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Waiver Wire: Lyles, Rutledge making waves

Senior Fantasy Writer
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When the Rockies recalled Josh Rutledge in the wake of Troy Tulowitzki's broken rib, it was assumed that Rutledge would just be plugged into the lineup at shortstop and all would be well with the world.

However, through the first five games of the Rutledge 2.0 era, Rutledge has played shortstop twice, played second base twice, and has sat for a game. After homering in his first game back with the team, Rutledge has gone hitless in the following three, sporting a .056 average and .327 OPS with a .000 BABIP.

So what does a Fantasy owner do with Rutledge? In deeper leagues (12-team Roto and beyond), I'm still starting him. I managed to add him in a couple of 12-team Head-to-Head leagues, where he serves as depth at second base or shortstop, and I'm keeping him there, anticipating a turnaround coming soon.

When Rutledge was demoted, he was on pace for a 20/20 season. In 89 Triple-A at-bats, Rutledge was hitting .348 with two home runs and a 1.003 OPS. He's shown a solid power/speed/batting average combo throughout his career. And his ability to play both second base and shortstop gives him the ability to get in the lineup regularly.

With the call-up buzz wearing off, his owners may look at Rutledge's mini-slump and decide to drop him back to the wire for a Brandon Crawford or Neil Walker. Be ready to gobble Rutledge back up if that's the case; he's a much better hitter than he's shown this season and his middle infield eligibility has value by itself.

The Big Leaps

Jordan Lyles, SP, Astros (39 percent ownership, up from 11 percent)

Lyles has been on a roll in his last seven starts -- a 1.61 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 15 strikeouts in his last two starts. This run has lowered his ERA to 3.22 and his WHIP down to 1.28. It has also bumped his ownership up to 40 percent. The former top prospect (Baseball America ranked him in their top 100 in 2010 and top 50 in 2011) and first-round draft pick seems to have finally corralled his talent.

Most Added Players (as of 6/20)
Player Name % owned
1. Josh Rutledge, 2B, Rockies 35
2. Jordan Lyles, SP, Astros 29
3. Mike Carp, OF, Red Sox 22
4. Rick Porcello, SP, Tigers 21
5. Eric Stults, SP, Dodgers 20
6. Adam Lind, 1B, Blue Jays 19
7. Corey Kluber, SP, Indians 19
8. Esmil Rogers, SP, Blue Jays 19
9. Zack Cozart, SS, Reds 18
10. Kyle Blanks, OF, Padres 17

Maybe the most encouraging aspect of Lyles' success is that his peripherals aren't jump-out-at-you noticeable. His BABIP is .297, right around league average (if not a little high, meaning he could still correct downward). His 78.9 percent strand rate is a bit high, but it's far from a warning sign. His HR/FB rate is down, but it's still hovering around 10 percent, which is right around league average (it's 10.8 percent in 2013).

In short, trying to find a reason to not believe in Lyles -- outside of just a gut feeling and pointing to his previous stints in the majors -- is somewhat of a challenge. Even his xFIP is sitting at 3.70, suggesting that whatever correction may be on the horizon isn't going to be a hugely dramatic one. Lyles won't strike a lot of batters out, and he can't be fully trusted to keep up this run, but he may be worth a gamble in 14-team Roto leagues until he starts to sputter.

Over/under on ERA (season): 3.95
Over/under on WHIP (season): 1.27
Over/under on K/9 (season): 6.5

Unadvised Drop of the Week

Tony Cingrani, SP, Reds (70 percent, down from 83 percent)

It may have actually hurt Cingrani's value to shift him to the bullpen -- the next time a Reds pitcher pops up with an injury, Cingrani is going to have to get stretched out, instead of just called up. But the fact that he stayed in the majors with the Reds gives his owners a chance to collect strikeouts and holds, while helping to lower ERA and WHIP, as they wait for the next opening.

Cingrani has been spectacular over 40 2/3 major league innings this year. He has a 3.10 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, while striking out 48 batters. He's the no-doubt next-in-line for starts. This is somewhat important because the Reds had a rotation that was incredibly durable in 2012 (all five starters made 30 starts). This now becomes a matter of perspective. I'm from the camp of things tending to even out, guessing that the rotation is due for an injury beyond Johnny Cueto's couple of DL trips to equalize the good luck they had in 2012.

