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Fantasy baseball News & Notes: The strange case of Domonic Brown

Photo: Scott Kane/Icon SMI

Jose Veras looks to be sliding, as he blew another save and was removed from the Cubs' closer role.

In our daily fantasy baseball news and notes column, we'll be discussing hot topics in the fantasy baseball world, as well as offering up tidbits of information to help you set your lineup. Comments are welcome below.

Domonic Brown is in a weird situation. He was the first Phillies hitter off the fantasy draft board, and is pretty much the only player on their roster not imminently inching towards retirement. He has the most upside on the team, the most youth, and a year ago he lead them in home runs. And what's he doing this year? Well, he's hitting sixth.

It's really not his fault. The Phillies have put so much money towards Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins that they feel obligated to hit them higher in the lineup. To make matters worse, the team has an overabundance of left-handed hitters, and Ryne Sandberg clearly doesn't like using three left-handed batters in a row. Hence, Brown bats behind the 36-year-old, right-handed-hitting Marlon Byrd.

Sometimes where someone hits in the order doesn't really matter, so long as they're at least hitting. Starlin Castro, for instance, will probably continue hitting sixth for the foreseeable future, since for whatever reason that's the spot in the lineup where he's had the most success. In Brown's case, however, hitting directly after Howard and Byrd is a major detriment, as both hitters tend to be boom-or-bust, and Brown has rarely come to the plate this season in a spot where he could drive in a lot of runs. Plus, Brown was benched just two games into the year when the Phillies faced a left-handed pitcher, and the combination of all those factors could be leading to Brown rushing when he's at the plate, or trying too hard to make something happen.

Though he's hitting .300 at the moment, he's yet to clobber a home run, and an o-fer this far into the season might be causing his owners to panic. Which is why it's a good idea to put in a low bid for him right now, when he's this affordable. The unfortunate truth is that the Phillies are so old at this point that it's entirely probable that one of their aging hitters will get hurt, which will allow Brown to slide into a spot in the order that matters. And while he's off to a slow start this year, Brown had only two home runs and eight RBI 23 games into last season before he really turned things around.

Brown's numbers from a year ago were on par with Justin Upton's, so if you're in the market for a hitter who can garner you 25 home runs and steal 10 bases, don't give much credence to the slow start and take a chance.

For Your Consideration

• So you know how Rick Renteria gave Jose Veras his vote of confidence a few days ago? Well, Veras blew another save on Friday, and the Cubs manager did his best Andy Reid impression and completely changed his mind yesterday, removing Veras from the role while noting that he's still their optimum choice at closer, a statement that means exactly nothing. Your closing candidates in Chicago are Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon -- both of whom have already poached a save this season. My money is on Rondon, now that they've already tested the waters on him getting a save chance. He hasn't been scored on in 15 straight innings, and while Strop hasn't been a disaster, his performances out of the pen haven't been nearly as proficient. Assuming the guys running the Cubs are smarter than I am, it doesn't make much sense for them not to at least give Rondon an audition in the role, since it's not like they're heading to the playoffs anyway and can't afford the risk.

• Kelly Johnson collected a home run against the Red Sox, giving him three homers and 7 RBI on the year. He's getting regular playing time and has eligibility and almost every position. Sometimes it's not a bad idea to have a guy like Johnson as a bench hitter, as he can slide into almost any spot on a day when one of your regulars is resting or is hurt. Johnson's average is bound to plummet at some point, but for now, he's a viable mixed league option.

• David Murphy had an excellent afternoon for the Indians, going 2-5 with two runs, a homer and four RBI. Murphy's .303/2/10 line is pretty solid, but his playing time is all over the place right now. If he can secure a regular spot in the outfield, he could be a tolerable deep league play, since he was occasionally serviceable in Texas. Until such everyday status is bestowed, however, you should pass.

• Justin Smoak has completely cratered since getting off to a blistering start. He went 0-4 yesterday and is a paltry 3-25 over his last seven games. He could still hold onto the cleanup spot behind Robinson Cano, but he's fallen out of standard league consideration for now.

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