If you've been reading the newsletter this week, you know we've been hyping up Red Sox pitching prospect Brayan Bello, so it was a pretty disappointing MLB debut from him Wednesday night. Facing the Rays, Bellow allowed four runs in four innings of work, with six hits, three walks and, perhaps most disappointingly, just two strikeouts.
Bello had just six swinging strikes, which was especially frustrating, because the stuff mostly looked pretty good – he dials his fastball up to 98 mph while averaging 96.7, and he actually threw more changeups than any other pitch – the slider was more disappointing than anything, as he had no whiffs while throwing it just 13 times. At least based on one start, that pitch is lagging behind the rest.
Oh well. It happens. Bello still clearly has a ton of potential – his MLB debut was disappointing, but a 34.4% strikeout rate at Triple-A kind of speaks for itself – but he just wasn't ready to make an impact in game one. He'll have more opportunities, and I remain intrigued about adding him, assuming the Red Sox opt to give him more opportunities moving forward.
Bello disappointed, but there were some other pitchers who impressed and could be worth adding on waivers or acquiring via trade. In today's newsletter, we'll break down some of the most intriguing performances on the mound, as well as a crew of hitter options on the waiver wire to consider, and more. And of course, as always, you can follow to make sure you get the latest episodes of Fantasy Baseball Today right when they drop on Apple and Spotify.
Buy or sell pitcher standouts
Here are three pitchers who pitched well in surprising ways Wednesday along with some thoughts on how I'm viewing them rest of the season. We'll start with the universally rostered guy and go down to the recent callup who is turning heads:
- Jose Berrios – 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 8 swinging strikes on 87 pitches -- Given the way Berrios' season has gone, we'll take any positive we can get, but I'll admit, it's hard to get too excited about an outing like this. Going against the lowly Athletics, Berrios managed a strikeout per inning, but the eight swinging strikes are especially disappointing seeing as he went heavy on the curveball (38% usage) in this one. I'm still buying Berrios overall, but he clearly isn't fully himself yet. It's good that he took advantage of a matchup he was supposed to, and I would be fine using him as a two-start pitcher next week. But I still need to see more before I return Berrios to the ranks of the must-start pitchers.
- Josiah Gray – 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 22 swinging strikes on 11 pitches -- What was interesting about this start is Gray succeeded mostly on the strength of his fastball, which isn't how his season has gone overall. He has 11 swinging strikes with the fastball and allowed an exit velocity of just 76 mph on five batted balls. For the season, Gray has allowed a .458 expected wOBA with his fastball with a pretty middling 14.1% whiff rate, so you can look at this outline one of two ways. Either it was mostly an outlier, and his fastball will continue to be a negative, or he figured something out with his fastball that will make it more effective and he's about to go on a massive run. I like Gray plenty, but I'd sell this as a new level – his fastball will likely still remain an issue, and his breaking balls will still be his strength.
- Mitch White – 5.2 IP, 1 H, 1 unearned R, 4 BB, 6 K, 9 swinging strikes on 102 pitches -- White took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Rockies, and now has a 3.38 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 40 innings in the majors, but there are reasons to be skeptical. His swinging strike rate wasn't great in this one, his swinging strike rate overall is just 9.3%, and his 8.9% walk rate is below average. That's not to say White doesn't have appeal, but he hasn't been able to sustain his high-level strikeout rates from the minors and his underlying numbers (3.74 FIP, 3.85 xERA) don't necessarily support his overall production. I'm selling him as much more than a streamer.
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Waiver wire hitter rankings
Looking for a potential impact hitter to add? On Thursday's podcast, Frank asked about some of Wednesday's standouts and how we're viewing them. Here's how I rank the four hitters we discussed:
- With the trade deadline looming, Ramon Laureano seems like one of the more obvious candidates to get moved, and he's heating up. Over the past 14 games, he's hitting .286 with four homers and three steals after going 1 for 3 with a home run Wednesday. At 42% rostered, Laureano is someone I think probably deserved to be rostered in all category-based formats at this point – with the potential for significant upside if he gets traded to a better park, which would be any park other than Oakland.
- Franmil Reyes is a tough nut to crack. He's hitting .250 since returning from the IL, and he has three homers in his past seven games, with a massive 94.5 mph average exit velocity. However, he's also striking out 41% of the time in that stretch, which is just way too much.