Someone else may think that the good health wasn't an accident, and could be a trend for the Reds (which isn't out of the question, considering Bryan Price's track record as pitching coach). This would make Cingrani a less-attractive option. Whatever the case, though, Cingrani has proven to be a stellar pitcher who is worth hanging onto in most Fantasy formats for at least another couple weeks.

I included Cingrani in a mid-April column when he was making his initial imapct on the waiver wire. I'm just going to repeat his over/under here, because I still believe in these numbers.

Over/under on K/9 (season): 8.5
Over/under on ERA (season): 2.99
Over/under on starts (season): 20

The Flavor of Next Week

Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Indians (Owned in 16 percent of leagues)

Chisenhall was hitting .213 with three home runs and a .604 OPS when the Indians optioned him to Triple-A on May 13. He promptly tore apart minor league pitching to the tune of a .390 average and 1.132 OPS, hitting six home runs in 27 games.

Chisenhall returned to the majors Tuesday and slammed the brakes on any momentum he had gathered, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

So which Chisenhall should we expect? I vote for the minor league version. Chisenhall was the No. 25 prospect in 2011. In his two minor league seasons with more than 300 at-bats, he hit double-digit home runs (22 in 2009 and 17 in 2010). He's never struck out 100 times and walks at a somewhat decent rate (keeping his K/BB ratio -- at least through the minors -- close to 2:1). His .239 BABIP in 2013 also suggests improvement in batting average is on the way.

Chisenhall is far from a sure bet, and that's what makes him a somewhat attractive option in most leagues. He'll probably play third base every day in a solid Indians lineup, and sports potential in power and average. Yet a lot of Fantasy players have an aversion to him, because of his early-season stint and failure to really capitalize on minor league promise.

But keep in mind that Chisenhall is still just 24 years old, could carry that minor league momentum into the majors, and is playing a position (third base) that has been disappointing so far this year. With a solid week -- or even something like a two-homer weekend -- Chisenhall should start to see his ownership rise heading into Week 13.

Over/under on average (season): .265
Over/under on home runs (season): 18

American League-only fun

Miguel Tejada, 3B, Royals (0 percent owned)

I've been one of the most vocal Moustakas supporters this season. I've pointed to his strikeout rate being the lowest of his career, his walk rate being the highest, and his BABIP being about .100 points below league average. When George Brett was brought on as interim hitting coach, I may have written analysis urging owners to buy low on Moustakas, because, perhaps, it was the old regime's philosophy that had Moustakas hitting at a sub-.200 clip with just four home runs.

After 14 June games, though, Moustakas is still failing to break out. He hasn't homered since May 10. He hasn't had an extra-base hit since May 25. His last RBI came on May 23. Here's a not-so-fun fact: in the month of June, Moustakas has accrued more HBPs than RBI, homers and doubles combined.

I don't know what will fix him, or how it will be done. He's started four games in a row and has a .267 average in that stretch, but with the Royals playing markedly better baseball lately, there's a chance they may send Moustakas to the minors to hone a new approach for a couple weeks.

Enter Miguel Tejada.

I want to make it clear that Tejada's value lies in AL-only Roto leagues, where a couple bench spots may be dedicated to deep prospects or Triple-A pitchers who may or may not get called up to make a spot start (the Jair Jurrjens-types). This is where an add of Tejada makes sense. In 59 at-bats this season, Tejada is hitting .305 with two home runs and nine RBI. He's played sparingly this season but has picked up the pace a bit in June, with 17 at-bats and a .353 average. The 39-year-old is not going to steal the starting job, but if the Royals decide to demote Moustakas for a couple of weeks, Tejada's playing time would take a big jump. And regular at-bats in an AL-only league means instant value.

Over/under on at-bats (season): 185
Over/under on average (season): .275

National League-only fun

Carlos Zambrano, RP, Phillies (3 percent ownership)

The last time we saw Zambrano, he was laboring through a lost season with the Marlins, relegated to a relief role after sporting a 4.54 ERA in 20 starts last season. It was Zambrano's second season in a row with an ERA over 4.00, and just the third time in 12 years that Zambrano didn't finish a season with that sub-4.00 ERA (his only other time was in his first season, when Zambrano pitched 7 2/3 innings).

