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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
Jason Grilli blasted in loss vs. Mariners
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:34 am ET) Angels pitcher Jason Grilli took a loss Tuesday, giving up four earned runs while recording just one out in his team's 13-2 defeat against the Mariners.

Grilli (1-3) walked a batter and hit another batter to open up the fifth inning, and after a sacrifice moved both runners into scoring position, he gave up back-to-back doubles to bring three runs home, getting himself pulled from the game with a man still in scoring position. That runner would come around to score, leaving him with his worst performance since joining the Angels. Grilli owns a 4.03 ERA and 51:19 K:BB ratio in 51 1/3 innings.


Carson Smith picks up win vs. Angels
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:29 am ET) Mariners pitcher Carson Smith earned a win Tuesday, walking one and striking out one in two scoreless innings in his team's 13-2 victory over the Angels.

Smith took over for an injured Roenis Elias and handled business in the fourth and fifth innings, and the offense exploded for 13 unanswered runs after falling behind 2-0 in the first inning. Smith has tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out six and walking two.


Cory Rasmus tosses four scoreless innings vs. Mariners
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:26 am ET) Angels pitcher Cory Rasmus wasn't a factor in the decision Tuesday, giving up just one hit in four scoreless innings while striking out four in his team's 13-2 loss to the Mariners.

Rasmus, who has mostly pitched in relief this season, wasn't going to be given a full workload no matter the results, but he was removed after just 43 pitches after passing that mark in three of his previous four outings. The bullpen immediately blew the lead upon Rasmus' exit. He owns a 2.57 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 51:15 K:BB ratio in 49 innings. Rasmus is scheduled to face the Rangers Sunday.


Kevin Quackenbush picks up fourth save Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:25 am ET) Padres pitcher Kevin Quackenbush earned his fourth save Tuesday, giving up one earned run on one hit and one walk while striking out one in his team's 5-4 win over the Phillies.

Quackenbush walked a batter with one out, and after the runner took second on catcher's indifference with two outs, a single brought him home to give the reliever his second earned run in his last three appearances. He owns a 2.68 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 53:18 K:BB ratio in 50 1/3 innings.


Ian Kennedy strikes out seven in win vs. Phillies
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:22 am ET) Padres pitcher Ian Kennedy earned a win Tuesday, giving up three earned runs on three hits and four walks in six innings while striking out seven in his team's 5-4 victory over the Padres.

Kennedy (11-13) gave up a solo home run in the second inning and fell behind on a two-run blast in the fifth, but the offense was able to pick him up with three runs in the sixth. It was Kennedy's first time allowing multiple home runs in a start this season. He owns a 3.80 ERA and 196:67 K:BB ratio in 187 1/3 innings. Kennedy is slated to face the Giants Sunday.


A.J. Burnett walks four in loss vs. Padres
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:22 am ET) Phillies pitcher A.J. Burnett took a loss Tuesday, giving up five runs (four earned) on eight hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings while striking out four in his team's 5-4 defeat against the Padres.

Burnett (8-17) gave up a pair of runs in the first inning Tuesday, but the offense carried him to a 3-2 lead heading into the sixth inning, where the starter served up a two-run home run and an RBI single to fall behind for good. It's the first time in his last eight starts Burnett has been unable to complete six innings. He owns a 4.40 ERA and 180:87 K:BB ratio in 202 2/3 innings going into Sunday's scheduled start against the A's.


Steve Tolleson returns to action late Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:12 am ET) Blue Jays infielder Steve Tolleson went 0 for 1 and played third base in his team's 8-2 loss to the Orioles Tuesday.

Tolleson was not in the starting lineup Tuesday after suffering a wrist injury Monday, but he came in as a pinch hitter, struck out and stayed in to play third base. He has hit .239/.299/.358 with three home runs, 14 RBI and three stolen bases in 159 at-bats.


Neftali Feliz earns 10th save Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:05 am ET) Rangers closer Neftali Feliz picked up his 10th save Tuesday, tossing a 1-2-3 ninth inning in his team's 6-3 victory over the A's.

Feliz needed just nine pitches to turn in his third straight perfect inning and eight straight scoreless appearance. He's averaged just 10 pitches over his last three outings while allowing no hits or walks. Feliz owns a 2.28 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 17:9 K:BB ratio in 27 2/3 innings.


Nick Tepesch posts quality start in win vs. A's
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:02 am ET) Rangers pitcher Nick Tepesch earned a win Tuesday, giving up three earned runs on five hits and two walks in six innings while striking out just one in his team's 6-3 victory over the A's.

Tepesch (5-10) saw the A's score a pair of runs in the fourth inning right after the offense had given him a 3-0 lead. After the Rangers tacked on three more runs in the fifth, the starter served up a harmless solo home run in the sixth. Tepesch owns a 4.47 ERA and 51:38 K:BB ratio in 114 2/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the Angels Sunday.


Scott Kazmir struggles in loss vs. Rangers Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:02 am ET) Athletics pitcher Scott Kazmir took a loss Tuesday, allowing six runs (four earned) on nine hits and one walk in 4 1/3 innings while striking out three in his team's 6-3 defeat against the Rangers.

Kazmir (14-9) is now 0-4 in his last five starts, though he did a solid job in his previous two outings before throwing up a clunker Tuesday. He served up a two-run blast during a three-run fourth inning before the Rangers scored three more in the fifth inning to put the A's into a hole they couldn't escape. Kazmir owns a 3.44 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 150:49 K:BB ratio in 178 innings. He's scheduled to face the Phillies Sunday.


 
 
 
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