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Waiver Wire: The case for Quintana

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Back in 1993, Jeff Goldblum starred as Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park. His quirky mathematician character is probably best known for espousing chaos theory and predicting the eventual downfall of the park, but I think another scene in the film can actually help explain a strategy that I've loosely practiced (up until now, without a proper name) in Fantasy.

When Dr. Malcolm was shown a velociraptor hatching, he railed on the scientists for their hubris in thinking that they could control the livelihood of the dinosaurs. Dr. Malcolm assured the others that, while he didn't have an explanation for how it would happen, he was pretty certain that Jurassic Park would soon be home to reproducing dinosaurs. As he so eloquently put it: life finds a way.

This philosophy actually serves a purpose here. Go back and watch that scene, but replace "life" for "Tony Cingrani."

We're assuming that, when Johnny Cueto comes back -- and if Mike Leake continues to pitch well -- Cingrani will be sent back to the minors. And this makes a good deal of logical sense. However, we're being somewhat closed-minded about this -- Cueto could face a complication in his return, Leake could implode, any of the other pitchers in the rotation could get hurt. Remember three weeks ago, when the Dodgers had three extra pitchers hanging off the end of their rotation? After a trade and two injuries, they now have Stephen Fife starting for them [The same logic can be applied to Evan Gattis' playing time in Atlanta, with Jason Heyward's DL stint coming just two weeks too early. But it's a flickering reminder of how things just happen in baseball, and why these breakout players may be worth holding onto in the face of a logical argument to do otherwise].

Cingrani has been nothing short of spectacular in his two starts, with a 2.25 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. These things sort themselves out more often than not. So when I'm asked if trading Cingrani for Michael Cuddyer is a smart move, I'm a little torn. The logical side is thinking that Cuddyer has a job for the rest of the season and is a solid trade for a pitcher who may have two starts left before being sent back down. But then I think of those little raptors and their frog DNA, and it seems like a risk I'm willing to take -- hold onto my Cingrani for dear life, and just wait for something to happen that will keep him in the rotation.

The Big Leaps

Jose Quintana, SP, White Sox (72 percent ownership, up from 35 percent)

Most Added Players (as of 4/25)
Player Name % change
1. Garrett Richards, SP, Angels 33
2. Yuniesky Betancourt, 1B, Brewers 33
3. Carlos Villanueva, SP, Cubs 31
4. Chris Johnson, 3B, Braves 30
5. Daniel Nava, OF, Red Sox 30
6. Patrick Corbin, SP, D-Backs 29
7. Edward Mujica, RP, Cardinals 29
8. Brandon Crawford, SS, Giants 28
9. Jose Quintana, SP, White Sox 28
10. Jorge De La Rosa, SP, Rockies 25

This was more of a timing thing than anything else. Quintana has two starts this week, and he was coming off two previous starts where he struck out 14 and didn't allow a run. It's a tasty combination, especially this early in the season.

Quintana was pretty solid in 22 starts last year, with a 3.76 ERA in 136 1/3 innings. But these numbers included an ugly run at the end of the year, when Quintana posted a 7.52 ERA in his final seven games. This was probably from him pitching a career-high 185 innings, between Double-A and the majors (his previous high was 102, set in 2011). This also may help to explain why Quintana's career minor league K/9 of 10.0 dropped markedly, to 5.3, with the White Sox last year -- it was an effort to keep the wear on his arm low so he could last longer in the season.

This season, as far as we can tell, there are no such restrictions on Quintana. Going 200 innings won't be a huge step up from 185, and he's already struck out 20 in 22 2/3 innings. While Quintana may have been a strategic add for his two-start week, his new owners may be pleasantly surprised at how good he is, and opt to just ... keep him. If they do, they could end up having a solid, underappreciated pitcher who is efficient and can see a nice leap in strikeouts, if his minor league numbers are any real indication.

Over/under on K/9 (season): 8.5
Over/under on ERA (season): 2.85
Over/under on ownership by May 1 (season): 90 percent

Chris Johnson, 3B, Braves (66 percent, up from 30)

The widespread adding of Johnson seems a little odd. With Freddie Freeman back from the DL, Johnson will fall back into a platoon with Juan Francisco at third base. Granted, Johnson has put up some really nice numbers this season -- .397 average with two home runs and four doubles over 63 at-bats -- but Francisco hasn't exactly struggled at the plate, hitting .302 with four home runs and 10 RBI. They both have third base eligibility (Johnson also has first base eligibility, which is kind of moot considering how much deeper that position is), and can offer equal output, with Johnson striking out a little less and maybe having more value in OBP leagues.

