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Getting a 'handle' on the future

Senior Fantasy Writer
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One of the perks of being a Senior Fantasy Writer here at CBSSports.com is access to the CBS Wormhole.

It's the reason, I've come to learn, that we're based in Fort Lauderdale: proximity to the Wormhole. And the beach. In the interest of sharing, I copied and pasted the Twitter conversations I had with Wormhole-aided alternate future versions of myself from Thursday night. Hopefully, this glimpse into the future can help readers with your own burning Fantasy questions.

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@nandocbs: Hey buddy, what's happening there this fine September afternoon?
@futurenandocbs: Bryan LaHair's 30th home run this season makes it an even 15-15 split bw 1st base and OF.
@nandocbs: What? What's that mean?
@futurenandocbs: LaHair was pushed to the outfield when Anthony Rizzo came up in June to play first base. He had hit 15 home runs and was batting .281 at that point.
@futurenandocbs: ... we called him "Fantasy's most pleasant surprise" and worried that it was too good to be true.
@nandocbs: Really? My only reservation with him today is that his minor league power might have been inflated by playing in the PCL.
@futurenandocbs: We were fooled before.
@nandocbs: Yeah we were. Sean Rodriguez, Jeff Mathis, Brandon Wood. It was mainly Angels prospects, now that I think about it.
@futurenandocbs: Arencibia got it done, though. He hit 23 homers last year after flexing power in Vegas for two minor league seasons. That wasn't all PCL inflation.
@nandocbs: Yeah, that's true. How's he doing, by the way?
@futurenandocbs: Solid. The average is .251, which is about 30 points higher than last year, and he has 21 homers.
@nandocbs: Huzzah for him!
@futurenandocbs: Indeed. Anything else you'd like to know before this portal closes?
@nandocbs: Yeah. How's Lorenzo Cain doing?
@futurenandocbs: Ah man. He's been up and down. 12 home runs, but a .272 average. He's got 19 steals. He hasn't been bad, but… I think 2013 might be the year he breaks out. People may have jumped on him too soon.
@nandocbs: So it's kind of like Curtis Granderson's first full year? Or maybe Dustin Pedroia?
@futurenandocbs: Exactly. They can't all be Longoria from the get-go.
@nandocbs: How about Tim Lincecum? How's he doing?
@futurenandocbs: Why? Did something happen?
@nandocbs: He got blown out his first two starts!
@futurenandocbs: Holy crap, I totally forgot about that. Yeah, he's great. 2.72 ERA, Strikeout per inning. His hair goes down to the middle of his back now.
@nandodifino: Did Jason Bay ever make a comeback?
@bobmosesian: Hey @nandocbs @futurenandocbs Gamel or Shelley Duncan? 12 team H2H, really weird scoring.
@nandocbs: @futurenandocbs @bobmosesian Dude, later!
@nandocbs: @futurenandocbs @bobmosesian But I still say Shelly Duncan, even with the Johnny Damon signing.
@futurenandocbs: Oh man. That Damon thing ended up being a mess.
@nandocbs: What??
@nandocbs: Yo.
@nandocbs: You there?
@multiversenandocbs: Oh hey.
@nandocbs: What happened?
@multiversenandocbs: I'm assuming some rules of the universe prevented future you from revealing what happened with Johnny Damon to present-day you.
@nandocbs: I don't understand this at all.
@multiversenandocbs: Neither do I. But I can tell you what happens in the many Johnny Damon scenarios that play out across several universes, which exist simultaneously, but on different planes of
@multiversenandocbs: ... existence.
@nandocbs: Yes, please! I have no idea how this one's going to play out.
