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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: San Diego Padres

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Overall, 2013 was another humdrum year for the Padres, as their 76-86 record gave them their third straight losing season and fifth out of the last six. The team played better after the All-Star break, and the improvement was fueled in large part by skill growth from starting pitchers Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross and late-season surges from outfielder Will Venable and third baseman Chase Headley. Over the course of the second half, the Padres found themselves on the right side of a .500 record, going 34-32.

Perhaps because of the relatively strong finish, some writers have tabbed the Padres as a wild card contender, but they are still lacking upper-echelon Fantasy talent. Everth Cabrera will likely be the Padres' most sought-after Fantasy entity, despite having ended his 2013 season with a 50-game suspension stemming from the Biogenesis investigation. Jedd Gyorko and Chase Headley may not be far behind Cabrera in the draft order, as all are likely to be middle-round targets. No other everyday player from the starting lineup is a must-draft in standard mixed leagues, though Will Venable and Carlos Quentin will find at least some homes in those formats. The same could be true for Yasmani Grandal, if he can stay ahead of schedule in his recovery from knee surgery.

2014 Fantasy Outlooks
A.L. East N.L. East
Orioles Braves
Red Sox Marlins
Yankees Mets
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Nationals
A.L. Central N.L. Central
White Sox Cubs
Indians Reds
Tigers Brewers
Royals Pirates
Twins Cardinals
A.L. West N.L. West
Astros Diamondbacks
Angels Rockies
Athletics Dodgers
Mariners Padres
Rangers Giants

Among pitchers, Cashner has the greatest Fantasy appeal, due to his mid-90s velocity (and thus, strikeout potential) and strong finish last season, when he compiled a 2.14 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in the second half. Though he struck out a modest 61 batters over 75 2/3 second-half innings, Cashner did get whiffs on 10 percent of his pitches while averaging a robust 6.9 innings per start. That efficiency will help Cashner in standard Head-to-Head formats, just as Tyson Ross' relief eligibility will. Ian Kennedy and Josh Johnson, the latter of whom was signed as a free agent this offseason, will likely attract less interest in standard mixed leagues, as both are coming off their worst seasons since becoming rotation staples, but neither is far removed from having been relevant in Fantasy.

Eric Stults is the leading candidate to begin the season as the Padres' No. 5 starter, but even with Cory Luebke likely needing a second Tommy John procedure and missing the 2014 season, there could eventually be competition. Robbie Erlin leads the charge of a deep group of young pitchers who could be ready to join the rotation.

Huston Street is set to start his third season as the Padres' closer, but the team has acquired plenty of depth to back up the injury-prone hurler. Though Luke Gregerson was dealt to the Athletics for outfielder Seth Smith, they signed Joaquin Benoit and traded for lefties Alex Torres and Patrick Schuster to provide reinforcements in the bullpen. Torres could also be a candidate for the rotation at some point, while Rule 5 pick Schuster is more likely to be relegated to a lefty specialist role, assuming he isn't returned to the Diamondbacks.

Though the Padres have the pieces to be a playoff contender, there may not be another team that has as many players with boom-or-bust potential. If Cabrera picks up where he left off, Gyorko, Cashner and Ross break out, and Headley, Kennedy and Johnson bounce back, the Friars will be a force to be reckoned with. The same could be true for Fantasy owners who draft these players, but each carries a substantial amount of risk.

Sleeper ... Will Venable, outfield

2014 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Everth Cabrera SS
2. Will Venable CF
3. Chase Headley 3B
4. Carlos Quentin LF
5. Yonder Alonso 1B
6. Jedd Gyorko 2B
7. Yasmani Grandal C
8. Seth Smith RF
Bench Kyle Blanks 1B/OF
Bench Cameron Maybin OF

Venable quietly became a top 30 Rotisserie outfielder in 2013, just one year after he barely cracked the top 60. Not only did he set a career-high with 515 plate appearances, but Venable shattered his personal best for home runs, clouting 22 (his previous high was 13 in 2010). Prior to last year, Venable's sole Fantasy asset was his moderate contribution to steals, and he didn't disappoint in that category, exceeding 20 for the fourth year in a row. The home run spike may not have been a fluke, though. He hit 15 homers at PETCO Park, which after bringing the right field fence in, now ranks as a top home run park for left-handed hitters, according to the 2014 Bill James Handbook. Owners may be used to viewing Venable as an afterthought in standard mixed leagues, but he could deliver tremendous value with a late-round pick, especially in Roto leagues.

