Fantasy Baseball: Shane Bieber, Freddy Peralta join rookies showing ace potential
Plenty of rookie pitchers come up and make an impact, but these four in particular have our Scott White's attention.
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All the good pitchers are taken, right?
The ones on waivers are all boring innings eaters like Mike Leake, or if they do have a modicum of potential, they're on such a short leash that they'll never have a chance to show it, a la Joey Lucchesi,
Sound familiar? Then tell me: Why are you passing over Shane Bieber after what he did Friday night?
Oh, you missed it? Well then, through the power of the internet, behold:
In case you didn't watch to the end, he allowed four hits and one walk in seven shutout innings, striking out nine. He was a model of efficiency, needing just 97 pitches, and he piled up 18 swinging strikes, which suggests it was all stuff not the product an overly patient lineup, a generous umpire or a pitch-framer extraordinaire.
And it was exactly what those of us who followed Bieber in the minors were hoping to see.
It's the sort of thing he did down there. Over 12 starts between Double- and Triple-A this year, he compiled a 1.29 ERA and 0.77 WHIP, issuing just six walks in 76 2/3 innings with nearly a strikeout per. And if you think pitching deep into games is a lost art in the majors, imagine how prized arms are treated in the minors, when the results don't actually matter. Bieber, though, exceeded six innings in seven of those 12 starts, and he fell short just twice.
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I can't totally refute the idea that the Tigers had a little something to do with his performance Friday, given the amount of swing-and-miss in their lineup of late, but it doesn't change the fact that in each of his three big-league starts, he has issued just one walk while recording more than a strikeout for every inning. And though he gave up a bunch of hits in his first two starts, his .408 BABIP — and that's including the dominant third outing — more or less explains those away.
He looks legit, and that's saying something given the Indians' history of maximizing their pitchers' talents. I mean, they bought low on Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer, and though Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger were both prospects of some stature, few expected an ace outcome for either. Bieber gives the Indians plenty to work with, and he has a path to a permanent rotation spot if he continues to deliver.
At 57 percent ownership, he's unusually available for a known talent coming off a brilliant outing, but he's not the only rookie pitcher who might be available to you.
If I'm ranking these arms, I'm putting German ahead of even Bieber, and looking at his 77 percent ownership rate, CBS users feel the same way. But it's going down after a disappointing showing Sunday in which he allowed six runs in three innings to the light-hitting Rays. These things happen.
What I don't understand is why it would overshadow what he did in each of his previous three starts, all of them quality, all featuring at least nine strikeouts for a total of 28 to just two walks. He had 26 swinging strikes in one of them and at least 15 in all three, contributing to what would be the fourth-best swinging strike rate in baseball if he had the innings to qualify, behind only Max Scherzer, Chris Sale and Jacob deGrom. And he's not leaning on any one pitch to do it. His fastball, changeup and curveball are all contributing to the swinging strike total in almost equal measure, which is unheard of for the rookie. Shoot, most pitchers never develop three true swing-and-miss pitches, so the fact German already has them is a huge advantage.
He might get burned by home runs from time to time given the park he calls home, but it shouldn't be a deal-breaker. If you look at the swinging strike rate leaderboard for any of the past three seasons, it's like a who's who of Fantasy aces, which suggests we won't be wondering German what is for long.
German's teammate deserves to be the least owned of these four since his time in the majors is almost assuredly finite. When Masahiro Tanaka returns from a hamstring injury, Jonathan Loaisiga is the obvious odd man out ... unless he overtakes German, which is unlikely but at least plausible given the potential he has demonstrated so far.
If comparing just their latest starts, his was certainly the better of the two. He allowed one hit over 5 1/3 shutout innings at the Phillies on Monday, striking out eight on a respectable 15 swinging strikes. He was mostly fastball-slider but has flashed a changeup at times, and while the control has been lacking early on, this is now two of three starts in which he has been exceedingly difficult to hit. Judging by his minor-league numbers, the control isn't a long-term concern anyway. He had an unbelievable 58 strikeouts to just four walks in 45 innings between two stops this year.
Again, he may not be long for the majors, but he has the potential for excellence — and with a great supporting cast to boot.
The most owned of these four at 84 percent, it's mostly because Freddy Peralta is in line to make two starts this week. He has the most favorable of matchups, too, going against the Royals on Tuesday and the Reds on Sunday.
It'll be a make-or-break week for him for a couple reasons. Of these four rookies, he's the most concerning to me because he basically has just one pitch, throwing his four-seam fastball an absurd 83 percent of the time across three starts. By all indications, it's a really good fastball, and his deceptive delivery combined with its varied movement makes it seem like more than one pitch.
"My fastball is not like one pitch," he recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It moves a lot. Sometimes, it cuts. Sometimes, it goes in. Sometimes, up. It's not the same pitch."
It's hard to argue with the minor-league track record, too. Peralta had 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings in 12 starts at hitter-friendly Colorado Springs this year after recording 12.7 per nine between high Class A and Double-A last year. But walks have always been an issue, and you have to figure major-leaguers will key in on that fastball eventually.
I'd say if Peralta comes through with this week's matchups, giving him four strong starts out of five in the majors, you hold on hoping the Brewers figure out a way to keep him in their rotation when Zach Davies returns from a shoulder injury. Otherwise, it's safe to move on.
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