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Setting the Trends: Some relief in sight!

Senior Fantasy Writer
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As far as baseball mysteries go, one of the biggest was solved this week, when Robin Ventura enlightened the masses and revealed Hector Santiago as his closer. It was one of the biggest questions entering the season, and no less than four names were thrown in the mix as potential closer candidates. But it looks like two of the pitchers who were, at certain points, favorites to win the role -- Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain -- were more valuable to Ventura in middle relief. So Santiago wins the role, and everyone runs out to get him.

Most Added Players (as of 4/10)
Player % change
1. Hector Santiago, RP, White Sox 49
2. Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays 38
3. Alfredo Aceves, RP, Red Sox 37
4. Rafael Furcal, SS, Cardinals 30
5. Kyle Lohse, SP, Cardinals 28
6. Chone Figgins, 3B, Mariners 25
7. Jeff Samardzija, RP, Cubs 24
8. Jake Arrieta, SP, Orioles 22
9. Lance Lynn, RP, Cardinals 22
10. Zack Cozart, SS, Reds 18

Or, at least, most people did. Santiago is still only owned in 52 percent of leagues, and I think this may be a result of people not realizing that Ventura named him the closer. It's almost a "fool me twice..." situation, with Fantasy owners having been burned in the last week by Mark Melancon and Joel Peralta red herrings. Santiago, however, will close until he implodes, so he's a safe -- and, apparently, still shrewd -- option for a waiver wire add.

Now, on to the rest of the Roster Trends ...

Most Added Players

Hector Santiago, RP, White Sox
Jump in ownership: 48 percent (from four percent to 52)
Reason for the jump: Named closer for the White Sox
Why you should join the crowd: If he's still a free agent in your league, you should run and grab him. Santiago has been named the closer, so there's no chance for a Melancon-type backfire, where everyone ran out and grabbed the wrong Red Sox closer based on the most logical guesswork.
Devil's Advocate: Fine, Santiago is the closer, but is he any good at it? If he turns out to be terrible at the job, he may do more harm than good for your team.

Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays
Jump in ownership: 37 percent (from six percent to 43)
Reason for the jump: He's gotten both of Tampa Bay's saves this season
Why you should join the crowd: Joel Peralta, the heretofore favorite for the closer's role in Kyle Farnsworth's absence, is manager Joe Maddon's favorite 8th-inning toy, and Rodney has a history of being an effective (with flashes of some wildness) closer. Mix it all together -- a skilled pitcher who has excelled in the role before, taking over for a pitcher with recurring elbow soreness -- and it's a recipe for a sly waiver wire pickup.
Devil's Advocate: Farnsworth is only supposed to be out for 4-6 weeks at this point. When he returns, Rodney could lose that role and be just another middle reliever. On top of that, Joe Maddon is known for his quirky strategies and could swap Rodney out for Peralta based on the situation. Keep in mind that Rodney's saves have both been of the one-out variety.

Rafael Furcal, SS, Cardinals
Jump in ownership: 29 percent (from 33 percent to 62)
Reason for the jump: Furcal is batting .435 with two steals and three runs scored, through Monday
Why you should join the crowd: There may be life left in those legs! Manager Mike Matheny has Furcal taking more pitches and trying to get the ball on the ground more often. He stole 22 bases in just 97 games in 2010 and sports a .283 career average. He could be a cheap source of speed at a relatively shallow position and he does have a little bit of power, although it could be mitigated by the ground-pound strategy.
Devil's Advocate: The last time he played in 162 games was ... never. In the last three years, Furcal has averaged 111 games played with just 14 steals. He's also 34 years old and hit just .231 last year.

Chone Figgins, 3B, Mariners
Jump in ownership: 25 percent (from 16 percent to 41)
Reason for the jump: Figgins is batting .381 with a steal and four RBI so far his season
Why you should join the crowd: He's already played four games in the outfield; one more gives him the dual eligibility in most leagues. In points leagues, his triple and double are already paying off for owners. Before 2011's disaster, Figgins had seven straight seasons of 30-plus steals, five of which he stole 40 or more.
Devil's Advocate: He's 34 and showed his age last year, when he hit .188 in 81 games. Seattle's offense isn't going to drive him in as much as they should and once Mike Carp returns, he may get squeezed for playing time if Kyle Seager (whose ownership has jumped from seven to 21 percent) remains hot.

