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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
Mets' Michael Cuddyer, Wilmer Flores out of lineup Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:11 am ET) Mets left fielder Michael Cuddyer and shortstop Wilmer Flores are not in the starting lineup for Sunday's matchup with the Marlins.

It's just the second time on the bench this season for both players. Kirk Nieuwenhuis will bat seventh and play left field, while Ruben Tejada will bat eighth and play shortstop.

The Mets are heavy favorites (-200) against the Marlins Sunday.


Braves' Freddie Freeman serving as DH Sunday vs. Blue Jays
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:06 am ET) Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is serving as the team's designated hitter for Sunday's series finale against the Blue Jays in Toronto.

The Braves have mixed and matched at designated hitter during the series in Toronto, using Chris Johnson and Nick Markakis there in the team's first two days. Catcher Christian Bethancourt is also back in the lineup Sunday after sitting out the team's first two games of the series.

The Braves are underdogs (+135) against the Blue Jays Sunday.


Rays' Kevin Kiermaier (illness) remains out of lineup Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:01 am ET) Rays center fiedler Kevin Kiermaier is out of the lineup for a second straight game Sunday against the Yankees.

Kiermaier missed Saturday due to illness and will not be in the starting lineup against a right-handed starter for the second time this season Sunday. With Kiermaier sidelined, Desmond Jennings slides back to center field Sunday, with Brandon Guyer manning left.

The Rays are home underdogs (+112) against the Yankees Sunday.


Blue Jays add Jeff Francis, option Colt Hynes
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:54 am ET) The Blue Jays selected the contract of pitcher Jeff Francis Sunday while optioning pitcher Colt Hynes to Triple-A Buffalo.

A 10-year major-league veteran, Francis tossed five shutout innings in his only start with Triple-A Buffalo, striking out five while allowing two hits and two walks. Hynes gave up two hits without recording an out Saturday and departs with a 6.00 ERA and 4:2 K:BB ratio in three innings.


Tigers' Castellanos in lineup, Avila misses second straight start
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:49 am ET) Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos is back in the starting lineup after serving as a pinch-hitter Saturday, while catcher Alex Avila is not in the starting lineup for a second straight day.

Castellanos managed an RBI single in his only at-bat Saturday to extend his hitting streak to six games. He has hit .282/.341/.462 with one home run and four RBI in 39 at-bats.

Avila entered Saturday's blowout loss in the seventh inning to play three innings at first base, just his second career appearance at the position. He has hit .190/.414/.333 in 21 at-bats. James McCann, who is 2 for 15 after going hitless in four at-bats Saturday, is behind the plate for a second straight game.

The Tigers are favorites (-135) against the White Sox Sunday, per VegasInsider.com.


Cubs' Mike Olt (wrist) expected to begin rehab in 3-4 weeks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:38 am ET) Cubs third baseman Mike Olt (wrist) said Saturday he expects to begin rehab in three-to-four weeks, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Olt is in a cast after suffering a hairline fracture in his wrist, but he was able to avoid any ligament damage. He's expected to eventually return in a reserve role provided rookie Kris Bryant can remain healthy.


Angels activate Garrett Richards from 15-day DL
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:16 am ET) The Angels activated pitcher Garrett Richards from the 15-day disabled list Sunday, per the league's transactions page.

Richards missed the beginning of the regular season as he continued to work his way back from knee surgery, but he's ready to make his debut in Sunday's season finale against the Astros in Houston. He excelled in his first full season as a starter, going 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA and 164:51 K:BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings in 2014.


Angels pitcher Mike Morin tagged for three-run homer Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:14 am ET) Angels pitcher Mike Morin lasted just 1/3 of an inning Saturday in Los Angeles' 4-0 loss to the Astros. Morin served up a three-run home run to Robbie Grossman on a 1-0 pitch in the seventh, leading to the Angels' loss.

"We know the dimensions of the ballpark," Morin said. "I didn't execute the pitch -- bottom line."

Morin has posted a 4.91 ERA in 3 2/3 innings this season and may be fighting for a role with his struggles.

"I trust Sosh completely," said Morin. "It has nothing to do with that. I'll be ready day in and day out, whether it's the second inning or the 10th or the seventh. It's not weighing on my mind at all."


Rockies surprising 2B LeMahieu cranks first homer Saturday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:45 am ET) Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu had his nine-game hitting streak to start the season snapped Friday night. He apparently didn't take too kindly to it.

LeMahieu, a hot hitter on a hot-hitting team, provided most of the offense in a loss to the Dodgers with a two-run homer in the seventh inning off standout right-hander Zack Greinke. The RBI give him eight on the year and the performance improved his slash line to an impressive .463/.476/.585.


Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis thriving early this season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:43 am ET) Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis has ripped through the first two weeks of the season with a bang, hitting .333 in 45 at-bats. Manager John Gibbons loves the way the rookie is playing this season.

"He's got the complete game, he really does," Gibbons said. "He was such a good hitter in spring training I thought to myself: 'This kid will hit some home runs in his career.' But he's shown a lot more power than I expected."

Gibbons is handling things at the plate like an old veteran, according to Gibbons.

"One thing he's got that's advanced for a young guy is he's got a great approach at the plate, he doesn't chase out of the zone much. He's got the ability to foul off tough pitches to stay alive and a lot of guys can't do that. And he handles breaking balls, at least fouls them off, and that's a big part of it. He stays alive and if they make a mistake he doesn't miss it. He's been very productive."


 
 
 
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