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Top 70 starters for Week 21

by | Data Analyst
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If you've made a recent trip to your league's waiver wire, you've probably discovered that Fantasy Week 21 (Aug. 20-26) will not be known for its bevy of exciting two-start waiver options. That's why only 18 two-start pitchers are included in this week's top 70 list, with only three of them featured between Nos. 60 and 70.

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However, you may be able to find some reinforcements for your Fantasy rotation from your DL slots. CC Sabathia still has to get through a Tuesday bullpen session, as reported by Newsday, but he appears to be on track to return to the Yankees' rotation for a Friday start at the Indians. His ranking at No. 16 is, of course, contingent upon him not facing a setback, but for now, consider the lefty a must-start for the coming week.

Brandon Morrow, Shaun Marcum and Brett Anderson also have a shot at making starts in Week 21. The short-term fates of Morrow and Anderson should be known before lineups lock on Monday evening, so if your rotation could use another high-end arm, be sure to check their status before you finalize your roster.

If we could be more certain about Morrow, Marcum and Anderson, each would have probably been included in this week's top 70, but alas, they were not. Here, instead, are the 70 starters who are currently worth your consideration in standard mixed leagues.

Starting Rotation breakdown for Fantasy Week 21
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2 Stat of note
1 R.A. Dickey COL (White) HOU (Galarraga) 51 percent swing rate (leads MLB, per FanGraphs)
Batters can't seem to resist Dickey's knuckleball, and not only does he coax swings at the majors' highest rate, but he also ranks near the top in swinging strike rate.
2 Clayton Kershaw SF (Bumgarner) MIA (Buehrle) 0.5 home HR/9
Kershaw doesn't allow many homers at Dodger Stadium, and with two power-starved teams coming to visit this week, he could provide a much bigger payoff than usual.
3 Justin Verlander TOR (Happ) N/A 180 strikeouts (leads MLB)
Verlander is a ways from the top of the strikeout rate leaderboard, but because he pitches so many innings, he remains one of the premier strikeout options in Fantasy.
4 David Price KC (Hochevar) N/A 1.43 ERA over last seven starts
It's not as if Price was having a lackluster season prior to the All-Star break, but he has been practically untouchable since then.
5 Felix Hernandez CLE (Hernandez) N/A Four shutouts (leads MLB)
Not only does Hernandez hold the majors' lead in complete-game shutouts, but he has tossed all four of them since June 28.
6 Adam Wainwright HOU (Harrell) @CIN (Bailey) Six straight starts with 2 ER or fewer
Wainwright has pitched like an ace since July, and over his last half dozen starts, he has struck out 40 batters over 42 1/3 innings, while walking only six.
7 Roy Halladay CIN (Leake) WAS (Gonzalez) 12 straight starts with no more than 1 BB
Halladay has been hittable at times this season, but at no time since April has he diverged from his usual pattern of pinpoint control.
8 Cliff Lee CIN (Bailey) WAS (Zimmermann) 21 percent home run per flyball ratio in Aug. (per FanGraphs)
Lee has already allowed seven home runs this month, and while he has been flyball prone, his homer rate is due for some regression.
9 Madison Bumgarner @LAD (Kershaw) ATL (Minor) 4.7 K/BB (3rd in MLB)
Bumgarner's walk rates were already low in each of his first three seasons, but he has managed to trim it yet again this year, while maintaining last year's gains in his strikeout rate.
10 Cole Hamels CIN (Cueto) N/A 72 percent strikes thrown, last four starts
Hamels is in the midst of his best stretch of the season, as he is getting swinging and called strikes at high rates.
11 Stephen Strasburg ATL (Maholm) N/A .353 BABIP vs. ATL
Strasburg has just one quality start in four tries against the Braves this year, but while he may have been a victim of bad luck on balls in play, he has still managed to get his Ks (24 in 20 1/3 innings).
12 Jake Peavy SEA (Vargas) N/A 2.65 ERA over last five starts
Peavy isn't turning in dominant starts as often as he did earlier in the season, but he continues to be a steady strike-thrower and run-preventer.
13 Matt Cain @LAD (Capuano) N/A 1.01 WHIP (2nd in MLB)
Even during Cain's recent slump, he maintained excellent control, so he remains as one of the best sources of low WHIP in Fantasy.
