Blackhawks

Fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings

Fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com

The ranks below consider a 5x5 scoring system (wins, strikeouts, ERA, WHIP and saves) for the remainder of the season.

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers
2. Matt Cain, Giants
3. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
4. Jered Weaver, Angels
5. Cole Hamels, Phillies
6. R.A. Dickey, Mets
NOTE: This run really started at end of 2011.
7. Gio Gonzalez, Nationals
8. Johnny Cueto, Reds
9. James McDonald, Pirates
NOTE: Improved slider, improved control.
10. Zack Greinke, Brewers
11. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
12. Madison Bumgarner, Giants
13. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
NOTE: He's Top 5 without a workload cap.
14. David Price, Rays
15. CC Sabathia, Yankees
16. Chris Sale, White Sox
17. C.J. Wilson, Angels
18. Cliff Lee, Phillies
NOTE: Largely unlucky, but he's made some of the bad luck, too.
19. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
NOTE: All signs point to strong second half.
20. Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals
21. Ryan Vogelsong, Giants
NOTE: He's outperformed his peripherals for a year and a half.
22. A.J. Burnett, Pirates
23. Yu Darvish, Rangers
24. Tommy Hanson, Braves
25. Jake Peavy, White Sox
26. Josh Johnson, Marlins
27. Mat Latos, Reds
NOTE: Increased reliance on slider is bringing results.
28. Johan Santana, Mets
29. Matt Garza, Cubs
30. James Shields, Rays
NOTE: Sometimes plus control works against you.
31. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers
32. Jon Lester, Red Sox
33. Chris Capuano, Dodgers
34. Matt Harrison, Rangers
35. Colby Lewis, Rangers
36. Edwin Jackson, Nationals
NOTE: A heck of a support arm for the Nats.
37. Jason Hammel, Orioles
NOTE: Escaping Coors has done wonders.
38. Max Scherzer, Tigers
39. Ryan Dempster, Cubs
NOTE: Excellent chance he's moved to a contender.
40. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays
NOTE: Change-up master might make career of being underrated.
41. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks
42. Lance Lynn, Cardinals
43. Kyle Lohse, Cardinals
44. Josh Beckett, Red Sox
45. Anibal Sanchez, Marlins
46. Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees
47. Ivan Nova, Yankees
NOTE: Don't let ERA fool you, he's improved significantly.
48. Jarrod Parker, Athletics
49. Jeff Samardzija, Cubs
NOTE: Some disaster starts, but KBB rate is in a good place.
50. Dan Haren, Angels
NOTE: At least it's a back injury, nothing arm related.
51. Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays
52. Wade Miley, Diamondbacks
NOTE: This deep into the run, it's okay to trust him.
53. Shaun Marcum, Brewers
54. Jonathon Niese, Mets
55. Brandon McCarthy, Athletics
NOTE: Legit skills, but trouble staying healthy.
56. Gavin Floyd, White Sox
57. Tim Hudson, Braves
58. Wandy Rodrguez, Astros
59. Trevor Cahill, Diamondbacks
NOTE: Hard to trust in that ballpark.
60. Justin Masterson, Indians
61. Phil Hughes, Yankees
NOTE: A shame he's tied to Yankee Stadium.
62. Tommy Milone, Athletics
63. Michael Fiers, Brewers
64. Ricky Nolasco, Marlins
65. Roy Halladay, Phillies
NOTE: Don't expect a second-half miracle.
66. Matt Moore, Rays
67. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays
68. Vance Worley, Phillies
69. Doug Fister, Tigers
70. Bud Norris, Astros
71. Jose Quintana, White Sox
NOTE: So far, so good for strike-throwing ace.
72. Jair Jurrjens, Braves
73. Mike Leake, Reds
NOTE: Pitches to contact but he's making strides, too.
74. Mark Buehrle, Marlins
75. Derek Holland, Rangers
NOTE: He's been overbid for two years.
76. Edinson Volquez, Padres
77. Francisco Liriano, Twins
78. Clayton Richard, Padres
79. Bartolo Colon, Athletics
80. Franklin Morales, Red Sox
81. Trevor Bauer, Diamondbacks
NOTE: Discount the good start - it was the Dodgers.
82. Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians
83. Scott Diamond, Twins
84. Joe Blanton, Phillies
NOTE: Despite tidy KBB rate, ERA is a mess.
85. Chad Billingsley, Dodgers
86. Felix Doubront, Red Sox
87. Homer Bailey, Reds
88. Joe Saunders, Diamondbacks
89. Tim Lincecum, Giants
NOTE: Don't pay for an ERA below 4 in second half.
90. Clay Buchholz, Red Sox
91. Jason Vargas, Mariners
92. Carlos Zambrano, Marlins
93. Travis Wood, Cubs
94. Dillon Gee, Mets
95. Roy Oswalt, Rangers
96. Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles
97. Erik Bedard, Pirates
NOTE: One Pittsburgh story that hasn't worked out.
98. Andrew Cashner, Padres
NOTE: They won't take any chances with his health.
99. Travis Blackley, Athletics
100. Nathan Eovaldi, Dodgers
101. Ross Detwiler, Nationals
102. Barry Zito, Giants
103. Bronson Arroyo, Reds
NOTE: Junk-master is fun to watch, anyway.
104. Henderson alvarez, Blue Jays
105. Chris Tillman, Orioles
106. Ervin Santana, Angels
107. Jake Westbrook, Cardinals
108. Aaron Harang, Dodgers
109. Derek Lowe, Indians
NOTE: Can't trust someone with those KBB numbers.
110. Luke Hochevar, Royals
NOTE: Looks good under the hood, but not in stats that roto leagues count.
111. J.A. Happ, Astros
112. Alex Cobb, Rays
113. Brad Lincoln, Pirates
114. Kevin Millwood, Mariners
115. Jason Marquis, Padres
NOTE: Petco will hide some mistakes.
116. Andy Pettitte, Yankees
117. John Danks, White Sox
118. Drew Smyly, Tigers
119. Rick Porcello, Tigers
120. Bruce Chen, Royals
NOTE: Maybe could be a No. 5 for a contender.
121. Josh Collmenter, Diamondbacks
122. Chris Young, Mets
123. Lucas Harrell, Astros
124. Danny Hultzen, Mariners
125. Paul Maholm, Cubs
126. Mike Minor, Braves
127. Philip Humber, White Sox
128. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox
NOTE: At this point, a sunk cost.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit first-place Lightning

