I think Jake Faria read me shorting him at #73 last week, responding with eight shutout innings. It came against an ugly Tigers lineup, but you’ll take it anyway. Unfortunately, it was a tough week for injuries. Just last week I was asked why I didn’t have Johnny Cueto higher, and I sort of shrugged (not that anyone could see me shrugging) and said that I was waiting for the next injury to strike. Sadly it did, and he could be lost for the season this time. Hyun-jin Ryu tore his groin right off the damn bone, which is a thought that makes me cringe more than watching entrepreneurs getting shot down on Shark Tank. Robbie Ray is gone, Jordan Montgomery is gone, and we get screwed with ole dusty balls Adam Wainwright instead of Jack Flaherty. What a world. We do have some fun debuts to get to though, so there is a silver lining. We’ll focus more on them than the risers/fallers this week.
- Walker Buehler, LAD (SP39) – Buehler has been absolute nails since getting the call to LA. Through three starts he has a 1.13 ERA with a 19:7 K:BB ratio over his 16 IP, including six no-hit innings against the Padres. His stuff is filthy. He was one of the top prospects in baseball for a reason. With all that said, he has faced the Giants (at AT&T), Marlins, and Padres – three cake matchups. He’s done what good pitchers are supposed to do to bad teams, but he has yet to get tested by a good lineup. To that point I guess you can continue to not care though, with the Reds and Marlins (again) on the docket. The other issue I have with him is workload; he’s been monitored very closely by the Dodgers throughout his career, and it’ll be rare that he goes more than five-plus innings. I may be low on him, placing him in front of the next guy…
- Mike Soroka, ATL (SP40) – Soroka also debuted this week, and the 20-year old put on a better performance than Cats. He went six frames against the Mets, allowing just one run with no walks and 5 K’s. He’s got a terrific fastball that he complements with a slider, and a rare changeup when he needs it. If you’re reading this on Sunday, he’ll get the Giants today and the Marlins next, two nice matchups for him. Both he and Buehler are worth a look in all formats.
- Nick Kingham, PIT (SP43) – King Ham (not rum ham) debuted tremendously against the Cardinals, yielding just one hit over seven shutout innings with no walks and nine strikeouts. He followed that up with a less exhilarating 5.1 IP 4 ER against the Brewers, but at least he gave us 7 K’s to 1 BB. Kingham has incorporated a slider this year, although he threw it a lot less in his second start. It has given him more whiffs though, and that has me excited enough.
- Fernando Romero, MIN (SP58) – I also wrote about Romero in yesterday’s Two Startapalooza, so I’ll keep it brief here. He has the potential for three plus pitches, but he’s young and on the small side for a starter. He’s also had some walk issues so I wouldn’t expect him to pitch too deep into games, and he might be pretty inconsistent. Nice potential, but he’s a step below the other debuts to me.
- Charlie Morton, HOU (SP16) – The Reverend Morton Heat! The nickname works because at the ripe ole baseball age of 34, Morton is throwing more gas than ever. He’s averaging 96 MPH on his fastball, which has seen a velocity increase every single year since 2014. It’s truly remarkable. And not a “there’s celery in my potato salad” type of remark, it’s more of a “he can now murder someone with a baseball if he wants to” type of remark. He’s swinging strikes at a career-high 13.9% clip, 15th in MLB among qualified starters. Of course, he’s only ever eclipsed 150 innings twice in his major league career, so there’s always the looming injury concern. While he’s healthy though, he’ll give you ace-like numbers. That’s good enough to warrant a top 20 ranking from me.
- Gio Gonzalez, WSH (SP42) – Gio continues to befuddle me. He still walks a ton of batters (3.72 BB/9) and manages to strand them at an obscene clip (81%). Granted the strikeouts are up this year, which helps, but how he has now stranded batters over 80% of the time since the start of 2017 is crazy. Which do you believe more, the 2.33 ERA or the 1.34 WHIP? I’ll go with the latter. That said, he’s on a great team that puts him in a good spot to rack up wins, and even if the K% comes down, he’s still going to help you there. As long as he continues to find success I’ll keep raising him up, but I won’t be happy about it.
- Aaron Sanchez, TOR (SP76) – It pains me to do this, but I’m labeling Sanchez as a JAG. That’s “just a guy” to you laymens out there. Just two years ago Sanchez won 15 games with a 3.00 ERA over 192 innings, but after a lost season due to blisters, he has returned looking like a different pitcher. His powerful curveball has been relegated to a third pitched utilized just 7% of the time, perhaps in an effort to keep those blisters at bay. Instead he’s primarily fastball/changeup, but on the bright side that changeup is quite good. 33% whiffs on the change this year is keeping his overall swinging strike rate up around league average, but it hasn’t translated to reaches (27.1% O-swing%) or K’s (5.97 K/9). He has just 25 K’s to 18 BB’s in 37.2 IP. Yowza. While he’s posted a 4.06 ERA, all other ERA estimators have him around 5. It’s going to take some work on his part to get him out of JAG territory, which is patrolled routinely by David James Elliott.
And The List:
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