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Setting the Trends: Never too late to tinker

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Lost in all the hullabaloo surrounding the Red Sox/Dodgers blockbuster trade? The fate of Boston's Fantasy Football league.

Most Added Players (as of 8/29)
Player % increase
1. Brett Anderson, SP, Athletics 39
2. David Phelps, SP, Yankees 25
3. Pedro Ciriaco, SS, Red Sox 24
4. Kris Medlen, RP, Braves 20
5. Kyle Kendrick, SP, Phillies 18
6. Coco Crisp, OF, Athletics 15
7. Bronson Arroyo, SP, Reds 14
8. Grant Balfour, RP, Athletics 13
9. Tyler Skaggs, SP, Diamondbacks 13
10. David Murphy, OF, Rangers 12

Outfielder Cody Ross gave a peek inside the team's Fantasy machinations in a diary ("weblog"?) he writes for ESPN Boston. It's a minor note at the very end of an insightful recounting of the mega-deal. Ross is a co-owner of a still-unnamed team with Jacoby Ellsbury. The duo had the first pick in the Red Sox league and planned on picking a running back, until the trade struck. "We have to re-pick the draft order, which I'm pretty upset about," Ross writes, "because four teams are gone now with the trade."

So now Cody Ross -- as pleasant a surprise as any in Fantasy this year -- gets to feel, in a very roundabout manner, the frustrations of having Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, and Carl Crawford anywhere near your Fantasy teams.

On to the Roster Trends!

Most Added Highlights

David Phelps, SP, Yankees
Jump in Ownership: 25 percent (from 13 percent to 38)
Reason for the jump: With Ivan Nova being placed on the DL, Phelps is now a member of the Yankees' rotation.
Why you should join the crowd: In 70 innings pitched this season, Phelps is 3-4 with a 2.96 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Since re-joining the rotation, things have been a little bumpy -- he has a 4.50 ERA in his last three starts, but has been killed by home runs, giving up four in that span. His 1.11 WHIP over the three starts is what makes him attractive -- he's not putting a lot of batters on base, he's just giving up untimely home runs. Need a more silver lining? Phelps has pitched all three games in Yankee Stadium, against the Rangers, Red Sox and Blue Jays, who all land in the top nine in home runs this season. But Yankee Stadium is especially kind to left-handed batters, and the home runs were given up to David Murphy (lefty), Adrian Gonzalez (lefty), Yorvit Torrealba (righty--but his shot went opposite field and registered as the fifth-shortest of the year in the Stadium, according to ESPN's Home Run Tracker tool) and Adam Lind (lefty). It's not that Phelps is going to pitch to righty-only lineups on the road this year, but he has been hit with some harsh luck in the small sample size, and should be able to bring his ERA down to a level that better matches his WHIP.
Devil's Advocate: First and foremost, Phelps could lose his spot when Nova returns from the DL. Or, for that matter, when Andy Pettitte (remember him?) returns from his DL stint. There's also a chance that home runs continue to haunt Phelps, especially at home, although his minor league numbers (0.5 HR/9 rate) don't suggest them being a huge problem.

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. Mark Reynolds, 3B, Orioles 48
2. Tyler Colvin, OF, Rockies 43
3. Carlos Gomez, OF, Brewers 41
4. Brandon Belt, OF, Giants 38
5. Tyler Skaggs, SP, Diamondbacks 37

Tyler Skaggs, SP, Diamondbacks
Jump in Ownership: 13 percent (from 24 percent to 37)
Reason for the jump: Skaggs, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, is 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA and 1.22 WHIP through two starts with Arizona.
Why you should join the crowd: Outside of Skaggs having the skill to succeed (2.98 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 9.9 K/9 in 389 minor league innings), Skaggs has a couple circumstantial elements that work in his favor. First, a spot in the Arizona rotation was opened up when the Diamondbacks shipped Joe Saunders to Baltimore in a trade earlier this week. Second, Skaggs only has 134 2/3 innings pitched this season, so he's probably not going to be shut down and has a fresher arm than other in-season minor league call-ups (Jarrod Parker, Patrick Corbin, and Mike Fiers are all 15-20 innings ahead of Skaggs).
Devil's Advocate: Skaggs has just two major league starts under his belt and while fellow prospect Trevor Bauer pitched poorly through a groin injury when he was called up, he's been on fire again recently in the minors and could get a start or two before the season is over. It's doubtful that he supplants Skaggs -- it's only questionable that he gets recalled -- but it's something to keep in mind when adding Skaggs to your Fantasy team.