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit first-place Lightning

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.

There hasn't been a more dynamic duo in the NHL so far this season than Kucherov and Stamkos, who have combined for 68 points (27 goals, 41 assists) through 20 games, and sit first and second in the scoring race.

They've each recorded a point in every game except three — which coincidentally have been the same games — and they've lost all three of those contests. Kucherov has also scored a goal in 15 of 20 games this season. That's absurd when you consider he's scoring on a consistent basis; it's not like they're coming in spurts.

To put all that into perspective, he reached the 17-goal mark in his 36th game last year and still finished second in the league with 40 goals. He hit the 17-goal mark in 16 fewer games this season. How many can he realistically finish with? 60?

2. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

Tampa Bay knows how dangerous Chicago's dynamic duo can be as well, as evidenced in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks' superstars know how to get up for a big game.

In 13 career regular-season games against the Lightning, Kane has 18 points (six goals, 12 assists). Toews has 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 14 games.

They're both producing at or above a point-per-game pace, and they're going to need more of that against this powerhouse Lightning team.

3. Something's gotta give.

Tampa Bay's offensive prowess is off the charts up and down the lineup. It has four lines that can come at you at waves, and a strong, active blue line led by potential Norris Trophy finalist Viktor Hedman and Calder Trophy candidate Mikhail Sergachev.

