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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
Ryan Raburn heading for MRI on injured knee
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:47 pm ET) Indians outfielder Ryan Raburn is heading back to Cleveland to have an MRI done on his injured knee, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Raburn told his manager that he's feeling better, but depending on what the test uncovers, he could be shut down for the remainder of the season. He has hit .200/.250/.297 with four home runs and 22 RBI in 195 at-bats.


MRI reveals no structural damage for Zach Walters
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:44 pm ET) An MRI on the ribcage of Indians outfielder Zach Walters has revealed no structural damage, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

The injury is believed to be of the soft-tissue variety, and Walters may be able to make it back on the field before the end of the season. He's just 2 for 20 in September.


Bryan Morris unlikely to pitch again this season
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:40 pm ET) Marlins pitcher Bryan Morris was told by the team before Monday's game that he's been shut down after re-injuring his groin, the Sun Sentinel reports.

"I aggravated it pretty good during that game in Milwaukee," Morris said. "In all reality for it to heal all the way up it’s going to take four to six weeks. Obviously we didn’t have four to six weeks at the time. I don’t know where we’re going from here. I just know right now we’re not doing anything."

Morris is 8-1 after earning a win in his last outing. He owns a 1.82 ERA and 50:24 K:BB ratio in 64 1/3 innings.


Abraham Almonte remains out with ankle sprain
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:32 pm ET) Padres outfielder Abraham Almonte is not in the starting lineup Tuesday as he continues to recover from a sprained ankle.

Almonte was able to make a pinch-hit appearance Sunday, but he hasn't played in the outfield since Sept. 6 while dealing with the injury. He has hit .232/.278/.333 with three home runs, 15 RBI and four stolen bases in 198 at-bats.


Jarred Cosart only getting better
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:31 pm ET) In general baseball terms, Jarred Cosart has been nothing short of terrific since coming over to the Marlins from the Astros at the July 31 trade deadline, compiling a 2.05 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in eight starts.

Of course, some Fantasy owners, myself among them, are skeptical of any sort of breakout that comes without even a respectable strikeout rate. And for the majority of that stretch, Cosart's was lacking.

But in his last four starts -- granted, two against the free-swinging Braves -- he has averaged 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings. That's respectable.

It doesn't count for much on its own -- four starts is a small sample no matter how you look at it -- but it at least shows that those two- and three-strikeout efforts we saw from Cosart in his first three starts with the Marlins aren't the new norm for him. What is the norm is an improved walk rate. He has yet to issue more than two walks in eight starts since the trade, averaging 2.1 walks per nine innings.

He's one of several players I discuss in my latest post to the Fantasy Baseball Today blog, so for more, give it a look.


Angel Pagan out Tuesday with back injury
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:30 pm ET) Giants outfielder Angel Pagan is not in the starting lineup Tuesday as he recovers from a back injury.

He was a late scratch Monday due to back issues and wasn't able to make it back into the lineup one day later. Pagan has hit .302/.342/.391 with three home runs, 27 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 381 at-bats.


Jordy Mercer scratched with back tightness
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:16 pm ET) Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer has been scratched from Tuesday's lineup due to back tightness, the team announced. Clint Barmes will replace Mercer at the position and bat eighth.

Evan Gattis sidelined indefinitely with illness
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:07 pm ET) Braves catcher Evan Gattis has missed the last eight days due to strep throat, and the team is unsure of when he'll be able to return, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

"I really don’t know," manager Fredi Gonzalez said Tuesday. "We will let the doctors and people who are looking at him decide when, where. But hopefully (it’s) soon."

Gattis started to feel sick on Sept. 7, and although the team reported last Wednesday that he was feeling better, he hasn't seen any action since the first day of his sickness. Gattis has hit .270/.325/.507 with 22 home runs and 52 RBI in 359 at-bats.


John Lackey throws bullpen Tuesday, in line for Friday start
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:57 pm ET) Cardinals pitcher John Lackey threw a bullpen session Tuesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, putting him in line to start Friday against the Reds.

Lackey's last scheduled start was skipped due to a case of dead arm. He owns a 3.97 ERA and 151:43 K:BB ratio in 183 2/3 innings but has struggled since joining the Cardinals.


Rafael Soriano helps Drew Storen's chances
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:54 pm ET) Nationals right-hander Rafael Soriano, who recently took some time off to work on his mechanics, didn't help his chances of reclaiming the closer role in his second game back Monday at Atlanta.

While he entered in the ninth inning with the Nationals up by four -- sort of the closest thing to a save situation without being a save situation -- he needed Drew Storen, his replacement at closer, to bail him out with two outs and the tying run on base. In all, Soriano allowed two runs on two hits with one walk and one strikeout.

Manager Matt Williams recently said that having Soriano reclaim the closer role would be his best-case scenario, but as I wrote in the Fantasy Baseball Today blog, that scenario seems less likely now.

Frankly, I'd have no reservations about starting Storen in Fantasy, as good as he's been in the role.


 
 
 
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