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Start and sit hitters for Week 22

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. 21.

Hanley Ramirez looks like he'll be able to return from an oblique injury Sunday, which is why I go ahead and list him as "too obvious" at shortstop. It's a weak position, after all, and you'll have some warning before the lineup deadline if he suffers a setback.

You'll also have some warning for Carlos Beltran, who should learn what his latest elbow flareup means for his short-term availability Saturday. As for Salvador Perez (knee), Yan Gomes (head) and Michael Cuddyer (hamstring), you'll just have to wait and see. All three are worth starting if they return to the lineup.

While the widely available Steve Pearce is back playing regularly for the Orioles (and performing quite nicely at that), the widely owned Gregory Polanco has suddenly fallen victim to a timeshare, displaced if only for now by a red-hot Travis Snider. It probably won't last long, but if it continues over the weekend, you may want to try someone else with so much on the line this time of year.

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

Catcher

Scott's sleepers for Week 22
Player Own/Start %
1. Michael Morse, 1B/OF, Giants 78/57
2. Justin Morneau, 1B, Rockies 96/58
3. Stephen Vogt, C/1B/OF, Athletics 64/49
4. Jedd Gyorko, 2B, Padres 61/47
5. Billy Butler, 1B, Royals 80/64
6. Starling Marte, OF, Pirates 90/74
7. Martin Prado, 2B/3B/OF, Yankees 88/68
8. James Loney, 1B, Rays 65/48
9. Dexter Fowler, OF, Astros 47/27
10. Steve Pearce, 1B/OF, Orioles 26/13

Too obvious: Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Santana, Buster Posey, Devin Mesoraco, Joe Mauer, Evan Gattis, Brian McCann

Start: Stephen Vogt, Athletics
Seems like every week, Vogt winds up being either the start or the sit at this position. Last week, he was the sit, but the Athletics were playing only five games. This week, they're playing seven. Granted, at least two (and maybe three, depending who the Angels find to replace Garrett Richards) are against lefties, but he's been so productive against the righties, batting .341 with an .882 OPS, that he should make the most of the at-bats he gets. His matchups against Scott Feldman and Brad Peacock are especially favorable.
Instead of: Russell Martin, Wilson Ramos, Wilin Rosario

Sit: Mike Zunino, Mariners
The up-and-down season continues for Zunino, who now finds himself in a 2-for-19 slump. That's bad timing with Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark coming to town. Of course, he'll have a chance to right the ship against the Rangers' awful rotation first, but considering five of his six games are against right-handers, I don't like his chances this week. He's batting just .186 against righties.
Instead of: Russell Martin, Dioner Navarro, Jason Castro

First base

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

Start: Justin Morneau, Rockies
Though back from the DL for three weeks now, Morneau hasn't exactly put Fantasy owners' minds at ease, missing two games recently with neck stiffness -- the injury that put him on the DL in the first place. He was considered "too obvious" before those troubles began, though, so in a week like this one, when the Rockies have favorable matchups and not too many lefties (only two) on the schedule, you should probably run him out there. Unlike some Rockies, he'll actually be able to take advantage of those matchups since he hits just as well on the road (.319) as at home (.316).
Instead of: Chris Davis, Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard

Sit: Allen Craig, Red Sox
Craig is back in the Red Sox lineup after resting his foot for three weeks, but with talk of him potentially needing surgery in the offseason, I'm not convinced his Lisfranc injury is any better. And you have to think it has something to do with his season-long slump. The Red Sox are under no obligation to play him every day, and even if they do, he's liable to struggle against Marcus Stroman, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Alex Cobb.
Instead of: Morneau, Billy Butler, James Loney

Second base

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

Five Best Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Royals NYY1, MIN3, CLE3
2. Astros OAK3, TEX4
3. Rays @BAL4, BOS3
4. Rockies @SF4, @ARI3
5. Reds CHC3, @PIT3

Start: Jedd Gyorko, Padres
Because of an extended bout with plantar fasciitis, Gyorko hasn't had a chance to put together an extended hot streak. But as we saw last season, when he hit .344 (32 for 93) with five home runs over a 23-game stretch early in the year and .282 (24 for 85) with seven home runs over a 22-game stretch later, he's capable of some special things when he does. Even with his hamstring at less than 100 percent, I wouldn't want to take the chance of his .326 (14 for 43) batting average and two home runs in his last 11 games being the start of one.
Instead of: Howie Kendrick, Brock Holt, Kolten Wong

Sit: Neil Walker, Pirates
Though his home run Monday was obviously a good sign, Walker has been in and out of the lineup so much lately with a back issue that I don't see the need to chance it with him at such a deep position. The Pirates' unfavorable schedule against John Lackey, Lance Lynn, Adam Wainwright and Johnny Cueto clinches it for me.
Instead of: Gyorko, Omar Infante, Brandon Phillips