14 Jordan Zimmermann ATL (Hudson) @PHI (Lee) 20 percent foul ball rate (per BaseballReference.com)
Zimmermann doesn't get all that many strikeouts, but he keeps his walk rate and WHIP low by getting batters to foul off pitches, often outside the strike zone.
15 Gio Gonzalez @PHI (Halladay) N/A Opponents' .307 SLG (leads MLB)
Gonzalez's consistent avoidance of homers and of contact altogether results in a lack of extra bases and a low ERA, even when he gets too wild.
16 CC Sabathia @CLE (Kluber) N/A 35 percent outside-the-zone swing rate (2nd in MLB, per FanGraphs)
Sabathia has his highest K-rate in four years, and some of his success is owed to his ability to get batters to chase pitches at a high rate.
17 James Shields KC (Mendoza) N/A 13 percent swinging strike rate, last four starts
Shields has overcome his midseason woes and has been missing bats at a much higher rate over the last three weeks.
18 Josh Johnson @LAD (Billingsley) N/A Opponents' .161 Avg, last five starts
Johnson may be overperforming a bit of late, but he has helped himself during his recent hot streak by striking out nearly a batter per inning.
19 C.J. Wilson @BOS (Morales) N/A .366 BABIP in August
Wilson's command and ground ball tendencies have not been notably weaker during this difficult month (8.31 ERA), so bad luck may have played a large role over his four August starts.
20 Jered Weaver @BOS (Buchholz) N/A 1.13 road WHIP
Weaver may be the majors' WHIP leader, but away from Angel Stadium, he's closer to mortal. As a result, he ranks a little lower than normal this week.
21 Johnny Cueto @PHI (Hamels) N/A 3.9 runs of support per nine innings
Cueto is tied with David Price for the major league lead in wins with 16. Just imagine how many more he could add if the Reds start giving him some run support.
22 Ryan Vogelsong ATL (Sheets) N/A Opponents' .368 SLG vs. lefties
Vogelsong has had more success against righties, but he has still been reliable against left-handed batters, and that's a reason to be encouraged for his upcoming start against the Braves.
23 Yovani Gallardo CHC (Wood) N/A 1.12 WHIP over last seven starts
Gallardo is hardly the first pitcher you think of for help with WHIP, but he has been keeping his walks in check since the All-Star break.
24 Max Scherzer TOR (Romero) LAA (Santana) 57 percent ball-in-play rate (lowest in MLB)
It's an all-or-nothing proposition with Scherzer; either the ball leaves the park or the ball doesn't get hit at all. Especially versus the Blue Jays, we should see much more of the latter than the former.
25 Zack Greinke @DET (Porcello) N/A 21 percent called strike rate with LAA
Since coming to the Angels, Greinke has struggled to get whiffs, just as he had with the Brewers, but he has actually done a better job of getting called strikes.
26 A.J. Burnett @SD (Hynes) N/A 1.2 road HR/9
Burnett's difficulties with the long ball away from PNC Park mirror the troubles he had at Yankee Stadium in recent years, but a start at PETCO Park should play more like a home outing.
27 Chris Sale NYY (Hughes) N/A 23 Ks, 4 BBs over last 21 1/3 innings
Aside from allowing the Royals -- a very good line drive hitting team -- to go on a liner binge on Friday, Sale has continued to be reliable, even into the season's dog days.
28 Brandon McCarthy MIN (Duensing) @TB (Hellickson) Six innings or more in 12 of 14 starts
McCarthy has yet to advance beyond seven innings in a start this season, but he almost always pitches well enough to avoid an early exit.
29 Clay Buchholz LAA (Weaver) N/A 21 percent called strike rate on sinkers (per BrooksBaseball.net)
Buchholz isn't getting as many swings and misses this season, but he's been able to maintain a close-to-average strikeout rate by getting batters to sit on his sinker.
30 Hiroki Kuroda @CLE (Masterson) N/A 1.44 ERA over last six starts
Kuroda has been in prime form lately, and with strong starts against the likes of the Rangers, Tigers and Red Sox, he looks to be a safe play against the reeling Indians.
31 Matt Moore OAK (Parker) N/A Opponents' .331 SLG at home
Moore has been inconsistent on the road, sometimes falling prey to excessive extra-base hits, but at Tropicana Field, he has been steady, especially over the last three months.
32 Tim Hudson @WAS (Zimmermann) @SF (Lincecum) 1.5 percent HR/PA (7th-lowest in MLB)
Hudson's ground ball rate has fallen off a bit over the last two seasons, but he's still superb at keeping the ball in the park.
