Week 15 Pitching Forecaster

As if to cram in as much action as possible before most of the major leagues gets a four-day vacation, no fewer than 100 games are on the schedule during Fantasy Week 15 (July 8-14). That creates plenty of choices for owners who are looking to add two-start pitchers to their rotations for a final push before the All-Star break.

Some of the more widely-available options may actually be an upgrade over the two-start pitchers who are already on your roster. For example, Tyler Chatwood, Jose Quintana, and Scott Kazmir are all free agents in at least 55 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com, and all have enough promise to be worth a start in standard mixed leagues. Each would be a solid substitute for one of your more marginal one-start pitchers, but each is also an upgrade over some more-popular two-start pitchers, like Tim Lincecum, Jhoulys Chacin and Eric Stults.

So for the final time for this season's first half, here are the 70 pitchers worth starting in Fantasy in standard mixed leagues, along with a review of several of the two-start options who may be posing a roster dilemma for you in various formats.

Monday update: Now that All-Star rosters have been announced, we know which pitchers may be at risk of losing a second start in order to get rest in advance of the Midsummer Classic. Justin Verlander, Matt Harvey, Adam Wainwright, Jeff Locke, Travis Wood, Bartolo Colon and Hisashi Iwakuma are all currently scheduled for Sunday starts, but each could wind up getting the day off. Each pitcher, though, is worth starting this week, regardless of whether they get one start or two.

More ambiguous is the start/sit decision over Wei-Yin Chen (oblique). He should be activated from the disabled list this week, and depending on when the Orioles slot him back into their rotation, he could be a one- or two-start option. The cautious route would be to sit him, even though he would be a viable option with starts against both the Rangers and Blue Jays. We also don't know if Dillon Gee will get a second start, but should the Mets put Shaun Marcum in the bullpen this week, Gee would get to face both the Giants and Pirates in their pitcher-friendly parks. Just the possibility of that scenario playing out makes Gee a must-start in standard mixed leagues.

Several rotations got shuffled over the weekend, and as a result, Wainwright, Phil Hughes, Bud Norris, Joe Blanton, Kevin Slowey and Taylor Jordan all gained second starts, while Shelby Miller and Jerome Williams lost a start. Wainwright, of course, is a must-start, and Hughes and Norris could help owners in deeper mixed leagues. Even with the additional innings they'll log, Blanton, Slowey and Jordan should be restricted to league-specific formats this week.

