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Di Fino: What's in a name?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Recently on Fantasy Baseball 360, Scott White and I were discussing a Twitter question from a viewer, in which he asked if he should work a trade for "Soriano." I had assumed the Tweeter meant Rafael; Scott read it as Alfonso. It totally changed the dynamic of the question.

This year, it seems, more than any other, there are players with similar names causing head-scratching dilemmas throughout Fantasy Baseball. Which Weeks do you want (Rickie)? Which Montero (Jesus, by a hair)? What's the value of J. Johnson (Jim is somehow safer than Josh right now, but Josh has more upside)? It's awesomely confusing, which makes it all the more necessary to help sort them all out now. We present ...

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The Name Game

Jansen Versus Janssen: Does One 's' Make A Difference?

In short, yes. Kenley Jansen is the closer for the Dodgers; Casey Janssen is the closer for the Blue Jays. Both men got their jobs because the closer in front of them fell apart. But that's pretty much where the comparisons end. Jansen has been the closer-in-waiting since the middle of last season -- he strikes out over a batter per inning (he has a 15.0 K/9 rate in the major leagues) and could hold on to the job for the entire season. Janssen, meanwhile, while striking out almost a batter per inning, is likely only holding the job until Sergio Santos returns from a shoulder injury. While he could be very effective in the role, it will likely be just a temporary (perhaps until mid-June?) promotion. Fun fact!: Kenley Jansen's middle name is Geronimo.

Is A Healthy Bailey Better Than An Injured One?

According to players on CBSSports.com, the answer is a resounding "no." Andrew Bailey, the would-be closer for the Red Sox, whose early-season injury started the dominos dropping on this disaster of a 2012 for Boston, is owned in 50 percent of leagues. Homer Bailey, the former first-round pick of the Reds, currently sports a 4.35 ERA and 1.48 WHIP, with a 1-3 record. He is owned in 24 percent of leagues. Homer has 41 1/3 innings pitched this year; Andrew just had his cast removed last week and was cleared to begin throwing on Wednesday. Homer tends to be tantalizingly maddening for Fantasy players, mixing in promising stretches with injuries and strings of poor performances. Andrew, even though he isn't expected back until after the All-Star Game, is a borderline-elite closer who could solidify the back of Boston's bullpen. What's the saying? A Bailey in the bush is worth twice as much as one in the hand? Fun fact!: Andrew Bailey follows injured Yankees reliever David Robertson on Twitter.

Which Chen Is Right For Me?

There's a chance that both are. Bruce Chen is owned in 15 percent of leagues, despite a 1.15 WHIP so far this season, which follows a 3.77 ERA in 2011. Hurting him a bit is the fact that he hasn't managed a season of 100 strikeouts since 2005, when he threw 133 in 197 1/3 innings -- a rate that isn't exciting by even 2005 standards. Also hurting him? In the years before the 2011 quasi-breakout, he was not very good. Wei-Yin Chen, meanwhile, is eight years younger than Bruce and has a 2.45 ERA and 1.20 WHIP through 44 innings this season. His ratios from Japan's Pacific League are stellar (he posted a 1.54 ERA in 2009), and, while he isn't known for his overpowering strikeout numbers, he does manage a healthy seven or so per nine innings. Wei-Yin's ownership levels have made an impressive leap over the past few weeks, jumping from 22 percent in Week 2 to 54 percent (and counting) for Week 8. Fun fact!: Bruce Chen has nightmares based on the movie Speed .

The Dodgers Have Reached Their Ellis Limit

Mark Ellis and A.J. Ellis start at second base and catcher, respectively, for the Dodgers. A.J. has three home runs, Mark has two. A.J. has five doubles, Mark has four. A.J. is currently batting .322, Mark is at .276. But Mark has three steals to A.J.'s zero, and 26 runs to A.J.'s 11 (thanks mostly to about 30 more at-bats this season). A.J. is owned in 42 percent of leagues, while Mark is owned in 31 percent. Both are usable in NL-only leagues, and both are turning it on so far in May: Mark has a .326 average with a .926 OPS. Both of his homers have come in May, and the month is just at its halfway point. A.J. is hitting .371 so far this month, with a 1.133 OPS. He, too, has hit two home runs in May, along with two doubles and a triple. Among catchers with 90 at-bats or more, Ellis is first in OBP, third in batting average, and is in the top 15 of all catchers in doubles and RBI. A.J. is currently a deeper mixed-league add, and Mark is a very deep mixed-league consideration. Fun fact!: A.J. Ellis has Tweeted an It's a Wonderful Life reference.