@multiversenandocbs: Well, in one universe, Damon plays left and just takes time away from Shelley Duncan, who is relegated to occasional starts and platoons, despite him starting the season with a .294 average and .900-plus OPS.
@multiversenandocbs: In another, Damon actually plays first base. Casey Kotchman's value drops. Shelley Duncan clubs 40 home runs on the season, and Grady Sizemore doesn't return until late July.
@multiversenandocbs: In a third universe, Damon suffers a hamstring injury while playing for the Columbus Clippers. He decides to hold off until 2013 to attempt another comeback.
@multiversenandocbs: In a fourth, Duncan hits a ton of home runs while Damon plays into shape in the minors, forcing Cleveland to keep Duncan in the lineup, moving him between the outfield, first base, and DH when Damon joins the team.
@multiversenandocbs: In yet another universe, Damon is beaned in a minor league game by a similarly-misguided comebacking Andy Pettitte. The pitch itself doesn't do damage, but Damon charges the mound and accidentally kills Pettitte. He's jailed for 16 months.
@multiversenandocbs: In a fifth universe, Damon plays left while Duncan takes over for an injured Travis Hafner at DH. When Hafner comes back, Damon moves to RF to take over for an injured Brantley, with Duncan in left.
@nandocbs: Wait. I'm already exhausted.
@multiversenandocbs: Imagine trying to keep all these scenarios straight. Is there one you liked best?
@nandocbs: Not especially. I like Duncan not having Damon messing with is playing time. Or his head. I had him pegged as a Carlos Quentin/Mike Morse just-needs-the-playing-time breakout.
@multiversenandocbs: There actually is one universe where Shelley Duncan literally becomes Carlos Quentin. But you ... don't want to hear about that one.
@nandocbs: Does this same thing play out with every player? Like Daniel Bard?
@multiversenandocbs: Actually, he's a starter all year long in every universe I've seen.
@nandocbs: Really?
@multiversenandocbs: Yeah, even the weird ones where the Rapture has already happened.
@nandocbs: Is he any good?
@multiversenandocbs: Bard? 3.53 ERA, lots of strikeouts, 14 wins. Every universe. I'm not sure why everyone is questioning Boston's decision here. It's pretty hard to find a starter of his caliber.
@nandocbs: Speaking of that, is he better than Chris Sale?
@nandocbs: Hello?
@nandocbs: Dude?!!
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: Hey man. You must've done something with that Sale/Bard question.
@nandocbs: Who are you?
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: I'm you. Or am I?
@nandocbs: Do you know anything about Sale and Bard?
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: Yeah, they could both have really good years. But who knows how they'll adjust to starting roles, what that might do to their arms, if they'll run out of steam later.
@nandocbs: So I shouldn't start either of them?
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: You know, they could both be great. I can see both sides here.
@nandocbs: Great. How about Luke Hochevar?
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: Ah, that guy. He was a first round draft pick two times! He has some talent. 3.52 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in the second half last year. He held batters to a .222 average.
@nandocbs: Maybe I'll grab him.
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: Yeah, but who knows if he can put it together this year. The man has a career 5.26 ERA in 592 innings pitched.
@nandocbs: Is there anything you're sure about?
