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Setting the Trends: King Felix, 2.0?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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In Back to the Future Part II, an old Biff Tannen travels to the past to deliver a copy of the Grays Sports Almanac to himself, in order to help him win a bunch of money gambling and live a more comfortable life.

Most Added Players (as of 5/30)
Player % increase
1. Ernesto Frieri, RP, Angels 30
2. Roy Oswalt, SP, Rangers 28
3. A.J. Ellis, C, Dodgers 25
4. Felix Doubront, SP, Red Sox 21
5. Homer Bailey, SP, Reds 20
6. Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox 19
7. Tyler Clippard, RP, Nationals 17
8. Carlos Quentin, OF, Padres 15
9. Andy Pettitte, SP, Yankees 14
10. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Red Sox 14

We often talk about predicting the future in Fantasy, but here's a harsh fact: even if we knew the results of every baseball game this season, it still might be tough to take that information and use it to win a league.

Say, for instance, that we discover Tom Wilhelmsen manages 20 saves on the season. Unless we know which game he started getting the saves, the information could turn out to be useless. Should we start him every game? Should we have picked him up as a Draft Day guess and kept him activated? Wilhelmsen, it might turn out, went nutty in August and set a record in 2012 for saves in a month (20). But if all we knew was that he gets those 20 saves -- and not when -- it could do more harm than good having him sit in our lineups every day.

So what's the point of this sci-fi digression? That situational and split stats matter, to a degree. Hidden beneath 162 games of data are little quirks that can help us divine some Fantasy knowledge. For a pitcher like Ervin Santana, who has massive home/road splits buried beneath his overall numbers, knowing where the good numbers came from could be a tremendous boost for a Fantasy owner, and could help explain why some players are seeing jumps in ownership at otherwise random-looking times during the season.

On to the 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. Jordan Schafer, OF, Astros 49
2. Brian Fuentes, RP, Athletics 48
3. A.J. Burnett, SP, Pirates 46
4. Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks 41
5. Casey Janssen, RP, Blue Jays 36

Felix Doubront, SP, Red Sox
Jump in ownership: 20 percent (from 45 percent to 65)
Reason for the jump: Doubront is 5-2 with a 3.86 ERA through 10 games and is in the midst of a two-start week.
Why you should join the crowd: Besides getting off to a spectacular start in 2012, Doubront has relief pitcher eligibility in most CBSSports.com formats, allowing owners in H2H points leagues to rack up starting pitcher value from a RP slot. For those owners looking at Doubront as a starter, he's been surprisingly effective so far this year. He has also managed to throw a little over one strikeout per inning.
Devil's Advocate: Doubront's minor league numbers were good, but they didn't indicate anything that would translate to wild success in the majors. Additionally, his 1.36 WHIP suggests that his ERA may currently be a bit low, meaning he could be due for a correction. On top of all that, the Red Sox have Daisuke Matsuzaka and Andrew Bailey coming back from injury soon, which could create a crunch of both a direct (Matsuzaka will require a spot) and indirect (Bailey could push Alfredo Aceves to the rotation, sending Doubront to long relief) nature.

Jeff Francoeur, OF, Royals
Jump in ownership: 14 percent (from 60 percent to 74)
Reason for the jump: Francoeur has four multi-hit games in his last six.
Why you should join the crowd: Blink and you missed Francoeur's batting average rise from .235 (on May 19) to .282 (on the 28th). Of his five home runs on the season, four have come in the last seven games. He even picked up his first steal of the season against the Orioles. Francoeur put up a 20-20 campaign in 2011 and has as many as 29 home runs in a single season.
Devil's Advocate: Those 22 bases he stole last year marked the first time in Francoeur's career that he produced double-digits in the category. And while he has a lifetime batting average of .271, that number has dipped as low as .239 during his career. He's streaky and can be one of the more frustrating players in Fantasy, rotating from extremely cold to extremely hot without warning. So beware. His season may look great in September, but there may be plenty of peaks and valleys along the way.

