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Waiver Wire: Cash in on Cashner

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Since the Head-to-Head loophole of letting starting pitchers slot in as relievers continues to exist, owners are going to want to take a closer look at Andrew Cashner this week.

The 26-year-old, who started the season in the bullpen, is now a full-fledged member of the rotation. Cashner apparently wanted it so badly that he didn't even require a long stretching-out period. He went from four innings on April 20 to six on April 26, jumping from 65 pitches thrown to 83. His next start should be a full-fledged Cashnerpalooza, with 95-100 pitches thrown, a flirtation with seven innings, and a near-guarantee of one strikeout per inning.

Cashner isn't Tony Cingrani, but he can offer a Fantasy team something close. He has that relief pitcher eligibility. He can strike out a batter per inning. And he should be able to keep his ERA (2.76 in 205 1/3 minor league innings) and WHIP (1.19) at decent levels. With his fastball averaging 95.7 mph in his two starts, Cashner seems primed for a good deal of success

One very important note on Cashner for his would-be owners to consider, however, is this: his career high in innings pitched is 111 1/3, which he managed in 2010. The closest approximation to this would be Jose Quintana, whose career high in innings pitched before last year was 102. In 2012, Quintana threw 185 innings. His final six games, all in September, were decidedly ugly: a 6.75 ERA and 1.99 WHIP. If Cashner is having a solid season through late July, you might want to consider the innings hit on his arm, and begin feeling out offers for him.

But that's still several months away. For now, grab him in your leagues, exploit the rules, and enjoy your Andrew Cashners!

The Big Leaps

Nate McLouth, OF, Orioles (75 percent ownership, up from 14 percent)

I'm not in the business of regurgitating information two days in a row on the site. My colleague Scott White went very deep into the pros of Nate McLouth in his "Reality Check" column Tuesday. I will add this, however: after his ascent in 2007 and his two big seasons in 2008 and 2009, McLouth just fell apart in 2010 and 2011 in Atlanta. Reasons? He played through abdominal and shoulder pain in 2011 (he was eventually shut down in July) and was concussed in June of 2010 after starting off the season incredibly cold. These may not be stone-cold factors in his seeming demise, but something clicked back on in Baltimore, and McLouth seems to be re-energized.

He doesn't quite have the upside of a "must-add," but if you're looking for a solid outfielder who can be slotted in and left to produce at an Alejandro De Aza-type level, McLouth could be your man.

Over/under on home runs (season): 17
Over/under on average (season): .255
Over/under on steals (season): 11.5

Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies (63 percent, up from 25)

Most Added Players (as of 5/1)
Player Name % change
1. Nate McLouth, OF, Orioles 61
2. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies 39
3. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Athletics 38
4. Kyle Kendrick, SP, Phillies 35
5. Yuniesky Betancourt, 1B, Brewers 32
6. Andrew Cashner, SP, Padres 32
7. Russell Martin, C, Pirates 24
8. Justin Grimm, SP, Rangers 23
9. Kevin Gregg, RP, Cubs 20
10. Jose Valverde, RP, Tigers 17

Arenado was recalled without much warning, and the collateral damage -- the release of clubhouse favorite Chris Nelson, who wasn't exactly terrible (.242 average with an ugly .600 OPS) -- was a bit of a surprise, as well. But Arenado is here, and it looks like he's not going anywhere. As one of Colorado's (and baseball's) top prospects, Arenado can offer a team some help in power and batting average.

Arenado enters a pretty solid situation, joining a lineup with Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Wilin Rosario, and Dexter Fowler. He's not expected to carry the team, but should benefit in counting stats (runs, RBI) just from being in that lineup. While fellow third base call-up Anthony Rendon is in danger of being sent back to the minors when Ryan Zimmerman is back from the DL, Arenado has no such worries -- Reid Brignac isn't going to push Arenado for his job, and the man he's replacing is searching for a new job with another team.

