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
Ryan Ludwick (StL – OF) 40,906 adds
Ludwick has been productive in spurts this season, and the eight-game stretch from May 4-11 was one of those spurts. During those eight games, he hit .480 (12 for 25) with six runs, four home runs and nine runs batted in.
Upshot: You have to attribute some of Ludwick's inconsistencies to the fact that he hasn't played every day, but Chris Duncan and Brian Barton should find it tougher to push him for starts if he continues to hit .336/.410/.701. The average is going to come down, but the power is real – he hit 36 home runs in his final 614 Triple-A at bats and now has 36 in 744 major league at bats.
Ryan Franklin (StL – RP) 35,942 adds
Franklin is closing for the Cardinals – at least temporarily – while Jason Isringhausen deals with issues that include five blown saves, a 7.02 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP.
Upshot: Franklin, a converted starter, has picked up two saves in his past four appearances and will be in line for at least a few more, so by all means pick him up. In his first appearance as a middle reliever (Monday), Isringhausen allowed one hit and struck out a batter in a scoreless inning of work.
Jay Bruce (Cin – OF) 30,385 adds
The momentum for a Bruce promotion seems to be building by the day, and fantasy owners won't be able to wait until after the fact to pull him off of their respective free agent lists.
Upshot: Take your pick from this list of reasons for Bruce to get his shot sooner than later: the Reds are in last place in the NL Central, a Ken Griffey Jr. trade appears to be inevitable – as does a move involving Adam Dunn – Corey Patterson is hitting .236/.286/.436 and Bruce is hitting .352/.378/.613 in Triple-A.
Guillermo Mota (Mil – RP) 24,525 adds
Mota got his first save of the season Monday after striking out Rick Ankiel with the bases loaded and two outs in an 8-3 game.
Upshot: Eric Gagne has been bad enough (5 BS, 6.27 ERA, 1.88 WHIP) that he needed "a day to get away from closing," according to Brewers manager Ned Yost, "and that day was Monday." He recorded his 10th save of the season on Tuesday, allowing one hit and one walk in a scoreless inning of work. Gagne is as shaky as they come, so if you are holding on to him, Mota is a necessary handcuff. If you are speculating for saves, Mota is a good option.
Justin Duchscherer (Oak – SP, RP) 22,408 adds
Duchscherer made his fifth solid start of the season Tuesday, allowing four hits and one earned run in 6.2 innings. In five starts on the season (28.2 IP), the converted reliever has a 2.20 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and .226 BAA, with seven walks and 24 strikeouts.
Upshot: Duchscherer was discussed somewhat in-depth here, but the upshot is that he's been successful in every role at every level he's pitched at. He's a very good under-the-radar pickup across the board.
Milton Bradley (Tex – OF) 22,110 adds
Bradley is at or near the top of the available player lists in most leagues when you sort by "Last Month (total)" rank. He's the 36th-ranked player over that timeframe, batting .322 (28 for 87) with 18 runs, six home runs and 18 runs batted in.
Upshot: He's in a great situation as the Rangers' everyday DH and cleanup hitter, so he's going to produce when he's in the lineup. That's the rub with Bradley, he wasn't in the lineup on Wednesday or Thursday due to lingering right shoulder soreness and he gets regular rest because of off-season knee surgery. He's absolutely worth a roster spot, but you're going to have to pay attention to the daily lineups.
Clint Barmes (Col – 2B, SS) 18,916 adds
Barmes has been the everyday shortstop for the Rockies since Troy Tulowitzki went on the DL and has been hitting, particularly of late. He has a current seven-game hitting streak during which he's batted .522 (12 for 23).
Upshot: He's been spending most of his time in the bottom third of the Rockies' lineup, so he's not doing much in terms of run production (8 R, 7 RBIs over the past month). If that changes thanks to his impressive on-base percentage (.381) then his fantasy impact will get that much more of a boost.
Emil Brown (Oak – OF) 17,104 adds
Brown keeps coming to bat with runners on base and keeps pushing them over the plate, hitting .394/.425/.636 in 66 at bats with runners on and .183/.193/.220 with the bases empty.
Upshot: Despite a paltry .681 OPS in May, Brown has eight runs batted in and seven runs scored in 11 games. He's currently fourth in the league in runs batted in, but his .707 OPS on the season is 202 points lower than anyone else's in the top 10. There's a decent chance that his numbers with runners on regresses closer to his career line of .276/.339/.423 in 921 situational at bats, and he'll start coming off of rosters when that happens. My advice would be to try to trade/package him to a team struggling for runs batted in while his impact is still as high as it is.
