Change is one constant in fantasy sports. Players get hot and cool down, get hurt and get well, and move in and out of roles. Fantasy owners are constantly reacting to these changes (or at least they should be). Let's take a look at the Buzz Index from the past few days to see which players are currently causing the most change in fantasy baseball, and take a deeper look at what the fuss is all about.
Buzz Index (Baseball) – adds
Rick Ankiel (StL – OF) 50,123 adds
Ankiel was added to fantasy rosters in near-record numbers after notching 5 R, 5 H, 3 HR, and 6 RBI in his first three games after a call-up from Triple-A. The pitcher-turned-outfielder hit .267/.314/.568 in 102 games before his promotion, while slugging 32 HR.
Upshot: While I love the comeback story, I'm lukewarm on Ankiel's fantasy potential, particularly for this season. He went 3-for-15 (.200) with 0 HR, 0 RBI, and 7 K in the three games following his initial outburst, and he's accumulated 11 K in his seven games. Neither a .267 average nor a 25:90 BB:K ratio in the minors projects well to the Majors – I, for one, would be surprised if Ankiel batted above .250 and finished the season with more than 10 HR. It's also worth noting that Ankiel was not in the Cardinals' lineup on Thursday, as Chris Duncan, Jim Edmonds, and Ryan Ludwick were the starters in what is a fairly crowded outfield.
Joba Chamberlain (NYY – RP) 21,828 adds
Chamberlain's meteoric rise through the Yankee organization has landed him with the big-league team as a reliever. In his three appearances, totaling 5.0 IP, the 21-year-old has allowed 1 H while recording 8 K.
Upshot: Chamberlain went through minor league hitters like a buzz saw – he struck out 135 batters in 88.1 IP between all three levels, going 9-2 in 18 appearances (15 starts) with a 2.45 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. In three appearances in Triple-A, including one start, Chamberlain struck out 18 batters in 8.0 IP. His future (next season and beyond) will be as part of the Yankee rotation, but it appears that for this season he's "just" going to be a very effective reliever.
Shaun Marcum (Tor – SP, RP) 17,093 adds
Marcum won his fifth straight start on Wednesday, limiting the Angels to 4 H and 1 ER in 7.0 IP while striking out six. He's been nearly unhittable during his past four starts – he's compiled a 1.30 ERA and 0.65 WHIP in 27.2 IP during that stretch, allowing just 15 H and issuing 3 BB while striking out 23.
Upshot: Marcum has been among the most effective pitchers in baseball since joining the Blue Jays' rotation in mid-May – he's gone 9-2 with a 2.91 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 111.1 IP during his 18 starts. He should be on a roster in any and all leagues.
C.J. Wilson (Tex – RP) 16,098 adds
Wilson has been lights out since effectively taking over the closer's role for the Rangers. He's recorded a save in six of his past seven appearances, allowing 2 H and 1 ER in 9.0 IP over that stretch.
Upshot: Wilson's performance has quickly ended any mystery as to who will get the save opportunities moving forward. Go get Wilson – his role looks that much safer with recent reports that Akinori Otsuka has made little progress in his dealings with forearm tightness.
Moises Alou (NYM – OF) 15,411 adds
Alou has been on a tear since returning from a quad injury that forced him to miss most of three months. He's hit .358/.424/.717 in 14 August games, with 10 R, 6 HR, and 14 RBI.
Upshot: The 41-year-old Alou hits when he's healthy, so he's certainly worth a roster add. Just don't be surprised if he's rested regularly down the stretch to prevent other injuries from creeping up.
Doug Davis (Ari – SP) 14,243 adds
Davis won his fifth straight decision on Wednesday and has a 3.13 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 46.0 IP over his past seven starts.
Upshot: Davis may have notched the victory, but it wasn't pretty. He allowed 7 H and 4 ER in 5.1 IP, and walked three batters. If the trading deadline has yet to pass in your league, try to capitalize on Davis' "Last Month (total)" rank of 52 overall before the regression to the norm (as in, a 1.50-ish WHIP) is in full effect.
Jack Cust (Oak – OF) 13,707 adds
Cust is in fantasy owners' good graces this week thanks to 5 R, 3 HR, and 12 RBI in a six-game stretch from August 8-14.
Upshot: Cust has made frequent appearances on both the adds and drops leaderboards thanks to his roller coaster contributions. Massively productive streaks are followed by lengthy timeframes with nothing to show for outside of prodigious strikeout totals. Trying to play the guessing game with Cust is a fruitless exercise – either plug him into your lineup and take the good (HR/RBI) with the bad (AVG, R) or cut him loose and let someone else wrestle with when/if to give him a go.
