More Fantasy Baseball: Nick Markakis tops list of six old guys with new tricks, but are they legit?

"Hey, were you able to add Exciting Pitcher A off the waiver wire?"

"Heck yeah! And I'm ever so excited about the possibilities."



Three days later ...

"Hey, did you add Exciting Pitcher B off the waiver wire?"

 "Yeah, I still had a spot to play with, so it was a no-brainer. Love me some potential!"

"High five!"

Sixteen hours later ...

"Man, Exciting Pitcher C is going off this afternoon. What about him?"

"Really, another one? So what, do I give up on Exciting Pitcher A? He has been ... slightly less exciting lately. And Exciting Pitcher B wasn't exactly a prospect, but man, Analyst X has been so into Stat Y lately. Or should I move on from Good Player P? He's a good player, after all, but this may be my only shot at the new guy. You wouldn't be down for a trade, would--"

"No thanks!"

Seventy-five minutes later ...

"Hey, did you see--"

"Just let me live my life, PLEASE!"


That's right, we've reached the point in the season when the market is flooded with upside-y pitchers who either haven't come back to earth yet or haven't come back hard enough to eliminate them from mixed-league consideration.

Which makes for the most troubling of roster crunches. You can't have them all, but you'd hate to give up one with actual staying power after working to corner the market. Figuring out who it will be this far out, though, is mostly speculation.


Below are 16 pitchers who went widely undrafted but have done the most over the first six weeks to ingratiate themselves to Fantasy owners. I list them in the order I'd roster them, but I've included pros and cons for each. You're welcome to overrule.

Tyson Ross San Diego Padres SP
  • Pros: Former Fantasy mainstay with three standout seasons in his past, consistently throws six-plus innings 
  • Cons: Recovering from thoracic outlet surgery, shaky control, pitches for the Padres

    Tyson Ross isn't throwing as hard or getting as many groundballs as before his bout with thoracic outlet syndrome (which may have contributed to Monday's two-homer outing), but leaning heavily on his slider, he's getting whiffs aplenty.
Walker Buehler Los Angeles Dodgers SP
  • Pros: Arguably the game's top pitching prospect, just took part in a combined no-hitter, no immediate threats to his job 
  • Cons: Strict pitch limits, surprisingly low swing-and-miss rate for his stuff

    I tend to think too much is made of the pitch restrictions, given that Walker Buehler topped 90 in each of his past two starts, and with a fastball that pushes triple digits and two plus breaking balls, I suspect the whiffs will come as well.
Mike Soroka Atlanta Braves SP
  • Pros: Arguably the top pitching prospect in the deepest minor-league system, forces conspiring to keep him around despite presence of Luiz Gohara and Anibal Sanchez
  • Cons: A 20-year-old with less than premium velocity who just turned in a shaky start, only recently showed strikeout potential in minors

    What Mike Soroka lacks in pure velocity he makes up for in command, movement and pitchability, making him potentially another Zack Greinke type.
Caleb Smith Miami Marlins SP
  • Pros: Dominant in past three outings, data-backed pitch selection seems to be maximizing the return on all three of his pitches
  • Cons: Suspect minor-league track record, bouts of wildness, pitches for the Marlins

    Caleb Smith allowed just seven hits while recording 26 strikeouts compared to two walks over his past three starts, which probably counts for more than him being just another 25-year-old in the Yankees system last year.
Joey Lucchesi San Diego Padres SP
  • Pros: Outrageous minor-league production, deceptive delivery, dominated the only team he faced a second time (Rockies)
  • Cons: Recent decline in performance, minimal prospect hype, only two pitches

    One of the first of these pitchers to ingratiate himself to Fantasy owners, Joey Lucchesi hasn't exactly fallen off a cliff, but his diminished production has some questioning the talent all over again.
Trevor Cahill Oakland Athletics SP
  • Pros: Coming off a 12-strikeout effort, big swing-and-miss changeup, elite ground-ball rate
  • Cons: Longtime disappointment at age 30, few bidders this offseason, lengthy injury history