With all the Zambrano follies of late -- smashing Gatorade coolers, pretending to retire, and being ordered to take anger management classes -- it's easy to forget that he was actually a very good pitcher over a long period of time. From 2002 to 2010, Zambrano compiled a 3.55 ERA, striking out almost a batter per inning while pitching in the hitter-friendly confines of Wrigley Field. His unlikely comeback attempt for the Phillies has helped to jog some memories -- Zambrano has a 0.95 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in five minor league starts.

With his future still somewhat unclear (Zambrano says he's been ready to pitch in the majors for weeks, the team has suggested he may work out of the bullpen, some reports have him joining the rotation next week), it's tough to fully embrace the 32-year-old. But he deserves more than 3 percent ownership.

Zambrano has proven over the course of his career that he can pitch well at a major league level. With the way he's pitching in the minors, he's worth a gamble in most NL-only formats. And even if he starts in the bullpen (the unlikely route, but it's still a possibility), it probably won't be long until he's in the rotation.

Over/under on ERA (season): 3.75
Over/under on starts (season): 12

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
Astros relievers Gregerson, Neshek giving team solid relief in '15
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:14 am ET) In 2014, the Astros had the highest bullpen ERA in baseball with a 4.80 mark. So, in the offseason, the team addressed that issue by bringing in a couple of solid right-handed relievers in Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek.

A competing general manager called Houston "real smart" for being able to sign both men and making a strength out of a weakness, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. 

So far, the two have been stellar out of the bullpen for manager A.J. Hinch. Though Gregerson's 4.08 ERA is a bit high, he is 10-for-11 in save chances and has a 14:5 K:BB ratio.

Neshek, meanwhile, is in the midst of 11 straight scoreless outings, and has not walked a batter this season. 


Phillies' Cole Hamels wouldn't waive no-trade clause for Blue Jays
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:11 am ET) The Blue Jays inquired about Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels, but were told Hamels would not waive his 20-team no-trade clause to go to Toronto, sources told CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Heyman wrote Hamels turning down a trade to the Blue Jays was disappointing to the Phillies since Philadelphia likely saw Toronto as a good trade partner with all its young pitching talent (i.e. Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris).


Astros' Carlos Correa may have to wait a little longer for promotion
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:08 am ET) Astros top prospect Carlos Correa could just be biding his time at Triple-A as he awaits the call to the Major Leagues. But he may have to wait at least another month or so before that time comes, CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman reports.

Heyman says that there are members of the Astros' staff that would like to have Correa up now. But it seems likely that the team will wait until June in order to reduce the chances of him becoming a Super Two player, giving the team an extra year of contract control.


Giants' Yusmeiro Petit likely to start second game of doubleheader
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:02 am ET) Giants pitcher Yusmeiro Petit will start the second game of a doubleheader Saturday against Colorado, unless he is needed out of the bullpen on Friday, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Petit made 12 starts last season. He owns a 3.27 ERA through his first 22 innings of relief this season. 

Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts reaches base three times Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:57 am ET) Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts had the goods and bads in Thursday's loss to the Rangers. Bogaerts reached base safely in all three plate appearances, going 2 for 2 with a walk. He has a hit four straight games and has reached base in eight of his last nine. Since May 10, he has seen his season average rise more than 20 points from .250 to its current .271 clip.

But, Bogaerts did commit his third error of the season, and also ran into some back luck on the basepaths, literally. 

With teammate Daniel Nava at the plate in the bottom of the fifth, Bogaerts was on first base with one out. He took off trying to steal second, but Nava swung and tapped the ball to the right side, which clipped Bogaerts on the foot as he was running. Bogaerts was ruled out, and a strikeout by the next batter ended the rally for Boston.

"Probably the play there when I tried to steal and the ball hit me, that was probably the game-changer," said Bogaerts, per MLB.com. "I never knew, I was never aware the ball touched me until I came back down and I saw the video, it might've just scratched the bottom of my heel or something like that, but I never know it hit me at all."


Brewers' Counsell: It's 'probably likely' Will Smith will be suspended
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:46 am ET) Brewers reliever Will Smith is likely facing a suspension for being ejected Thursday night for having a foreign substance discovered on his forearm, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel.

"That's pretty real," said manager Craig Counsell, when asked if he is expecting a suspension. "We know that's probably likely."

Smith was tossed by crew chief Jim Joyce in the seventh inning of Thursday's 10-1 loss to the Braves after Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez asked officials to examine the glistening substance on his forearm.

