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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
Report: Padres 'in touch' with Phillies regarding Cole Hamels
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:09 am ET) The Padres are "in touch" with the Phillies in an attempt to land pitcher Cole Hamels, FOX Sports reports.

The Padres have made plenty of upgrades across the roster since general manager A.J. Heller took over, and it's possible they don't have the ammunition to land the Philadelphia ace in a deal. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week that he didn't expect Hamels to be traded before the start of the season. Hamels went 9-9 with a 2.46 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 204 2/3 innings in 2014.


Report: Orioles sign Mark Hendrickson to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) The Orioles have signed Mark Hendrickson to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training, CSNBaltimore.com reports.

Hendrickson, who last pitched in the majors in 2011, spent 2014 with York of the independent Atlantic League, posting a 1.54 ERA and 34:11 K:BB ratio in 52 2/3 innings over 55 appearances.


Rangers' Matt Harrison expects to open season on 60-day DL
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison said Saturday that he expects to open the season on the 60-day disabled list as he continues to recover from spinal fusion surgery, the Dallas Morning News reports.

"My job is to just get as healthy as I can and get myself right so I don’t have something happen like it did last year when I tried to come back," Harrison said. "I’m just going to focus on that and get ready to contribute whenever it may be."

Harrison is dealing with some stiffness in his right side, which will cause him to throw from a distance of 90 feet for a second consecutive week rather than progress to 105 feet. He hopes that he'll get his hips to rotate more and loosen up with more stretching and more throws from the 90-foot distance.


Report: Rays sign Ronald Belisario to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) The Rays have signed pitcher Ronald Belisario to a minor-league deal with an invitiation to spring training, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Belisaro made 62 appearances with the White Sox in 2014, posting a 4-8 record, 5.56 ERA and 47:18 K:BB ratio in 66 1/3 innings. He'll compete for a bullpen spot during the spring.


Dodgers SP Zack Greinke hasn't decided whether to opt out
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke said Saturday that he's yet to decide whether to opt out of his contract at the end of next season but added, "There's not really better options anywhere besides here," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Greinke is set to make $23 million in 2015, and he's due another $71 million over the following three seasons if he remains under his current contract. The Dodgers said earlier this offseason that they wouldn't discuss a contract extension with the pitcher during the winter.

Greinke went 17-8 with a 2.71 ERA and 207:43 K:BB ratio in 202 1/3 innings in 2014.


Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez hoping to bounce back in 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez can't wait to get on the field and get past the 2014 season.

"I can’t wait," Jimenez said at Saturday’s FanFest event. "Whatever happened in 2014 is in the past. There's nothing I can do about it now. I can just look forward and now I’m going to do everything in spring training to get myself ready the best I can for the season and help the team."

Jimenez, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with Baltimore in 2014, went 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA in 125 1/3 innings pitched. 

"It was pretty hard, coming in with a new team and signing a contract like that and not to do what everyone is expecting you to do, it’s hard," Jimenez said. "It’s hard not to be there for the team, but regardless what happened, I fought a lot. I think I was trying to find a way to survive to be there for the team and do whatever I can do the best. We got really far. I didn’t help a lot, but I tried to do whatever I could with whatever I had."


Royals' Alex Gordon plans to take it slow in recovery
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is still recovering from his wrist surgery this offseason and plans to take it slow in his rehab.

"We really don’t have a timetable," Gordon said. "We’re just going to see how it feels. Obviously, it’s spring training. So we don’t want to rush anything. If it feels good, we’ll be aggressive with it. But if it’s not feeling good, we’ll take it slow."

Manager Ned Yost wants to continue to take things slow with Gordon.
"We’ll just take it slow," Yost said. "We’ll see how he feels. We’ll play him one day. Then we’ll give him a day off. Play him another day, five or six innings, then give him a day off. We’ll just see how he’s doing."
Gordon hit .266 in 2014 with 19 home runs and 74 RBI.

Angels, Garrett Richards settle on $3.2 million for 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) The Angels and pitcher Garrett Richards have agreed to a contract for 2015 for $3.2 million, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Richards was asking for $3.8 million while the Angels offered $2.4 million. Richards posted a 13-4 record in 2014 with a 2.61 ERA and 164 strikeouts for Los Angeles.


Orioles' Manny Machado expects to be ready for spring training
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Orioles third baseman Manny Machado is progressing through his rehab and says he's "ready to roll" for the upcoming season.

"I have a lot of time to get ready. That is the key: having a regular offseason," Machado said Saturday. "Was doing my rehab in Sarasota and then went to Miami to do my regular weightlifting and get ready for the season. Been exciting. Looking forward to spring training."

Machado has taken part in baseball activities for the past few weeks since having surgery on Aug. 27 after tearing a ligament in his knee.

"It will be awesome," he said of the prospect of having a normal spring. "I'm dying to get back on the field. Spring training is key for a lot of players to get your at-bats and your reps. I think some take it for granted but it's a very big key for success for the year."

Machado hit .278 in 2014 with 12 home runs and 32 RBI for Baltimore.


Bud Norris remains without update for contract extension
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Orioles pitcher Bud Norris said Saturday nothing has changed between he and the organization for a new contract.

"I haven't heard anything of that," Norris said. "I don't see a reason why I'd want to leave, but that's out of my control."

Norris and the Orioles are preparing for arbitration, when Norris filed for $10.25 million and Baltimore offered $7.5 million. He went 15-8 with a 3.65 ERA and 139:52 K:BB ratio in 165 1/3 innings over 28 starts in 2014.


 
 
 
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