We've also seen Johnson get hot in bunches before -- last year, after being traded from the Astros to the Diamondbacks, Johnson hit .333 with five home runs and 17 RBI in an 11-game stretch. Over his next 15 games, Johnson hit .103 with just three RBI. He's a nice player but is stuck in a time share, which eats into his value and makes him a viable start in NL-only formats. And playing at a position with plenty of options, Johnson's spot can probably be better used for a speculative adding of someone like Bruce Rondon.

Over/under on average (season): .265
Over/under on date when everyone realizes Johnson is in a timeshare and starts dropping him: April 28
Over/under on his ownership by May 2: 35 percent

Unadvised Drop of the Week

Jedd Gyorko, 2B, Padres (64 percent, down from 70 percent)

Gyorko has been pretty disappointing so far in his rookie season -- a .229 average with no home runs and just six RBI. A top prospect in 2011 and 2012, Gyorko won the second base job in spring training and sports a stellar minor league track record; in the last two seasons, over three levels, Gyorko has hit 55 home runs and driven in 214 runs. He has a career .319 average in the minors, as well, so he wasn't all power. Furthermore, Gyorko was drafted out of college, so he's already a more mature 23 years old.

But Gyorko has failed to deliver on the power potential thus far -- his ISO is .057, while his BABIP is sitting at around league average (.291). He's not striking out at an alarming rate (20.3 percent) and he's taking a decent amount of walks. This may just be a case of Gyorko not yet warming up. Maybe it's the fact he had to bounce between second and third base to help serve as a band-aid for Chase Headley's injury. Gyorko's also had to play 14 games without Headley in the lineup and 13 without the Padres' other power bat, Carlos Quentin. With both playing together for the first time on Tuesday, Gyorko was bumped to seventh in the order, but he at least gets some other bats in the lineup.

In short, Gyorko is a power bat eligible at second and third base, who has been playing without two 30 home run threats for most of the season. My guess is that Gyorko can now relax a little bit, focus on playing just second base, and start hitting up to his ability.

Over/under on home runs (season): 25
Over/under on batting average (season): .275

An Astrologer's take on why you should grab Tim Lincecum

We don't look at the Most Traded page too often, but toward the top of the list sits the ever-enigmatic Tim Lincecum, who is sporting a 4.04 ERA and 1.37 WHIP this season.

I'll be man enough to admit that I have no clue what happened to Lincecum last year. I don't think he was hurt, I doubt he just lost focus, and I know he didn't lose skill -- not at the age of 28. For most of the season, we were just shrugging our shoulders, telling people to start him based on his past success.

So, without a real explanation for things, I called sports astrologer Andrea Mallis (you can follow her @virgoinservice and check out some of her past work here). Last year, Andrea was a guest on our show and told us Lincecum would enjoy more success in the second half of the year, because a trying astrological transit, which would eventually pass, was the reason for his early 2012 struggles. It wasn't vintage Lincecum, but he did have a 3.83 ERA and about a strikeout per inning after the All-Star break, something we forget when throwing a "he stunk" blanket over his entire year.

I'm not asking you to believe everything Mallis is saying. You can be wholly opposed to astrology. But here's something even the biggest astrology hater cannot dispute: if Lincecum believes in it (and I don't know either way if he does), then there's value here, because it may be -- even subconsciously -- inside his head. And if you're just curious and grasping for answers for his performance last year like a lot of us were, this is, at the very least, a cool, unique opinion on what happened and what to expect.

According to Mallis, Lincecum currently has Jupiter in Gemini, which is very good for him, and was the same transit he experienced during the playoffs, when Lincecum had a 2.55 ERA and struck out 20 batters in 17 2/3 innings, mostly out of the bullpen. This period of "expansion, optimism, and confidence" will continue, Mallis says, through about June 25th (it actually began on April 20th, the same day Lincecum pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and struck out eight batters). Mallis adds that Lincecum should be solid through September, with "no red flags" in July, August looking "very good," and September "very strong," as well.

"October," Mallis says, "is problematic." But here's the cool thing about dealing with a sports astrologer -- Mallis knows that the post-September world has no bearing on a Fantasy season. She just wanted to throw that in there for the Giants fans.

As for last year, Mallis says Lincecum has three planets in Capricorn. Saturn in Libra, and the moon in Capricorn, which made a square. The "Saturn square moon" causes vitality to diminish, reduces confidence, and the person going through it can be plagued by insecurity. "Pitching's a very mental game," Mallis says. "And you get a Saturn transit -- that's very depressing."

So, for this year, with Jupiter in Gemini, Mallis is looking for good things all around. "It's a whole different energy," Mallis says. "It's like 'all systems go.'" She explains that Lincecum has a, "when it rains it pours," chart, meaning that when it's bad, it's all kinds of bad, but when it's good -- like it is now -- Lincecum can be unstoppable. In her own words: "We're golden," when it comes to Tim Lincecum's Fantasy outlook this year.

