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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
Braves 1B Freddie Freeman (oblique) leaves Monday's game
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:17 pm ET) Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman was forced to exit Monday's game against the Giants due to a right oblique injury, the team announced.

Freeman went 0 for 2 before suffering the injury and is considered day to day. He was replaced by Chris Johnson.


Padres RP Brandon Maurer attributes fatigue to recent struggles
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(9:11 pm ET) Padres reliever Brandon Maurer took his fourth loss of the season on Sunday, when he allowed a three-run, walk-off home run to the Marlins' Adeiny Hechavarria.

Maurer, who has already established a new career-high in appearances, has allowed seven earned runs over his past five innings of work, spanning seven outings. The right-hander believes fatigue could be a partial reason for his recent struggles.

"I've been tired the last couple days," said Maurer, per MLB.com. "I've stepped up the workload in the training room, trying to flex some stuff [inflammation] out.

"I got hit in the arm [in New York]. I think that might've had to do with my slider not being quite as sharp, pushing it more than snapping it off."

Overall, Maurer has had himself a good season so far. He is 7-4 with a 3.06 ERA in 50 innings of relief.


Nationals' Stephen Strasburg (oblique) strikes out 11 in rehab start
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(8:58 pm ET) Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg was excellent in what could be his final rehab start on Monday. Strasburg pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out 11, throwing 85 pitches (55 strikes) in the outing.

Strasburg has been on the disabled list for four weeks dealing with an oblique strain. He has made two rehab starts now, allowing five earned runs over 9 2/3 innings.

He could be back with the Nationals by the weekend, though the team has not made any official announcements regarding Strasburg's return.


Orioles SP Chris Tillman hopes to throw bullpen Wednesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7:24 pm ET) Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman was able to throw off flat ground Monday and hopes to throw a bullpen session Wednesday, reports MLB.com.

Tillman was scheduled to start Monday's game at Oakland, but an ankle injury pushed the start back to Friday at the Los Angeles Angels.


Angels' Matt Joyce begins workouts Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7:18 pm ET) Angels outfielder Matt Joyce was able to conduct a workout Monday for the first time since suffering a concussion last week, reports MLB.com.

Joyce was experiencing headaches and dizziness from the concussion, but those symptoms have subsided. He is scheduled to see a doctor Monday night.


Dodgers pitcher Brandon Beachy heads to Triple-A
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7:14 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Brandon Beachy will report to Triple-A after clearing waivers Monday, reports MLB.com. Beachy was designated for assignment last week after posting a 7.88 ERA over eight innings of work.

Orioles' Jimmy Paredes getting rare start in right field on Monday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(6:52 pm ET) Jimmy Paredes will make his first appearance in right field since 2013, as he is getting the start out there for the Orioles' matchup with the A's on Monday. Paredes has spent most of the season as the Orioles' designated hitter, but has seen time at third base, second base and left field.


Athletics RP Sean Doolittle to throw simulated game Tuesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:51 pm ET) Athletics pitcher Sean Doolittle is scheduled to throw a simulated game Tuesday, reports SportsNet California.

Doolittle is on the 60-day disabled list with a shoulder injury. He threw a 31-pitch bullpen session over the weekend and has not pitched since May 27.


Indians recall pitcher Kyle Crockett; option Michael Roth
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:42 pm ET) The Indians called up pitcher Kyle Crockett, the team announced Monday. Crockett will take the place of pitcher Michael Roth, who was optioned to the minors.

Crockett has a 3.00 ERA over six innings of work earlier this season, while Roth produced a 8.76 ERA over 12 1/3 innings.


Indians recall INF Jose Ramirez from Triple-A on Monday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(6:41 pm ET) The Indians have recalled infielder Jose Ramirez from Triple-A Columbus, as part of a series of moves on Monday. He is in the starting lineup against the Angels, playing second base and leading off, in place of the injured Jason Kipnis.

Ramirez started the season with the Indians, but struggled offensively. He has hit just .176 one home run and eight RBI while going back-and-forth between the big leagues and Triple-A.

With the Clippers, Ramirez is batting a more-respectable .293 with 13 doubles.


 
 
 
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