33 Ben Sheets @SF (Vogelsong) N/A No runners stranded vs. LAD on Sat.
Sheets did himself no favors by allowing four homers against the Dodgers, but the odds of that -- plus not stranding any baserunners -- happening again are slim.
34 Mike Fiers @PIT (McDonald) N/A 23 percent called strike rate, last two starts
Some regression had to be expected for Fiers, but even through two trying starts, he has continued to freeze batters on called strikes at a high rate.
35 Jeff Samardzija COL (Pomeranz) N/A 9.1 K/9 (9th in MLB)
In his first season as a starter, Samardzija has not only improved upon his strikeout rate, but he has done so to the degree that he has been one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball.
36 Jeremy Hellickson KC (Smith) OAK (McCarthy) 2.86 ERA over last five starts
Though he is still not getting many strikeouts, Hellickson has been getting more swings-and-misses in his recent starts, and as a likely result, he hasn't walked many batters.
37 Jonathon Niese HOU (Lyles) N/A Opponents' .280 OBP at home
Niese has been hard to reach base against at Citi Field, and now he gets to face an Astros lineup that has registered one of the majors' lowest OBPs.
38 Kyle Lohse HOU (Norris) N/A 19 quality starts (T-3rd in MLB)
While Lohse has racked up more than five strikeouts only three times this year, he makes up for the lack of fireworks with a high level of consistency.
39 Doug Fister LAA (Haren) N/A Opponents' .231 OBP, last seven starts
Fister is back to to his walk-averse ways, but to have an OBP that low, you also have to avoid hard contact, and that's exactly what the ex-Mariner has been doing.
40 Mat Latos STL (Lynn) N/A 8.44 ERA vs. STL
Latos has been superb lately, so perhaps he'll fare better against the Cardinals in his third meeting this season. Still, it's a tough matchup, so Latos is a risky start for owners in shallow leagues.
41 Kris Medlen @WAS (Detwiler) N/A 54 percent ground ball rate
It's probably something of a fluke that Medlen has allowed only two home runs over 80 innings, but he has made tremendous strides in bringing his ground ball rate up.
42 Ryan Dempster BAL (Gonzalez) MIN (Duensing) 16 Ks in 17 1/3 innings with TEX
Sure, Dempster has been punished in two of his three starts with the Rangers, but he has also shown his unhittable side, registering favorable strikeout, swinging strike and line drive rates.
43 Francisco Liriano NYY (Nova) N/A 62 percent strikes thrown with CHW
Liriano's ERA with Chicago is just on the south side of 5.00 due to one poor start, but owners can feel good about the fact that he's throwing strikes at an even higher rate than he did over his last 11 starts with the Twins.
44 Ian Kennedy SD (Richard) N/A Career 2.34 ERA vs. SD
Kennedy has had a hard time maintaining consistency this season, but a visit from the Padres could get him back on the right track.
45 Wade Miley MIA (LeBlanc) N/A One steal allowed in six attempts
Miguel Montero has been spectacular at controlling the running game, throwing out 44 percent of would-be base-stealers, and Miley has been a prime beneficiary.
46 Jon Lester KC (Chen) N/A 56 percent ground ball rate in Aug. (per FanGraphs)
Lester's recent resurgence may have some roots in improved luck, but it hasn't hurt that he has rediscovered his ability to get frequent grounders.
47 Mike Leake @PHI (Halladay) STL (Garcia) 3.59 P/PA (10th-lowest in NL)
Leake has now pitched eight or more innings five times this season, and his knack for efficiency gives him a good shot to go deep into any given start.
48 Anibal Sanchez TOR (Laffey) N/A 65 percent strikes thrown with DET
It's been a rocky start as a Tiger for Sanchez, but you can't fault his ability to locate in the strike zone. He could have better luck against the Blue Jays, who have hit for less power since he faced them in late July.
49 Matt Harrison MIN (Deduno) N/A Opponents' .234 OBP vs. lefties
Harrison has been dominant against lefty batters, and that will make it difficult for Ben Revere and Denard Span (if he plays) to set the table.
50 Mike Minor @SF (Bumgarner) N/A 0.95 WHIP over last seven starts
As a flyball pitcher, Minor has had the potential to be a good pitcher for WHIP, and now that he suddenly has clamped down on walks, he's fulfilling that promise.
51 Bartolo Colon @TB (Cobb) N/A No more than 1 BB allowed in nine of last 10 starts
When you start Colon, you need to get your Ks elsewhere, but his lack of walks allows him to contribute to ERA and WHIP.