So trade Lincecum at your own peril. And those who own him should consider starting him, at the very least, through June 25 (if you believe any of this has any relevance).

The Flavor of Next Week

Drew Stubbs, OF, Indians (21 percent ownership)

Stubbs is a perennial threat to be a 20/20 player -- although, to be fair, he's only done it once (22 home runs and 30 steals in 2010). In 2011, Stubbs hit 15 home runs and stole 40 bases (while leading the league in strikeouts). In 2012, Stubbs hit 14 home runs and stole 30 bases (in just 136 games). So far this year, Stubbs has one home run and three steals over 58 at-bats. His OPS (.701) is the highest it's been since 2010. And since Stubbs took over in center field for the injured Michael Bourn, he is hitting .320 with five runs scored, stealing two bases and hitting his home run in those seven games.

Stubbs probably won't have one of those 5-for-5 games with two home runs and two steals to catch everyone's attention; instead, he'll slowly creep up the free agent list, eventually working his way to the top and making himself unavoidable. For as bad as his batting average has been in his career (.241), Stubbs is now playing in a much larger ballpark, perhaps allowing for him to drive the ball over the larger field and increase his average. At the very least, Stubbs can offer some nice speed and power potential, and is getting hot without much fanfare right now.

Over/under on steals (season): 30
Over/under on home runs (season): 15
Over/under on average (season): .255

American League-only fun

Aaron Hicks, OF, Twins (22 percent)

Hicks was owned in 53 percent of leagues to start the season. After an exceptionally bad start to things, Hicks saw his ownership drop ... and drop ... and drop some more, until he found himself owned in just 22 percent of leagues -- and started in just five percent. He was briefly supplanted as the starter in center by Darin Mastroianni, but got the job back after Mastroianni went on the DL.

Hicks is currently batting .073. He has no extra base hits but he has walked 11 times, so there's at least a tiny, very thin, silver lining to this cloud. And while this isn't a ringing endorsement, Hicks has scored four runs in his last five games, all from the No. 8 spot in the batting order. And he is hitting .286 in his last three!

Hicks, a top prospect each of the last four years, may be overmatched in the majors. He really only broke out last year in the minors -- his first season with double-digits in home runs (13) and his best batting average in a season with over 300 at-bats (.286). But he has one big thing going for him: Hicks is pretty much the only option for the Twins in center field right now. He's going to play every day. And while he does this, his chances of catching up to major league pitching and improving as a hitter will go up.

Over/under on home runs + stolen bases (season): 22
Over/under on average (season): .245
Over/under on games played (season): 75

National League-only fun

Joe Mahoney, 1B, Marlins (Two percent)

The rotating door of Marlins first basemen may have stopped on Mahoney, a 26-year-old would-be slugger who is hitting .294 through six games.

Mahoney has hit double-digit home runs in each of the past three seasons in the minors, despite only getting 475 at-bats in one of those campaigns. He has a career .275 average over 2,311 minor league at-bats, and has stolen as many as 29 bases in a season (although his second-highest was 13, and then it's all single digits beyond that).

Like Hicks, Mahoney looks like he'll play a good amount, with Greg Dobbs able to play third base and the outfield. He adds another power(ish) bat to the lineup to help protect Giancarlo Stanton. And Mahoney has that job for a while, as both Logan Morrison and Casey Kotchman are still pretty far off from returns.

I'm not adding Mahoney in mixed leagues just yet, as he is playing at a very deep position and didn't have eye-popping numbers in the minors. But he could show enough power and average to be a solid corner infielder in NL-only formats for the next month, at the very least.

Over/under on home runs (season): 14
Over/under on average (season): .250

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
Cubs P Jon Lester allows 1 earned run in loss to Nationals
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Cubs pitcher Jon Lester gave up two runs — one earned — in Wednesday evening's 3-0 loss to the Nationals. 

Lester pitched a solid game, though gave up a home run to Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper in the sixth inning. Then again, most pitchers have found it difficult throwing to Harper of late. Lester was still able to strike out 10 batters.

Lester has allowed only four earned runs over his past three starts and now holds a 3.30 ERA. 

His next start is projected for June 2 against the Marlins. 


Nationals P Drew Storen earns save No. 16 against Cubs
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Nationals closer Drew Storen recorded his 16th save of the season in Wednesday night's 3-0 win over the Cubs. 

Storen allowed just one hit and once again didn't allow an earned run. He hasn't given up a run since April 21 and has only given up two runs in 20 1/3 innings pitched. Storen was able to record a strikeout as well. 

Storen's ERA is now at 0.84 for the season. 