Although Chicago allows the fourth-most shots per game (34.0), it actually hasn't been bad at preventing goals — a large reason for that is Corey Crawford. 

The Lightning rank first in goals per game (3.95) and first in power play percentage (28.0) while the Blackhawks rank sixth in goals against per game (2.65) and four in penalty kill percentage (84.9).

Who's going to crack first?

For one writer, Hall of Fame semifinalist selection of Brian Urlacher closes a career circle

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USA TODAY

For one writer, Hall of Fame semifinalist selection of Brian Urlacher closes a career circle

The news on Tuesday wasn’t really any sort of surprise: Brian Urlacher being selected as a semifinalist for the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Some of the immediate thoughts were, however, for one writer who covered Brian from the day he was drafted on through the unpleasant end of his 13-year career as a Bear.

Good thoughts, though. Definitely good.

The first was a flashback, to a Tuesday in late August 2000 when the ninth-overall pick of the draft, who’d been anointed the starting strong-side linebacker by coach Dick Jauron on draft day, was benched.

It happened up at Halas Hall when Urlacher all of a sudden wasn’t running with the 1’s. Rosie Colvin was in Urlacher’s spot with the starters and would be for a few games into the 2000 season. I caught up with Brian before he walked, in a daze, into Halas Hall after practice and asked about what I’d just seen.

"I'm unhappy with the way I'm playing and I'm sure they are, too," Urlacher said. "I don't think I've been playing very well so that's probably the cause for it right there. I just don't have any technique. I need to work on my technique, hands and feet mostly. I've got to get those down, figure out what I'm doing. I know the defense pretty good now, just don't know how to use my hands and feet."

Urlacher, an All-American safety at New Mexico but MVP of the Senior Bowl in his first game at middle linebacker, had been starting at strong side, over the tight end, because coaches considered it a simpler position for Urlacher to master. But he was not always correctly aligned before the snap, did not use his hands against blockers effectively and occasionally led with his head on tackles. His benching cost him the chance to be the first Bears rookie linebacker since Dick Butkus to start an Opening Day.

It also was the first time in his football life that Urlacher could remember being demoted.

"It's not a good feeling," he said. "I definitely don't like getting demoted but I know why I am. I just have to get better."

Coaches understood what they were really attempting, subsequently acknowledged privately that the SLB experiment was a mistake. While the strong-side slot may have been simpler than the other two principally because of coverage duties, "we're trying to force-feed the kid an elephant," then-defensive coordinator Greg Blache said.

"So you see him gag and what do you do? You give him the Heimlich maneuver, you take some of it out of his mouth, try to chop it up into smaller pieces. He's going to devour it and be a great football player. But he wouldn't be if we choked him to death."

Urlacher didn’t choke and eventually became the starter, not outside, but at middle linebacker when Barry Minter was injured week two at Tampa Bay.

We sometimes don’t fully know the import or significance at the time we’re witnessing something. Urlacher stepping in at middle linebacker was not one of those times – you knew, watching him pick up four tackles in basically just the fourth quarter of a 41-0 blowout by the Bucs.

That was the beginning. Over the years came moments like Urlacher scooping up a Michael Vick fumble in the 2001 Atlanta game and going 90 yards with Vick giving chase but not catching him. Lots of those kinds of moments.

And then cutting to the ending, in 2013, when he and the organization came to an acrimonious parting after GM Phil Emery managed to alienate the face of the franchise both with the one-year contract offer and the way it was handled. Butkus had a nasty separation at the end of his Bears years, too, and Bill George finished his career as a Los Angeles Ram after creating the middle linebacker position as a Bear. Maybe that’s just how Bears and some of their linebackers wind up their relationships.

In any case, while there is no cheering in the pressbox, the hope here is that Brian goes into the Hall in a class with Ray Lewis in their first years of eligibility. Somehow that just seems like it all should close out for that confused kid from New Mexico who lost his first job out of college, but responded to that by becoming one of the all-time greats in his sport.