For the rest of the season, I'd still rather have Mike Moustakas on my team than Arenado, but I've picked Arenado up in any league possible -- even if I already have Moustakas -- because he'll probably play well enough to develop into a viable trading chip.

Over/under on average (season): .269
Over/under on home runs (season): 17
Over/under on his ownership by May 15: 90 percent

Unadvised Drop of the Week

Ben Revere, OF, Phillies (63 percent, down 11 percent)

With a .207 average and five steals, Revere isn't quite getting it done for his owners. But there are some encouraging signs here. In the seven games before Revere was knocked out with a minor injury, he hit .240 and scored four runs. Additionally, his BABIP this season is .237, well below his career average of .303.

Revere is walking at about his career rate, but his 15.1 percent strikeout rate suggest that he's maybe pressing with the new team, in a new league. Revere is only 24 years old, and hit .294 with 40 steals last year. We've seen players struggle a little when switching leagues. We've also seen Revere struggle early in the season -- in 108 April at-bats, Revere has a career .213 average and .248 OBP. He may just be a slow starter.

I'm willing to give Revere, who will eventually return to the leadoff spot and hit ahead of a very underrated Phillies lineup, the benefit of the doubt. He'll turn things around, get back on base, and should be good for 35-40 steals on the season.

Over/under on home runs (season): 0
Over/under on batting average (season): .280

The Flavor of Next Week

Trevor Bauer, SP, Indians (36 percent ownership)

So far, Bauer's major league career has been a big bouncy ball of disappointment -- a 5.91 ERA and 1.69 WHIP in five starts. But Bauer's four starts last year came with an injured groin, and his one start this year was just killed by his control -- in five innings, he walked seven batters (but only gave up two hits!)

Bauer will start for Cleveland on Wednesday, and even though the team is calling it a spot start, there's a pretty good chance that if Bauer pitches to a level of which he's capable (he's been a top 15 prospect each of the last two years), he can stick around and work himself into a two-start situation next week.

Bauer currently has a 2.50 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in three Triple-A starts this season. He's struck out 24 batters in 18 innings, and has only walked six total batters in those three starts. There is skill here, but Bauer has yet to put it on full display in the majors. And this makes him a wonderful target for Fantasy players -- Bauer has pretty much flamed out twice, giving would-be owners a touch of weariness when they're about to click on that big green cross next to his name to add him. Blow past the hesitation -- the upside of Bauer is too great to pass up, especially if he manages to stick around for more than this one start.

Over/under on starts (season): 24
Over/under on ERA (season): 3.80
Over/under on K/9 (season): 9.5

American League-only fun

David Phelps, SP, Yankees (21 percent ownership)

For most of his minor league career -- 90 of 91 appearances, to be exact -- Phelps was a starter. And he was an exceptionally good one, with a 2.51 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 515 1/3 innings. It's a little unfair to judge Phelps by his track record as a starter in the majors, as his only real consistent run came in early September, when he had to stretch out and contend with an arm that had been accustomed to pitching relief innings for most of the season.

Phelps probably won't strike out a batter per inning (his nine strikeouts in four innings last week were probably an aberration) and he may need a start or two to get stretched out, but AL-only owners would be wise to add him in their leagues, especially in Head-to-Head formats, where he can be slotted as a reliever.

Over/under on starts (season): 15
Over/under on ERA (season): 3.20

National League-only fun

Francisco Liriano, SP, Pirates (21 percent)

This recommendation is based on one factor: Ray Searage, the pitching coach for the Pirates, who resurrected A.J. Burnett's career and guided the Pittsburgh staff to the 13th-best ERA in the majors last year. Burnett is the only pitcher on the staff who had marked success before joining the team, and Liriano fits that bill -- a once-brilliant starter who has fallen on some very hard times, looking to return to what worked for him earlier. I'm not fully convinced Searage is Leo Mazzone 2.0, but he has found success with a variety of pitchers, and Liriano could be next in line.

