Need another arm for your rotation? Well you play fantasy baseball, so of course you do. Everyone needs more pitching. And if you don’t right this second, I’m sure you will soon enough. Frequent DL trips, getting shelled in another start, being sent back down to AAA after impressing. Whatever the reason, the list goes on and on. Pitchers continue to frustrate, and we’re always looking for the next man up. We’re always looking to get ahead, and that’s why I’m here. This week I’ve got a few guys owned in less than 50% of ESPN/Yahoo leagues that can help round off your staff. Here’s 3 from me:
Overshadowed by teammate Blake Snell’s breakout campaign, Jacob Faria has been putting forth a solid 2018 and building on last year’s success. Faria has gone 3-1 with 30 strikeouts, 4.15 ERA, and 1.21 WHIP though 29 innings for the Rays. The 4.15 ERA may not seem overly appetizing at first sight, but that is heavily skewed by his second outing of the season in which he surrendered 8 earned runs to the Red Sox and managed to only record 5 outs before being pulled. While that outing can’t be thrown out altogether, we aren’t likely to see many of those out of Faria. In fact, in 5 of his 7 starts so far Faria has allowed one run or fewer. However, he has only pitched 6 or more innings in two of those starts which has been especially frustrating in quality starts leagues. Unfortunately, this should be expected to continue as the Rays and their 4 man rotation are not allowing starters to go deep into ball games. His 11.1% walk rate is something that needs to be monitored, but at least he is holding batters to a .205 batting average. He puts forth modest strikeout numbers (7.79 K/9), but won’t “Wow” you in that department. Pitching in the AL East is a tough challenge, and coincidently his worst outings have come against AL East opponents. While he does have his shortcomings and challenges, he also has shown that he’s got solid stuff and can compete at this level. Don’t expect heaps of K’s or him going deep into games, but Faria should put forth many similar outings going forward.
Soraka is no secret by any means, but his surprisingly low ownership rates prompted inclusion on this list. The Braves continue to showcase their arsenal of young arms, with Soroka being the latest to make a splash. The 20 year old former top prospect dazzled in his debut, letting up one run over 6 strong against the Mets, striking out 5 and walking none. His second outing did not go as smoothly, going only 4 innings against the Giants, surrendering 4 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks while striking out 3. With an appealing matchup this Saturday against the Marlins, Soroka aims to repeat his first outing rather than his second. While not guaranteed a full time spot, if he pitches up to his pedigree there is no reason he shouldn’t remain in the rotation going forward. He has displayed great command in the minors (5.4% walk rate in 153.2 innings last year) and has looked pretty sharp with only 3 walks in his first 10 innings pitched in the bigs. His 7.20 K/9 may not seem magnificent, but his 10.4% swinging strike rate indicates that more K’s are to come. Pitching for the Braves should allow him to get plenty run support, especially with young studs Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna impressing early on. As all young pitchers his innings must be closely monitored, but after pitching 296.2 innings the past two seasons in the minors the Braves shouldn’t be overly cautious in his usage. Soroka could be a top 40/50 pitcher the rest of the way, and his upside is tremendous. He is likely gone in really competitive leagues, but as the numbers indicate he is still widely available so be sure to pounce on him if he is.
Caleb Smith has been off to a great start in his Marlins tenure, going 2-3 with 48 Ks, 3.67 ERA, and 1.17 WHIP through 34.1 innings. He is a great addition if you are in need of strikeouts, as evidenced by his juicy 33.8% strikeout rate and K/9 of 12.58. Those numbers should fall some over the course of a full season, but his 12.6% swinging strike rate is indication that he can continue punching out batters. On the flip side, his biggest hurdle (other than being on the Marlins) is his command. His 12% walk rate and 4.46 BB/9 make you cringe, and rightfully so. However, it is encouraging that 11 of his 17 walks came in two outings. In the other 29 innings, he only surrendered 6 walks total. So it can be argued that he had a couple rough starts that skewed his statistics. Further encouragement is that over his past 3 starts, he has gone 2-1 with an insane 26/2 K/BB and 7 hits allowed through 18.2 innings. Opponents are hitting .184 against him in 2018, and his 3.36 FIP and 3.54 xFIP suggest that he should continue to see success. If he can continue to limit walks while also racking up strikeouts at an impressive rate, we are looking at a strong contributor to round off your pitching staff.