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Don't wait until it's too late!

Senior Fantasy Writer
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There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball. Each team has a 40-man roster, with a handful of players on the 60-day DL. In addition, there are hundreds of players in the minor league system not on the 40-man rosters. And then there are the Johnny Damons of the world, banging on the doors to be allowed back in.

So, add it all up, and you're talking a solid 1,600 players floating around with at least a smidgen of a claim for relevance. Granted, that list is whittled down to about 750 truly-relevant major league players on any given day, and, in a 12-team Fantasy league, you'll likely have to know about half that number.

Which means there's plenty of room for gaps.

Every year, there are a handful of players who make a big splash during the season and have people running to Google or Wikipedia, trying to get some information on these guys who seemingly came out of nowhere. The list includes players like former Mexican Leaguer Joakim Soria, Japanese star Kei Igawa, and inspiration for the heartwarming movie, The Rookie, Jim Morris.

This year, in just two weeks of action, we already have a few new members of the group, including the following three: an under-the-radar pitcher brought over from Japan, a slugger who had toiled in the minors for the last nine seasons and a young fireballer who turned a stellar spring training into a spot on one of this year's hottest teams.

Bryan LaHair, OF/1B, Cubs
Why You Don't Know His Name: LaHair toiled in the minor leagues from 2003 to 2011 -- with occasional, short-lived big-league stints in Seattle and with the Cubs -- putting up a .295 batting average in 3624 at-bats.
Why You Should: In 2011, his 38 home runs earned him Pacific Coast League MVP honors. So far this season, he is hitting .360, with two home runs -- a grand slam and a shot that went out of Wrigley Field, onto Sheffield Ave.
Is He Worth A Spot On My Team?: Yes. Part of being successful in Fantasy is getting the breakouts before they break out. Time is running out to snatch LaHair. The 29 year-old Worcester, Mass., native was an unpopular pick in drafts this season because many would-be owners feared him being either a quadruple-A player (success in the minors, but just can't hit at the major league level), or eventually being pushed out by prospect Anthony Rizzo, who was acquired in a trade with the Padres by a front office that had initially drafted him while they were running the Red Sox. But LaHair has proven that he has real power and can hit for average. After entering his first game as a pinch hitter on April 7 -- he had been sidelined with back issues -- LaHair has strung together an eight-game streak of reaching base safely. His OPS, as of Wednesday morning, is 1.128, and, just as a nice cherry on top, he's good for a few steals as well.

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Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Orioles
Why You Don't Know His Name: With all the hype surrounding Yu Darvish and his move from Japan to MLB, Chen, 26, quietly signed with the Orioles in the offseason.
Why You Should: Chen managed a 2.48 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over 88 starts in the Central League, according to Baseball Reference. In 2009, over 164 innings pitched, his ERA was 1.54. But while pitchers like Darvish, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and even Igawa came to America with a good deal of fanfare over their gaudy strikeout totals, Chen is more of a Mark Buehrle-type, sporting lower strikeout numbers, but impressively lower ratios.
Is He Worth A Spot On My Team?: In deeper leagues and some scoring leagues, he is. Chen won't post the sexiest of statistics, but his numbers from Japan indicate that he won't rely on the strikeout to get batters out. So far this season, Chen has done pretty much the opposite of this, striking out 10 batters in 11 innings, with a 1.46 WHIP (and a relatively low-for-the-WHIP 3.27 ERA).

Drew Smyly, SP, Tigers
Why You Don't Know His Name: He's played one year of professional baseball.
Why You Should: During that one year, he had a 2.07 ERA and 1.103 WHIP across two levels in the Tigers organization. He struck out 130 batters in 126 innings.
Is He Worth A Spot On My Team?: Eventually, he'll be relevant in all mixed leagues. For now, though, he's a stellar option in Al-only leagues, all keeper leagues, and can help a squad in 14 or 12-team leagues. I'm not just using Smyly as an example to kill some space in a column; I have him in several of my own leagues, and am reaping the rewards. He's not exactly Justin Verlander, who had a 1.29 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in his one season in the minors, but he's off to a great start so far this season with a 0.90 ERA and eight strikeouts.

A future question you might find yourself asking ...

Who is Matt Maloney?