In his current minor league rehab assignment, Liriano has improved with every start -- his last two have been dominant -- 11 total innings, with a 1.64 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and 17 strikeouts. With Jonathan Sanchez gone, James McDonald struggling and Jeanmar Gomez not exactly the most exciting of options, Liriano should be up relatively soon, and could carry over his recent success to the majors. for what it's worth, Liriano -- in his first go-round in the National League -- has a stellar track record in interleague play, with a 3.31 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 126 strikeouts in 117 innings pitched. It's a risk, but a calculated one -- adding him now could be a sly move, as Liriano's minor league exploits will gain more attention and the secret will soon be out.

Over/under on starts (season): 21
Over/under on ERA (season): 3.70

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
Mets' Jacob deGrom working on perfecting his curveball
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:42 am ET) Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom is working on perfecting his curveball this spring, according to the New York Post

"This spring is so different," deGrom said. "I can really come in here and work on things. Last year when I was over on the big league side, I didn’t throw my curveball one time because I was trying to make the team and prove I could get outs in spring training."

After experiencing some success in the majors, deGrom said he is more willing to work on stuff this time around. While he actually started using his curve more late last season, it seems like deGrom is going to work on perfecting the pitch during camp. 

"It’s a great pitch whether it be strike one or a strikeout pitch," deGrom said. "Talking to Gee, Wheeler and all those guys and see how they throw theirs and taking little bits of information from them and trying it in bullpens. Sometimes I throw it at 78 (mph) and that’s a big difference from the slider. It gets the hitter off balance."

deGrom, 26, posted a 2.69 ERA over 140 1/3 innings last season.


Rockies' Charlie Blackmon hoping for more consistency
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:15 am ET) Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon is hoping for more consistency in 2015, according to the Denver Post

Blackmon had a breakout season in 2014, but admits it's hard to be on every single game. "Last year, I swung the bat really well at certain times," he said. "But you go through a lot of ups and downs over 162 games, and that was a learning experience. I think that's going to help me this year."

Blackmon said his strong start made him a target for other teams, and that may have contributed to a slight slump during the season. Blackmon added that he's hoping to hit the ball to all fields this season.

Manager Walt Weiss is hoping Blackmon can deliver more of the same. "I don't know if he necessarily has to have an encore. I'm thinking more of the same," Weiss said. "I think Charlie would say that he wants to be more consistent."

The 28-year-old Blackmon hit .288/.335/.440 over 593 at-bats last year. 


Twins' Gibson feels 'a little more comfortable' with curveball
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:29 am ET) Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson surrendered one run on two hits and one walk in two innings while striking out two in his spring debut Thursday, using the outing to work on his curveball, the Associated Press reports.

"I felt really good," Gibson said. "I'm working on some stuff, and some stuff worked out that I was working on. I threw more curveballs than normal. That's what spring training's for. It's just fun to be able to work on a particular pitch. I feel a little more comfortable."

Gibson, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011, completed his first full major-league deal in 2014, going 13-12 with a 4.47 ERA and 107:57 K:BB ratio in 179 1/3 innings.


Blue Jays' Barton hoping his glove wins him a spot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) Blue Jays first baseman Daric Barton is hoping his glove can win him a spot on the 25-man roster, according to the Toronto Sun.

Barton isn't much of a power hitter, but gets strong marks for his defense at first. Manager John Gibbons is well aware of Barton's skills. "One thing that put Daric on the map was that he was such a disciplined hitter and a great defender," Gibbons said. He added that the first baseman is involved in a large chunk of plays, so defense at the position is probably more important than people realize.

With that said, Barton may need a trade to make the opening day roster. As currently constructed, the Blue Jays may carry three catchers. If the team retains Dioner Navarro, Barton could find himself in the minors.

The 29-year-old Barton hit .158 over 57 at-bats last year.


