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Treating Fantasy like the game it is

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Welcome back, everyone, to your favorite game show: Unnecessary Game Show Themed Column! Today, we have our 12-time defending champion, Sheila, facing you, the Reader. It's very meta, which adds to the fun. Sheila, it says here you own a bakery in Schenectady, New York.

"That's right, Jack. And muffin's going to hold me back from winning this show!" [crowd groans]

Sheila, your puns are insufferable. But let's move on. As you know, this show takes pretty much every game you've ever known, steals their formats, and mashes it all together into one fun time. Today's topic: Fantasy Baseball. Sheila, you look surprised.

"I...er...don't know much about that topic."

Such is life. Onwards and upwards! Let's get to the game!

"I'll take 'Who Am I' for 200 points."

I am a rookie pitcher who played in Japan for five seasons before joining an American League team. I currently have a 3-0 record with a 2.68 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 28 strikeouts in 37 innings. Who am I?

"I know this! Yu Darvish!"

Sorry, Sheila, that is wrong. Reader?

Wei-Yin Chen?

That's correct! Chen spent five years in Japan's Pacific League, never having an ERA above 3.00. And 100 bonus points to Reader if you can guess his ERA in 2009.

1.54?

Correct again! Impressive in any league! For an additional 500 points, Reader, can you tell me how many leagues Chen is owned in?

34 percent?

Right again! This is exciting. Chen's ERA is slightly higher than Darvish's 2.54, but his WHIP is markedly lower than Darvish's 1.46. Darvish almost doubles up Chen's strikeout total and has more wins, but Chen has flown under the radar, making him a far better Fantasy option than some players owned in more leagues: Francisco Liriano (40 percent), Bronson Arroyo (41), Phil Hughes (41), Clay Buchholz (65) ...

"Wait ... so why are people ignoring him?"

Sheila, I just ask the questions, I don't answer them. But hey, you're up again. Roll those huge styrofoam dice in front of you in a comically inept manner ... and oh! Three and five make eight!

Here's a list of players owned in eight percent of leagues. Tell me which one doesn't belong: Archie Bradley, Matt Adams, Mike Montgomery, Jason Bartlett, Travis Snider.

"Mike Montgomery -- his name is the only one whose first and last names begin with the same letter?"

Judges? Oh, sorry, Sheila. Good guess, but not the answer we were looking for. Reader?

Jason Bartlett is the only player in that group currently in the major leagues.

Correct again! Bartlett's star hasn't shone very brightly in a while, but he has averaged 21 steals over the last three years with a .272 average. This year, however, he has taken a step back, hitting just .135 with no steals. He has been playing rather sporadically, and, with Everth Cabrera hitting .328 and leading the PCL in steals with 14, it could be time for a desperate owner in a deeper league to maybe stash Cabrera on the chance that Bartlett doesn't see the end of May.

"What's an Everth?"

Susan, I can't help you there. But it's your turn to play PLINKO!

"I get to guess prices of household products and then drop discs down a board to win money?"

No. You get to rank these pitchers for the rest of the season: Paulino, Lincecum, Isringhausen, Niese, Kuroda, Ogando.

"Pass."

Reader?

Lincecum, Niese, Kuroda, Paulino, Ogando, Isringhausen

Right you are, Reader. You're giving Lincecum the benefit of the doubt, even in light of whispers about his health and decreased velocity. You're then recognizing Niese's 1.22 WHIP and the fact that he really had just one bad start, against Houston on May 1. Kuroda should eventually return to something close to the pitcher he was in Los Angeles -- in his last three starts, he's quietly begun that turnaround, giving up just five total runs. Paulino can get your team a ton of strikeouts, but he's got an erratic ERA and WHIP history. Ogando has been pitching brilliantly in relief for the Rangers, and there's always a chance he could contribute with an occasional save or possible start at any point. And Isringhausen, although he hasn't gotten into the mix just yet, is always capable of closing a game here or there.

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"Can we maybe mix in some 19th Century Art?"

I'm sorry, Sheila. Not today. But you do get to guess owned and start percentages of some players in our leagues. Ready?

"Maybe...?"

Great. Let's start with Juan Pierre. .340 average, five steals, 12 runs scored in 88 at-bats. Over or under 20 percent?

"Over!"

Oooooh, I'm sorry, Sheila. He's only owned in 17 percent of leagues. And started in just 10. Let's try again. Michael Pineda. No stats. Out for the season with a shoulder injury. Over or under ownership in 30 percent of leagues?

"...under?"

I'm sorry, Sheila, this just isn't your lucky day. Pineda is owned in 34 percent of leagues. The judges tell me they're assuming most of these are keeper leagues.

"What's a keeper league?"