Escobar and Weeks: Two Surnames, Four Middle Infielders

Just for the sake of clarity, here's a quick guide to sorting out Yunel, Alcides, Rickie, and Jemile:

Rankings By Power: 1. Rickie 2. Yunel 3. Jemile 4. Alcides

Rankings By Speed: 1. Alcides 2. Jemile 3. Rickie 4. Yunel

Overall Rankings: 1. Rickie 2. Jemile 3. Yunel 4. Alcides

Fun fact!: Jemile Weeks was drafted by his brother's team, the Milwaukee Brewers, in 2005, but never signed.

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It's Not Easy Being Greene

Tyler Greene is one of many players in the seemingly-endless stream of 2B-eligible players on the St. Louis Cardinals. He is owned in six percent of leagues. Taylor Green is also 2B-eligible, but is on the Brewers; he is owned in three percent of leagues. Green had spent 2012 playing first and third base for Nashville, Milwaukee's Triple-A affiliate, and has made a small impact for the Brewers in the wake of Mat Gamel's season-ending injury, filling in at first base, and batting .263 with two doubles through 19 at-bats. If Travis Ishikawa falls out of favor, Green -- who hit 24 home runs last year in the minors -- could grab some playing time and be a decent source of deeper mixed-league power. Greene, a first-round pick of the Cardinals, has averaged a little over 100 at-bats in three seasons with St. Louis. He stole 11 bases last year, but has a .221 batting average for his career. He has four seasons of double-digit home runs in the minors, despite spending significant time with the parent club the last two years. Given regular playing time, Greene could prove to be a decent power/speed combo -- a feat that, sadly, seems distant, considering the glut the team has with second base options. Fun fact!: Tyler Greene has an Internet fan club lobbying for his freedom from the bench.

The Strange Case Of Matt Harrison And Tommy Hunter

We're going to flip the theme here -- we looked at players with similar names but different values; but there are two pitchers in baseball who might be the same person, just sporting different names.

Matt Harrison is owned in 73 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com. Tommy Hunter is owned in eight percent of leagues. But a closer look at the two pitchers makes it pretty obvious that there is no real reason for this discrepancy. Observe:

First, the tale of the tape:

Matt Harrison: LHP, 6'4", 240 pounds, 26 years old, Third-round draft pick

Tommy Hunter: RHP, 6'3", 250 pounds, 25 years old, First-round draft pick

Their numbers so far this year:

Hunter: 2-2 with a 4.78 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He has four quality starts
Harrison: 4-3 with a 5.23 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. He has four quality starts.

But this isn't about Hunter being a better pitcher so far this year. It's about the two men being strikingly similar to one another -- and, in some cases, like WHIP, with Hunter being clearly better -- in every category outside of ownership. Digging deeper, we find:

Tommy Hunter five-year MLB career: 4.48 ERA, 1.33 WHIP (Hunter)
Matt Harrison five-year MLB career: 4.55 ERA, 1.44 WHIP (Harrison)

Tommy Hunter three-year MLB average: 108 1/3 IP, 4.071 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 59 K
Matt Harrison three-year MLB average: 109 IP, 4.21 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 69 K

Even in the minors, the two were somewhat similar:

Hunter minors: 3.75 ERA, 1.31 WHIP
Harrison minors: 3.45 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

Want to go deeper into the stats? Courtesy of Baseball Reference:

Hunter: BB/9 of 2.3
Harrison: BB/9 of 3.2

Hunter: K/9 of 5.0
Harrison: K/9 of 5.4

Hunter's career ERA+: 99
Harrison's career ERA+: 98

Hunter's BABIP in last 365 days: .296
Harrison's BABIP in last 365 days: .300

So there you have it. If you need to throw someone in a trade, and you own Harrison, feel free to dangle him at will, because Hunter -- who looks to be the same, if not better, pitcher -- is almost definitely available on your waiver wire as a replacement.

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
Phillies pitcher Luis Garcia becoming reliable option out of the 'pen
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:47 pm ET) Phillies reliever Luis Garcia has done well so far this season, continuing his roll Sunday. Garcia came on with a runner on first and got Freddie Freeman to groundout to short.

Garcia has worked 8 2/3 innings so far this season with a 1-1 record and nine strikeouts. Manager Ryne Sandberg continues to be impressed by the young pitcher, reports MLB.com.

"He's a power pitcher," Sandberg said about Garcia. "The biggest thing with Garcia right now is the command of the baseball. He has two power pitches, and when he's ahead of the hitters, he can be very effective."


Reds' Todd Frazier frustrated with early struggles with RISP
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:40 pm ET) The Reds have been unable to capitalize on offensive opportunities early on this season. Cincinnati is just 1 for 24 with runners in scoring position since Joey Votto picked up an RBI Wednesday.

Todd Frazier was unable to produce a run for the team Sunday with the bases loaded.

"Especially from myself. I came up there with the bases loaded, one out. You have to put the ball at least on the ground, put it in play," Frazier said. "You've got to figure it out. Bottom line, at least get one run or hit a sac fly and we still have momentum the next inning. I've got to pick myself up."


