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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
Rangers place Neftali Feliz on 15-day disabled list
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:53 pm ET) The Rangers placed pitcher Neftali Feliz on the 15-day disabled list on Monday, retroactive to May 20, with an abscess on his right side under his arm, the team announced.

Feliz's roster spot is going to Josh Hamilton, who is set to make his season debut on Monday. Feliz owns a 5.09 ERA and 15:9 K:BB ratio in 17 2/3 innings. He was recently removed from the closer role and may return to a setup role when healthy.


Twins not ready to recall Milone despite great Triple-A numbers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:47 pm ET) Twins pitcher Tommy Milone is 4-0 with a 0.28 ERA and 41:2 K:BB ratio in 31 2/3 innings across four starts with Triple-A Rochester, but the team is not yet ready to bring him back to the majors, the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

"He's been communicated with about the fact that we know what he's doing," manager Paul Molitor said. "We are paying attention and we are in a little bit of a holding pattern up here because the guys we have up here are holding their own. I think he understands that."

Milone's only run allowed in Triple-A came in the ninth inning Sunday in his fourth start with Rochester.

"It's been incredible," Molitor said. "He has to be up close to 30 innings of really well-pitched baseball."

Milone was 2-1 with a 4.76 ERA and 13:11 K:BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings before being sent down.


Orioles' Bud Norris feeling better, will make rehab start Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:38 pm ET) Orioles pitcher Bud Norris will remain on a rehab assignment for at least one more rehab start, which is expected to come with Double-A Bowie on Wednesday. He said he's on the road to recovery after dealing with bronchitis, which forced him to be placed on the disabled list, MASNSports.com reports.

"I'm getting there," Norris said. "I didn't know how much it took out of me. I'm glad Buck (Showalter) did what he did and I'm glad I got one under my belt and I've got one more to go. I'm really excited just to get my weight back on my body and kind of get through all of this."

Norris surrendered nine runs in 2 2/3 innings in his rehab start with Triple-A Norfolk on Friday.

"I went down to the bullpen and started to warm up and felt great in the 'pen, and by the time I pitched the first inning, I could feel my legs kind of giving out," Norris said. "As much as I do squatting and running and all that good stuff, missing as much time as I did, my body definitely took a toll. Losing as much weight as I did, I never had anything happen to me like that before. I'm excited to put it back on and take care of my body."

Norris is 1-4 with a 9.88 ERA and 18:13 K:BB ratio in 27 1/3 innings.


Giants reinstate, designate 1B Travis Ishikawa
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:25 pm ET) Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa has said he wonders where he would fit in upon his return from the disabled list.

He is still wondering, but he knows now that it's not with the big league club.

Ishikawa has been reinstated from his rehab and designated for assignment, the team has announced. A back issue has prevented him from playing all year.


Athletics' Brett Lawrie remains sidelined Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:24 pm ET) Athletics third baseman Brett Lawrie remains out of the starting lineup for Monday's game against the Tigers.

Lawrie hasn't played since Friday while dealing with general soreness. He has hit .279/.310/.364 with two home runs and 16 RBI in 165 at-bats. Max Muncy is drawing another start at third base in his place.

The A's are favorites (-125) at home on Monday, per VegasInsider.com.


Report: Mets 3B David Wright having back examined in California
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:17 pm ET) Mets star third baseman David Wright is headed to California to have his ailing back examined by a specialist, the New York Post has reported.

Wright, who suffered a setback in his recovery from a back injury, has been sidelined for six weeks.


Rangers' Delino DeShields leading off Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:14 pm ET) Rangers center fielder Delino DeShields is leading off in Monday's matchup with the Indians.

With left fielder Josh Hamilton making his return on Monday, DeShields could be in for a loss of playing time, but he's still in the lineup for Hamilton's debut, manning center field while leading off for the fourth straight game. The righty swinger is up against right-hander Shaun Marcum in the matchup.

The Rangers are underdogs (+125) in Cleveland on Monday, per VegasInsider.com.


Cubs 2B Addison Russell struggling to make transition from SS
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:11 pm ET) Cubs rookie second baseman and natural shortstop Addison Russell has been merely mediocre offensively since his arrival, but it's his defense that has been a real problem.

Russell has a league-leading six errors in 29 games, which would translate to 33 over a full season. He understands the transition will take time.

"It's been pretty difficult to learn a new position at the big league level, but it's something I believe I can handle," he told ESPN. "There's going to be points in time at second base where there is a play that's unfamiliar to me."

Russell has tried to simplify the mental aspect of his defense.

"Playing a ground ball in general is playing a ground ball," he said. "It's just a different angle and some different footwork. Other than that, there's different jobs like covering first that I'm getting accustomed to and different cutoff relays. There's new responsbilities with a new position and I'm trying to learn all that."

Russell has been fairly productive at the plate, but he has 42 strikeouts in 108 at-bats, which ranks him among the worst in baseball in making contact.


Rangers' Josh Hamilton batting fifth in season debut
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:10 pm ET) Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton is batting fifth in his season debut against the Indians on Monday. The team activated him from the disabled list prior to the game and placed pitcher Neftali Feliz on the disabled list.

Hamilton, who has been on the disabled list while recovering from a shoulder injury, is making his return to a team where he won an MVP award in 2010 and made five All-Star appearances in his five seasons with the Rangers. He hit .255/.316/.426 in his two seasons with the Angels.


Athletics activate Ben Zobrist, option Craig Gentry to Triple-A
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:05 pm ET) The Athletics activated second baseman Ben Zobrist from the 15-day disabled list on Monday and optioned outfielder Craig Gentry to Triple-A Nashville.

Zobrist has been sidelined since April 24 while recovering from a knee injury, and despite his activation, he will come off the bench against the Tigers on Monday. He made seven starts in the outfield and five at second base before his injury. Zobrist has hit .240/.304/.400 with one home run and eight RBI in 50 at-bats.

Gentry saw just one appearance in his most recent stint with the team. He is 3 for 38 with the A's this season.


 
 
 
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