52 Miguel Gonzalez @TEX (Dempster) TOR (Romero) 12 percent popup rate
Gonzalez has the potential to improve on his 6.9 K/9 rate, but even if he doesn't, he can help with ERA and WHIP by inducing easy popouts in large quantities.
53 Chris Capuano SF (Cain) N/A 2.92 ERA vs. SF, last two starts
This will be Capuano's first start against the Giants this year, but in a pair of outings against them in 2011, he had good results, even though he was wild (7 BB in 12 1/3 innings).
54 Chad Billingsley MIA (Johnson) N/A 3.1 K/BB
Billingsley's command has come into question in past seasons, but this year, he is putting up a strikeout-to-walk ratio that is leaving his past marks in the dust.
55 Mark Buehrle @ARI (Saunders) @LAD (Kershaw) 1.8 BB/9 (12th in MLB)
Buehrle's strong control is his biggest asset in Fantasy, and so far this season, he is posting his lowest walk rate since 2005.
56 Phil Hughes @CHW (Sale) N/A Career 0.84 ERA at CHW
Homer-prone Hughes is a risk to blow up at U.S. Cellular Field, but in his most recent start there (in 2011), he tossed six scoreless innings.
57 Dan Straily MIN (De Vries) N/A 4 BBs over 17 innings
Straily hasn't coaxed many swinging strikes so far, and he may not against a good contact-hitting Twins team. His control has been good enough, though, for him to be effective.
58 Paul Maholm @WAS (Strasburg) N/A 6.9 K/9 over last 10 appearances
Maholm's K-rate has unexpectedly grown over his recent streak. As long as he can keep it up, he's worth starting in standard mixed leagues.
59 Scott Diamond @TEX (Darvish) N/A Induced 23 double plays (3rd in MLB)
Not only is Diamond the owner of the majors' lowest walk rate, but he has erased nearly two dozen baserunners by way of the double-play ball.
60 Joe Saunders MIA (Buehrle) SD (Volquez) 2.8 K/BB
Saunders has put up decent strikeout and low walk rates before, but this is first season in which he has done both at the same time. Even if you don't trust the trend, you can trust these two favorable matchups.
61 Tim Lincecum @LAD (Blanton) ATL (Hudson) 14 wild pitches (leads MLB)
Lincecum already has five more wild pitches than he has thrown in each of the last two seasons, highlighting both his wildness and his limited viability as a standard mixed league starter.
62 Dan Haren @DET (Fister) N/A 11 percent popup rate
Through all of his ups and downs, Haren has been steady in his ability to induce popups and avoid liners, so an unlucky .321 BABIP may bear some responsibility for his disappointing Fantasy numbers.
63 Erik Bedard MIL (Wolf) N/A 2.63 home ERA
Bedard is too dangerous to use for most road starts, but over this season, he has allowed only two home runs and 10 doubles at PNC Park.
64 Scott Feldman BAL (Tillman) MIN (De Vries) 24 percent called strike rate on sinker (per BrooksBaseball.net)
Feldman is getting more strikeouts than he did in his previous years as a starter, as batters have been laying off his effective sinker.
65 Justin Masterson NYY (Kuroda) N/A Two extra-base hits allowed over last two starts
At his best, Masterson limits extra-base knocks and eliminates baserunners with double play grounders. We've been seeing that version again lately, and in a week with few reliable options, it's worth gambling on another good start from the sinkerballer.
66 Matt Harvey COL (Chatwood) N/A 34 Ks, 13 BBs over 30 innings
Walks have been an issue for Harvey, just as they had been in the minors, but he has more than made up for them, as his ability to get strikeouts has translated to the majors.
67 Franklin Morales LAA (Wilson) N/A 15 percent line drive rate
Even when Morales struggles with command, as he has done over his last three starts, he has been able to limit the damage by keeping line drives to a minimum.
68 Jaime Garcia @CIN (Leake) N/A 13 percent swinging strike rate
Before going on the DL, Garcia had been ringing up whiffs at a career-best rate. If he gets back to a higher called strike rate, he could be sneaky source of strikeouts.
69 Jake Westbrook HOU (Keuchel) N/A 2.4 BB/9
During his peak years with the Indians, Westbrook had very good control, and he's exhibiting a similar level this season.
70 Trevor Cahill MIA (Nolasco) N/A 2.66 ground out-to-air out ratio (1st in MLB)
Cahill still walks too many batters to be a reliable standard mixed league option in most weeks, but between his strong ground ball tendencies and a weak opponent, he should be safe to start in Week 21.

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

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