Buzz Index (Baseball) – Drops
Eric Gagne (Mil – RP) 37,548 drops
Gagne was dropped en masse after he was ousted as closer after a series of poor outings.
Lowdown: In a somewhat surprising development, the break from closing lasted all of one day, as Gagne recorded his 10th save of the season Tuesday. Frustrated fantasy owners can still rationalize the move with the fact that the combined negative impact of his ERA (6.27) and WHIP (1.88) has dwarfed the positive impact of his saves (his season rank is 597 for a reason). There are few reasons to expect Gagne to right the ship, so don't sweat this move too much.
Jason Isringhausen (StL – RP) 24,336 drops
Isringhausen has been experiencing problems similar to Gagne's (7.02 ERA, 1.68 WHIP), and he's been removed as closer for at least the near future.
Lowdown: The Cardinals are attributing his troubles to mechanics, so he'll get some time to address them before he's back to pitching with games on the line. Call it a gut feeling, but Izzy seems much more likely to turn things around than Gagne.
Randy Wolf (SD – SP) 22,509 drops
Wolf has been getting roughed up after some success to start the season. He walked five batters and allowed seven earned runs in 4.0 innings of his most recent start and has a 7.86 ERA and 1.82 WHIP over his past five starts.
Lowdown: Four of those past five starts have been on the road, but he didn't pitch all that well in his single start in PETCO, either (4.0 IP, 7 H, 5 ER). Between his struggles to stay healthy and his struggles getting hitters out, he's just not worth a roster spot in most formats at this point.
Johnny Cueto (Cin – SP) 19,612 drops
Cueto was rocked in his most recent start, allowing eight hits (2 HR) and six earned runs in 4.2 innings in an 8-3 loss to the Mets on Sunday.
Lowdown: He pitched well enough in his previous start versus the Cubs (6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 K), but the bad has certainly outweighed the good since his phenomenal first two starts of the season. In his past six games, he's compiled a 7.52 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 32.1 innings. As was previously mentioned, young pitchers deserve more leeway than others as they adjust to major league hitters (and vice versa). His WHIP (1.25) is still respectable and his K/BB (4.2) is seventh among qualified pitchers, so if he can iron out his issues with the long-ball (1.8 HR/9) he'll be worth that roster spot.
Jonathan Sanchez (SF – SP, RP) 17,057 drops
Sanchez's struggles have been titanic over his past three starts. In 14.1 combined innings, he's allowed 12 ER (7.53 ERA) while walking 13 (1.95 WHIP) and striking out 10.
Lowdown: In the five starts before his rough patch, he compiled a 1.82 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 29.2 innings, with 20 hits, 14 walks and 32 strikeouts. As with Cueto, he deserves a bit longer of a look, although his struggles with control are a bit more problematic. I'm not suggesting that Sanchez should be universally owned, but his successes shouldn't be completely overshadowed by his past few starts.
Vernon Wells (Tor – OF) 15,846 drops
Wells hit waivers in a number of leagues after it was revealed that he would miss up to two months because of a broken left wrist.
Lowdown: Bad news for the Blue Jays and for Wells, who was doing a decent job at the plate (.281, 5 HR). Although he may never again be an elite option at OF, he's good enough to warrant the DL spot if you have one. Be looking for an update on his status in a few weeks.
Gavin Floyd (CWS – SP, RP) 13,829 drops
Floyd's follow-up performance to his stellar one-hit start against the Twins on May 6 was not a thing of beauty. He allowed nine hits and five earned runs in 3.2 innings, walking two and striking out none.
Lowdown: There's a good chance that Floyd's value peaked on May 6. He's a reasonably talented young pitcher, but as his BAA rises (currently just .192), so will his ratios (currently 3.32 ERA, 1.13 WHIP).
Clay Buchholz (Bos – SP) 11,727 drops
Buchholz followed up a pair of horrific starts (combined 8.1 IP, 13.33 ERA, 2.96 WHIP) with a trip to the DL because of a broken nail on his right middle finger.
Lowdown: One more time to re-hash the same point: don't pick up a 23-year-old starting pitcher if you aren't ready to deal with some ups and downs. In his first six starts, Buchholz compiled a 3.71 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, with 33 strikeouts. He's got some supreme talent, but you need to have some patience and be a bit judicious when plugging him in for his starts.