I'm sorry, Sheila, I'm not allowed to tell you that. But let's try to make it a little easier for you. Who is owned in more leagues? Danny Duffy or Andy Pettitte?

"You want me to say the guy with the same letters for first and last name again, so I'm going to say Pettitte."

I'm sorry, Sheil--oh wait. You said Pettitte. You're right. The man who hasn't pitched yet this season for the Yankees -- but will have by this weekend -- is owned in 45 percent of leagues. Duffy, meanwhile, a fellow lefty, is owned in 34 percent of leagues. But while Pettitte and Duffy could conceivably end up with a similar ERA (the judges are saying we have to give the nod to Pettitte for WHIP), Duffy is good for a strikeout per inning, while Pettitte likely won't end up anywhere near that.

I agree.

Reader, I almost forgot about you! It's your turn to select a category.

I like 'Who Am I'...maybe for 600?

I am ranked 12th in the majors with seven steals, even though I've only had 50 at-bats.

Tony Campana?

You are correct, Reader. Campana has more steals than Maicer Izturis, Hanley Ramirez, Elvis Andrus or Alejandro De Aza. For 1000 bonus points, can you name the player tied for 12th with Campana, who has had just 31 at-bats?

Brent Lillibridge?

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Correct again! Although he had six steals in April and hasn't stolen a base since May 4, the White Sox outfielder has as many steals as Campana. Sheila, what percentage of leagues is he owned in, for 2500 points?

"Two?"

Is that a guess?

"I meant to say 'who?'"

Brent Lillibridge.

"...Two?"

You're actually correct, Sheila. Huzzah to you. Let's move to the speed round. Rickie and Jemile Weeks or Rafael and Alfonso Soriano. Which two have more combined ownership percentage?

Rickie and Jemile

You are correct again. Alfonso (48 percent) and Rafael (47) lose to Rickie (96) and Jemile (76). Although those numbers may change if Jemile continues to slump and Rafael works his way into some saves in the Yankees bullpen. Next question: Roy Halladay or Matt Holliday: who has more Fantasy points so far this season?

Halladay?

Yes. But it's closer than you might think. Halladay has 122 points, Holliday has 95 in standard scoring. Bonus question, Reader: Who has more points, Halladay or James Shields?

Shields?

Correct. By one point.

"You guys are nerds."

Thank you, Sheila. You have lost.

"Cupcakes."

Reader, for our final round, you'll be asked a series of questions. For each one you get right, I give you 500 points. Ready?

Yes.

I am fifth in the majors in doubles. Also, I am not Mike Moustakas.

Yonder Alonso

Correct. Alonso has 11 doubles and is hitting .292 for the Padres. He is owned in 44 percent of leagues.

In four minor league seasons, I hit .324 with two-double-digit home run campaigns and three seasons of 24 or more steals. I am currently hitting .333 with two home runs and five steals.

Jose Altuve ?

Yes. Altuve had an ADP of 286. Can you name the players taken at 268, 278, and 281?

Scott Baker, Ben Revere, and Jonathan Sanchez.

Correct. You're on an amazing run here, Reader. Are you ready for one last question? For 10,000 points?

Yes I am!

How many strikeouts did Matt Moore have in 497 minor league innings pitched, and how many innings will he be limited to this season?

700 strikeouts, giving him a K/9 rate of 12.67. And the second part is a trick question. Moore is not on an innings limit.

Right and right! Amazing work here. You're our big winner! And I have to ask -- how did you know all these answers?

I looked them all up as you asked them. I'm the Reader, dude.

Oh ... well that doesn't seem fair. But rules are rules. You win a collection of Fantasy Baseball 360 cups. In blue and red! Congratulations!

Thank you so much.

Anytime, Reader! See you all next time! [blows a kiss to the crowd as Reader excitedly plays with his new set of cups]

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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- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

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Player News
Rockies 2B DJ LeMahieu breaks loose with three-hit game
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:55 am ET) So much for the slump plaguing Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu. He ended that in style Saturday night with three hits in a loss to Arizona.

LeMahieu ripped three singles, including one that tallied a run in the third inning. He also scored a run and raised his average back to .300 in breaking a 3-for-30 slide.


Diamondbacks CF A.J. Pollock has strong effort Saturday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:52 am ET) Diamondbacks leadoff hitter A.J. Pollock did a nice job setting the table Saturday and allowed his team to feast on the Rockies.

Pollock slammed a double and single, drove in two runs and scored another. His double plated a pair in the fourth inning.

The center fielder now boasts a solid slash line of .304/.348/.465. He has nine hits in his last 19 at-bats.


Rockies SP David Hale ineffective in loss to Diamondbacks
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:47 am ET) At least Rockies starter David Hale did not give up five runs Saturday against Arizona. However, four was bad enough.