My Top 70 Starting Pitchers for Week 15
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2
1 Max Scherzer @CLE (Kazmir) TEX (Holland)
2 Matt Harvey @SF (Lincecum) @PIT (Locke)
3 Justin Verlander CHW (Quintana) TEX (Perez)
4 Adam Wainwright HOU (Norris) @CHC (Wood)
5 Felix Hernandez BOS (Lester) LAA (Weaver)
6 Cole Hamels WAS (Jordan) CHW (Quintana)
7 Clayton Kershaw COL (Nicasio) N/A
8 David Price HOU (Keuchel) N/A
9 Cliff Lee WAS (Gonzalez) N/A
10 Madison Bumgarner @SD (Marquis) N/A
11 Matt Cain NYM (Wheeler) N/A
12 Stephen Strasburg @MIA (Eovaldi) N/A
13 Mat Latos @ATL (Hudson) N/A
14 James Shields @NYY (Sabathia) @CLE (Jimenez)
15 Yu Darvish @BAL (Tillman) N/A
16 Julio Teheran @MIA (Alvarez) CIN (Cingrani)
17 Homer Bailey @MIL (Lohse) @ATL (Minor)
18 Hisashi Iwakuma BOS (Webster) LAA (Blanton)
19 Anibal Sanchez CHW (Sale) N/A
20 Mike Minor @MIA (Slowey) CIN (Bailey)
21 Gio Gonzalez @PHI (Lee) N/A
22 Francisco Liriano OAK (Milone) N/A
23 John Lackey @OAK (Parker) N/A
24 Jeff Samardzija LAA (Wilson) N/A
25 Chris Sale @DET (Sanchez) N/A
26 Jered Weaver @SEA (Hernandez) N/A
27 CC Sabathia KC (Shields) MIN (Gibson)
28 Matt Garza @CHW (Santiago) STL (Lynn)
29 Shelby Miller HOU (Lyles) N/A
30 A.J. Burnett NYM (Hefner) N/A
31 Jordan Zimmermann @PHI (Kendrick) N/A
32 Jose Fernandez WAS (Haren) N/A
33 Lance Lynn @CHC (Garza) N/A
34 Doug Fister TEX (Grimm) N/A
35 Kris Medlen CIN (Arroyo) N/A
36 Matt Moore MIN (Pelfrey) N/A
37 Josh Johnson @CLE (Jimenez) @BAL (Chen)
38 Zack Greinke @ARI (Delgado) COL (Chatwood)
39 Derek Holland @BAL (Feldman) @DET (Scherzer)
40 Hiroki Kuroda MIN (Deduno) N/A
41 R.A. Dickey @BAL (Hammel) N/A
42 Kyle Lohse CIN (Bailey) @ARI (Delgado)
43 Hyun-Jin Ryu @ARI (Skaggs) N/A
44 Dillon Gee @SF (Zito) N/A
45 Bartolo Colon @PIT (Locke) BOS (Webster)
46 C.J. Wilson @CHC (Samardzija) N/A
47 Dan Straily @PIT (Cole) N/A
48 Justin Masterson TOR (Rogers) N/A
49 Patrick Corbin MIL (Hand) N/A
50 Travis Wood LAA (Blanton) STL (Miller)
51 Jarrod Parker BOS (Lackey) N/A
52 Jon Lester @SEA (Hernandez) @OAK (Griffin)
53 Ian Kennedy LAD (Nolasco) MIL (Peralta)
54 Jeff Locke OAK (Colon) NYM (Harvey)
55 Tony Cingrani @MIL (Peralta) @ATL (Teheran)
56 Ervin Santana @NYY (Pettitte) N/A
57 Tyler Chatwood @SD (Volquez) @LAD (Greinke)
58 Jeremy Hellickson MIN (Correia) N/A
59 Mike Leake @MIL (Hellweg) N/A
60 A.J. Griffin BOS (Lester) N/A
61 Andrew Cashner COL (De La Rosa) N/A
62 Gerrit Cole OAK (Straily) N/A
63 Jacob Turner ATL (Maholm) N/A
64 Felix Doubront @SEA (Harang) N/A
65 Jeremy Hefner @PIT (Burnett) N/A
66 Ryan Dempster @SEA (Bonderman) N/A
67 Yovani Gallardo @ARI (Miley) N/A
68 Jose Quintana @DET (Verlander) @PHI (Hamels)
69 Scott Kazmir DET (Scherzer) KC (Guthrie)
70 Scott Feldman TEX (Holland) TOR (Redmond)
Honorable mention: Martin Perez @BAL (Chen), @DET (Verlander); Hector Santiago vs. CHC (Garza), @PHI (Lannan); Ricky Nolasco vs. ATL (Minor), vs. WAS (Haren); Wei-Yin Chen vs. TEX (Perez), vs. TOR (Johnson); Phil Hughes vs. KC (Guthrie), vs, MIN (Deduno).

Two-Start Options to Consider

Josh Johnson, Blue Jays (@CLE, @BAL): Johnson only allowed one earned run against the Tigers in his most recent start, but he continued a pattern of allowing too many baserunners and not getting many whiffs. According to BrooksBaseball.net, he's netted only eight swinging strikes on his fastball over his last three starts combined. Veloicty data from FanGraphs.com show that Johnson's been throwing his slider harder lately, so perhaps that's making his fastball less deceptive. While he's not been at his best, Johnson deserves our trust in a two-start week, at least for now.
This week's rank: 37
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Kyle Lohse, Brewers (CIN, @ARI): If you thought -- like I did -- that Lohse was headed back to oblivion this season, he has a little surprise for all of us. Since the beginning of June, the erstwhile points-league stud has been back at it again, throwing strikes with precision and piling up innings. A lack of walks and a miniscule ERA and WHIP have put Lohse near the top of the points league rankings over the last 28 days, and while he has likely overperformed a bit, he is perfectly safe to start this week.
This week's rank: 42
My take: Solid standard mixed league start