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: Aroldis Chapman is nasty. He has value no matter where you put him. He has as many strikeouts as Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum (10), he's tied for the MLB lead in wins (2). And he's pitched just five innings.
@nandocbs: I've got him in pretty much every one of my leagues.
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: Yeah. He might start later this year if Bray or Masset are ready. I could totally see him closing, too, though.
@nandocbs: I hate you.
@alittletoointensenandocbs: I hate him too.
@nandocbs: Who are you?
@alittletoointensenandocbs: Does it matter? How about you get off Twitter and go pick up Adam Dunn right now? I'll wait.
@nandocbs: Why?
@alittletoointensenandocbs: How many 40-plus homer seasons did he have in a row before last year? You know how hard it is to go from playing in the field to just DH?
@nandocbs: Hard?
@alittletoointensenandocbs: You just sit there and get cold on the bench while everyone else runs around and stays active and engaged. It's weird. It takes time to adjust. Maybe not a whole season, but ...
@alittletoointensenandocbs: ...now he's got that season and experience under his belt. He knows how to approach it in 2012.
@nandocbs: Alright. I'll see if he's a free agent. Anyone else?
@alittletoointensenandocbs: IMMEDIATELY pick up Erik Bedard. He gets a low WHIP and lots of strikeouts. And I'm shouting WHIP, not just capitalizing it.
@nandocbs: But he gets hurt a lot ...
@alittletoointensenandocbs: So what?!! Is he hurt now? No. Will he be hurt in the next two months while he pitches brilliantly in the National League with a pitching coach who brought the Pirates' ERA down a run from 2010 to 2011? No. You want to keep arguing, or just want to pick him up?
@nandocbs: Okay. I'll see what I can do.
@alittletoointensenandocbs: Yeah you will.
@nandocbs: Anyone else want to offer some advice before I sign off?
@obsessedwithtommyhunternandocbs: I know he was mentioned in Tuesday's column, but Tommy Hunter could be a strong starter this year with Baltimore. Sub-4.00 ERA over the last three years. Great control!
@conspiracytheoristnandocbs: Don't trust Jorge Sedano.
@bandwagonjumpingbuthopingyouwontnoticenandocbs: I'm pretty sure I told you to look out for Josh Willingham a couple weeks ago, right? Remember I told you he had some power potential?
@angrycommenternandocbs: Everything you do sucks. I can do this for cheaper than you. Prince Fielder will hit 17 homers this year.
@thinksheknowsasecretbutreallydoesntnandocbs: Josh Donaldson has catcher eligibility but is starting at third for the A's. Could be a sly add.
@insultsreadersintelligencenandocbs: Mixed leaguers might want to consider this Toronto youngster named Brett Lawrie as a buy-low target. He reminds me of Ryan Braun!
@intentionallythrowingoffcompetitorsnandocbs: I think Alex Presley can hit 30 homers this year.
@bethisfriendhecouldmentionhiminacolumnnandocbs: Good luck getting married this weekend, Mike Cummings!
@moreinterestedinfantasyfootballnandocbs: Fantasy baseball requires way too much effort dude.
@rewardspeopleforreadingthisfarnandocbs: Drew Smyly threw 90 pitches in four innings. He's got two starts next week, and I bet he pitches a lot more efficiently. He's definitely worth AL-only consideration. Watch him in mixed leagues. Only owned in 14 percent of leagues.
@lovespredictingclosersnandocbs: Kevin Gregg and Jon Rauch always seem to find their way into saves every year. It's just something to consider if you're fruitlessly speculating on closers in deeper leagues.
@futurenandocbs: I totally forgot to tell you. Buddy Roemer wins the presidential election.
@nandocbs: OK, enough! I'm signing off for the night. But Bryan LaHair... Nice.

