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By the Numbers: Time to shop the bargain bin

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As we hit the quarter-post of the Fantasy season, it gets more and more difficult to dismiss a Fantasy team's struggles by saying, "it's still early." Though the luster of the opening month has worn off, it's not too late to salvage your season. If you drafted well, you just may need to wait for your underproducing and injured players to start contributing, but there is also a more proactive way to jump-start your team.

Just as there are Draft Day sleepers, there are players who are underappreciated once the season settles into its middle portion. The hitter who is striking out too much or the pitcher who has developed control issues is a headache for his current owners, but he could be a potential bargain for you. Just as there were values to be had in the draft room, now there are players who can be had for cheap in trades or even waiting to be plucked from the waiver wire. While many of the players who have been discarded or benched are not worth another look, others could play a role in your midseason surge.

Here are eight players whom you could get at a discount. They may seem like too much of a gamble to use -- which, after all, is why they could be easily acquired -- but there are strong hints of their potential for improvement. Because each of these players is currently undervalued, you shouldn't have to risk much in order to get them on your roster, and each could provide a sizable return on that modest investment.

Note: All year-to-date stats are for games played through Monday, May 13.

Salvador Perez, C, Royals: Perez needs only five more strikeouts to equal his total from last season, even though he has played in 43 fewer games so far, so he's probably lucky to be hitting .298. His contact skills have been superb throughout his career, so Perez should be able to cut back on the Ks and maintain, if not improve, his batting average. Meanwhile, a 15-homer season is not out of reach, even though he has left the yard only once so far. Perez's potential for a combination of a high average and decent power make him a good option as a No. 1 catcher in Rotisserie leagues, yet he is starting in only 66 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com. In any format, it's worth talking up a deal with an owner who has Perez benched.

Martin Prado, 2B/3B/OF, Diamondbacks: Prado has never hit more than 15 home runs in a season, but he has been a solid Fantasy option due to his ability to hit for average, provide doubles and produce runs. His contact skills are still intact, but a .162 batting average on grounders is destroying his value. Given that he has hit no lower than .257 on ground balls in any of the previous four seasons, that sounds like a lot of bad luck. Look for Prado to get back to being a .300 hitter overall going forward, and better yet, now you can use him at second base, where his relative lack of home run clout is even less relevant.

Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Red Sox: Middlebrooks currently ranks behind Luis Valbuena and Matt Dominguez in both Rotisserie and Head-to-Head value, and this is clearly not what his owners expected to happen. Frustration is an understandable response, but benching him in 37 percent of his leagues is an overreaction. With six home runs and nine doubles through 36 games, there's no reason to complain about Middlebrooks' power. He is striking out far too often, but his rookie and minor league numbers suggest that he is capable of improvement. Middlebrooks is also hitting just .250 on balls in play, and that is almost certain to increase. Get Middlebrooks now, and you'll enjoy the power he's already producing and take advantage of the batting average spike to come.

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Zack Cozart, SS, Reds: You can't sugar-coat a .207 batting average. Cozart has been painful to own so far, at least for the owners who have continued to start him, but then again, there aren't many of those owners left. He's unowned in more than half of our leagues and starting in only 30 percent, so plenty of owners have just given up on him. He is making contact more often and has already hit five homers, so it's not as if Cozart has been a completely lost cause. The problem is that he is just 1 for 39 on the flyballs that have stayed in the park, so he has likely been cheated out of a few base hits. He may only hit .250 the rest of the way, but along with his power, that's enough to make Cozart useful in deeper mixed leagues, where he should still come at a very low cost.

Alejandro De Aza, OF, White Sox: This is not a case of a player underperforming who is due to surge, but rather a player who is already producing but still not being appreciated. De Aza is a top 25 outfielder in Rotisserie and a top 40 outfielder in points leagues, yet he is starting in only 63 percent of our leagues. Owners should be suspicious of his early-season home run burst, as he may not even double his current total of seven over the rest of the season. However, we should expect De Aza to improve his batting average, as he can be better at making contact and getting hits on balls in play than he has been. With a decent average and a shot at 90-plus runs and 25-plus steals, De Aza could be starting for you in most formats, and too many of his current owners aren't valuing him.

Brandon McCarthy, SP, Diamondbacks: After failing to deliver a quality start in his first six outings with Arizona, McCarthy has notched one in each of his last two starts. His ERA is still bloated at 5.63, and he's allowing too many line drives, but his control is as sharp as ever. According to xFIP, McCarthy's ERA should be 3.97, but his real value lies in providing a low WHIP, and he can do that as long as his liner rate moves back towards his norms. Given that McCarthy will have value in standard mixed leagues in certain weeks, it's an understatement to say that he's underowned with a 28 percent ownership rate.

Edwin Jackson, SP, Cubs: I've been as quick as anyone to write Jackson off after years of inconsistency. He's had his share of ups-and-downs and changes of scenery over the last four-plus seasons, but the one constant is that he's had pretty decent control. So far this year, he has thrown only 60 percent of his pitches for strikes and has already walked 20 batters in 43 1/3 innings. However, he has already issued three free passes, and his career high is five. While he could still stand to throw more strikes, Jackson is getting strikeouts and grounders at good rates. I won't argue that Jackson has improved or that he needs to be started in standard mixed leagues, but he's only starting in nine percent of our leagues, and that's far too few. Ignore the 6.02 ERA and trust him in your deeper mixed leagues.