Most Added Starters (as of 7/8)
Player Name % change
1. Ivan Nova, SP, Yankees 20
2. Randall Delgado, SP, D-Backs 20
3. Ricky Nolasco, SP, Dodgers 19
4. Martin Perez, SP, Rangers 18
5. Chris Archer, SP, Rays 17
6. Jeremy Hefner, SP, Mets 16
7. Edinson Volquez, SP, Padres 16
8. Jhoulys Chacin, SP, Rockies 13
9. Hector Santiago, SP, White Sox 13
10. Tyler Skaggs, SP, D-Backs 12

Jon Lester, Red Sox (@SEA, @OAK): Lester's seven innings of one-run ball against the Padres on Wednesday represented just his second quality start over his last nine attempts. He did manage to reverse a recent trend of starts in which he exhibited poor command. Because Lester threw strikes consistently over the first two months of the season, there's reason to hope that he can once again give owners a sub-1.20 WHIP going forward. Despite his recent struggles, that possibility is enough to make Lester worth starting this week in standard mixed leagues as a back-of-the-rotation option.
This week's rank: 52
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks (LAD, MIL): Kennedy has been effective three of his last four times out, and this season, that qualifies as a run of consistency. Then again, none of the four teams he faced (Dodgers, Padres, Braves and Mets) have been among the more potent offenses in recent weeks, but with another start against the Dodgers and then a matchup with the Brewers, Kennedy may be able to coast for another week. He's worth using in Week 15, but as he continues to be flyball-prone, Kennedy is far from regaining must-start status.
This week's rank: 53
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Tony Cingrani, Reds (@MIL, @ATL): Cingrani was exceedingly wild in his return to the Reds' rotation Wednesday, just as he was in his most recent relief appearance, when he chipped in four innings in Johnny Cueto's injury-shortened start. With two starts, including one against the whiff-happy Braves, Cingrani could have a big strikeout week, but his control issues make him an ERA and WHIP risk. While the lefty has the potential to be a must-start option as long as he has a rotation spot, he needs to show more consistency to be worth using in all leagues.
This week's rank: 55
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Tyler Chatwood, Rockies (@SD, @LAD): Chatwood's string of eight straight starts with two earned runs or fewer ended Wednesday, when the Dodgers touched him up for six runs, of which five were earned. For Chatwood to succeed, he needs to get grounders, and the Dodgers notched six extra-base hits against him, five of which were on flyballs or line drives. That's been the exception for Chatwood, so he should be safe to start this week.
This week's rank: 57
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Jose Quintana, White Sox (@DET, @PHI): Quintana has had problems sticking around late into games, but he had no trouble making it through seven full innings against the Orioles on Thursday. Setting career highs with 11 strikeouts and 16 swinging strikes, it was arguably the best performance of Quintana's two-year career. Dominant performances aren't a complete rarity for Quintana; this was the fourth time this season that he pitched at least six innings of scoreless ball. However, he's also had six starts in which he's allowed four runs or more. Given his inconsistency, Quintana's not a safe bet in one-start weeks, but assuming he finds the middle ground, he's often worth using with a pair of starts.
This week's rank: 68
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Scott Kazmir, Indians (DET, KC): The Indians' outfield of Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs figured to be strong enough defensively to make a positive impact on their pitchers, but it hasn't worked out that way for Kazmir. There's not much the outfield could have done about the 13 homers Kazmir has allowed, but it's surprising to see that opponents have hit .179 on flyballs in play against him, when the major league norm is usually around .130. Especially since he's cut back on walks, it stands to reason that Kazmir should be able to reduce his 1.41 WHIP with some better luck. His 4.86 ERA should be lower as well, as xFIP projects that it would be 3.78, controlling for the impact of luck and defense. That would make Kazmir good enough for virtually any two-start week.
This week's rank: 69
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Scott Feldman, Orioles (TEX, TOR): Feldman's return to the American League looked much like his body of work in the senior circuit this year, as he kept the basepaths clear, avoiding walks and getting ground ball outs. The latter trend will come in particularly handy against the powerful Rangers and Blue Jays lineups. While Feldman did pitch well against his former Ranger teammates earlier this year, he has generally struggled against tougher opposition. He's a justifiable use of an active roster spot this week, but he's far from automatic.
This week's rank: 70
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start

