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Setting the Trends: Free agent bargain hunting

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Francisco Liriano is currently owned in 54 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. He is started in just 15 percent. He has an ERA of 11.02, with a 2.33 WHIP. He's not good. At least, not right now.

Way back in 2011, there was another pitcher, Javier Vazquez, who carried a miserable 6.39 ERA into May. At the All- Star Break, he had dropped his ERA to, for him, a relatively-low 5.23. And then something clicked. Vazquez became a monster in the second half of the year, posting a 2.15 ERA and 0.86 WHIP. He struck out a batter per inning. He walked just three in 38 September innings.

Most Owned Minor Leaguers (as of 5/1)
Player % owned
1. Trevor Bauer, SP, D-Backs 47
2. Jair Jurrjens, SP, Braves 40
3. Andy Pettitte, SP, Yankees 38
4. Julio Teheran, SP, Braves 27
5. Shelby Miller, SP, Cardinals 27
6. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs 26
7. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies 24
8. Brett Jackson, OF, Cubs 19
9. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Indians 17
10. Danny Hultzen, SP, Mariners 17

Nothing but some kind of feeling that he would turn it around kept him on Fantasy rosters before the turnaround. And that turnaround came slowly: First, there was a start on June 21, where he didn't allow an earned run in 5 1/3 innings pitched. The very next game, he went seven innings without allowing an earned run. Two starts later, he struck out 10 batters in seven innings. He'd hit double-digit strikeouts two more times before the year was over. And his numbers led plenty of teams to Fantasy glory, just for either having faith in a pitcher who had been brilliant (albeit, with some pretty bad mixed in) in the past, or for jumping on the bandwagon when they saw him rise on the Most Added lists.

Sometimes it doesn't matter how you get there, just that you got there. This isn't meant to be a stirring defense of Francisco Liriano, but I'd monitor him closely -- read the local papers, follow the Twins beat writers on Twitter -- because if he figures out whatever it is he's doing wrong, he'll likely be blazing back up the Most Added lists (he began the season owned in 93 percent of leagues) before long. And Liriano, like Vazquez, can carry a team on his back when he's on.

For now, though, we present the current movers in CBSSports.com Roster Trends ...

Most added highlights

Less than 50, more than 50
Players owned in less than 50% of leagues who should be owned in more than 50%
Player % owned
1. Geovany Soto, C, Cubs 49
2. Scott Downs, RP, Angels 49
3. Stephen Drew, SS, D-Backs 45
4. Felix Doubront, SP, Red Sox 35
5. Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Orioles 32

Scott Downs, RP, Angels
Jump in ownership: 44 percent (from five percent to 49)
Reason for the jump: He's the possibly-temporary/possibly-more-than-temporary closer for the Angels
Why you should join the crowd: There's a fairly long history of "temporary" closer moves that end up being more permanent than we're led to believe. It usually plays out with the demoted closer revealing he has been injured, followed by a stint on the DL, which turns into a longer stint on the DL, all while the temporary closer pitches brilliantly and secures the job. This doesn't look to be the case here, as Angels manager Mike Scioscia said that Jordan Walden needed to work on "repeating a pitch" and "being able to get a breaking ball that's consistent." He also managed to be very vague in not giving an actual timetable on how long Walden might in the middle relief role. Downs isn't exactly a stranger to the closer's role: he has 18 career saves, the most coming with Toronto in 2009, when he successfully converted nine saves.
Devil's Advocate: It really could just be a temporary move for Walden.

Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros
Jump in ownership: 41 percent (from 48 percent to 89)
Reason for the jump: Of his last seven games, five have been multi-hit.
Why you should join the crowd: Altuve came up last year and hit a forgettable .276, with two home runs in 221 at-bats. He also stole seven bases. It wasn't a debut that caught the attention of numerous owners. This resulted in a 286 ADP for 2012. But Altuve has been scorching hot so far this year, posting a .361 average through Tuesday morning, with four steals and one home run. And a look at his minor league numbers show that this isn't a fluke; over 382 games, Altuve amassed a .327 average. The only season in the minors in which he hit lower than .300 was in 2008, when an 18 year-old Altuve batted .284. He also flashed some power with 10 home runs in 2011 and 15 in 2010. In 2011, his OPS was 1.017. And the speed seems to be legit, as well -- Altuve stole 42 bases in 2010, and 24 in 357 minor league at-bats last year.
Devil's Advocate: Altuve did skip Triple-A entirely, so there's always a chance that major league pitchers discover a way to get him out consistently at the higher levels. But that's a bit of a stretch.