Third base

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

Start: Martin Prado, Yankees
The Yankees have faced three left-handed starting pitchers in their last five games, so it's not surprising Prado has hit .389 (7 for 18) with a home run and a 1.111 OPS during that stretch. After all, he's hit .368 with a 1.011 OPS against lefties this season. And guess what? The Yankees have four more on tap this week, including hittable types like Robbie Ray, Mark Buehrle and J.A. Happ. Might as well stick with the hot hand, right?
Instead of: Brock Holt, Pedro Alvarez, Lonnie Chisenhall

Sit: Casey McGehee, Marlins
After a brief respite in mid-August, McGehee's second-half slump has resumed with a .080 (2 for 25) batting average over his last six games. What's most discouraging about that stretch is it came against the Diamondbacks' and Rangers' bottom-feeder rotations. His matchups this week aren't particularly unfavorable, but his .220 batting average and .598 OPS since the All-Star break pretty much speak for themselves.
Instead of: Prado, Aramis Ramirez, Nick Castellanos

Shortstop

Too obvious: Jose Reyes, Dee Gordon, Ian Desmond, Jimmy Rollins, Ben Zobrist, Josh Harrison, Hanley Ramirez, Starlin Castro, Alexei Ramirez, Jhonny Peralta, Danny Santana

Five Worst Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Pirates STL3, CIN3
2. Red Sox @TOR3, @TB3
3. Phillies WAS3, @NYM3
4. Angels MIA3, OAK4
5. Nationals @PHI3, @SEA3

Start: J.J. Hardy, Orioles
Even though Hardy says his left thumb still bothers him -- understandably considering he missed only three games after spraining it Aug. 9 -- he's hit well since his return, batting .292 (7 for 24) with a home run in five games. That gives him a .292 batting average, four home runs and .817 OPS since the All-Star break. With the Orioles playing seven games this week -- and three against the Twins pitching staff -- he's a good bet to contribute in Fantasy.
Instead of: Erick Aybar, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jean Segura

Sit: Brock Holt, Red Sox
Holt only recently became eligible at shortstop, and no doubt, owners are anxious to use him at the weakest position in Fantasy. But this week probably isn't the best time. Not only is he slumping right now, batting .221 (29 for 131) with a .557 batting average since the All-Star break, but the Red Sox have some of the toughest matchups of any team this week, facing pitchers like Marcus Stroman, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Alex Cobb in their six games.
Instead of: Jhonny Peralta, Hardy, Alcides Escobar

Outfield

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

Start: Michael Morse, Giants
After a prolonged slump spanning more than half the season so far, Morse seems to have, in the words of manager Bruce Bochy, "gotten his timing back." He's batting .435 (10 for 23) in his last eight games and .319 (30 for 94) with an .855 OPS in 29 games since the All-Star break. He was a fixture in Fantasy lineups back in April and is showing that kind of potential again. With four games against the Rockies' ramshackle starting rotation and seven at home, where he's batting .317 with an .882 OPS on the year, he's a good bet to keep it going this week.
Instead of: Charlie Blackmon, Ben Revere, Carl Crawford

Sit: Josh Hamilton, Angels
Particularly if you play in a Head-to-Head points leagues, where he's scored double-digit points (a low benchmark, to be sure) in just two of the last six weeks, you'd probably love an excuse to sit Hamilton about now. Well, here it is: Not only is he batting just .204 (19 for 93) over his last 25 games, but for the year, he's batting .252 with a .627 OPS at home, where the Angels play all seven of their games this week -- and against pitchers like Henderson Alvarez, Jon Lester, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija.
Instead of: Morse, Starling Marte, Dexter Fowler

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Nick Ahmed played hero role in extra-inning win versus Cubs
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(10:10 am ET) Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed was the unlikely hero on Friday night. But unlikely or not, Ahmed's single in the 13th inning gave the Diamondbacks a 5-4 win over the Cubs.

Ahmed, who entered the game batting .194, went 3 for 6 with a home run and two RBI.

''I made some improvements, made some adjustments,'' Ahmed said. ''I'm starting to put the bat on the ball, starting to see it a lot better. The coaches here have been awesome - (hitting coach) Turner Ward and (assistant hitting coach) Mark Grace, and even my teammates here, they just stick with me, stay behind me, keep instilling confidence in me even though I'm struggling. That helped a lot.''

Ahmed is hitting .212/.281/.260 with a home run and eight RBI in 104 at-bats this season.


Royals' Chris Young making strong case to remain in rotation
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:10 am ET) Royals veteran pitcher Chris Young turned in another outstanding performance Friday against the Cardinals, improving to 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA in four starts this season.

Young still could head back to the bullpen once Jason Vargas returns from an elbow injury, but manager Ned Yost said it's too early to make any decisions or assumptions

"I'm not even going there," Yost said, per MLB.com. "Nice try, though. When we get to the point where we have to make a decision, we'll do it like we always do. We'll sit down with the coaches, with [general manager] Dayton [Moore] and do what's right."