Bounceback candidate ... Chase Headley, third base

After breaking out in 2012, Headley was a major letdown last season, as his home run, RBI and stolen base totals fell by more than half. It turns out that Headley played the whole season with a torn meniscus, which he had repaired in October. Even while being hampered by his knee and possibly also his thumb (which kept him out of action in the early part of the season), Headley still hit for decent power against lefties (nine doubles, two triples and five home runs in 149 at-bats). Entering 2014 fully healthy once again, owners could look forward to Headley coming much closer to his 2012 level of production, which was reflected in a .286/.376/.498 slash line. Because his output was so depressed a year ago, you can probably get Headley for the mere investment of a mid-round pick.

Head-to-Head hero ... Tyson Ross, starting pitcher

2014 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Ian Kennedy RHP
2. Andrew Cashner RHP
3. Josh Johnson RHP
4. Tyson Ross RHP
5. Eric Stults LHP
ALT Robbie Erlin LHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Huston Street RHP
2. Joaquin Benoit RHP
3. Alex Torres LHP
4. Nick Vincent RHP
5. Dale Thayer RHP

In early mocks, Ross is getting drafted well behind Cashner, but it's not unthinkable that the former Athletic could outperform his teammate. Cashner holds out the promise of becoming a strikeout-per-inning stud, but Ross actually delivered that performance during the second half of last season. Upon entering the Padres' rotation after the All-Star Break, Ross recorded a 2.93 ERA with 85 strikeouts in 80 innings over 13 starts. Had Ross carried his 14 percent swinging strike rate from that span over the entire season, he would have had a higher rate than Yu Darvish. It's hard to believe that Ross could maintain that pace over a full season, but even with regression, you have to love his strikeout potential. Oh ... and he's dual-eligible in Head-to-Head leagues, so you can get that production out of a relief spot in those formats. Yikes.

Prospects Report

Burch Smith, Keyvius Sampson and Casey Kelly are all part of a system deep in major-league-ready starting pitching, and each could get a trial in the Padres' rotation in 2014. Kelly will first have to complete his recovery from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in April last year. Matthew Wisler has yet to reach Triple-A, but he has the most potential of the group and could make his debut this season. ... Austin Hedges gets rave reviews for his prowess behind the plate, but he hasn't shown much offense in the minors. Even with a potential late-season callup in his future, single-season owners can ignore him. ... Rymer Liriano, like Kelly, lost 2013 to Tommy John surgery. He could be a serious stolen base threat within a year or two, depending on how well he bounces back this year. ... Pitchers Max Fried and Joe Ross (Tyson's brother), as well as outfielder Hunter Renfroe, have not blown away the lower minors statistically, but each possesses tools that could bring them greater success as they climb the organizational ladder. Don't sweat the stats and look to target each in dynasty leagues.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al at @almelccbs .

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Player News
Brewers' Braun has favorable history against Reds' Marquis
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:36 am ET) Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun finally connected for his first home run of the season Monday against the Reds. Still, despite the home run, Braun has gotten off to a slow start in 2015.

Although, he might be able to keep the momentum of Monday's performance going Tuesday.

On the hill for Cincinnati will be veteran right-hander Jason Marquis. Braun has fared pretty well against Marquis in his career. He is batting .520 (13 for 25) with one home run, five doubles, six RBI, three walks and three strikeouts against Marquis.


Padres' Wil Myers on being traded by Rays: 'I felt they'd given up on me'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:27 am ET) Coming into 2015, you could make the argument Padres outfielder Wil Myers hadn't yet reached his full potential or lived up to the hype that followed him as a top prospect in the minors. Apparently, any type of talk like that didn't sit too well with the 24-year-old outfielder.

