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Every weekday in this space we make suggestions on whom you should pick up (or, in some cases, avoid picking up) for your Fantasy squads. Rarely, if ever, do we recommend whom you should drop in order to make room for the bevy of emerging talent on waivers.
May I suggest Fernando Rodney?
Despite a performance that does not befit a major league closer and stats that are doing far more harm than good for your Fantasy standings, Rodney is still owned in 84 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com. Unfortunately, he's been allowed to be a hazard to many an owner's Fantasy health, as he is starting in 72 percent of our leagues. Given his ownership rate, he is clearly being rostered in leagues where there are viable closers on waivers, so many of his owners can afford to dump him.
Perhaps the biggest sign of doom for Rodney is that he has a viable replacement -- Carson Smith -- who is currently setting him up. If you can't handcuff Rodney and Smith, I can endorse a flat-out Rodney-for-Smith swap, assuming you have enough closers to give you saves until Smith gets bumped up to the ninth-inning role.
Here's a little more on Smith, along with a pair of 25-year-old starters who made their major league debuts on Tuesday night.
Carson Smith, RP, Mariners (17 percent owned)
Ticked that you didn't claim Shawn Tolleson? Raging that you missed out on A.J. Ramos? Well, now is the time to get in on the ground floor on Smith. Rodney blew his third save of the season, and his second in a week, on Tuesday night against the Yankees, and generally, he has been wild and hittable. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon says he is sticking with his incumbent closer, but unless he can swiftly turn around a 6.85 ERA and 1.79 WHIP, Rodney is going to make it extremely difficult for his skipper to keep his word.
Smith has done everything possible to earn a promotion. He has struck out 28 batters over 23 innings, and the rare instances of contact haven't resulted in much damage, as his 1.17 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and .213 slugging percentage allowed would suggest. Given the opportunity, Smith looks primed to perform like a No. 1 reliever in Fantasy. That makes him worth a pickup in all but the shallowest of mixed leagues.
Mike Montgomery, SP, Mariners (6 percent owned)
It's been years since Montgomery has been considered a top prospect, but after stalling in the Royals and Rays organizations, he has enjoyed a breakout with the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma. His 3.74 ERA and 1.17 WHIP earned him a callup to replace the injured James Paxton, and Montgomery answered the call with a six-inning, one-run performance against the Yankees.
Montgomery's improvement in Triple-A has hinged on an enhanced swing-and-miss rate (11.9 percent, per StatCorner) and mild progress with his control. The latter was clearly in evidence on Tuesday night, with Montgomery throwing 64 of his 97 pitches for strikes. Though he only notched four whiffs, it was a sufficiently impressive debut that he now becomes a must-own option in AL-only leagues. If not for a potential lack of longer-term job security once Paxton returns, he'd be worth a pickup in some deeper mixed leagues as well.
Tyler Cravy, SP, Brewers (1 percent owned)
I was fully prepared to write Cravy off before he made his major league debut against the Cardinals, but he went toe-to-toe with Lance Lynn in a 1-0 defeat. There wasn't much in Cravy's seven-year minor league track record to suggest success at the major league level. He didn't reach Advanced Class A until two seasons ago, when he was 23. Since then, he has been merely average as a strikeout pitcher, and the gains he made in control last season in Double-A evaporated once promoted to the Pacific Coast League.
The Brewers optioned Cravy back to Triple-A on Wednesday, but that move may have been more about adding a much-needed fourth outfielder (Shane Peterson) than about not needing or wanting Cravy on the 25-man roster. Cravy's surprising debut would have seemed to have earned him a more extended stay in the rotation, but more starts won't necessarily mean more success. His debut was the longest for a Brewers pitcher since Steve Woodard went eight frames against the Blue Jays back in 1997. Woodard had some success initially but wound up with a 5.15 rookie season ERA and a 4.94 career mark. I wouldn't expect Cravy to fare much better over a longer haul.