Martin Perez, Rangers (@BAL, @DET): Control issues have plagued Perez throughout most of his professional career, but no more. Since supplanting Josh Lindblom in the Rangers' rotation, Perez has allowed only two earned runs in 19 innings with only four walks. While Perez's strikeout rates at Triple-A have been disappointing, he's showing some strikeout potential with an 11 percent swinging strike rate with Texas this season. With the Orioles and Tigers on tap, this is not the best week to trust Perez's four-game major league sample for this year, but he's a worthwhile play in any mixed league format deeper than 12 teams.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Hector Santiago, White Sox (CHC, @PHI): Like Ubaldo Jimenez and Tim Lincecum, Santiago offers Fantasy owners the allure of a high strikeout rate along with the risks that come with poor command. In Santiago's case, though, there hasn't been much of a price to pay for the walks, at least in Rotisserie leagues. His 3.36 ERA and 1.26 WHIP as a starter have been aided by a popup rate that is considerably higher than that of either Jimenez or Lincecum. He doesn't rely on infield flies as much as teammate Jose Quintana does, but then again, with a much higher K-rate, he doesn't need to. Santiago doesn't have much margin for error, but he's good enough to use in this particular two-start week in deeper mixed leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Ricky Nolasco, Dodgers (@ARI, COL): Nolasco is boasting his highest strikeout rate in three seasons while maintaining very good control. That makes him a decent two-start option in some weeks, but not necessarily for this week. Not only does he have to acclimate to a new team, but he'll face a couple of decent lineups. With a wealth of other options to pursue, you can afford to pass on Nolasco in standard mixed leagues this time.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles (TEX, TOR): As with Nolasco, Chen is a viable two-start option who is riskier than normal due to an uncertain schedule. He is expected to come off the disabled list this week, but he could return to the Orioles' rotation either Tuesday or Wednesday. If he doesn't face the Rangers until Wednesday, he's merely a one-start option and only worth using in deeper mixed leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Phil Hughes, Yankees (KC, MIN): When Hughes keeps the long ball under control, he's worth using in standard mixed leagues, and lately, he's been fairly stingy with homers. having allowed three in his last six starts. Though he's been better in recent weeks than he was earlier in the season, Hughes is still difficult to trust at Yankee Stadium, where he has a career 4.77 ERA and 1.6 HR/9 rate. Even with good matchups, Hughes is safe to start only in deeper leagues for now.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Kyle Gibson, Twins (@TB, @NYY): Gibson followed up his impressive debut against the Royals with an awful start against the Yankees, leaving owners to wonder which version will show up for his next two starts. Even against the Bombers, there were encouraging signs, like the 10 swinging strikes and eight ground ball outs (as compared to four flyball outs). Now that the Twins appear to be committed to keeping Gibson in their rotation, he needs to be on the radar of owners in standard mixed leagues, but it's premature to be starting him in those formats.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Samuel Deduno, Twins (@TB, @NYY): Scott Diamond hasn't been able to duplicate the success he had last season, but fortunately for the Twins, Deduno is duplicating it for him. The 30-year-old has tamed his wildness, but sadly for Fantasy owners, he's also tamed his once-tantalizing K-rate. Still, he is having success as a contact pitcher with good control and strong ground ball tendencies, much as Diamond did last season, so similarly to his lefty counterpart, he has some appeal in two-start weeks. Given the bounty of two-start options in Week 15, this just isn't one of those scoring periods, except in deeper leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Eric Stults, Padres (COL, SF): Stults has turned in back-to-back clunkers, putting an abrupt end to an 11-game run in which he posted a 2.34 ERA. To his credit, Stults has shown excellent control this year, and he's taken full advantage of PETCO Park in his home starts. He hasn't had toughest home schedule, though, and his start against the Rockies makes Stults too much of a gamble in standard mixed leagues, even with also getting a start against the slumping Giants.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies (@SD, @LAD): Prior to Thursday's outing against the Dodgers, Chacin had registered one seven-inning start and two starts of eight-plus innings in his three previous games. Improved control has enabled Chacin to be more efficient this season -- and especially lately -- but he offers little else to Fantasy owners. He's not striking batters out, and his 3.74 ERA has nowhere to go but up. Chacin has allowed only three home runs over 101 innings. While he pitches away from Coors Field this week, don't be surprised if his homer rate and ERA begin to regress over these two starts.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Bud Norris, Astros (@STL, @TB): Even though he isn't striking out many batters, Norris is clearly an improved pitcher this season, and his results have been especially good since mid-May. Over his last nine starts, Norris has put up a 2.29 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP, as he's walked only 17 batters over that 59-inning span. He's also allowed only two home runs in those starts, and as with Chacin, it's hard to believe that he can keep up that pace. The Cardinals and Rays are among the most potent offenses in the majors, so this is not the week to trust Norris and his recent hot streak outside of deep leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Tim Lincecum, Giants (NYM, @SD): Don't look now, but all of a sudden, Lincecum is starting to show better control. Over his last four starts, Lincecum has thrown 63 percent of his pitches for strikes, and he's issued nine walks over a 23 2/3-inning span. Those are hardly overwhelming rates, but by Lincecum's recent standards, it's a sign of progress. That alone doesn't make Lincecum an advisable start, as he continues to get hit hard. It's merely something for his many owners to keep an eye on.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start

