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Start and sit hitters for Week 21

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, Aug. 14.

When a player misses more than a month with an injury, giving him a week to find his form before activating him in Fantasy may not be the worst idea in the world. When that player is Edwin Encarnacion, though, it absolutely is. He's that good. In fact, in terms of Head-to-Head points, only Mike Trout has outperformed him on a per-game basis this season, so regardless of how he performs in his return from a strained quadriceps this weekend, you'll want to start him in Fantasy. Notice I list him among the "too obvious" at first base.

Encarnacion isn't the only player returning this weekend. The Yankees hope to activate Brian McCann from the seven-day concussion DL Saturday, the same day Michael Cuddyer is expected back from a fractured shoulder. Whether or not you activate them in Fantasy will depend somewhat on their weekend performance, though in anything deeper than standard mixed leagues, both are probably a go. Wil Myers could return from a 2 1/2-month absence for a fractured wrist Tuesday, but he was slumping too badly before the injury to justify the risk.

After a monster performance at Double-A, Michael Taylor has filled in admirably for Jayson Werth, who is out with a sprained shoulder. The Nationals are talking like Werth could return to the lineup this weekend, but if he doesn't, Taylor could be a big-time contributor down the stretch as sort of a poor man's George Springer. Keep a close eye on the situation.

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

Catcher

Scott's sleepers for Week 21
Player Own/Start %
1. Danny Santana, SS/OF, Twins 82/74
2. Kole Calhoun, OF, Angels 87/69
3. Billy Butler, 1B, Royals 76/60
4. Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals 69/57
5. Norichika Aoki, OF, Royals 46/34
6. Torii Hunter, OF, Tigers 85/66
7. Carlos Beltran, OF, Yankees 87/71
8. Martin Prado, 2B/3B/OF, Yankees 89/64
9. Jedd Gyorko, 2B, Padres 55/37
10. Seth Smith, OF, Padres 38/28

Too obvious: Jonathan Lucroy, Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, Devin Mesoraco, Salvador Perez, Joe Mauer, Evan Gattis, Yan Gomes

Start: Kurt Suzuki, Twins
Suzuki may finally be coming back down to earth with a .262 (16 for 61) batting average over his last 20 games, but I don't think the drop is steep enough for him not to take advantage of the league's one and only eight-game week. He's not the sort of all-or-nothing hitter who could disappear for that length of time, first of all, and some of his matchups against Carlos Carrasco, Robbie Ray and whoever the Tigers find to start their doubleheader Saturday are pretty enticing. He's also a .335 hitter at home, where the Twins play all eight of those games.
Instead of: Travis d'Arnaud, Russell Martin, Dioner Navarro

Sit: Stephen Vogt, Athletics
Between the return of Nate Freiman and the acquisition of Jonny Gomes, the Athletics are making full use of lefty-righty platoons again, having sat Vogt against the last two lefties they've faced. Considering he's batting only .219 against them, it makes sense. The problem is two of the five pitchers the Athletics are scheduled to face this week throw left-handed, so he may only start three games. As productive as he's been lately, that's not enough for him to make an impact in mixed leagues.
Instead of: Suzuki, Miguel Montero, Wilson Ramos

First base

Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion, Albert Pujols, Anthony Rizzo, Victor Martinez, Freddie Freeman, Todd Frazier, Jonathan Lucroy, Buster Posey, Adrian Gonzalez, Carlos Santana, Justin Morneau, Adam LaRoche, Chris Carter

Start: Billy Butler, Royals
Well, it took four months, but Butler is finally getting his batting average back where it belongs. He has hit .395 (17 for 43) over his last 11 games to bring his season mark up to .277. The Royals have the most favorable matchups of any team this week, playing five of their six games in either Colorado or Texas and going up against pitchers like Trevor May, Tyler Matzek, Jorge De La Rosa, Nick Martinez, Colby Lewis and Nick Tepesch. Butler should be able to take advantage.
Instead of: Brandon Moss, Chris Davis, Michael Morse