Hale had allowed five runs in each of his previous three starts. But he wasn't much better in a loss to the Diamondbacks, his fourth straight. He surrendered three earned runs on five hits and three walks.

The right-hander yielded two runs in the first on a groundout and single, then two more in the fourth on a double by A.J. Pollock. Wildness caused him to throw 104 pitches - just 57 for strikes - through five.

Hale has given up 22 runs on 36 hits and 10 walks in his last 27 2/3 innings pitched to send his ERA soaring to 5.89.


Diamondbacks closer Brad Ziegler perfect in non-save situation
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:40 am ET) A three-run Diamondbacks eighth inning wrecked a save opportunity for closer Brad Ziegler, but he didn't perform like he was affected by it Saturday night.

Ziegler retired Colorado in order in the ninth. His sinker was working - all three were groundouts.

He has been pretty much lights-out over the last month. He has not allowed a run over 11 innings during that time and has recorded eight saves.


Diamondbacks SP Patrick Corbin has triumphant return
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:35 am ET) Mark the return of Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin a success. His first start after recovering from Tommy John surgery nearly two years ago resulted in a victory Saturday night.

Corbin allowed two runs on eight hits in five innings with no walks and three strikeouts against Colorado. He blanked the Rockies aside from the third, when RBI hits by Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu tied the game. He left after tossing 76 pitches.


Padres RP Dale Thayer makes first rehab appearance Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:32 am ET) Padres reliever Dale Thayer began his minor league rehab assignment on Saturday. Thayer made the start for Double-A San Antonio, allowing three runs on three hits in one inning of work. 

The right-hander has been on the disabled list since June 24--and hasn't pitched since June 16--due to a strained shoulder. It is not known when Thayer will be ready to return to the Padres' bullpen.


Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig not worrying manager over power outage
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:18 am ET) Don Mattingly claims to be unconcerned about the declining power numbers of Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. But perhaps he should be.

The numbers are pronounced. Puig has just three home runs in 35 games this season. He has just seven in nearly 400 plate appearances since appearing in the Home Run Derby before the 2014 All-Star Game.

Puig missed 38 games this year due to a hamstring injury and four more when a blister opened on his left hand. Mattingly believes those setbacks have played a role in the power outage.

"Before he was hurt he already had two and that was in like 12 games," Mattingly explained to the Orange County Register. "So he was off to a decent start. Then he got hurt and that was an extended time. ... Home runs come in bunches. I don't really worry about home runs. I worry about at-bats and I think they've been OK."

Puig indeed owns a strong .287/.378/.457 slash line. But he hasn't blasted off in his last 20 games.


Rangers OF Josh Hamilton has groin strain, status uncertain
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:12 am ET) Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton did not play on Saturday in-part because of a groin strain. Hamilton had exited Friday's game in the seventh inning, and had an MRI on Saturday, though the results have not been made available as of yet.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister did say Saturday was a planned day off for Hamilton, but there does seem to be some concern in regards to Hamilton's health.

"Obviously, we’ll see where he is throughout the night," Banister said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "We’ll continue to try to manage how he feels. This is a guy we’d like to have for an extended period of time. I’m trying my best to figure this whole thing out with him and what is best for Josh."

Hamilton just returned on Tuesday from a stay on the disabled list with a hamstring strain. His status for Sunday's series-finale against the Angels is in question at this point. 


Cubs RF Jorge Soler (ankle) ready to return on Sunday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:01 am ET) The Cubs are set to activate right fielder Jorge Soler from the disabled list on Sunday. Soler has been out since June 3 with a sprained left ankle, but he has made four rehab outings.

Soler struggled though, going 2 for 13 in the four games. But manager Joe Maddon doesn't necessarily buy into those stats.

"I don't worry about that stuff," Maddon said, per MLB.com. "To me, it's a matter of, 'If he's healthy and he's seeing the ball, what does his timing look like?' Those are the kinds of things you're trying to get from the guys down there."

Soler is expected to be in the lineup for the series-finale against the Marlins on Sunday. He was batting .237 (9 for 38) with a homer and five RBI over his last 10 games prior to the injury.


Red Sox returning RF Shane Victorino gives encouraging effort
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:58 am ET) Red Sox veteran right fielder Shane Victorino didn't look like a guy Saturday that had not played for nearly seven weeks.

Victorino slammed two hits and scored twice batting eighth in a defeat of Houston after recovering from lower-body strains.

"He steps right back in with a couple of base hits," John Farrell exclaimed to the Boston Herald. "We all know the start and stop of his season. To have another guy in the bottom of the order right now with his base-stealing ability, the base-running ability, two base hits against a right-hander today, very encouraging."


 
 
 
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