After the game, Smith revealed that he had a mixture of sunscreen and rosin on his arm while warming up in the bullpen, and acknowledged he forgot to wipe it off after he was summoned to replace Matt Garza in the seventh inning because he was in a hurry.

Counsell noted that players everywhere in the league, including some on the Braves do the same thing to improve their grip on the ball.

"It happens everywhere in the league, and it happens on (Gonzalez's) team, too," Counsell said.

In 2012, Joel Peralta, who was with the Rays at the time, was slapped with an eight-game suspension for using pine tar to improve his grip. Last season, Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was suspended 10 games by Major League Baseball after he was caught using pine tar in an April game against Boston. Because Pineda's incident was more recent, Smith could be facing a suspension close to 10 games.

"Who knows? That's MLB's decision. It's not my call," Smith said.


Mets LF Michael Cuddyer could be finding his way at the plate
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:39 am ET) Mets left fielder Michael Cuddyer had his first three-hit game of the season in Thursday's win over the Cardinals. Cuddyer reached safely in all four of his plate appearances, going 3 for 3 (all singles) with a walk. 

The veteran outfielder has gotten off to a rather slow start at the plate for his new team, but he may be starting to turn things around. He's reached base safely via a hit or a walk in each of his last seven games, batting .346 during that span. 

“I feel a little better,’’ Cuddyer said after the game, per the New York Post. “I don’t really tinker with mechanics too much. There’s a few things you I can do in the cage that will free you up a little bit, and we’re getting you that point. But ultimately, you look at the box score, and that’s how you say if a guy is hot or not.’’

Cuddyer hasn't homered since May 1, so the power hasn't quite been there for him yet. But the team is happy to see Cuddyer improving.

“Cuddy’s hitting the ball well. He hit the ball well [Wednesday] night, but right at them," Mets first baseman Lucas Duda said. "I think we’re getting rolling here offensively, and that will just help us. It should be fun.’’


Astros' Jon Singleton has 27 RBI in last 10 games at Triple-A
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:30 am ET) Astros first baseman Jon Singleton homered again Thursday for Triple-A Fresno, giving him six in his last 10 games and a minor-league leading 13 on the season. Singleton also has 44 RBI in 39 games, with 27 coming in his last 10 games.

"He's locked in right now. He's been having great at-bats, swinging at good pitches," Fresno teammate Carlos Correa said, per MiLB.com. "He's doing the work he needs to do to be successful on the field, and he can be proud of what he's bringing to the table. He's going to bring a lot to the Houston Astros eventually."

Singleton is batting .295 with a .406 on-base percentage, .651 slugging percentage and 1.056 OPS this season.


Astros prospect Carlos Correa thriving after Triple-A promotion
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:19 am ET) Astros shortstop prospect Carlos Correa has had a pretty smooth transition from Double-A to Triple-A. 

He homered for a second straight game Thursday and has hit safely in eight of nine games since his promotion. He has multihit games in five of his last six appearances.

The highly touted prospect is batting .326 with a .558 slugging percentage, .920 OPS, two home runs, four doubles and seven RBI in nine games since joining Fresno.

"I think I've gotten stronger these last two games -- I'm just kidding,"Correa said after Thursday's game, per MiLB.com. "I've just been trying to drive the ball, and I've seen some fastballs up in the zone."

Correa's home run Thursday came off former AL Cy Young award winner Barry Zito.

"It was really fun [facing Zito]," Correa said. "I've seen that guy pitch a lot at the big league level, and I've even played [as] him in video games, because I'm a video game guy. I have a lot of respect for him, and it was fun to play against him as a competitor."


Yankees SS Didi Gregorius looking to improve offense in 2015
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:15 am ET) Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius has had a rough go of it in 2015, his first season in New York. Through 35 games, Gregorius is batting just .214 with just four doubles on the year. He has been getting the bulk of the playing time at shortstop, sharing time with Stephen Drew. But Gregorius just hasn't been able to figure things out at the plate.

"I don't feel it, but who knows?" Gregorius said, according the New York Post. "You never know. Maybe I start hitting all of a sudden. I just keep working hard in the cage. That's how it all starts."

And his defense hasn't exactly lived up either. He four errors so far this year, after committing just six all of last year. 

“I didn’t come here to fail. “You always want to succeed.”


 
 
 
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