Dan Haren, Nationals (@PHI, @MIA): Haren (shoulder) returns from the disabled list to make two starts this week, and given how his season had gone prior to his DL stay, he is best to be avoided in most leagues for now. However, the Washington Post reports that Haren has been working on reducing the velocity on his splitter to create more of a contrast with his fastball. It remains to be seen if that will help Haren to a greater level of success, but it bears watching.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start

Edinson Volquez, Padres (COL, SF): Remember last season when you could use Volquez in Fantasy when he pitched at PETCO Park? Last season's 2.95 home ERA has mushroomed into a 4.73 mark this year, as he's been allowing extra-base hits at a faster clip. Without good home splits or a high strikeout rate, there's no reason to start Volquez in practically any mixed league format, even with two starts.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start

Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians (TOR, KC): Jimenez has now turned in six straight starts in which he has failed to complete six innings. While his control was far from pristine earlier in the season, he has completely lost any semblance of it recently, having walked 22 batters over his last 29 innings. Despite his extended slump, Jimenez's ownership rate in CBSSports.com leagues has been holding steady, bouncing between 55 and 60 percent. My only question is, why?
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start

Jeremy Guthrie, Royals (@NYY, @CLE): As it turns out, the move to Kauffman Stadium hasn't really worked out for Guthrie. After compiling a 3.16 ERA with the Royals in 14 starts last year and then boasting a 2.82 mark after eight starts this season, it looked like he had taken a big leap in terms of Fantasy value. Guthrie's command, which has been average at best over his career, has eroded over his last nine starts, and as a result, he's provided a 5.81 ERA and 1.50 WHIP over that stretch. With an ownership rate of 43 percent, Guthrie is one of the most overowned pitchers in CBSSports.com leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: AL-only start

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs .

Data Analyst

Al Melchior has been playing Fantasy Baseball since 1994, getting his start in the Southern Maryland Anthropomorphic Baseball League (SMABL). He has been writing about Fantasy Baseball since 2000, getting... Full Bio

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