Sit: Lucas Duda, Mets
Though Duda's struggles against left-handed pitchers (he's batting .167 with a .481 OPS against them) haven't limited his production too much over the last 11 weeks, during which he has emerged as a must-start Fantasy option, Tsuyoshi Wada, Scott Kazmir, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu could be enough to change that this week. And it's not like he's a slam dunk against the two righties either. One of them is Jeff Samardzija. If he somehow overcomes these matchups to have a huge week, we'll know never to sit him again, but I wouldn't count on it.
Instead of: Matt Adams, Butler, Mark Trumbo

Second base

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

Five Best Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Royals @MIN1, @COL2, @TEX3
2. Twins KC1, CLE3, DET4
3. Mariners @PHI3, @BOS3
4. Nationals ARI4, SF3
5. Padres @LAD3, @ARI3

Start: Kolten Wong, Cardinals
The Cardinals had gone 17 games without facing a left-handed starting pitcher prior to Thursday, but apparently, all that time wasn't enough to convince manager Mike Matheny to change his approach to one of his hottest hitters. Despite batting .313 (15 for 48) with three homers and two steals in his previous 11 games, Wong sat, confirming that he's no more than a matchups type in mixed leagues. The good news is those matchups are in his favor this week. Not only are the Cardinals facing all righties, but they include Alfredo Simon, Kyle Kendrick, David Buchanan and Jerome Williams.
Instead of: Aaron Hill, Brock Holt, Scooter Gennett

Sit: Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks
Three weeks ago, Hill scored 34 points in standard CBSSports.com leagues. He entered Friday having scored only half that many since. With a .174 (8 for 46) batting average in his last 13 games, a week against Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, Jesse Chavez and Ian Kennedy won't do him any good.
Instead of: Howie Kendrick, Dustin Ackley, Jedd Gyorko

Third base

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

Start: Martin Prado, Yankees
Prado has been pretty lousy since joining the Yankees, batting .175 (7 for 40) in 12 games, which is a shame because he looked like he had begun to turn his season around in his final couple weeks with the Diamondbacks. He's still batting .354 with a .950 OPS against lefties, though, and the Yankees face four of those in their six games this week. Two of them, Brett Oberholtzer and John Danks, are especially hittable, as are the two righties, Scott Feldman and Scott Carroll.
Instead of: Chris Davis, Aramis Ramirez, Lonnie Chisenhall

Sit: Nick Castellanos, Tigers
It isn't much of a hot streak, but Castellanos' .450 (9 for 20) batting average and two home runs over his last seven games might convince some mixed-league owners to take a shot on him at a weak position, especially since if you go back 28 games, he's batting .271 with three homers and an .809 OPS. Or maybe that doesn't help his case. I don't know. Either way, the Tigers spend all of this week in pitcher's parks Tropicana Field and Target Field, and Castellanos is batting .223 on the road compared to .305 at home. Curb your enthusiasm.
Instead of: Prado, Yangervis Solarte, Trevor Plouffe

Shortstop

Too obvious: Jose Reyes, Dee Gordon, Ian Desmond, Ben Zobrist, Jimmy Rollins, Starlin Castro, Alexei Ramirez, Javier Baez, Elvis Andrus

Five Worst Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Rays DET3, @TOR3
2. Mets CHC1, @OAK2, @LAD3
3. Giants @CHC3, @WAS3
4. Diamondbacks @WAS4, SD3
5. Blue Jays @MIL2, TB3

Start: Danny Santana, Twins
Not sure what more Santana has to do to graduate to "too obvious" at shortstop. Probably half the teams in your league could use an upgrade there, and he's been the eighth-best at the position in points leagues since about the time he became a full-timer June 2. And he even missed three weeks during that stretch with a bone bruise in his knee. With four multi-hit games in his last five and eight games on tap for this week, he's an easy call.
Instead of: Erick Aybar, Jean Segura, Arismendy Alcantara