Thanks, But No Thanks
The five most deactivated healthy players
Player decrease in start %
1. Henry Rodriguez, RP, Nationals 31
2. Ricky Nolasco, SP, Marlins 25
3. Hiroki Kuroda, SP, Yankees 24
4. Brandon League, RP, Mariners 24
5. Edinson Volquez, SP, Padres 23

Gordon Beckham, 2B, White Sox
Jump in ownership: 15 percent (from 28 percent to 43)
Reason for the jump: Beckham entered May with a .153 average; as of Tuesday, it sat at .224.
Why you should join the crowd: Beckham, a former first-round pick, has turned his season around in the month of May. He's hit .264, with five home runs and 14 RBI. His OPS jumped .300 points over April, going from .434 to .763. Over the last 14 days, Beckham ranks as the seventh-best second baseman in Fantasy.
Devil's Advocate: Before the recent hot streak, Beckham was experiencing a three-year slide in nearly every offensive category (from 2009 to 2011). His average went from .270 to .252 to .230; His RBI, doubles, OPS, and walk totals all dropped over the three-season span while his at-bats increased. In fact, if the season ended today, his OPS would be only slightly higher than it was last year and his average would be the lowest of his four-season career.

Roy Oswalt, SP, Rangers
Jump in ownership: 10 percent and rising (from 29 percent to 39)
Reason for the jump: Oswalt has signed with the Rangers.
Why you should join the crowd: Oswalt isn't really a big mystery. Over 2,154 innings pitched, he has a career 3.21 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. He's a three-time All-Star who has finished in the top five for Cy Young voting on five separate occasions. The only mystery right now is how long it will take him to get in to playing shape (guessing it will be three or four weeks).
Devil's Advocate: Oswalt's career splits at Rangers Ballpark: 2-5, 4.78 EA and 1.44 WHIP in eight starts. Granted, that's playing against the Rangers, not playing with them, but when you run into a pitcher of Oswalt's caliber, you have to look somewhere for the downside to it all.

More than 50, less than 50
Players owned in more than 50% of leagues who should be owned in less than 50%
Player % owned
1. Delmon Young, OF, Tigers 53
2. Phil Hughes, SP, Yankees 54
3. Russell Martin, C, Yankees 56
4. Jake Westbrook, SP, Cardinals 58
5. Trevor Bauer, SP, Diamondbacks 60

Tom Wilhelmsen, RP, Mariners
Jump in ownership: Nine percent (from seven percent to 16)
Reason for the jump: Wilhelmsen looks to be the favorite for saves in Seattle with Brandon League being demoted to setup duty.
Why you should join the crowd: Besides being an awesome story -- Wilhelmsen was out of baseball for six years, backpacking around the world and serving as a bartender in Arizona -- he does look like the early favorite to get saves in League's absence. So far this season, he has 30 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings pitched.
Devil's Advocate: Wilhelmsen also has a 4.44 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. Furthermore, League hit a bit of a bump last year and responded by not allowing a run from May 17 to July 5. So while he has a great story (the movie will end with Wilhelmsen pitching in the ALCS with a full count in the bottom of the ninth to Daniel Nava), it's not the most ideal of scenarios: Wilhelmsen has some pretty high ratios, manager Eric Wedge indicated that he would let matchups dictate who comes in for saves, and League could take a week off and come right back into his closer role.

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
Jose Ramirez back up with Indians
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:43 am ET) Jose Ramirez is not the prime shortstop prospect for the Indians - that distinction belongs to Francisco Lindor. But Ramirez has already received a chance to display his wares at the big league level and has now gotten another with a promotion to Cleveland.

Ramirez could serve as the starter with Asdrubal Cabrera dealing with a back problem. He has been torrid with Triple-A Columbus, racking up seven hits in his last four games, including three doubles and a triple, to sweeten his stat line to .302/.360/.441.


T.J. House evicted from Cleveland, moving to Columbus
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:37 am ET) Left-hander T.J. House is apparently the odd man out in the Indians rotation. He has been demoted to Triple-A Columbus.