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If Francisco Liriano's troubles turn out to be the result of an injury (keep in mind he said earlier this spring that he pitched through shoulder pain last year), very deep leaguers may be seeing Matt Maloney's name pop up as a possible replacement in the rotation.

Maloney, 28, has a 4.91 ERA and 0.95 WHIP so far this season for the Twins in a long relief role. When Scott Baker and Jason Marquis were both absent in spring training, it was Maloney who was briefly stretched out as a possible replacement. Maloney posted a 1.17 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in spring training, for what that's worth, and had a successful minor league career, posting a 3.27 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over almost 900 innings in the Cincinnati system (he was traded to Minnesota this winter).

Maloney hasn't met much success in the majors, with a 5.36 career ERA. But, if you just isolate the games in which he's pitched four or more innings -- he has 11 starts in his career -- he has a 4.15 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. And if you dismiss his first three career starts, from June 2009, his ERA is 3.26, with a 1.16 WHIP.

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
Astros' Lance McCullers doesn't last five IP in no-decision
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:37 am ET) Astros starter Lance McCullers lasted just 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision against Chicago on Friday. 

McCullers allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits. He walked two batters and struck out seven.

McCullers' next start is Wednesday, against Baltimore. 


Pirates SP Francisco Liriano strikes out 11; gets no-decision Friday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:36 am ET) Pirates starter Francisco Liriano was solid in a no-decision on Friday against the Padres. The veteran left-hander tossed six shutout innings, allowing just three hits and no walks. He struck out 11, as the Pirates fell 6-2 to the Padres.

The 11 punchouts give Liriano 41 over his last five starts, and the scoreless outing drops his ERA to 3.47. His next start is scheduled for Wednesday in San Francisco. 


Shaky White Sox defense leaves Carlos Rodon with no-decision
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:35 am ET) Carlos Rodon took a hard-luck no-decision on Friday, against Houston, after two White Sox errors and a passed ball produced two unearned runs. 

Rodon allowed just one earned run in 6 1/3 innings. He allowed eight hits, didn't walk a batter, and struck out four. 

Rodon's next start is Thursday, at Texas. 


Padres C Derek Norris blasts walk-off grand slam on Friday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:33 am ET) Padres catcher Derek Norris was the hero on Friday night. With the score tied 2-2, Norris launched a game-winning, walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth off reliever Rob Scahill to give the Padres a 5-2 win over the Pirates. 

The home run, Norris' fourth of the season, was his only hit of the game. But, of course, it was the only hit in the game that really mattered. 

Norris has now hit safely in five of his last eight contests, as he continues to swing a productive bat in 2015. 


Yankees' Alex Rodriguez extends streak to 13
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:32 am ET) Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez hit a ninth-inning single in Friday's loss to Oakland, to extend his hitting streak to 13 straight games. 

Rodriguez was 1 for 4 on the day. 


Brian McCann homers in Yankees' loss
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:29 am ET) Yankees catcher Brian McCann hit a solo home run in Friday's loss to Oakland. 

McCann went 1 for 4. The homer was his eighth of the year and produced his 32nd RBI. 


Stephen Vogt gets two hits, RBI in Athletics' win
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:28 am ET) Athletics first baseman Stephen Vogt went 2 for 3 with a walk in Friday's win over the Yankees. 

Vogt scored once and drove in a run, his 35th. He also added his sixth double of the year. 


Brett Lawrie goes deep in Athletics' win
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:26 am ET) Athletics third baseman Brett Lawrie hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning of Friday's win over the Yankees. 

Lawrie went 1 for 4 and hit his fourth homer of the year, driving in runs 19 and 20. 


Chris Capuano drops to 0-3 in Yankees' loss
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:25 am ET) Yankees starter Chris Capuano remained winless as he lost to Oakland on Friday for his third defeat of the season. 

Capuano gave up four runs, three earned, on six hits over 5 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out four. 

Capuano's next start is Wednesday, against Seattle. 


Tyler Clippard earns one-out save for Athletics
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:22 am ET) Athletics closer Tyler Clippard threw three pitches to earn his sixth save of the year in Friday's win over the Yankees. 

Clippard entered the 6-2 game with two runners on and two outs in the ninth inning. He induced a game-ending popout. 


 
 
 
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