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Bryce Harper, Plouffe show signs of life

8/30/2012

Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Ronald Belisario earned his first save of the season Wednesday, retiring five Colorado Rockies in a 10-8 win. He replaced Kenley Jansen, who is out indefinitely with an irregular heartbeat. Jansen has been a top-10 fantasy closer this year, but his season could be over. Belisario, who is having a good season, or Brandon League, who has experience, will vie for the closer role.

Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper smacked a pair of home runs Wednesday, giving him 14 in his rookie campaign. Harper has really struggled over the past few months; he entered Wednesday hitting .219 in August and hasn't drawn a walk in nearly two weeks. Owned in 95 percent of leagues, Harper was perfect fantasy trade bait, but now his owners hope he can just keep his batting average above .250.

Minnesota Twins infielder Trevor Plouffe homered and knocked in four runs Wednesday. He entered the day hitting .145 in August with nary a home run. After hitting 11 home runs in June, Plouffe's power is legit, but he has been slow to regain his stroke after returning from a hand injury. A streaky hitter but a batting average risk, Plouffe will be very popular if he stays hot.

Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Tyler Cloyd threw six innings in his big league debut Wednesday, allowing seven hits and three runs. Cloyd, a sparkling 15-1 with a 2.26 ERA at two minor league levels, hardly has overpowering stuff; he didn't hit 90 mph all night. He's a command pitcher and is replacing Vance Worley, whose season is over. Cloyd is not yet worth a look in 10-team formats.

• Also not worth a pickup: Baltimore Orioles left-hander Joe Saunders, who made his O's debut an ugly one by permitting four first-inning runs and seven overall (six earned) on 10 hits Wednesday. Saunders, acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday, wasn't pitching well in the NL, and things will be even tougher now. Even AL-only owners should pass.

Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar homered, doubled three times and knocked in five against the New York Yankees on Wednesday. Still, Escobar has been a disappointment, as he's hitting .252 and taking a large step backward from 2011. At 29 years old and not even close to the top 20 among shortstops on the Player Rater, it's time for fantasy owners to move on, despite Wednesday's performance.