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 view Chris Withrow as potential future closer
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:53 am ET) As Chris Withrow continues to recover from Tommy John surgery, the Braves can only think about the long-term potential he can bring to their bullpen after picking him up in a trade with the Dodgers on Wednmesday. 

"We feel like he has a chance to pitch real late in games," Braves assistant general manager John Coppolella said, per MLB.com. "He has the stuff where at some point he could close. It's a really good arm."

The 2007 first-round pick (20th) has been a pretty strong reliever in his MLB career. He is 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 46 career appearances. He is striking out 11.4 batters per nine innings. Although, he also has some control issues, as he has walked 5.0 batters per nine innings.

Withrow's fastball ranges from 93-98 mph and he has a plus-plus slider.


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by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:32 am ET) White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia did not return to the starting lineup for the first game of Thursday's doubleheader against the Blue Jays, missing a third straight start due to a knee injury.

Garcia has started just twice in the last seven games due to right knee inflammation.


Cubs' Maddon defends Starlin Castro following two-error game
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:07 am ET) Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro heard the boos from the home crowd during Wednesday's 3-0 loss against the Nationals as he committed two more errors, giving him 11 on the season.

Castro has had his defensive struggles throughout his career. However, first-year manager Joe Maddon came to Castro's defense following his two-error game.

"He’s done a lot of good things,” Maddon said, per CSNChicago.com. “I would say the problem mostly with him has been the routine play more than anything else. And I really believe that you can get a major-league caliber infielder to make the routine play. And he’s been doing that for awhile. He’s had a couple of mistakes -- I don’t disagree. But for the most part, I’ve been fine with him at shortstop."


White Sox add RP Daniel Webb to roster for doubleheader
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:55 am ET) The White Sox recalled reliever Daniel Webb prior to Thursday's doubleheader against the Orioles. Webb will serve as the 26th man on the roster and be optioned back to the minors after Thursday's doubleheader.

Webb went 6-5 with a 3.99 ERA in 57 relief appearances in 2014.


Braves SP Alex Wood confident he is past early-season struggles
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:48 am ET) Braves starting pitcher Alex Wood is confident his early-season struggles are behind him. Following Wednesday's win against the Dodgers, the lefty has won his last two starts and has a 2.88 ERA in four May starts.

"It's been a number of things," Wood said, per MLB.com. "The best comparison I can give is just putting the pieces of a puzzle together. You know it's going to click. It's a matter of when and putting those right parts in place. After tonight and [my recent side sessions], I feel like it's really starting to click.

Wood returned to the mound Wednesday after a 10-day layoff due to a stomach virus. He allowed one run on seven hits and two walks, while striking out six in seven innings.

"I'll be honest. I was nervous after not throwing for 10 days and being as sick as I was," Wood said. "It was kind of one of those things where before the game you tell yourself, 'I wonder what is going to happen tonight?'"


Orioles recall Tyler Wilson to start first game of doubleheader
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:36 am ET) The Orioles recalled pitcher Tyler Wilson from Triple-A Norfolk to start the first game of Thursday's doubleheader against the White Sox. Wilson is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two relief appearances for Baltimore this season.

Wilson is 2-4 with a 3.29 ERA in eight starts this season for Norfolk. He has 32 strikeouts and seven walks in 41 innings.


Rays activate Ryan Brett off DL, option him to Triple-A
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:32 am ET) Rays infielder Ryan Brett was activated from the 15-day disabled list Thursday and optioned to Triple-A Durham, where he was on a rehab assignment. Brett had been sidelined since late April due to a left shoulder subluxation.

Red Sox's Cherington: David Ortiz likely to get day off Thursday
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(9:28 am ET) Red Sox DH David Ortiz will likely be held out of the starting lineup Thursday against the Rangers to rest, general manager Ben Cherington told MLB Network Radio. If Ortiz is off Thursday, it will be the sixth time in 48 games he has been held out of the starting lineup.

The veteran slugger continues to struggle offensively. He is mired in a 1-for-20 slump in his last five games and is batting just .171 in his last 18 games, dropping his average from .250 to .216.

Ortiz also has just six home runs and a .377 slugging percentage on the season.


Dodgers' Friedman on Juan Jaime: 'He can really miss bats'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:46 am ET) Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman spoke Wednesday about pitcher Juan Jaime, who was acquired from the Braves along with three others players in a six-man deal earlier in the day and assigned to extended spring training, MLB.com reports.

"He can really miss bats," Friedman said. "The limiting factor with him is the control. So we'll send him to Camelback and really attack the problem. If he can harness that even a little bit, we feel like we've added a really good player."

Jaime has posted a 5.93 ERA and 19:13 K:BB ratio in 13 2/3 innings with the Braves over two seasons. He has also walked nine batters in 5 1/3 innings in the minors this season after dishing out 36 walks in 41 innings with Triple-A Gwinnett in 2014.


Angels' Collin Cowgill likely headed to disabled list Thursday
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(1:39 am ET) Angels outfielder Collin Cowgill is expected to be placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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