Young seems fine with whatever role the Royals ask of him.

"It doesn't matter to me," he said. "One thing the bullpen taught me is to make one good pitch at a time, take care of one batter at a time. The numbers all even out through time. I'm not worried or concerned about that. I just like the element of competition of being out there."


Diamondbacks' Pollock hits safely four times in win
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(10:03 am ET) Diamondbacks centerfielder A.J. Pollock could not be stopped in his team's 5-4 win against the Cubs on Friday.

Pollock went 4 of 6 with a double and a triple. Pollock's double came in the 10th inning with the Diamondbacks trailing the Cubs. Teammate Paul Goldschmidt followed up the double with a game-tying two-run homer.

Pollock is hitting .625/.647/1.063 with a home run and three RBI in his last four games.


Tigers' Ausmus using RP Alex Wilson in a variety of situations
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:57 am ET) Since his recall from the minors in late April, Tigers reliever Alex Wilson has quietly put together a nice string of outings. He is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 10 appearances.

"I can't really give you his role because I use him all over the place," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Thursday, per MLive.com. "He can pitch -- he was going to go back out for the next inning [Thursday against the Astros] if we don't score, so he would have been out for a third -- long like that, he can get a couple of righties out if we need it in the seventh or eighth. He doesn't seem to be bothered by the tight game, so he's got a lot of versatility."

Wilson's two-inning outing Thursday was the sixth time this season he has pitched longer than an inning and the fourth time he's gone at least two frames.

"Ya know, I'm just doing what I can," Wilson said. "I'm a grinder -- that's what I've always done. I feel like there is a little bit of a role, I am kind of the long guy, but the kind of guy you can throw in and try and get a couple of ground ball or couple quick outs if need be. I'm OK with being the swingman of the bullpen, I could you could call it. But I'm happy with it."


Starlin Castro knocks two hits against Diamondbacks
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(9:55 am ET) Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro recorded two hits in his team's 5-4 loss to the Diamondbacks on Friday.

Castro went 2 for 6 with a double and an RBI. He is hitting .274/.305/.351 for the season with three home runs and 24 RBI in 168 at-bats.


Cubs' Lester goes seven innings in no-decision
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(9:50 am ET) Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester tossed seven innings and allowed two earned runs in a no-decision on Friday against the Diamondbacks.

The outing was Lester's first no-decision since April 24, he had produced four consecutive wins May before Friday. Lester recorded four strikeouts while allowing five hits and walking two batters.

Lester has posted a 3.56 ERA this season in 55.2 innings.


A's place OF Coco Crisp (neck) on 15-day DL
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:50 am ET) The Athletics placed outfielder Coco Crisp on the 15-day disabled list Saturday due to a neck injury. Starting pitcher Kendall Graveman was recalled from Triple-A Nashville to take Crisp's spot on the roster.

Crisp, who has not played since May 19, will not have surgery because the operation could potentially end his career. The veteran outfielder has struggled in 2015, batting just .044 (2 for 45) in 13 games.


Diamondbacks' Collmenter allows two earned runs against Cubs
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(9:43 am ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Josh Collmenter allowed two earned runs during Friday night's extra-inning game against the Cubs.

Collmenter struck out four batters and walked one during the five innings of work he put in. He gave up six hits, which matched the total he allowed in his previous start on May 17. Collmenter's performance Friday night was his best since an April 29 outing against the Rockies, when he went through eight innings without allowing a run. After Friday's game against the Cubs, he now has an ERA of 5.19.

After giving up 18 earned runs in his previous three games, Collmenter's game against the Cubs was a nice turnaround for the 29-year-old right-hander.

Collmenter's next start is scheduled for May 27 against the Cardinals.


Rangers' Tolleson was unavailable Friday after back-to-back saves
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:39 am ET) Rangers reliever Ross Ohlendorf recorded his first career save Friday against the Yankees after reliever Shawn Tolleson picked up saves Wednesday and Thursday against the Red Sox. Tolleson needed 38 pitches to get through his two save chances against Boston, which is why he was unavailable Friday.

"More than anything else, Tolleson was down because he had pitched back-to-back games and we didn't want to use him a third game," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said, per MLB.com.

Tolleson and Ohlendorf have closed out games for the Rangers since Neftali Feliz was removed as closer following his third blown save last Saturday against the Indians.


Diamondbacks 1B Goldschmidt homers against Cubs
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(9:37 am ET) Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt made good use of the extra rest he got on Thursday. The slugger, who sat out Thursday's game due to rest, went 3 for 5 with a home run and three RBI in his team's 5-4 win against the Cubs on Friday.

Goldschmidt tied the game with a two-run home run in the 10th inning off Cubs' closer Hector Rondon.

In 41 games, Goldschmidt is hitting .331/.429/.623 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI in 151 at-bats.


 
 
 
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