Most Dropped

Mark Melancon, RP, Red Sox
Drop in ownership: 18 percent (from 44 percent to 26)
Reason for the drop: Melancon is 0-2 with a 36.00 ERA in one inning pitched so far this season.
Why you should join the crowd: Melancon seems like the living embodiment of a DirecTV commercial, where one bad bit of news begets another. He went from "likely closer" to "Boston anti-hero" at an incredibly accelerated rate.
Devil's Advocate: Even though Alfredo Aceves got the save Monday night, he's still far from a reliable closer; Melancon is a very good pitcher and could hit a groove in middle relief, while Aceves still falters. With the Red Sox reassuring everyone that Daniel Bard will remain a starter, Melancon is -- by process of elimination -- the next in line to be closer if Aceves falters.

Ben Revere, OF, Twins
Drop in ownership: Five percent (from 32 percent to 27)
Reason for the drop: Revere has had just six at-bats so far this season
Why you should join the crowd: Revere looks to be caught in the middle of the Minnesota outfield mess. With Josh Willingham starting in left field and Denard Span in center, Revere is staring down a possibly season-long rotation that features Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmelee, and Ryan Doumit. Without much playing time, his Fantasy value plummets.
Devil's Advocate: Revere hit .267 last season -- with 34 stolen bases -- in 450 at-bats. Plouffe and Doumit can play at a bunch of other positions defensively, so if Revere can get hot, he may eventually hammer out more starts for himself and push the other two to time-shares elsewhere.

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Dexter Fowler, OF, Rockies
Drop in ownership: Four percent (72 percent to 68)
Reason for the drop: Fowler is off to a horrific start, with one hit in 11 at-bats
Why you should join the crowd: You shouldn't. But if you need a reason to do it, consider that Tyler Colvin, a former top prospect with the Cubs, played center field in place of Fowler on Sunday. Combine that with the way the Rockies demoted and called up Fowler in the past, and there's an argument. It's a bit of a stretch, and I don't necessarily believe in it -- Colvin is more of a corner outfielder/first baseman -- but it's the most likely scenario in which Fowler would lose playing time.
Devil's Advocate: It's the first week of the season and Fowler is probably just off to a cold start. While his ownership is a bit high for a career .260 batter with a ceiling of about 20 steals, dropping him now puts his owners squarely in the "panic" category.

Players with deep league appeal

Both Lucas Harrell and Tommy Hunter have nudged their "owned" levels up to nine percent with some stellar debut performances. Harrell, who is eligible as a reliever in most leagues, struck out four in seven innings against the Rockies, while Hunter struck out three in seven innings against Minnesota. The two pitchers are strikingly similar -- both have low strikeout rates, both are in their mid-20s (Harrell is 26; Hunter is 25), and both switched organizations last July. Hunter has tended to be more of a flyball pitcher in the majors, while Harrell relies on more grounders. For now, they're both deep options, but mixed leaguers would be smart to throw them on the Scout Teams, as a couple more solid starts could signal good things to come with their new organizations.

Most Traded

Just like last week, the "most traded" list is riddled with prospects and youngsters, who are likely being dealt in keeper leagues as teams try to address holes and lack of depth in 2012. A veteran popping up in the top 10, however, is Toronto's Adam Lind, who is batting .188 so far this season, with just one run batted in. Lind has averaged 28 home runs over the last three seasons, but has a career average of just .266. His 2009 season, in which he hit .305 with 35 home runs, remains his ceiling, but it seems to be a more unobtainable one as we get farther away from it. His strikeouts don't help points leagues, but his power potential makes him a relatively cheap, buy-low trade target, or a crafty throw-in as part of a larger deal.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Lisalverto Bonilla shows control issues Friday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:24 am ET) Rangers pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla had some control issues Friday against the Angels.

Bonilla allowed two runs on two hits over five innings. He struck out four and walked four during the outing. Bonilla was strong to start things off, going four scoreless frames to open the game. He gave up his only runs in the fifth inning. After a leadoff double, Bonilla allowed a two-run shot to Brennan Boesch. He was able to get out of the inning, but was pulled prior to the start of the sixth.

