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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
Gordon Beckham will play everyday
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:53 pm ET) White Sox Gordon Beckham came off the disabled list Thursday after overcoming an oblique injury, and was in the starting lineup for that afternoon's game against the Tigers. He was hitless in four trips to the plate, including three strikeouts, as the White Sox fell 7-4.

After the game, manager Robin Ventura told MLB.com Beckham will be his starter at second base moving forward, despite solid play from Marcus Semien in his place.

"You don't lose that spot just because you're hurt," Ventura said. "So we expect [Beckham] to be in there."


Alex Torres gets his first win Thursday
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(11:51 pm ET) Padres pitcher Alex Torres was awarded the win Thursday night in extras against the Nationals.

Torres struck out one and pitched two-thirds of a scoreless inning in the 11th before the offense scored the go-ahead run in the 12th. He owns a 0.93 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP over 9 2/3 innings pitched.

Andrew Cashner makes rare appearance in outfield
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:37 pm ET) Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner became the first pitcher in franchise history to play outfield on Thursday against the Nationals.

Manager Bud Black replaced injured Seth Smith with Cashner at left field, setting himself up for a potential double-switch later in the game. Cashner played the field for one batter before he was replaced by Tommy Medica in a 4-3 win.

Cashner owns a 2.10 ERA and 31:10 K:BB ratio in 34 1/3 innings. He'll make his next start Saturday against the Nationals.

Seth Smith exits game with groin strain
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:31 pm ET) Padres outfielder Seth Smith was forced out of Thursday's game against the Nationals because of right groin strain.

Smith was removed from the game in the 11th inning after grounding out to second base. He was replaced by starting pitcher Andrew Cashner. Cashner became the first pitcher in franchise history to play outfield.

Smith doubled in a run in the fourth and finished 1 for 3 with two walks, a run scored and an RBI before the injury. He is hitting .277 with two home runs and seven RBI in 65 at-bats. His status remains uncertain for the second game of a four-game series on Friday.

Jhoulys Chacin looks shaky in first Triple-A rehab start
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:24 pm ET) After making two starts for Class A Modesto, Rockies pitcher Jhoulys Chacin began his Triple-A rehab assignment Thursday.

Chacin was not as his best, as he allowed four runs -- two earned -- on five hits and one walks while striking out four over 4 2/3 innings pitched. He will likely need at least one more start with the Sky Sox before rejoining the rotation.

Paul Clemens tossed after plunking Jed Lowrie
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:06 pm ET) Astros pitcher Paul Clemens was ejected Thursday night against the A's after hitting Jed Lowrie with a pitch in the seventh.

Clemens appeared to have been retaliating from an incident with Lowrie a week ago. He was on the mound when Lowrie bunted with a 7-0 in the first inning on April 18.

Clemens allowed three runs -- two earned -- on five hits and one walk while striking out two over 2 2/3 innings before the ejections. He owns a 5.40 ERA over 10 innings pitched.

Eric Stults can't factor into decision Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:57 pm ET) Padres pitcher Eric Stults was unable to factor into the decision Thursday night against the Nationals.

Making his fifth start of the year, Stults surrendered a sacrifice fly in the third and a solo home run to Danny Espinosa. He was charged with two runs on 10 hits and no walks while striking out three over 5 1/3 innings pitched.

Stults owns a 4.15 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP over 26 innings pitched. He'll make his next start Tuesday at San Francisco.

Brendan Ryan could be back in a week
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:09 pm ET) Yankees infielder Brendan Ryan took part in a minor-league game at the team's spring training complex Thursday, as he continues to recover from nerve issues in his back. According to MLB.com, Ryan could be activated from the disabled list in a week.  

A's not ready to add Ryan Cook to ninth-inning mix
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:05 pm ET) Athletics manager Bob Melvin is still not ready to consider Ryan Cook part of the closer-by-committee mix, MLB.com reports. However, he remains impressed with the progress Cook has made since returning from the disabled list.

"He was the one guy coming out of spring late, not as many appearances as the other guys, so we were kind of spoon-feeding him into a more prominent role," Melvin said. "He just gives us another option late in games, and we have a lot of them."

Cook owns a 1.35 ERA, with an 8:6 K:BB ratio over 6 2/3 innings pitched.

Scott Hairston will work on outfield drills Saturday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:53 pm ET) Nationals outfielder Scott Hairston (oblique) took batting practice on the field again on Thursday without any issues, manager Matt Williams told MLB.com.

Williams expects Hairston to do regular outfield drills on Saturday. Barring any setbacks, Hairston could start working on game situations in the near future.


 
 
 
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