"He told me early in spring training that he heard little whispers this winter that maybe he was not the player everyone made him out to be," Padres manager Bud Black said, per MLB.com. "I think that bothered him."

Myers has already been traded twice in his young career, with the latest deal being in December that shipped him from the Rays to the Padres. 

"More than anything, I am playing with a chip on my shoulder," Myers said. "Last year was the first bad year I had in my pro career. When Tampa traded me away, I felt they had given up on me.

"Almost everything I do is to be able to prove (the Rays) wrong."

Thus far, Myers is off to a good start to his Padres career. Myers, who is primarily hitting leadoff, is batting .283 with one home run, five doubles, eight RBI and 13 runs in 14 games.

"He told me early in spring training he was going to show that he should hit third, fourth or fifth," Black said. "I said, 'Wait a minute. You are not going to hit third or fourth because of the two guys [Justin Upton and Matt Kemp] we have here. Let's go in my office and sit down. Let's put a projected team together out there. You don't want to hit leadoff, so who's going to hit leadoff?' I told him, 'If you hit leadoff every day you might get the most at-bats in the NL,'" 


Royals' Paulo Orlando makes triples history Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:25 am ET) Royals right fielder Paulo Orlando went 1 for 3 with a triple, a walk and two RBI in Monday's 7-1 win over the Twins.

The triple was Orlando's fifth in his first seven games, setting a new major-league record for the fewest games to hit five triples to open a career, MLB.com reports. He said he knows pretty soon after making contact whether he has a chance at a triple.

"Usually when it gets over the infielder's head," he said. "… The whole game, I tried to pull everything. But the last pitcher, we got a report that he threw a little cutter, so I tried to think right side."

Orlando has an added chance at collecting base hits at home due to Kaufman Stadium's spacious gaps.

"It helps," manager Ned Yost said of the bigger ballpark. "But if you watch him fly around the bases, he's going to hit triples in any ballpark when he puts the ball in the gap."

Orlando has hit .269/.345/.654 in 26 at-bats.


Astros' bullpen steps up in win vs. Mariners Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:18 am ET) The Astros bullpen delivered five innings of one-run ball Monday to play a key role in the team's 7-5 victory, with lefty Tony Sipp picking up the win after delivering 1 1/3 perfect innings.

"You can tell everyone out there has confidence," Sipp said after the game, per MLB.com. "You can flip a coin and put any guy out there at any given time. And you know it's like a friendly competition -- see who can be the best guy out there and you know, hopefully we're all out there sitting on ones [ERA] at the end of the year, high-fiving, trying to see who can get down to point zero something. It's one of those things like winning [being] contagious; successful bullpens kind of feed off each other also."

The bullpen has delivered a 2.06 ERA in 48 innings, giving them the third-best mark in the majors. Astros relievers have also struck out 49 batters while issuing just 11 walks.

"The way we're lined up, we've got a lot of weapons in the bullpen," manager A.J. Hinch said. "Eventually, we'd like to not use them so often and so early, but tonight we needed everything we could."


Rockies' De La Rosa pins poor season debut on being 'really excited'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:16 am ET) Rockies starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa made his season debut Monday against the Padres after missing the start of the season due to a groin injury. Unfortunately, it was a forgettable evening for the veteran left-handed pitcher.

De La Rosa was roughed up for nine runs (seven) earned on nine hits and one walk in two innings. 

"He got ambushed there, and I think it made it tougher to find a rhythm, especially after being out for so long," manager Walt Weiss said, per MLB.com.

De La Rosa blames his struggles on perhaps being a little too antsy to finally make his season debut.

"It's my first start," De La Rosa said. "Been pitching in Triple-A, but it's not the same. I was really excited. Hope I can be more calm next time and get better.

"I was overthrowing a lot. Got excited and was trying to throw as hard as I can. You can't make outs if you don't have command. It happened today. My command wasn't good.

"When I tried to throw in, the ball was in the middle. When I tried to throw away, it ran to the middle, too. I think I can fix it. My command wasn't there. I made really bad pitches today, and they hit it really good."