Pirates' Pedro Alvarez feeling comfortable at first
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:21 am ET) Pirates infielder Pedro Alvarez is feeling comfortable at first base, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

After playing third the past couple of seasons, Alvarez will transition to first base full-time in 2015. The 28-year-old is still getting used to the position, but he seems comfortable with the change.

"It’s just a matter of getting used to seeing the field from that point of view, get the reps in so that the responsibilities that come with playing the position become second nature," he said. "That’s just with time and repetitions."

Alvarez hit .231/.312/.405 over 398 at-bats last season. 


Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman gets strong marks at first
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:17 am ET) Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman received strong reviews after playing his first game at first base this spring, according to MLB.com.

"He is still in the stages of having to think about it out there, because it's not natural yet," manager Matt Williams said. "He looked fine. He has fantastic hands." Zimmerman was tested during the start, and had to make two scoops in order to prevent possible throwing errors. 

He's been taking extra practice at the position this spring, and was fairly happy with how his first game turned out. "You can do so many drills, exercises and things like that until you have to go out there and play," Zimmerman said. "So it's nice to have a few chances. The more I play over there, the more comfortable I will get. I feel fine."

Zimmerman, 30, hit .280/.342/.449 over 214 at-bats last year. 


Orioles' Brian Matusz tosses scoreless inning in return
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:09 am ET) Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz tossed a scoreless inning in his return to the mound.

Matusz came into camp dealing with a shoulder issue, but said he was pretty close to 100 percent. He allowed one hit during his one inning of work, and struck out one batter. Matusz is expected to open the season in the team's bullpen. 

The 28-year-old posted a 3.48 ERA over 51 2/3 innings last year.


Red Sox's Rusney Castillo wouldn't alter plan if sent down
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:06 am ET) Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo won't be upset if he winds up being sent down to the minors, according to the WEEI.

That's not a likely outcome, but with his recent oblique injury, there's a chance Castillo could fall behind the other outfielders on the roster. "To me it wouldn’t be anything that would alter my plan, or my attitude, or my perspective," he said. "If that’s what it’s got to be, that’s what it’s got to be. I’m just worrying playing and continuing to get reps and reps wherever they may come."

Castillo did note that he's feeling a lot better, and is expected to return in about a week. Castillo hit .333 over 36 at-bats in the majors last year. 


Red Sox's Jackie Bradley Jr. showing off new swing
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/5/2015) Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is showing off his new swing this spring, according to the Boston Herald

Bradley started working out at the team's facility in November, and started hitting in January. He worked with assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez for a good portion of the offseason. "Jackie was dedicated," Rodriguez said. "He listened, too. He was open to what we talked about."

Manager John Farrell has noticed the change in Bradley's approach. "In BP, to me, it seems like there’s more of a willingness to stay in the middle of the field and not look to lift a ball too much," Farrell said. "I think it’s more of his natural swing, which he was drafted with."

Bradley said his swing has been a "work in progress." While it doesn't appear Bradley has a starting role, his defense should make him a useful major-league asset.

The 24-year-old hit .198/.265/.266 over 384 at-bats last year. 

 


Molitor: Eduardo Escobar 'will be' important part of Twins in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/5/2015) Twins manager Paul Molitor marked infielder Eduardo Escobar as "an important part" of the team in 2014 and believes he will be the same this season, the Star Tribune reports.

"He was an important part of our team last year," Molitor said. "He will be this year, too."

Escobar delivered the best performance of his career in 2014, hitting .275/.315/.406 with six home runs and 37 RBI in 433 at-bats. However, he arrived at camp to learn he was in a competition for the shortstop role with last year's center fielder, Danny Santana. Breaking the news to Escobar was a delicate conversation for the manager.

"Obviously," Molitor said. "You’ve got a guy who came in and played every day for you last year, and then you’re thinking about doing something different. I’ve tried to explain it to him the best I could. His answers, at least for now, are, 'No problem. I understand.'"


 
 
 
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