Reds' Tony Cingrani does well in return to the mound Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:36 pm ET) Reds pitcher Tony Cingrani tossed two scoreless innings in Cincinnati's 5-2 loss to the Cubs Sunday. It was Cingrani's first appearance for the Reds since April 14. 

"I've just been hanging out for a little while," said Cingrani to MLB.com. "Everything feels good. I was obviously refreshed. I like one inning, two innings. I'm good at that. It's pretty easy. Just go out there and throw as hard as you can."

Cingrani recorded two strikeouts in his two innings of work and lowered his ERA to 1.69 in 5 1/3 innings.

"Tony left it right there and I think gave us a vision of some of the things he can do to help us out of the bullpen," manager Bryan Price said. "I needed him for two innings today. We'll see where he is [Monday]. You're certainly going to run with the guys throwing the ball the best."


Braves catcher Christian Bethancourt hopes to earn starting role
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:27 pm ET) Braves catcher Christian Bethancourt knows manager Fredi Gonzalez has tough decisions to make. One of those decisions has been slotting veteran A.J. Pierzynski in the starting lineup more often this season than originally expected. Bethancourt is rolling with the punches and still thinks he can earn a starting role, according to MLB.com.

"You've got to respect the manager's decision," Bethancourt said. "He puts whoever he wants in the lineup. So, I've just got to be ready and wait for my opportunity. If he says I have to earn it, I will do my best to earn it. I have no problem with that."

Gonzalez has an idea of what he wants to do with Bethancourt.

"We want to give [Bethancourt] an opportunity, but the other guy, you put him in there every single time, and he just keeps hitting," Gonzalez said.

Bethancourt is hitting just .147 with two RBI in 34 at-bats this season.


Phillies 1B Ryan Howard taking power surge in stride
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(9:00 pm ET) Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard has been on a tear recently, registering three home runs in his last five games, but according to MLB.com, he's not taking his streak as a sign of anything other than the natural ebb and flow of the game. 

Howard is hitting .235 (4-for-17) with three home runs, seven RBIs, two walks, three strikeouts and a 1.080 OPS in his last five games, numbers much better than the ones he posted at the start of the season. 

"That's baseball," Howard said. "You just continue to go out there and swing. I feel like I've been swinging it well. The results may not necessarily show, but it's all about how you are feeling with the swings. Eventually, they will drop."


Rangers closer Neftali Feliz picks up wild win
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(8:44 pm ET) The Rangers used closer Neftali Feliz for two innings to help lock down a 5-4, 11-inning victory Sunday, with Feliz picking up his first victory of the season. 

Feliz threw 38 pitches in one of his longer outings of the year, and though he struck out four batters, he did allow a run in the 11th inning. He was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam, however, to preserve the win. 


Angels reliever Joe Smith blows save in loss
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(8:33 pm ET) Angels reliever Joe Smith had been nearly perfect in eight appearances this season, but called upon to pick up the save in Sunday's game against the Rangers, he allowed his first run of the season and picked up a blown save in Los Angeles' 5-4, 11-inning defeat. 

Coming on in the ninth inning with a 3-2 lead, Smith registered the first two outs of the inning before allowing a single to Prince Fielder. Adrian Beltre followed with an infield single before Mitch Moreland drove in pinch-runner Delino DeShields Jr. with a single.

Smith's ERA moved to 1.13 after the appearance. 


Rangers starter Nick Martinez delivers 4th straight strong outing
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(8:23 pm ET) Nick Martinez delivered his fourth straight strong start to open the season, but once again had a no-decision on his ledger as the Rangers rallied in the 11th inning to pull out a 5-4 win Sunday over the Angels. 

Martinez went six innings without giving up a run, scattering seven hits while striking out two and walking a pair. In four starts this season, Martinez has given up one earned run. His ERA is 0.35. 

Martinez has picked up no-decisions in his last two starts despite allowing just 12 hits and one run in 12 innings. 


Astros center fielder Jake Marisnick smacks second home run
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:20 pm ET) Astros center fielder Jake Marisnick went 2 for 4 at the plate in Houston's 7-6 win over the Athletics Sunday. 

Marisnick, who missed the last two games with a leg injury, connected on an 0-2 pitch from Drew Pomeranz over the left center field wall in the fourth inning for a two-run blast, his second of the season.

Marisnick boosted his average to .364 with eight RBI in 44 at-bats this season.


Mariners DH Seth Smith connects on first homer of the year Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:16 pm ET) Mariners designated hitter Seth Smith went 2 for 3 at the plate in Seattle's 4-2 loss to the Twins Sunday.

Smith did his damage in the fourth inning when he cracked a 1-1 pitch from Kyle Gibson over the right field wall for a solo home run, his first of the season. Smith boosted his average to .263 with five RBI in 38 at-bats this season.


 
 
 
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