5-4-3-2-1
Useful players owned in 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 percent of leagues
Player % owned
1. Justin Germano, RP, Cubs 5
2. Nate McLouth, OF, Orioles 4
3. Jeff Mathis, C, Blue Jays 3
4. Logan Forsythe, 3B, Padres 2
5. Sam Fuld, OF, Rays 1

Josh Beckett, SP, Dodgers
Jump in Ownership: 11 percent (from 75 percent to 86)
Reason for the jump: Beckett has been freed from the dysfunction of the Red Sox (as well as having to face a DH three to four times a game), landing in sunny California with the Dodgers.
Why you should join the crowd: Because there's always a chance that Beckett pulls an A.J. Burnett, turning a nightmare season in the American League East into a stunning turnaround in the National League. Beckett has the tools to do just that: he's turned in a sub-3.50 ERA four times since 2002, with a sub-1.25 WHIP six times. He has a career K/9 of 8.4, and he has finished in the top five of K/BB three times. He didn't exactly wow in his first start with Los Angeles, but he was just one out away from a quality start, which would have been his 11th out of 20 starts this season, and -- of course -- he made his Dodgers debut in Colorado, not the friendliest of ballparks for pitchers.
Devil's Advocate: You don't have to look much deeper than Beckett's 2012 stint in Boston to see how low he can go: A 5-11 record with a 5.23 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. And a career-low in strikeout rate.

Kicked to the curb
The most-dropped non-injured, non-suspended hitters
Player Percentage decrease
1. Chris Johnson, 3B, Diamondbacks -8
2. Daniel Murphy, 1B, Mets -8
3. Colby Rasmus, OF, Blue Jays -5
4. Trevor Plouffe, SS, Twins -5
5. Eric Chavez, 3B, Yankees -5

Casey Kelly, SP, Padres
Jump in Ownership: Eight percent (from seven percent to 15)
Reason for the jump: Kelly, one of the players included in the trade that brought Adrian Gonzalez to Boston, had a solid debut on Monday, pitching six shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out four.
Why you should join the crowd: After being converted to a pitcher in 2009, Kelly put up impressive overall numbers in the minors, with a 3.77 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. This includes a 5.31 ERA in New Hampshire in 2010 -- his first full year as a pitcher. Assuming he sticks in the rotation (Andrew Cashner and Anthony Bass are making their final rehab starts this weekend), he'll pitch the majority of his games from here forward in spacious PETCO Park.
Devil's Advocate: The rotation squeeze is going to have at least two victims from a group that includes Kelly, Cashner, Bass, Andrew Werner, and Eric Stults. There hasn't been much indication on who the odd men out will be.

Mauro Gomez, 1B, Red Sox
Jump in Ownership: Five percent (from zero percent to 5)
Reason for the jump: Gomez is getting increased at-bats thanks to the Achilles injury suffered by David Ortiz and the trade of Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers.
Why you should join the crowd: Oh, hey, no big deal ... he's just this year's International League MVP. But if you need more on the slugger, Gomez showed a lot of power in the minor leagues, hitting 20 or more home runs four separate times since 2007. So far this year he's batting .292 with four doubles and a home run in 14 games. Since his recall on August 23, Gomez has started in five straight games (three at first base, two at DH), and has scored five runs.
Devil's Advocate: Gomez is 27 and had toiled in the minor league systems of the Rangers, Braves and Red Sox for nine seasons before making his major league debut this year. To go along with his four seasons of 20-plus home runs, Gomez has four seasons of 100-plus strikeouts. But his batting average has been steadily rising over the last three years (from .281 in 2010 to .301 in 2012), and he managed to mix in six steals last year as well.

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
Angels' C.J. Cron homers, drives in six runs in blowout win Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:42 am ET) Angels slugger C.J. Cron enjoyed a career-night at the plate on Saturday. Cron, who was serving as the designated hitter, went 3 for 4 with a career-best six RBI and a run scored, leading the Angels to a 13-0 win over the Rangers.

Cron had an RBI single in the second inning and a sacrifice fly in the third. He continued his big night with a three-run home run, his third of the year in the sixth inning, followed by a run-scoring double in the eighth.

This was by far the best game of Cron's career, as his previous high was three RBI in a single game. 