Chris Davis, 1B/3B, Orioles
Jump in ownership: 27 percent (from 38 percent to 65)
Reason for the jump: Three home runs in the last six games.
Why you should join the crowd: Davis isn't exactly an unknown to owners; he hit 21 home runs in 391 at-bats with the Rangers in 2009 before slowly sliding into a rut/the minors and being traded to Baltimore late last season. But Davis has been stellar so far in 2012, batting .310 with four home runs and 12 RBI. He has never had 400 at-bats in a season, and his minor league numbers are great: a .318 average in 472 games with a .971 OPS. He has hit more than 20 home runs in three separate minor league seasons and those totals would likely be higher if not for his call-ups to Texas. On top of it all, Davis can be slotted at either first or third base in pretty much every league.
Devil's Advocate: We've been tantalized by Davis' possibly-realized potential before only to see him slide back, hit around .230, and be sent to the minors. With Wilson Betemit and the slumping Nick Johnson able to play first base, there's no guarantee Davis will be given too long of a leash if he hits a prolonged slump.

Tony Campana, OF, Cubs
Jump in ownership: 17 percent (from three percent to 20)
Reason for the jump: He's running wild on the basepaths.
Why you should join the crowd: After Marlon Byrd's trade to Boston, Campana became the De facto starting center fielder for the Cubs. He's currently batting .370 with seven steals in just 27 at-bats on the season. Last year, in a late-season stint with the Cubs, Campana stole 24 bases in 143 at-bats -- a rate better than even Dee Gordon's. He has seasons of 66 and 48 steals in the minor leagues with a career .303 average over five seasons.
Devil's Advocate: Campana also has a total of one home run in the minors and has a minor league track record eerily similar to Joey Gathright, who never caught on in the major leagues but had stellar minor league numbers. Complicating matters is the eventual call-up of Brett Jackson, Chicago's presumed center fielder of the future, which will likely mean a decreased amount of playing time for Campana.

David Phelps, SP, Yankees
Jump in ownership: Nine percent (from two percent to 11)
Reason for the jump: He will start on Thursday for the Yankees.
Why you should join the crowd: You'd likely be ahead of the crowd on this one. While Phelps has been a solid member of the Yankees' bullpen so far this year, his name may elicit a bunch of "who?"s from even Yankees fans. With Freddy Garcia struggling, Phelps, who started in 86 of his 87 minor league appearances, has been moved into the rotation. He doesn't have the exciting "top prospect" status of a Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, but he does have some really impressive minor league numbers: a 2.61 career minor league ERA, and a 1.18 career WHIP. He doesn't get a ton of strikeouts, but he's probably good for five or six in his seven-inning starts.
Devil's Advocate: The Yankees still have Andy Pettitte looking to take someone's spot in the rotation and if Phelps stumbles in his role as a starter, he could be moved back to the bullpen.

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
Rockies' Nolan Arenado doesn't think wrist injury is serious
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:46 am ET) Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado thinks he'll be able to return to the diamond for Tuesday night's game against the Padres. 

According to The Denver Post, Arenado said he started feeling soreness in his wrist just before his final at-bat against the Dodgers on Sunday. That carried over to Monday, which is why he was a late scratch in the lineup. 

“This is nothing chronic, just some soreness,” he said. “I’ve never had this before. I think I’ll be fine.”

Arenado is hitting .311 with three home runs and 10 BRI. 


