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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
Rays' James Loney hits homer on Friday after return from DL
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:19 pm ET) James Loney returned from the disable list on Friday and hit his first home run, a two-run shot, since Sept. 9 in the Rays' victory over the Blue Jays.

"It's fun being back out there again," Loney said. "I'm just glad it's over." 

Loney's 15-day stint for a strained right oblique was his first-ever trip to the DL.


Yankees pitcher Nathan Eovaldi looking to build off strong outing
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:13 pm ET) Yankees pitcher Nathan Eovaldi is hoping to continue his hot start Sunday when he takes the hill against the Mets. Manager Joe Girardi is hoping to see more of the same, including his devastating slide, reports The Journal News.

"I saw in Detroit the best slider I've seen him have. I thought it had great depth," Girardi said. "I thought he threw his curve ball well. They had a predominantly right-handed lineup, so maybe he didn't throw as many splits as in some of the other games. Probably as important as anything, I thought he pitched inside to them. You throw 95, 96 and you're able to pitch inside for strikes and a little bit off the plate, guys aren't really comfortable. That's really important."

Eovaldi is 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings pitched this season.

"I think sometimes because he's been up a few years, people forget about how young he really is," Girardi said. "He's a young starting pitcher. He's still developing. When you learn how to do some of the things he’s learning how to do, it just makes you that much more effective."


Blue Jays' Justin Smoak hits second HR in three games in Friday's loss
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(6:12 pm ET) After entering the game as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning, first baseman Justin Smoak connected for a ninth-inning solo home run in the Blue Jays' loss to the Rays on Friday.

It was his second home run in three games.

Rays C Rene Rivera makes rare contribution with Friday blast
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:12 pm ET) Rays catcher Rene Rivera only joined his team's hit parade against Toronto once Friday night, but he had a "blast" doing it.

Rivera slugged his first home run of the season, a two-run shot to center that landed 421 feet from the plate. The tater only served to brighten a still-dismal slash line of .143/.186/.232, but Rivera has managed four hits in his last five games.


Yankees manager Joe Girardi believes in Carlos Beltran getting going
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:07 pm ET) Yankees veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran isn't hitting well to start the 2015 season. Beltran is hitting a lowly .173 and just 6 for 39 batting left-handed. After going with Chris Young over Beltran in the lineup Saturday, manger Joe Girardi had words of encouragement for the veteran, according to The Journal News.

"I know he's frustrated," Girardi said. "He had a couple big hits the other day. It's been a little bit harder left-handed for him, but I really believe he's going to get going. I do. He probably needs a break here and there and it will start happening for him."

Beltran also sat out two games last week due to an illness and Girardi was worried he wasn't ready to come back when he did.

"I'm sure it hasn't helped," Girardi said. "I thought he was still somewhat weak in Detroit. At the end of the road trip, he still had a little bit of a chest cold. I think he's better now. He's really important to our offense and we have to get him going."


Cards INF Pete Kozma to serve as emergency catcher on Saturday
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(6:06 pm ET) With catcher Yadier Molina day to day due to a sore knee, INF Pete Kozma caught a side session and will serve as the Cardinals' emergency catcher Saturday in Milwaukee, reports MLB.com.

Molina took a foul tip off his right knee guard in Friday's win and is experiencing soreness.

Tony Cruz gets the start behind the plate for the Cards.

Angels C.J. Cron continues heating up with three-hit Friday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:05 pm ET) When the season began, Angels designated hitter C.J. Cron couldn't buy a hit. Not he's pretty much hitting every other game. When he starts hitting every day, he'll truly be hot.

For now, he's lukewarm. But he did peak with a 3-for-4 performance Friday night against Texas. Cron doubled, singled twice and scored in the fourth to raise his average over .200 for the first time.

He has hit safely in just five of his last eight games, but managed multiple hits in three of them and has three doubles during that stretch.


Flurry of strikeouts prompts Ausmus to bench Tigers OF Gose
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:56 pm ET) A spate of strikeouts motivated Brad Ausmus to bench Tigers leadoff hitter Anthony Gose against Cleveland on Saturday.

Gose hadn't stopped hitting - he managed six hits in his last 22 at-bats and owns a .333/.348/.511 slash line on the year with eight runs scored. But he has tallied just twice in the last seven games and has been stirring up plenty of wind. He fanned 10 times in 17 at-bats over the last four games.

"He's just in a little bit of a funk right now," Ausmus told MLB.com. "He's not swinging like was a week ago. It doesn't hurt to give him a day to regroup and work on some things in the cage."


Nick Castellanos homers for only Tigers run in Friday loss
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5:53 pm ET) Nick Castellanos hit his second home run of the season and first since April 10 in the Tigers' loss Friday to Cleveland. 

Castellanos went 1 for 4 and was responsible for Detroit's only run of the night in a 13-1 loss. He improved his average to .259 and recorded his seventh RBI. 


Diamondbacks move Mark Trumbo to the bench Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:53 pm ET) Diamondbacks right fielder Mark Trumbo is on the bench for Saturday's game against the Pirates, with Ender Inciarte moving to right field and David Peralta taking over in left, the team announced.

Trumbo had started four consecutive games for Arizona and will get the day off. Also out of the lineup Saturday is Yasmany Tomas, moving Aaron Hill back to third base. Tomas has started two games at third since being called up and is hitting .400 in 10 at-bats. Cliff Pennington also replaces Nick Ahmed at shortstop, who started the last nine games in a row.

The Diamondbacks are currently the underdogs (+120) against Pittsburgh.


 
 
 
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