Rangers SP Wandy Rodriguez suffers loss in rout on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:37 am ET) Rangers left-hander Wandy Rodriguez has a rough start against the Angels on Saturday. Rodriguez allowed five runs on nine hits over five innings. He walked three and struck two, as the Angels took the 13-0 win. 

Rodriguez (5-4) brought his ERA up to 4.23 with the poor outing. He gave up three runs in the second inning and another in the third before allowing a solo home run to Kole Calhoun in the fifth.

The veteran southpaw has now given up 14 earned runs over 14 innings in his last three starts. 


Angels SP Hector Santiago rides offensive explosion in win Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:31 am ET) Backed by a 13-run offensive explosion on Saturday, Angels starter Hector Santiago earned his fifth win of the season. Santiago fired seven shutout innings against the Rangers, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out three. 

Santiago (5-4) was pretty much in control of this one throughout, as he did not allow a runner to get passed second base. His 2.40 ERA ranks fourth in the American League. He has four consecutive quality starts, and hasn't allowed more than three runs in an outing since June 3.


Reds SS Ivan De Jesus blasts off in Saturday defeat
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:16 am ET) For a guy who emerged off the bench Saturday night, Reds shortstop Ivan De Jesus sure made the most of his opportunity.

De Jesus smacked two hits in the loss to Milwaukee, including his third home run, a solo blast in the fifth inning. He also walked in improving his slash line to a more-than-respectable .276/.333/.483.

He has six hits in his last 11 at-bats.


Reds 3B Todd Frazier rips four hits in loss to Brewers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:09 am ET) The Reds lost Saturday to hot Milwaukee, but don't blame third baseman Todd Frazier. He slammed two doubles and two singles. The trouble is that all of them went for naught. He neither scored nor drove in a run.

His first multi-hit game since June 25 was also his first four-hit game of the season. Frazier has strengthened his slash line of .289/.348/.610. The slugging percentage ranks third in the bigs.


Brewers 1B Adam Lind stays on fire Saturday with homer
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:02 am ET) The Brewers have won seven straight games and white-hot first baseman Adam Lind has at least one RBI in all of them.

Actually, Lind has at least one RBI in eight straight, courtesy of a solo home run in the fourth inning Saturday against Cincinnati. He also singled, walked twice and scored two runs.

Lind is batting .388 (19-for-49) since June 20 with four doubles, four home runs, 15 RBI and 10 runs scored.


Reds SP Josh Smith falls apart in loss to Milwaukee
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/4/2015) Josh Smith has gone from bad to unlucky to bad again in three starts with the Reds. The latest got downright ugly.

Smith gave up five runs on five hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings of a blowout by Milwaukee that lowered his record to 0-2. He fanned a pair along the way.

His collapse was sudden and pronounced. He allowed baserunners in the first three innings, but escaped, then gave up a home run to Adam Lind leading off the fourth. It all fell apart in the fifth after a single and his own error. Another single, walk and hit-by-pitch sent him to the bench, where he watched all three runners score.

Smith is now saddled with a 7.30 ERA.


Royals CF Lorenzo Cain doubles, drives in two runs on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(7/4/2015) Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain went 2 for 4 with a double and a pair of RBI on Saturday, but it wouldn't be enough to avoid the 5-3 loss to the Twins. 

Cain doubled in two runs in the fifth inning to cut the Twins' lead to 4-2, but the Twins would tack on another insurance run in the seventh. Cain is batting an even .400 (14 for 35) over his last 10 ballgames.


SP Jimmy Nelson just OK in helping Brewers win seventh straight
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/4/2015) The suddenly surging Brewers didn't get a gem out of starter Jimmy Nelson on Saturday, but they scored enough runs that it didn't matter.

Nelson, who has just two quality starts in his last eight outings, allowed three runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings, but managed to win in Cincinnati. He walked one and fanned five.

He had allowed only a home run to Marlon Byrd through four, but an Ivan De Jesus blast in the fifth and Byrd run-scoring single in the sixth weakened his performance.

Nelson has surrendered 18 runs in his last 28 1/3 innings pitched, yet he has won three straight starts.


Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe collects three hits in win on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(7/4/2015) Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe had a nice night at the plate in the 5-3 win over the Royals on Saturday. Plouffe just missed hitting for the cycle, as he went 3 for4 with a double, a triple, an RBI and a run scored.

Plouffe seems to be heating up at the plate again, as he is batting .316 with a home run and five RBI over his last 10 games.


 
 
 
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