key role in the team's 7-5 victory, with lefty Tony Sipp picking up the win after delivering 1 1/3 perfect innings.

"You can tell everyone out there has confidence," Sipp said after the game, per MLB.com. "You can flip a coin and put any guy out there at any given time. And you know it's like a friendly competition -- see who can be the best guy out there and you know, hopefully we're all out there sitting on ones [ERA] at the end of the year, high-fiving, trying to see who can get down to point zero something. It's one of those things like winning [being] contagious; successful bullpens kind of feed off each other also."

The bullpen has delivered a 2.06 ERA in 48 innings, giving them the third-best mark in the majors. Astros relievers have also struck out 49 batters while issuing just 11 walks.

"The way we're lined up, we've got a lot of weapons in the bullpen," manager A.J. Hinch said. "Eventually, we'd like to not use them so often and so early, but tonight we needed everything we could."


Rockies' De La Rosa pins poor season debut on being 'really excited'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:16 am ET) Rockies starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa made his season debut Monday against the Padres after missing the start of the season due to a groin injury. Unfortunately, it was a forgettable evening for the veteran left-handed pitcher.

De La Rosa was roughed up for nine runs (seven) earned on nine hits and one walk in two innings. 

"He got ambushed there, and I think it made it tougher to find a rhythm, especially after being out for so long," manager Walt Weiss said, per MLB.com.

De La Rosa blames his struggles on perhaps being a little too antsy to finally make his season debut.

"It's my first start," De La Rosa said. "Been pitching in Triple-A, but it's not the same. I was really excited. Hope I can be more calm next time and get better.

"I was overthrowing a lot. Got excited and was trying to throw as hard as I can. You can't make outs if you don't have command. It happened today. My command wasn't good.

"When I tried to throw in, the ball was in the middle. When I tried to throw away, it ran to the middle, too. I think I can fix it. My command wasn't there. I made really bad pitches today, and they hit it really good."


Confidence a driving force behind Anthony DeSclafani's fast start
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:06 am ET) Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani has been pitching like a Cy Young candidate to begin the 2015 season, opening the year with a 2-0 record and 0.86 ERA in three starts.

It's been a nice turnaround for the right-hander, who struggled in his first stint in the majors in 2014 with the Marlins.

"Obviously, I believe in myself," DeSclafani said, per MLB.com. "Any big leaguer who is up here believes in himself. I just try to stay consistent in my mindset, on a day-to-day basis, on an outing-to-outing basis.

"You've just got to do your best to execute your pitches and let the defense play behind you. And they've been phenomenal. I've felt great with this team since Day 1. They've been really great and supportive, and I can't ask for anything more than that."

The Reds have been particularly impressed with DeSclafani's approach, makeup and demeanor.

"He's just an inherently confident guy," manager Bryan Price said. "That's one thing we ask our pitchers to do, is to be emotionally stable when they pitch. He's throwing the ball really well; he's throwing three pitches for strikes. He's doing all the little things. He's got a really nice changeup that he's developed here through spring training and into the early part of the season. I think it's a necessary pitch for Anthony to be a quality starting pitcher.

"There's something to be said for young guys getting their feet wet at the big-league level and he's done it with some style. He's been very effective for us. We hope to see that trend continue."


Report: Angels map out comeback plan for Josh Hamilton
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:02 am ET) The Angels have mapped out a comeback plan for Josh Hamilton that could have the troubled outfielder back on the field by early June, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Hamilton would report to extended spring training for two-to-three weeks of work before going out on a minor-league rehab assignment. He's expected to report to Arizona for extended spring training "sooner rather than later," per the report, but the team has yet to make any announcement of a resolution with Hamilton.

Though the tentative plan is in place, it doesn't guarantee that Hamilton will play for the Angels again, but it does give the team time to evaluate the outfielder before a decision needs to be made. The Angels owe Hamilton $83 million through 2017.

"He's part of the team," reigning MVP Mike Trout said. "I'm sure, when he's fully healthy, we'll see him back."


Tigers' Joba Chamberlain gets out of jam in win Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:52 am ET) Tigers pitcher Joba Chamberlain was called upon in the eighth inning of Monday's game against the Yankees with one out and runners on the corners, and he induced a Jacoby Ellsbury groundball that turned into a double play to get his team out of the inning in the eventual 2-1 win.

"I live for this stuff and these situations," Chamberlain said about the eighth-inning role, per MLive.com. "You get to face one of the best players in the league and get a chance to go do your thing."

Chamberlain threw just two pitches to rack up his two big outs Monday.

"He's had experience pitching in the eighth inning for us last year," manager Brad Ausmus said Monday. "And for the vast majority of the year he did it very well. I knew he could handle the pressure."

Chamberlain endured a rough spring but has posted 2 1/3 scoreless innings in his three appearances this season.


 
 
 
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