With the win, Bonilla improved to 2-0. He’ll take on the Astros if he gets another start.


Hector Santiago has disastrous outing vs. Rangers
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:24 am ET) Angels pitcher Hector Santiago turned in a disaster start Friday against the Rangers.

Santiago allowed seven runs, six earned, on seven hits over one inning. He did not record any walks or strikeouts during the contest. Leonys Martin singled to lead off the contest, and was driven in a single later in the inning. Jake Smolinski then belted a two-run shot, giving the Rangers a three-run lead. Things didn’t get any easier in the second inning. Santiago gave up four straight singles, plating two more runs. Santiago was pulled at that point, but was charged with two more runs.

With the loss, Santiago dropped to 5-9. He’ll take on the Athletics in his next start.


Domonic Brown dealing with sprained hand
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:22 am ET) Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown was scratched Friday night against the A's because of a right hand sprain, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. Brown landed awkwardly on his wrist making a leaping catch the previous day against the Padres. He is hitting .237 with 10 homers and 61 RBI over 452 at-bats.

The struggles continue for Tim Hudson on Friday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:06 am ET) The struggles continued for Giants starter Tim Hudson in a loss to the Padres in San Diego on Friday, dropping to 9-12 on the year.

Hudson, who is working past a hip issue, allowed a two-run double to Alexi Amarista and a run-scoring single to Cameron Maybin in the opening frame. He also allowed a run-scoring double to Seth Smith in the third inning. The right-hander permitted five runs -- four earned -- on seven hits and two walks while striking out two over 4 1/3 innings of a 5-0 defeat. Of his 76 pitches, 47 were strikes.

Hudson owns a 3.52 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP over 30 starts (184 innings). His final start of the regular season will come Wednesday in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.


Odrisamer Despaigne spins seven scoreless innings vs. Giants
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:05 am ET) Padres pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne bounced back with a gem Friday night at home against the Giants, improving to 4-7 on the year. The right-hander allowed only two hits and one walk while striking out six over seven innings of a 5-0 victory.

Despaigne picked up his first win since Aug. 12. Over his last three starts covering 17 innings, Despaigne has allowed nine earned runs. He owns a 3.36 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP over 16 starts (96 1/3 innings). He will make his final start of the season at home on Wednesday against Colorado.


Sean Doolittle picks up save No. 22
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:49 am ET) Athletics closer Sean Doolittle picked up his 22nd save Friday against the Phillies.

Doolittle entered with a two-run lead and slammed the door. He tossed a perfect inning during the appearance, facing just three batters. Doolittle did not record any strikeouts. 


Jon Lester turns in fantastic start Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:39 am ET) Athletics pitcher Jon Lester turned in a great start Friday against the Phillies. 

Lester allowed one run on five hits over seven innings. He struck out seven and walked two during the outing. Lester gave up his only run in the fourth inning. With one out in the inning, Lester allowed a solo home run against Ryan Howard. The run didn’t impact him too much, as Lester tossed three more scoreless innings before being pulled. 

With the win, Lester improved to 16-10. He’ll take on the Angels in his next start. 


Edwin Encarnacion belts 33rd home run Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:36 am ET) Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion clubbed his 33rd home run Friday against the Yankees. 

Encarnacion struck in the first inning. With a man on, Encarnacion belted an 81 mph slider out to left for the two run shot. He finished 1 for 4, with one run scored and two RBI.


David Buchanan posts quality start in losing effort
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:35 am ET) Phillies pitcher David Buchanan posted another quality start in a losing effort Friday night in Oakland, dropping to 6-8 on the year. The right-hander permitted three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out six over 6 2/3 innings of a 3-1 defeat.

Over his last four starts covering 23 innings, Buchanan has allowed 11 earned runs. He owns a 3.77 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP over 19 starts (112 1/3 innings). His final start of the season will come Thursday in Miami.


Yoenis Cespedes belts home run Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:29 am ET) Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes belted his 22nd home run Friday against the Orioles. 

Cespedes struck in the fourth inning. With the bases empty, Cespedes belted an 80 mph slider out to center for a solo shot. He finished 1 for 5, with one run scored and one RBI. 


 
 
 
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