Rockies' Corey Dickerson has plantar fasciitis
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:41 am ET) Rockies manager Walt Weiss said that outfielder Corey Dickerson is dealing with a case of plantar fasciitis in his foot, according to The Denver Post

Weiss didn't specify which foot the ailment is in. Weiss also described the issue as "mild" but acknowledged it has the chance to be problematic. 

Dickerson went 0 for 2 with a strikeout in Monday's 14-3 loss to the Padres. Dickerson did not finish the game as Drew Stubbs replaced him during it. 


Rockies C Nick Hundley records 2 hits in loss to Padres
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) Rockies catcher Nick Hundley went 2 for 3 and drew a walk in Monday night's 14-3 loss to the Padres. 

Hundley hit two singles and didn't post any RBI. He now holds a slash line of .289/.341/.342. Hundley was able to record his two hits after going without one in his past two appearances. 


Protective headgear provides peace of mind to Astros' Collin McHugh
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:24 am ET) Although Astros pitcher Collin McHugh has never been hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of an opposing hitter, he said the protective pad he wears inside his hat helps ease his mind, reports MLB.com.

"It covers that spot [that's exposed] when you rotate," McHugh said. "It's hard to get the glove back up there, and the vast majority of injuries happen on that side. Hopefully, I'll never have to see if it works or not. I think it's a great product and something I'll probably never stop wearing."

Despite never being hit in the head, McHugh said it's nice having some form of protection on his head.

"You try not to think about it," he said. "Having something in place just in case is a nice little reassurance. If you get hit in the head, it's never going to be a pleasant experience. If it's the difference in going to the hospital or not, I'll take my chances [and use the pad]."


Padres C Derek Norris hits two doubles in win
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:23 am ET) Padres catcher Derek Norris recorded three hits in five at-bats during Monday night's 14-3 win over the Rockies. 

Norris hit two doubles and a single in the game. He now has five doubles so far this season. Norris notched one RBI and struck out once. He's now batting a slash line of .314/.340/.412.


Padres OF Matt Kemp gets 3 hits in win
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:21 am ET) Padres outfielder Matt Kemp went 3 for 4 in Monday night's 14-3 blowout win over the Rockies. 

Kemp hit a double, his fourth of the season, and two singles. He also crossed home plate three times during the game. He totaled four RBI as well. Kemp now has 13 RBI for the season. 

Kemp is now batting .368/.393/.561. 


Padres OF Will Venable hits home run in win over Rockies
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:18 am ET) Padres outfielder Will Venable hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning of Monday's 14-3 win over the Rockies. 

The homer is Venable's second of the season. With the Padres scoring nine runs in the first two innings, Venable came off the bench and entered the game in the fourth inning. He finished the game 1 of 2. 

Venable now has a slash line of .267/.267/.667. 


Cubs promote infielder Addison Russell
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:09 am ET) The Cubs are calling up shortstop Addison Russell , sources told CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Russell was recently moved to second base at Triple-A to help provide the Cubs with more infield depth at second. He is batting .314 with one home run and seven RBI at Triple-A.

The team is expected to demote Arismendy Alcantara, who is batting .077, reports MLB.com.


Padres P Odrisamer Despaigne strikes out 5 in win
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:04 am ET) Padres pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne allowed two earned runs in Monday night's 14-3 win over the Rockies. 

Despaigne had plenty of run support early, with the Padres scoring nine of their 14 runs in the first two innings. Despaigne gave up both of his runs in the fourth inning. He struck out five batters and walked two. He allowed six hits in 6 2/3 innings. 

Despaigne is now 2-0 this season in three starts and holds a 1.47 ERA. 


Rockies P Jorge De La Rosa rocked in loss to Padres
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/20/2015) Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa's season debut went about as poorly as possible. 

On Monday, De La Rosa allowed nine runs — eight earned — against the Padres in a 14-3 loss. De La Rosa was absent to start the season due to a groin injury. He was only able to go two innings against San Diego. 

He struck out three batters and walked one. De La Rosa's ERA following his first game of the year is now 36.00. 

De La Rosa's next projected start is on Saturday against the Giants. 


 
 
 
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