    Trevor Cahill showed signs of becoming a true bat-misser with the Padres last year and has taken to throwing his best pitch, the changegup, even more this year.
Tyler Skaggs Los Angeles Angels SP
  • Pros: A FIP (2.73) that supports his ERA (3.08), consistent swinging strike totals, good offense backing him
  • Cons: Only two quality starts, inefficient, has yet to dazzle, injury history

    Though possibly the most boring of these choices, Tyler Skaggs also has also been one of the most consistent, with little reason to suspect a collapse apart from injury.
Nick Kingham Pittsburgh Pirates SP
  • Pros: Dazzling debut wherein he was perfect through six, newfound slider shows big swing-and-miss potential
  • Cons: A middling prospect prior to his age-26 season, minimal job security, not presently in the majors

    Nick Kingham is only the minors because the Pirates don't need a fifth starter right now, but it's possible they turn to Joe Musgrove fresh off the DL when they do.
Domingo German New York Yankees RP
  • Pros: Threw six no-hit innings in first big-league start, strong minor-league track record, three-pitch mix
  • Cons: Minimal prospect hype, delayed arrival at 25, potentially short leash

    Domingo German threw his offspeed pitches about 60 percent of the time in Sunday's start, so he wasn't just overpowering hitters. Still, I'd like to see him do it again, given the questionable pedigree.
Fernando Romero Minnesota Twins SP
  • Pros: Top prospect pedigree, earned shot independent of injury
  • Cons: Shaky control, propensity for injury

    After holding his own in his first start, Fernando Romero showed the full extent of his potential Monday at the Cardinals, moving up a couple spots on the strength of that start alone.
Tyler Mahle Cincinnati Reds SP
  • Pros: Stellar minor-league numbers, looks unhittable in stretches
  • Cons: Only one plus pitch, making him a sitting duck the third time through a lineup

    Unless Tyler Mahle can develop a quality offering to pair with his fastball, he may not last as a starter. Hitters are 16 for 33 with six home runs in their third look at him.
Tyler Anderson Colorado Rockies SP
  • Pros: Known for coaxing weak contact, swinging strikes on the rise 
  • Cons: That whole Coors Field thing

    Tyler Anderson was actually better at home last year and was specifically tailored for that environment, so if the new swinging strike rate -- the best of anyone on this list, actually -- is legit, he may just pan out.
Nick Pivetta Philadelphia Phillies SP
  • Pros: Good strikeout numbers in both the majors and minors last year, strong April showing
  • Cons: Pummeled in majors last year, roughed up in past two outings, no obvious dominance indicators

    Nick Pivetta has a pretty good slider that he doesn't throw often enough but otherwise rates as fairly ordinary across the board, with a largely uninspiring major-league track record.
Reynaldo Lopez Chicago White Sox SP
  • Pros: Has a fastball that pushes triple digits and a sparkling prospect pedigree
  • Cons: Poor strikeout rate, poor walk rate and a fly-ball rate that portends a poor home run rate

    Reynaldo Lopez presently boasts a 2.43 ERA but with massive strain on all three legs of the FIP triangle. Danger, Will Robinson.
Vince Velasquez Philadelphia Phillies SP
  • Pros: Former minor-league strikeout artist who struck out 16 Padres that one time two years ago and wasn't so bad through four starts this year
  • Cons: Mostly bad in three starts since, little to offer but a fastball and hitters know it

    Vince Velasquez is sort of a cautionary tale for Tyler Mahle owners. The fastball alone looks great, but with little to go with it, the results have eroded, with only occasional flashes of brilliance.
Jarlin Garcia Miami Marlins SP
  • Pros: Nothing
  • Cons: Everything

    The reckoning came at the Cubs on Monday, when Jarlin Garcia allowed seven runs on three home runs in four innings. His strikeout and walk rates were both sub-par, with a fly-ball rate that suggested more home runs would come, and his minor-league track record didn't paint a rosier picture. Who knew a .151 BABIP wouldn't hold up?