Sit: J.J. Hardy, Orioles
Hardy was heating up before spraining his left thumb Aug. 9, batting .478 (11 for 23) with two home runs in his last six games. He missed three games before returning to the lineup Friday, which seemed awfully fast for a legitimate sprain. Obviously, if he goes bananas over the weekend, it changes things, but the chance of this injury impacting his swing combined with the tough matchups against Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks and Tsuyoshi Wada makes Hardy not such an attractive play this week.
Instead of: Santana, Jhonny Peralta, Yangervis Solarte

Outfield

Too obvious: Mike Trout, Jose Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gomez, Adam Jones, Yasiel Puig, Jacoby Ellsbury, Hunter Pence, Michael Brantley, Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, Jason Heyward, Nelson Cruz, Justin Upton, Jayson Werth, Billy Hamilton, Matt Kemp, Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Holliday, Jay Bruce, Alex Gordon, Brett Gardner, Ben Zobrist, Bryce Harper, Josh Harrison, Nick Markakis, Gregory Polanco, Chris Carter, Denard Span, Marlon Byrd, J.D. Martinez

Start: Kole Calhoun, Angels
A late-July/early-August slump was enough to drop Calhoun out of the "too obvious" list, but he's already showing signs of coming around with a .400 (10 for 25) batting average and one home run in his last five games. Like most young left-handed hitters, he's especially good against righties, batting .294 with an .835 OPS, and he has six on the schedule this week. And they included bad news BoSox Brandon Workman, Allen Webster, Clay Buchholz and Rubby De La Rosa.
Instead of: Curtis Granderson, Shin-Soo Choo, Angel Pagan

Sit: Desmond Jennings, Rays
First of all, I'm not sure how Jennings is started in a high enough percentage of leagues to qualify for this designation. He has a relevant number of home runs and stolen bases, yes, but not enough to make up for his .241 batting average and .707 OPS. But since he is, in fact, 56 percent started, I feel I should point out his left shoulder isn't 100 percent after crashing into an outfield wall Tuesday, which certainly won't help his chances against Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, David Price and Marcus Stroman in a six-game week.
Instead of: Calhoun, Norichika Aoki, Torii Hunter

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Player News
Marlins 3B Martin Prado reaches base four times on Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:05 pm ET) Marlins third baseman Martin Prado had himself a perfect night at the plate in Tuesday's 4-1 win over the Nationals. Prado went 3 for 3 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored in the game.

All three hits were singles for Prado, who is batting .333 in 11 games since returning from the disabled list on July 17.


Astros' Brad Peacock likely done for the season
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(11:05 pm ET) Astros pitcher Brad Peacock is likely done for the year, general manager Jeff Luhnow said on Tuesday. 

"Peacock we're still waiting," Luhnow said, per the Houston Chronicle. "I'm not optimistic he's going to make it back any time soon and we still don't know what the right course of action is. There's a couple different doctors working on it. There's another doctor appointment coming up. We'll have to figure out what the best path is for him, but unfortunately it looks like potentially a lost year for him."

Peacock has made one appearance this year. He's suffering from a left intercostal strain. 


Marlins 2B Dee Gordon goes 2 for 3 in return from DL
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:03 pm ET) Fresh off of the disabled list, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon went right back to making an impact on the basepaths in Tuesday's 4-1 win over the Nationals. Gordon went 2 for 3 with a triple and a sacrifice bunt.

He also scored a run and continues to lead the league in hits with 124, despite missing more than two weeks with a thumb injury. Gordon is batting .294 over his past nine games.


Red-hot Joey Votto launches three-run home run in Reds' win
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:58 pm ET) Reds first baseman Joey Votto provided the only significant offense of the game in Tuesday's 4-0 win over the Cardinals. Votto launched a three-run home run in the sixth inning off Jaime Garcia to break a scoreless tie.

