Another week off the calendar, and another week of numerous health concerns for MLB pitchers. As players are shuffling on and off the DL at record pace (partly due to the new 10-day time frame), it becomes very easy for fantasy owners to see players as a pile of statistics, adding and dropping, jumping from one to another in search of value and a good matchup.
One pitcher in particular should make us all pause for a moment and remember that there are real people behind the mountain of advanced statistics. I own Jameson Taillon in a few leagues and was disappointed last week when he was placed on the DL with a groin injury. I was frustrated and disappointed, consumed by how this setback would affect my team. Then, a day later, the news broke that Taillon was having surgery for suspected testicular cancer. All of a sudden I no longer cared about the loss of Taillon from my team’s perspective. I cared about him, as a person.
Through all the arm injuries and rehab time, do we ever stop to think about what the player, the person, may be going through? Get well, Jameson, and everyone else battling and rehabbing to live their dream and their life.
The waiver wire/free agent pool gets thinner and thinner each week as more and more arms go down. The following pitchers are owned in less than 50% (or so) of Yahoo and ESPN leagues. Some can be long-term options, some are designated for a quick, one week fix, and some have potential that lands in between. They are listed in ranking order.
GRADE “A” SOLUTION
Sean Manaea – A’s
- Ownership: 56% Yahoo, 32% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: @SEA, vs. BOS
Manaea is scheduled to come off the disabled list and get two starts this week. Widely drafted and a preseason breakout candidate, Manaea was dropped by many impatient owners, and out of necessity for others due to the overwhelming number of pitchers hitting the DL this year. Some owners just didn’t have enough roster space to stash Manaea, and now is the time to swoop in and take advantage of the situation.
Manaea is still inexperienced at the major league level, and his short stint on the DL with a shoulder strain is a bit of a concern. However, given the options, Manaea is an absolute must add if he is available in your league. Don’t let the 5.18 ERA scare you away. The underlying evidence shows that his batted ball metrics are in line with or better than last year’s successful rookie campaign. A likely unlucky 53% strand rate hides an otherwise impressive 25% K rate, 13% swinging strike rate, and 1.19 WHIP.
The elements for success are evident and supported by Manaea’s 3.84 xFIP. Buy with confidence as long as you believe the shoulder issue is behind him.
Patrick Corbin – Diamondbacks
- Ownership: 31% Yahoo, 36% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: vs. NYM
Corbin has been a frequent mention in this space. His ownership had been steadily rising over the past few weeks, that is until he drew the dreaded turn at Colorado where he gave up eight earned runs over four innings. He then followed that up with a lackluster six inning, three strikeout. four-run outing against the weak Pirates.
Be forgiving. Corbin is not the first pitcher to struggle in Colorado. Before this week, Corbin was riding five quality starts in a row, and an upcoming matchup against the Mets, who only hit .229 vs. LHP, is a good opportunity for him to right the ship.
Mike Foltynewicz – Braves
- Ownership: 13% Yahoo, 13% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: vs. TOR
Foltynewicz is a former 1st round pick who has never quite lived up to the high expectations. But at 25 years old, he may be beginning to figure things out at the big league level. Consistency is still in question, but he has had quality starts in four of his last five outings, allowing only 5 earned runs with a 22:4 K/BB ratio in 26 innings.
He has a 4-pitch mix that still needs some development, as he typically cruises through the order the first time around. In the current state of MLB pitching, Mike Foltynewicz has the pedigree and recent success to be rostered in deeper leagues and be put on the radar in more shallow formats.
TWO STARTS WITH SOME LASTING UPSIDE
Luis Perdomo – Padres
- Ownership: 2% Yahoo, 4% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: vs. MIL, vs. ARI
Perdomo has been highlighted before in this space as a possible breakout candidate. His two starts this week are both tough opponents, but they are both at home, and as an extreme groundball pitcher he has not given up a home run since his first start of the season. In the last three starts Perdomo has given up a respectable five earned runs with a 17:6 K/BB ratio in 18 innings.
Kyle Freeland – Rockies
- Ownership: 18% Yahoo, 16% ESPN
- Upcoming Opponents: @MIN, @CIN
The key here is that both of Freeland’s starts this week are away from Coors. As a rookie, he has posted a 1.65 ERA in his first three career starts on the road, and his 3.80 ERA in four home starts isn’t too bad either for this 23-year-old former 1st rounder.
Freeland is another groundball specialist who won’t overpower hitters. He is likely due for a bit of regression and the typical bumps in the road that plague all rookie pitcher, but there is a good chance he can be successful doubling up this week, and someone to watch in the weeks to come.
Good luck! Have a great week! Check back every Sunday for your waiver and streamer pitching needs.
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