Since the Head-to-Head loophole of letting starting pitchers slot in as relievers continues to exist, owners are going to want to take a closer look at Andrew Cashner this week.
The 26-year-old, who started the season in the bullpen, is now a full-fledged member of the rotation. Cashner apparently wanted it so badly that he didn't even require a long stretching-out period. He went from four innings on April 20 to six on April 26, jumping from 65 pitches thrown to 83. His next start should be a full-fledged Cashnerpalooza, with 95-100 pitches thrown, a flirtation with seven innings, and a near-guarantee of one strikeout per inning.
Cashner isn't Tony Cingrani, but he can offer a Fantasy team something close. He has that relief pitcher eligibility. He can strike out a batter per inning. And he should be able to keep his ERA (2.76 in 205 1/3 minor league innings) and WHIP (1.19) at decent levels. With his fastball averaging 95.7 mph in his two starts, Cashner seems primed for a good deal of success
One very important note on Cashner for his would-be owners to consider, however, is this: his career high in innings pitched is 111 1/3, which he managed in 2010. The closest approximation to this would be Jose Quintana, whose career high in innings pitched before last year was 102. In 2012, Quintana threw 185 innings. His final six games, all in September, were decidedly ugly: a 6.75 ERA and 1.99 WHIP. If Cashner is having a solid season through late July, you might want to consider the innings hit on his arm, and begin feeling out offers for him.
But that's still several months away. For now, grab him in your leagues, exploit the rules, and enjoy your Andrew Cashners!
The Big Leaps
Nate McLouth, OF, Orioles (75 percent ownership, up from 14 percent)
I'm not in the business of regurgitating information two days in a row on the site. My colleague Scott White went very deep into the pros of Nate McLouth in his "Reality Check" column Tuesday. I will add this, however: after his ascent in 2007 and his two big seasons in 2008 and 2009, McLouth just fell apart in 2010 and 2011 in Atlanta. Reasons? He played through abdominal and shoulder pain in 2011 (he was eventually shut down in July) and was concussed in June of 2010 after starting off the season incredibly cold. These may not be stone-cold factors in his seeming demise, but something clicked back on in Baltimore, and McLouth seems to be re-energized.
He doesn't quite have the upside of a "must-add," but if you're looking for a solid outfielder who can be slotted in and left to produce at an Alejandro De Aza-type level, McLouth could be your man.
Over/under on home runs (season): 17
Over/under on average (season): .255
Over/under on steals (season): 11.5
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies (63 percent, up from 25)
|Player Name||% change|
|1.||Nate McLouth, OF, Orioles||61|
|2.||Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies||39|
|3.||Josh Donaldson, 3B, Athletics||38|
|4.||Kyle Kendrick, SP, Phillies||35|
|5.||Yuniesky Betancourt, 1B, Brewers||32|
|6.||Andrew Cashner, SP, Padres||32|
|7.||Russell Martin, C, Pirates||24|
|8.||Justin Grimm, SP, Rangers||23|
|9.||Kevin Gregg, RP, Cubs||20|
|10.||Jose Valverde, RP, Tigers||17|
Arenado was recalled without much warning, and the collateral damage -- the release of clubhouse favorite Chris Nelson, who wasn't exactly terrible (.242 average with an ugly .600 OPS) -- was a bit of a surprise, as well. But Arenado is here, and it looks like he's not going anywhere. As one of Colorado's (and baseball's) top prospects, Arenado can offer a team some help in power and batting average.
Arenado enters a pretty solid situation, joining a lineup with Troy Tulowitzki,
For the rest of the season, I'd still rather have Mike Moustakas on my team than Arenado, but I've picked Arenado up in any league possible -- even if I already have Moustakas -- because he'll probably play well enough to develop into a viable trading chip.
Over/under on average (season): .269
Over/under on home runs (season): 17
Over/under on his ownership by May 15: 90 percent
Unadvised Drop of the Week
Ben Revere, OF, Phillies (63 percent, down 11 percent)
With a .207 average and five steals, Revere isn't quite getting it done for his owners. But there are some encouraging signs here. In the seven games before Revere was knocked out with a minor injury, he hit .240 and scored four runs. Additionally, his BABIP this season is .237, well below his career average of .303.
