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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
Diamondbacks SP Rubby De La Rosa gets no-decision Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:27 am ET) Diamondbacks starter Rubby De La Rosa (4-2) pitched well in Saturday's loss to the Cubs, all except for one inning. The young right-hander tossed six innings, allowing four runs on four hits. He struck out eight and walked two on the evening.

All of the damage to De La Rosa came in a four-run fifth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, De La Rosa hit Kris Bryant to force in a run, and then served up a three-run double to Anthony Rizzo. 

Fortunately for De La Rosa, his offense put up six runs on his behalf. Unfortunately for him, the bullpen wasn't able to hold the lead, as he picked up the no decision. He'll take a 4.27 ERA into his next start, scheduled for Friday in Milwaukee.


Twins pitcher Casey Fien begins rehab assignment on Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:21 am ET) Twins pitcher Casey Fien tossed one scoreless inning on Saturday for Triple-A Rochester. Fien did not allow a hit with one walk and no strikeouts in the outing.

Fien is currently on the 15-day DL with a shoulder injury and has not pitched for Minnesota since April 29. He currently owns a 1-2 record with a 4.35 ERA and three strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings of work.


Cardinals not concerned yet about Michael Wacha's innings
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:11 am ET) Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha is scheduled to take the hill again on Sunday against the Royals, his ninth start of the season. Wacha has already logged 50 1/3 innings of work, something the team wants to monitor very closely throughout the season, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"It's probably something to look at later," said Matheny. "Right now, we don't want him to be concerned with that stuff. And I don't think right now is the time to conserve. I seems like this game shows you when it’s time to conserve.

"We'll monitor his workload as much as possible but when he's throwing the ball well and he feels as good as he does, we need to take advantage of it. But we have some parameters in sight of where we’d like to keep him at."

Wacha, 6-0, has a 2.13 ERA with 31 strikeouts so far this season. 


Mariners' Austin Jackson goes 3 for 5 in seventh rehab game
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:05 am ET) Mariners outfielder Austin Jackson went 3 for 5 with a double in his seventh rehab game for Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday.

Jackson, who is currently on the 15-day DL with an ankle sprain, is now hitting .310 (9 for 29) on his rehab assignment and may be closer to a return. Jackson has been out of action since May 3 when he rolled his ankle. Jackson is hitting .242 with four RBI in 95 at-bats for Seattle this season.


Dodgers CF Joc Pederson blasts 12th home run of the season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:32 am ET) Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson went 1 for 4 at the plate in Los Angeles' 2-0 win over the Padres on Saturday.

Pederson did his damage in the first inning when he crushed a lead off home run over the right field wall off of Ian Kennedy, his 12th of the season. He has now tied a Dodgers' rookie record for most leadoff home runs in season with Johnny Frederick, who set the record in 1929.

Pederson is now hitting .243 with 23 RBI in 136 at-bats this season.


Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen notches third save of the season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:29 am ET) Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen worked a perfect ninth inning on Saturday in Los Angeles' 2-0 win over the Padres, earning his third save of the season.

Jansen did not allow a baserunner and faced the minimum three batter in the inning. He recorded one strikeout and maintained his perfect 0.00 ERA through four innings of work this season.


Dodgers pitcher Mike Bolsinger strikes out eight in win on Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:27 am ET) Dodgers pitcher Mike Bolsinger threw eight scoreless innings on Saturday in Los Angeles' 2-0 win over the Padres. Bolsinger allowed just one hit, a leadoff single in the first inning, with no walks and eight strikeouts in his outing.

He did not allow a runner to advance past second base throughout his start. Bolsinger, now 3-0, lowered his ERA to 0.71 in 25 1/3 innings of work. He has allowed just two runs over his first four starts with 22 strikeouts and six walks.

Bolsinger will look to keep things rolling Friday against the Cardinals.


Padres SP Ian Kennedy takes tough loss on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:27 am ET) Padres starter Ian Kennedy picked up a tough-luck loss on Saturday against the Dodgers. Kennedy went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He struck out six and did not walk a batter. He threw 110 pitches, 77 for strikes as the Padres lost 2-0.

Kennedy (2-4) put himself in an early hole, serving up a lead-off home run to Joc Pederson in the first inning. Kennedy allowed another run on an RBI double in the sixth, which would be all the damage against him.

The right-hander still holds an ugly 6.11 ERA through seven starts. He'll look to build off this strong start when he takes the mound again Thursday against the Pirates.


Padres LF Justin Upton ejected from game on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:24 am ET) Padres left fielder Justin Upton was ejected in the top of the eighth inning of Saturday's game against the Dodgers. Upton, who went 0 for 3 in the game, had been called out on strikes to lead off the inning. He and home plate umpire Clint Fagan exchanged words after Upton returned to the dugout, and Fagan tossed Upton out moments later.


Cubs closer Hector Rondon is learning from his mistakes
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5/23/2015) Cubs closer Hector Rondon blew a save Friday night in Arizona, his third blown save of the season. The right-hander served up a game-tying two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the 10th inning in the eventual 5-3 Diamondbacks win.

But Rondon, who is in the third season of his career, knows where he went wrong.

"I need better location," Rondon said Saturday, per MLB.com. "I know that pitch ran up a little to the middle [to Goldschmidt]. I think that's why we lost the game yesterday, those pitches."

Manager Joe Maddon has expressed faith in his 27-year-old closer, and a change does not seem to be in the cards, at least for now. 

"He knows what he did wrong," said Maddon. "I'll say [to him], 'Hey, listen, everything's cool. I still have a lot of trust and support.' It's one of those things that happens in our game."

Rondon has blown two of his last three save opportunities.


 
 
 
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