Glen Perkins, RP, Twins: Perkins is currently outside the top 15 closers in Fantasy value, and part of his problem is that he is tied for 13th in saves with eight. A 3.55 ERA is further sinking Perkins' value, but an increase in save opportunities and a lower ERA could both be in his future. The Twins have gone 9-7 over their last 16 games, but Perkins has had only two save chances over that span, as most of the team's wins have been blowouts. He did miss one opportunity last Saturday due to a sore oblique, but Perkins is ready to resume his normal role. With strikeout-per-inning-plus stuff and pitcher-friendly Target Field as his home park, Perkins could wind up being your team's best closer, yet he is being started in only 68 percent of our leagues.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Braves SS Andrelton Simmons has bone bruise on thumb
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:38 pm ET) An MRI on Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons' thumb revealed that he is suffering from a bone bruise, according to manager Fredi Gonzalez. Simmons originnaly injured the thumb in Saturday's game, and hasn't played since.

The Braves did not indicate how long they expect Simmons to remain sidelined with the injury.


Padres 1B Yangervis Solarte homers twice in Monday's win
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:37 pm ET) Padres first baseman Yangervis Solarte hit two home runs to help power the Padres to a 13-5 win over the Brewers on Monday.

Solarte hit a solo home run in the first inning off Wily Peralta and a three-run home run off Preston Guilmet in the seventh. He finished the game 2 for 4 with four RBI and two runs scored. Solarte now has seven home runs on the season.

Prior to Monday's win, Solarte was hitting .358 with three doubles and four RBI in his last 13 games.


Rays' Brad Boxberger saves 27th game of year
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(11:36 pm ET) Rays closer Brad Boxberger pitched a scoreless ninth inning to convert his 12th save opportunity in a row, Monday against the White Sox. 

Boxberger allowed two hits, but he was able to protect a one-run lead and earn his 27th save of the year. 


David Robertson takes loss in non-save situation for White Sox
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(11:33 pm ET) White Sox closer David Robertson gave up a run in the ninth inning to break a tie and take the loss, Monday against Tampa Bay. 

Pitching in his first non-save situation in six appearances, Robertson allowed two hits and a walk. It was the first time he's given up multiple hits since June 30, and he took his first loss since June 19, dropping to 4-3. 


Giants' Santiago Casilla serves up two-run HR, blows save Monday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:31 pm ET) Giants closer Santiago Casilla suffered his fifth blown save of the season in Monday's 8-7 loss to the Braves. Casilla entered the game with one out in the ninth, tasked with protecting a two-run lead.

He retired the first batter he faced, but then allowed a two-out single. The next batter, A.J. Pierzynski, went deep with a two-run home run to tie the game 7-7.

Casilla had converted five consecutive save chances before Monday's meltdown. 


Jose Quintana settles for no-decision for White Sox
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(11:29 pm ET) White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana allowed two runs on seven hits over six innings on Monday. He left with the score tied and settled for a no-decision against Tampa.

Quintana has allowed four runs over 21 1/3 innings in his last three starts. He walked one batter, the eighth straight start he's walked one or fewer batters. 


Padres SP Tyson Ross receives win in Monday's start
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:28 pm ET) Padres pitcher Tyson Ross produced a quality start Monday to help him earn his eighth win of the season.

Ross allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits over six innings during the 13-5 win over the Brewers. He also struck out five and walked two during the outing. He is now 8-8 with a 3.37 ERA.

Ross has won his last two starts and earned a quality start in three of his last five outings.


Giants SP Matt Cain can't get a win despite big lead on Monday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:26 pm ET) Giants starter Matt Cain struggled once again on Monday, his sixth start of the season after spending the beginning of the year on the disabled list. On Monday, after being staked to a 6-0 lead, Cain gave up four runs on 10 hits over five-plus innings. He walked one and struck out one, throwing 54 of his 80 pitches for strikes.

Cain cruised through the first five innings, blanking the Giants along the way. But the wheels came off in the sixth. He allowed the first two batters to reach before serving up a three-run home run to Jace Peterson. He gave up a double to the next batter, and was then lifted from the game. That run came around to score and was charged to Cain.

Though he left the game leading 6-4, Cain did not factor in the final decision, as the Braves rallied to tie the game before winning 8-7 in walk-off fashion.

Cain has now allowed four or more runs in four of his six starts. His ERA now sits at 4.91 for the season.


Rays' Nathan Karns takes no-decision on Monday
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(11:24 pm ET) Rays starter Nathan Karns allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings and left with the score tied, taking a no-decision against the White Sox. 

Karns has completed seven innings just once in the last 14 starts. He allowed three hits. 

Over his last three starts, Karns has allowed three runs on nine hits over 16 1/3 innings. He struck out seven, the most since July 4. 


Brewers SP Wily Peralta allows six runs in Monday's loss
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:22 pm ET) Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta struggled throughout his start Monday against the Padres, which the Brewers lost 13-5.

Peralta allowed six runs on eight hits over 3 1/3 innings. His first mistake came in the first inning when he gave up a solo home run to Yangervis Solarte. He also struck out two and walked three.

Peralta is now 2-6 with a 4.55 ERA. He has earned a quality start in one of his last four starts.


 
 
 
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