House has been unimpressive as a starter in the bigs this season. He is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA and has yielded 64 hits in 50 innings. He was doomed by his last two starts with six earned runs allowed on 14 hits and five walks in 9 2/3 innings.


Nolan Arenado blasts off for first time since May 5
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:32 am ET) Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado has been struggling to hit for power since returning from a thumb injury, but he didn't struggle in the third inning of a Tuesday night loss to Washington.

Arenado slammed his first homer since May 5, a two-run job against Jordan Zimmermann. Despite the power outage, Arenado does have nine hits in his last eight games.


Adam LaRoche breaks slump with big game in Colorado
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:24 am ET) Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche continued his bounce-back season Tuesday night by playing hero in a victory at Colorado. He slugged a three-run homer in the seventh inning to break a 4-4 tie. The blast proved to be the game-winner.

LaRoche, who also singled, owns a solid .275/.381/.453. His fine game against the Rockies ended a 2-for-23 slide.


Chad Qualls retires Oakland 1-2-3 for another save
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:15 am ET) Astros closer Chad Qualls continued to shut down team after team Tuesday night in Oakland by nailing down his 11th save.

Qualls has just three saves since June 9, but only due to a lack of opportunity. He got the Athletics in order in the 12th inning, striking out Coco Crisp to end it.


Report: Asdrubal Cabrera not DL-bound
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:01 am ET) Despite his absence again from the Indians lineup Tuesday, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is not yet destined for the disabled list with a back ailment, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which is further reporting that prized prospect Francisco Lindor would not be promoted if he does land on the DL.

Cabrera left Monday's game with back spasms. His injury is poorly timed for himself and for the team, which could seek to trade him at the deadline. Cabrera is a free agent after this season and Cleveland will most assuredly not try to keep him.


Kyle Gibson out, Anthony Swarzak in as Wednesday starter
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(9:29 am ET) Twins starter Kyle Gibson has been scratched from his Wednesday start against visiting Cleveland due to back stiffness. Anthony Swarzak is set to move from the bullpen to replace him.

Swatzak has been a bit of a disappointment this season with a 4.34 ERA in 30 appearances. He posted a 2.91 ERA a year ago while working a major league-high 96 innings. The right-hander has been particularly poor against the Indians, who have battered him for five runs on nine hits in 1 2/3 innings in 2014.


Scott Kazmir strikes out six in no-decision vs. Astros
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:56 am ET) Athletics pitcher Scott Kazmir wasn't a factor in Tuesday's decision, giving up two runs (one earned) on seven hits and one walk in seven innings and striking out six in his team's extra-innings game against the Astros.

Kazmir wasn't able to pick up his third straight win despite holding the opposition to one earned run or fewer for the fourth straight start. The Oakland pitcher has been at the top of his game over the last few months, aside from an ugly seven-run outing in late June. Kazmir owns a 2.32 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 114:28 K:BB ratio in 124 1/3 innings. He's slated to take on the Rangers Sunday.


Brett Oberholtzer gives up two runs in no-decision Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:56 am ET) Astros pitcher Brett Oberholtzer didn't factor into the decision Tuesday after surrendering two earned runs on six hits and two walks in seven innings and not recording a strikeout in his team's extra-innings game against the A's.

Oberholtzer was handed a 2-0 lead after the top of the third innind, but he gave back one run in the bottom of the frame and the other on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning. He has given up two runs or fewer in five of his last six starts, but he hasn't earned a win since rejoining the team in late June. Oberholtzer owns a 4.32 ERA and 51:19 K:BB ratio in 77 innings. He'll likely be taken out of the rotation if Collin McHugh is ready to return this weekend.


Michael Wacha may not pitch again this season
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:45 am ET) Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha admitted before Tuesday's game that team doctors told him he might not pitch again this season after discovering a shoulder "fissure," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Wacha had an MRI and CT scan over the weekend but wasn't cleared to resume throwing Monday. He'll rest for a few more weeks before being re-evaluated. A best-case scenario would find Wacha getting a couple of starts in September, and the pitcher remains optimistic he'll be able to return before the end of the season.


 
 
 
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