Shawn Hill (Was – SP) 11,350 adds
Hill returned to the mound on Tuesday after missing three months with an elbow injury and limited the Phillies to 1 H and 0 ER in 6.0 IP, walking one and striking out seven. Hill is 3-3 in nine starts on the season, with a 2.41 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and .190 BAA in 56.0 IP.
Upshot: Hill has given up just 2 HR on the season, and just five in 101.2 career IP, so he's the type of pitcher who can thrive in Washington.
Buzz Index (Baseball) – drops
Yovani Gallardo (Mil – SP) 19,588 drops
Gallardo was rocked for the second consecutive start on Wednesday, as he allowed 9 H, 2 HR, and 7 ER in 5.2 IP versus the Cardinals. In his past two starts combined, he's allowed 21 H, 4 HR, and 18 ER in 8.1 IP.
Lowdown: You can't white-wash those kinds of numbers, although 1 BB and 6 K on Wednesday were better than 3 BB and 1 K in his previous start. He's still, at worst, a serious Watch List candidate. Don't forget, Tim Lincecum walked eight and allowed 13 ER in 7.2 IP between two starts in mid-June, and followed it up with 8 ER in his next 53.1 IP (1.35 ERA).
Jeremy Guthrie (Bal – SP, RP) 13,300 drops
Guthrie continues to slump. He allowed 9 H and 6 ER in 4.2 IP on Monday versus the Yankees and has a 5.33 ERA and 1.56 WHIP in 50.2 IP since July 1.
Lowdown: It was fun while it lasted (at least, from what I remember), but clearly Guthrie doesn't belong on fantasy rosters at this point.
Alan Embree (Oak – RP) 12,972 drops
Huston Street recorded his first save since May 6 on Wednesday, more than likely signaling the end of Embree's run as interim closer.
Lowdown: Oakland manager Bob Geren said that he'd use Street or Embree to close out games moving forward, depending on whom is the most rested. Street is likely to get the nod more often than not, but Embree may vulture a few saves, so don't cut him just to do it.
Willy Taveras (Col – OF) 12,591 drops
Taveras had been battling a sore quad for a few weeks, and finally hit the 15-day DL on Wednesday. His lackluster last month stats include a .261 average, 9 R, 1 RBI, and 6 SB.
Lowdown: "I don't think it should take much longer than the 15 days," Tavares said. He's missed 29 games total on the season, as he's dealt with groin, finger, and now a quad injury in the past few months. If you don't need steals (Taveras is 11th in the league with 29 SB), then he's probably expendable. Ryan Spilborghs should be a very nice OF option while Taveras is sidelined.
Ryan Doumit (Pit – C, 1B, OF) 11,835 drops
Doumit was placed on the 15-day DL on Tuesday with a sprained left wrist.
Lowdown: Doumit had a few multi-hit games in recent weeks, but has been a sub-par fantasy option for much of the season, his catcher eligibility notwithstanding. He's certainly droppable if you need the roster space for an active player.
Nomar Garciaparra (LAD – 1B, 3B) 11,307 drops
Nomar also was placed on the 15-day DL on Tuesday, but due in his case to a strained left calf.
Lowdown: Garciaparra has a .280/.326/.363 line and just 37 R in 110 games on the season. He's been of little fantasy use as a 1B or 3B even when he's been healthy.
Chad Billingsley (LAD – SP, RP) 8,216 drops
After starting the season 7-0, Billingsley lost his fourth consecutive start on Monday, as he issued 4 BB and allowed 6 H and 4 ER in 5.0 IP versus the Astros.
Lowdown: While the Dodgers scored just 7 R in the four games combined, Billingsley's struggles with control as a starter are not helping the cause, either. He averaged 109 pitches in just 5.2 IP over those past four starts, while posting a 4.09 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, and 5.3 BB/9. He's not going to help fantasy teams with that kind of walk rate.
Troy Glaus (Tor – 3B, SS) 6,968 drops
Glaus is in a statistical tailspin. He's hit .150 (nine for 60) over his past 17 games, with 5 R, 0 HR, and 2 RBI.
Lowdown: He's dealt with a nagging foot/heel injury all season, and it's clearly affecting his numbers at this point. At his best, he's a solid run producer with a low batting average, and he's currently nowhere near his best. It's unlikely that Glaus will be at or near 100 percent before the end of the season.