Revere is walking at about his career rate, but his 15.1 percent strikeout rate suggest that he's maybe pressing with the new team, in a new league. Revere is only 24 years old, and hit .294 with 40 steals last year. We've seen players struggle a little when switching leagues. We've also seen Revere struggle early in the season -- in 108 April at-bats, Revere has a career .213 average and .248 OBP. He may just be a slow starter.
I'm willing to give Revere, who will eventually return to the leadoff spot and hit ahead of a very underrated Phillies lineup, the benefit of the doubt. He'll turn things around, get back on base, and should be good for 35-40 steals on the season.
Over/under on home runs (season): 0
Over/under on batting average (season): .280
The Flavor of Next Week
Trevor Bauer, SP, Indians (36 percent ownership)
So far, Bauer's major league career has been a big bouncy ball of disappointment -- a 5.91 ERA and 1.69 WHIP in five starts. But Bauer's four starts last year came with an injured groin, and his one start this year was just killed by his control -- in five innings, he walked seven batters (but only gave up two hits!)
Bauer will start for Cleveland on Wednesday, and even though the team is calling it a spot start, there's a pretty good chance that if Bauer pitches to a level of which he's capable (he's been a top 15 prospect each of the last two years), he can stick around and work himself into a two-start situation next week.
Bauer currently has a 2.50 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in three Triple-A starts this season. He's struck out 24 batters in 18 innings, and has only walked six total batters in those three starts. There is skill here, but Bauer has yet to put it on full display in the majors. And this makes him a wonderful target for Fantasy players -- Bauer has pretty much flamed out twice, giving would-be owners a touch of weariness when they're about to click on that big green cross next to his name to add him. Blow past the hesitation -- the upside of Bauer is too great to pass up, especially if he manages to stick around for more than this one start.
Over/under on starts (season): 24
Over/under on ERA (season): 3.80
Over/under on K/9 (season): 9.5
American League-only fun
David Phelps, SP, Yankees (21 percent ownership)
For most of his minor league career -- 90 of 91 appearances, to be exact -- Phelps was a starter. And he was an exceptionally good one, with a 2.51 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 515 1/3 innings. It's a little unfair to judge Phelps by his track record as a starter in the majors, as his only real consistent run came in early September, when he had to stretch out and contend with an arm that had been accustomed to pitching relief innings for most of the season.
Phelps probably won't strike out a batter per inning (his nine strikeouts in four innings last week were probably an aberration) and he may need a start or two to get stretched out, but AL-only owners would be wise to add him in their leagues, especially in Head-to-Head formats, where he can be slotted as a reliever.
Over/under on starts (season): 15
Over/under on ERA (season): 3.20
National League-only fun
Francisco Liriano, SP, Pirates (21 percent)
This recommendation is based on one factor: Ray Searage, the pitching coach for the Pirates, who resurrected A.J. Burnett's career and guided the Pittsburgh staff to the 13th-best ERA in the majors last year. Burnett is the only pitcher on the staff who had marked success before joining the team, and Liriano fits that bill -- a once-brilliant starter who has fallen on some very hard times, looking to return to what worked for him earlier. I'm not fully convinced Searage is Leo Mazzone 2.0, but he has found success with a variety of pitchers, and Liriano could be next in line.
In his current minor league rehab assignment, Liriano has improved with every start -- his last two have been dominant -- 11 total innings, with a 1.64 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and 17 strikeouts. With Jonathan Sanchez gone, James McDonald struggling and Jeanmar Gomez not exactly the most exciting of options, Liriano should be up relatively soon, and could carry over his recent success to the majors. for what it's worth, Liriano -- in his first go-round in the National League -- has a stellar track record in interleague play, with a 3.31 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 126 strikeouts in 117 innings pitched. It's a risk, but a calculated one -- adding him now could be a sly move, as Liriano's minor league exploits will gain more attention and the secret will soon be out.
Over/under on starts (season): 21
Over/under on ERA (season): 3.70
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