The Nationals have won 21 of their past 27 games and haven't lost back-to-back games since April 26 and 27. 


Giants' Jake Peavy allows six runs in rehab start Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Giants pitcher Jake Peavy (back) surrendered six earned runs on nine hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings while striking out two in his rehab start with Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday.

Peavy was able to toss 3 1/3 scoreless innings while allowing just one hit in his previous rehab outing, which came with Class A San Jose, but he didn't find anywhere near the same success on Wednesday while throwing 76 pitches. Out since April 17, Peavy is set to be re-evaluated by the Giants before his next step is determined.


Angels' Mike Morin getting better, recovery measured in weeks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Angels pitcher Mike Morin is getting better after being placed on the disabled list with a strained oblique, but manager Mike Scioscia said the pitcher's recovery is a matter of "weeks, not days," MLB.com reports.

Morin was removed from Saturday's game with the injury, and it appears he'll be in for an extended stay on the disabled list. He owns a 6.00 ERA and 13:5 K:BB ratio in 15 innings.


Nationals P Max Scherzer strikes out 13 in win over Cubs
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer dominated yet another game this season, throwing 13 strikeouts in Wednesday night's 3-0 win over the Cubs. 

Scherzer kept the Cubs at bay during the seven innings he was in, only allowing five hits and one walk. The 13 strikeouts marked a season-high for Scherzer. He's only allowed two earned runs in his last four starts. 

Scherzer's ERA is now down to 1.51. His record is now 6-3 for the year. 

Scherzer's next start is projected for June 2 against the Blue Jays. 


Astros' Tony Sipp takes loss vs. Orioles Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Astros pitcher Tony Sipp was stuck with a loss on Wednesday, giving up the go-ahead run on a solo homer by Chris Davis in his team's 5-4 defeat against the Orioles.

"He's been there for us so much this year," manager A.J. Hinch said, per MLB.com. "A couple of pitches got him and he got burned a little bit. It's difficult for him, and certainly not the way and indicative of how he's pitched this season. I feel bad for our team. We fight back like that and don't get the win."

Sipp (2-2) struck out two on the day but gave up a home run for his second consecutive appearance. He owns a 1.53 ERA and 20:3 K:BB ratio in 17 2/3 innings.


Twins closer Glen Perkins records 18th save of the year Wednesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Twins closer Glen Perkins worked a perfect ninth inning on Wednesday in Minnesota's 6-4 win over the Red Sox, earning his 18th save of the season.

Perkins forced two fly outs and one ground out without allowing a man to reach base in the inning. Perkins now boasts a 1.19 ERA in 22 2/3 innings of work. Perkins has thrown three of the last five days and is looking forward to a bit of rest, according to the Star Tribune.

"[Thursday] is an off-day, so that's good timing," Perkins said. "I have been good this year. I have felt good. Ever since I took the last two weeks of the season off last year, I have felt good. So no worries, and I'm glad that I get a lot of opportunities to pitch."


Diamondbacks' Tuffy Gosewisch suffers jammed left knee
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Diamondbacks catcher Tuffy Gosewisch suffered a jammed left knee on a play at first base in Wednesday's game against the Cardinals, the team announced.

Gosewisch appeared to trip over the bag at first base while trying to beat a tag, and fell to the ground, where he was holding his knee and grimacing in pain. He had to be helped to the dugout and finished the night 0 for 3.

"It looks OK," manager Chip Hale said of the knee, per FOX Sports Arizona. "He will have an MRI tomorrow. We'll have to make a decision Friday."

The Diamondbacks' only other catcher on the active roster is Jordan Pacheco, who replaced Gosewisch in the game. If Gosewisch needs to miss an extended period of time, Jarrod Saltalamacchia is an option at Triple-A after being signed earlier this month.


Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud begins rehab assignment on Wednesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud went 0 for 3 on Wednesday for Class A St. Lucie as a part of his rehab assignment.

d'Arnaud, who is currently on the 15-day DL with a hand injury, was playing in extended spring training games before heading to St. Lucie on Wednesday. d'Arnaud has not played since April 19 when he suffered the injury and is hitting .317 with 10 RBI on the year.


Mets pitcher Dillon Gee strikes out four in Double-A rehab start
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Mets pitcher Dillon Gee allowed three runs, two earned, on five hits in 6 1/3 innings of work for Double-A Binghamton on Wednesday.

Gee, who is currently on the 15-day DL with a groin injury, recorded four strikeouts and two walks in his first start for Double-A. Gee was with Class A St. Lucie to begin his rehab assignment. Gee was originally hoping to rejoin the team this week, but may be called up at the end of the week.

Gee could rejoin the starting rotation on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, according to ESPN.com.

He is 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 30 1/3 innings of work this season.


 
 
 
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