Votto reached base safely in all four plate-appearances on Tuesday, going 3 for 3 with a walk. He drove in three runs and scored two, recording his 19th home run and his 19th double of the season. 

Votto has been on fire at the plate recently, batting a ridiculous .595 with three homers and eight RBI over his past 11 games. Perhaps just as impressive is the fact that he has struck out just once--compared to 12 walks--in those 11 contests.


Mariners' Charlie Furbush throws off mound
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(10:57 pm ET) Mariners pitcher Charlie Furbush returned to the mound on Tuesday. Furbush is on the disabled list with a biceps injury. 

Furbush tested the injury with his first throwing session off a mound since suffering the injury on July 7. 

"Just 10 pitches," Furbush said, per the News Tribune. "This was a, 'Let's see what's happening. Let's see where I am.' Honestly, it was encouraging. It had been a while, but it felt pretty good."

Furbush will throw again on Thursday.


Cardinals' Jaime Garcia posts quality start in first game back off DL
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:55 pm ET) Making his first start since June 24, Cardinals right-hander Jaime Garcia posted a quality start on Tuesday against the Reds. It was all for naught however, as the Cardinals shutout the Reds 4-0. 

Garcia, who missed a month due to a groin injury, allowed three runs on four hits over six innings on Tuesday. He walked two and struck out five, throwing 51 of 80 pitches for strikes. 

Garcia (3-4, 2.00 ERA) crusied through the first five innings, keeping the Reds off the board. But he made his only mistake in the sixth inning, when he served up a three-run home run to Joey Votto, accounting for all of the runs scored against Garcia. 

The veteran right-hander has made eight starts this season and has not allowed more than three runs in any of them. 


Reds SP Mike Leake fires eight shutout innings in win Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:48 pm ET) Reds starter Mike Leake was dominant once again, as he blanked the Cardinals over eight innings in a 4-0 win on Tuesday. Leake allowed four hits and a walk while striking out three. He needed 95 pitches to get through the eighth, throwing 61 of them for strikes.

Leake (9-5) was rolling from the word go, as he retired 14 of the first 15 batters to face him. No runner got to third base against Leake, who dropped his ERA to 3.56 with the impressive outing.

The right-hander was stellar in the month of July, going 4-1 with a sterling 1.25 ERA in five starts. Several scouts were said to have been in attendance during the game, as Leake has been the subject of several trade rumors with the July 31 trade deadline swiftly approaching.


Rays' Curt Casali homers twice for second straight day
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(10:41 pm ET) Rays catcher Curt Casali went 3 for 4 with two home runs in Tuesday's win over Detroit. 

Casali became the second rookie catcher in MLB history to have back-to-back games with multiple home runs. Casali also went deep twice on Monday. 

The Mariners' Kenji Johjima also had back-to-back multi homer games in 2006. 


Orioles SP Ubaldo Jimenez delivers quality start in win on Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:41 pm ET) Starter Ubaldo Jimenez picked up his eight win of the season, as the Orioles downed the Braves 7-3 on Tuesday. Jimenez allowed two runs on four hits over seven innings. He walked three and struck out three, throwing 62 of his 106 pitches for strikes.

Jimenez (8-6) lowered his ERA to 3.73 with the fine outing. He allowed a first-inning two-run home run to Freddie Freeman for his only mistake of the evening. After that, he was strong, retiring 10 of the final 11 batters he faced.

This was a nice comeback for Jimenez, who had allowed 14 runs in seven innings over his previous two starts.


Rays' Jake Odorizzi evens record at 6-6 with win
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(10:37 pm ET) Rays pitcher Jake Odorizzi won for the first time since July 11, improving to 6-6 on the year, Tuesday against Detroit. 

Odorizzi allowed one run, the third time in five outings that he's surrendered zero or one runs. He struck out eight, his most since April 18, and gave up one run over six innings.


 
 
 
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