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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
Giants outfielder Justin Maxwell back in the lineup Monday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:19 pm ET) Giants right fielder Justin Maxwell is back in the starting lineup Monday agianst the Padres, sending Gregor Blanco to the bench.

Maxwell got the day off Sunday after starting five of the last seven games. He is hitting .241 with three home runs and nine RBI in 58 at-bats this season.


Padres' Yonder Alonso, Alexi Amarista get second day off in last three
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(6:12 pm ET) For the second time in three games, the Padres are keeping both first baseman Yonder Alonso and shortstop Alexi Amarista out of the starting lineup. 

Just as in Saturday's contest, Yangervis Solarte gets the start at first and Clint Barmes will start at shortstop.

It's Solarte's fifth start of the year at first, and Barmes eighth at short. They're hitting fifth and eighth in the lineup respectively. 


Angels' Joyce, Giavotella swap places in batting order Monday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:53 pm ET) Angels manager Mike Scioscia swapped left fielder Matt Joyce and second baseman Johnny Giavotella in the batting order for Monday's game against the Mariners. Giavotella hit sixth, while Joyce, who has just one hit in 21 career at-bats against the M's starter Felix Hernandez, is now batting seventh.

Joyce is also struggling at the plate recently. He has just four hits in his last 10 games and only one RBI. Giavotella, meanwhile, has been a bit of a sparkplug for the Angels. He's hitting .250 (8 for 32) with three RBI over his last 10 games. 


Report: Tigers' Justin Verlander to undergo MRI Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:52 pm ET) Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander will undergo his latest MRI on his strained triceps muscle Tuesday, FOX Sports reports.

Verlander suffered the injury in his final spring training start and has yet to pitch in the regular season. He reported no discomfort after a light toss session Thursday but was still in line for an MRI this week.


Phillies P Chad Billingsley to make first start of season on Tuesday
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5:36 pm ET) Phillies pitcher Chad Billingsley is ready to make his return to the big leagues. 

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Billingsley will start in Tuesday's game against the Braves. This will be his first MLB game since April 15, 2013. The veteran right-hander is coming off of consecutive elbow surgeries, which have slowed his career. 

He holds a 3.65 ERA in his career. Billingsley's first nine seasons, including 2014, were spent with the Dodgers. 


Marlins' Dee Gordon has second-best homestand in baseball history
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5:35 pm ET) Marlins infielder Dee Gordon went 20 for 31 on the nine-game homestand that ended on Sunday. His .645 average is the second highest in baseball history for a homestand that long.

Only Barry Bonds has ever had a better homestand. He went 13 for 19 (.684) over a 10-game stand in 2004. 

"Let's just be honest about it, I’m not going to be as good as Barry Bonds, ever," Gordon said, per the Miami Herald.

Seven of Gordon's eight games over the homestand were multi-hit games, including three 3-hit nights and a 4-hit outing. He scored five runs, drove in two and walked four times. 


Twins' Casey Fien to begin throwing program Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:33 pm ET) Twins pitcher Casey Fien is scheduled to begin his throwing program Thursday, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Fien was placed on the disabled list the previous Thursday with a shoulder injury he suffered in his most recent appearance while allowing three earned runs on five hits in an inning of work. He owns a 4.35 ERA and 3:0 K:BB ratio in 10 1/3 innings.


Rockies closer Adam Ottavino facing Tommy John surgery
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:27 pm ET) Rockies closer Adam Ottavino is likely to need Tommy John surgery to repair his injured right elbow, Ottavino said to the Denver Post on Monday. A further evaluation with team doctors revealed a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.

"Baseball is my love. So I will do everything I can to come back," Ottavino said Monday. "I've accepted it. I'll take it head on."

Ottavino was placed on the 15-day DL last week with a right triceps injury. Ottavino posted a 1-0 record with three saves in 10 1/3 innings of work this season. John Axford will likely fill in as the closer.


Twins opt to leave Aaron Hicks, Byron Buxton in minors
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:27 pm ET) With Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia (hip) going on the disabled list Monday, the team opted to promote outfield prospect Eddie Rosario from the minors to take his roster spot. Manager Paul Molitor said the team chose Rosario because it isn't going to be a long-term situation.

Molitor added the only other player considered for a promotion was Aaron Hicks. Molitor made it a point to say top prospect Byron Buxton was not in the conversation.

Hicks is batting .289 with two home runs, three triples, five doubles and 13 RBI in 21 games at Triple-A. He also has 15 runs, 12 walks and 15 strikeouts.

Buxton is batting .287 with two home runs, three doubles, five triples and 12 RBI in 22 games at Double-A.


Rays' Alex Cobb suffers setback in rehab
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5:23 pm ET) Rays pitcher Alex Cobb suffered a setback in his injury rehab, manager Kevin Cash told the media on Monday.

Cobb is on the 15-day disabled list with a forearm injury. He had been throwing bullpen sessions and worked on offspeed pitches off of flat ground on Sunday. 

The setback means that Cobb will cease the throwing program and get reevaluated by medical staff. 


 
 
 
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