Confidence a driving force behind Anthony DeSclafani's fast start
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:06 am ET) Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani has been pitching like a Cy Young candidate to begin the 2015 season, opening the year with a 2-0 record and 0.86 ERA in three starts.

It's been a nice turnaround for the right-hander, who struggled in his first stint in the majors in 2014 with the Marlins.

"Obviously, I believe in myself," DeSclafani said, per MLB.com. "Any big leaguer who is up here believes in himself. I just try to stay consistent in my mindset, on a day-to-day basis, on an outing-to-outing basis.

"You've just got to do your best to execute your pitches and let the defense play behind you. And they've been phenomenal. I've felt great with this team since Day 1. They've been really great and supportive, and I can't ask for anything more than that."

The Reds have been particularly impressed with DeSclafani's approach, makeup and demeanor.

"He's just an inherently confident guy," manager Bryan Price said. "That's one thing we ask our pitchers to do, is to be emotionally stable when they pitch. He's throwing the ball really well; he's throwing three pitches for strikes. He's doing all the little things. He's got a really nice changeup that he's developed here through spring training and into the early part of the season. I think it's a necessary pitch for Anthony to be a quality starting pitcher.

"There's something to be said for young guys getting their feet wet at the big-league level and he's done it with some style. He's been very effective for us. We hope to see that trend continue."


Report: Angels map out comeback plan for Josh Hamilton
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:02 am ET) The Angels have mapped out a comeback plan for Josh Hamilton that could have the troubled outfielder back on the field by early June, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Hamilton would report to extended spring training for two-to-three weeks of work before going out on a minor-league rehab assignment. He's expected to report to Arizona for extended spring training "sooner rather than later," per the report, but the team has yet to make any announcement of a resolution with Hamilton.

Though the tentative plan is in place, it doesn't guarantee that Hamilton will play for the Angels again, but it does give the team time to evaluate the outfielder before a decision needs to be made. The Angels owe Hamilton $83 million through 2017.

"He's part of the team," reigning MVP Mike Trout said. "I'm sure, when he's fully healthy, we'll see him back."


Tigers' Joba Chamberlain gets out of jam in win Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:52 am ET) Tigers pitcher Joba Chamberlain was called upon in the eighth inning of Monday's game against the Yankees with one out and runners on the corners, and he induced a Jacoby Ellsbury groundball that turned into a double play to get his team out of the inning in the eventual 2-1 win.

"I live for this stuff and these situations," Chamberlain said about the eighth-inning role, per MLive.com. "You get to face one of the best players in the league and get a chance to go do your thing."

Chamberlain threw just two pitches to rack up his two big outs Monday.

"He's had experience pitching in the eighth inning for us last year," manager Brad Ausmus said Monday. "And for the vast majority of the year he did it very well. I knew he could handle the pressure."

Chamberlain endured a rough spring but has posted 2 1/3 scoreless innings in his three appearances this season.


Mets' Alderson: David Wright is 'on schedule' in return from injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:52 am ET) Mets starting third baseman David Wright, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday due to a hamstring strain, could be ready to return when eligible April 30 against the Nationals, general manager Sandy Alderson said.

“He’s on schedule,” Alderson said Monday during a signing of his biography, “Baseball Maverick,” per the New York Post. “I wouldn’t say he’s ahead of schedule, but he’s not behind schedule.”


Yankees rob Tigers' Victor Martinez of two hits Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:45 am ET) Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez went 0 for 2 with a walk and a run scored in Monday's 2-1 win over the Yankees, but both outs he made were due to excellent defensive plays by Yankees outfielders, MLB.com reports.

"What can you do? You do what you can control, which is putting a good swing on the ball," Martinez said. "They had pretty good defense in the outfield, might be one of the best in the game, especially with (Brett) Gardner and (Jacoby) Ellsbury. Nothing surprises me about that."

Martinez, who underwent an MRI on his knee last week, said he came out of Monday's game fine and that he wants to play again Tuesday.


 
 
 
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