- Eddie Rosario got on the board with his first HR of the season, and the hope is he's starting to get right after needing surgery to fix an issue with blurred vision. I'm not overly excited to add Rosario – he doesn't bring much to the table besides power even when things are going well, and I think that power is pretty fringe-y. I'm just not sure how he's going to look in this new, lesser offensive environment. I'm not running out to add him where he's available.
- Andrew Benintendi went 2 for 3 with two walks, three runs and his second SB, and it's that latter thing that is going to matter. If he starts running again, I can get on board, but right now he's hitting for essentially no power and barely running, and is on pace for like 65 runs and 60 RBI despite hitting .313/.381/.398. I just don't think there's much upside of note here.
Injuries, news and notes
- Bryce Harper (thumb) told reporters he intends to play again this season, but was unwilling to commit to a timeline, which is, frankly, the first time I've considered the possibility that he may not play this season, given his 6-8 week timetable. For what it's worth, he did say that the Phillies being out of contention wouldn't necessarily change his outlook for returning.
- Juan Soto returned to the lineup after missing two games with a calf injury.
- Rafael Devers was out Wednesday with a little bit of right hamstring soreness and back tightness. It doesn't sound too serious, so hopefully this was just a chance to give him a day off before a big series against the first-place Yankees.
- Kevin Gausman is unlikely to pitch Thursday because of the ankle injury suffered in his most recent start, but he still has a chance to pitch Sunday against the Mariners.
- Frankie Montas was diagnosed with inflammation in his right shoulder but apparently has no structural damage. He'll have a cortisone injection in the shoulder and will miss his start this week, but the hope is he can avoid the IL.
- Jonathan India left after being hit by a pitch on his ankle. X-rays came back negative, but we'll see how he responds Thursday.
- Alex Kirilloff was removed Wednesday after colliding with Andrew Vaughn at first base, though it sounds like he avoided a serious injury. A good sign for a guy who has dealt with a lot of wrist injuries over the past few seasons.
- Chris Taylor was placed on the IL with a small fracture in his left foot. We haven't heard anything about prospect Miguel Vargas getting the call… yet.
- Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth inning for the save Wednesday, after missing the previous two games after being hit by a comebacker on the back. His velocity was fine, which is a good sign.
- Tyler Mahle was placed on the IL with a right shoulder strain but was quoted saying he's "not concerned at all" and expects to return after the All-Star break. I would continue to stash him.
- Kyle Hendricks was placed on the IL with a right shoulder strain. He'll miss his final two starts before the break.
- Brandon Lowe will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Thursday. He's been on the IL since mid-May with a back injury.
- Anthony Rizzo has missed two straight due to lower-back stiffness.
- Marcus Stroman is scheduled to throw a bullpen in the next couple of days before the team determines his next step. Stroman has been on the IL since early June with right shoulder inflammation.
- Evan Longoria placed on the IL with an oblique strain. David Villar has been playing third base for the Giants, was having a huge year in the minors, hitting .284, with 21 HR in 66 games. He's 2% rostered, but I need to see more before I look at him in mixed leagues.
- Yoan Moncada exited after fouling a ball off his right foot Wednesday. He just can't catch a break, it seems.
- Joey Votto was not in the lineup due to back tightness. Something to watch for a vet.
- Despite a solid start on Tuesday, Dodgers prospect Ryan Pepiot was optioned back to Triple-A. He has upside, but isn't worth stashing in most leagues.
- The Tigers have had no communication with Eduardo Rodriguez since he was placed on the restricted list June 13. He's been away dealing with a personal matter, and at this point there's no sign as to when he'll be back. Rodriguez is droppable in the absence of more information.
The call to the bullpen
- MIL: Josh Hader entered in a tie game, gave up a walk, hit and run, and took the loss. He's fine.
- CHC: David Robertson pitched a clean ninth for his 12th save. The only thing I'm worried about at this point is the trade deadline.
- TOR: Jordan Romano struck out two for his 18th save
- BAL: Jorge Lopez was back in there in the ninth, and struck out two for his 14th save.
- WAS: Tanner Rainey threw a clean ninth for his 12th save. He had a few rocky outings, but remains worth using in category-based formats if you need saves.
- CIN: Hunter Strickland entered the ninth with a one-run lead, proceeded to give up a run on two hits and took his second blown save. There is basically no job security here, and I'd rather have Alexis Diaz, who at least has some strikeout upside.
- ATL: A.J. Minter gave up a hit but picked up his second save since Kenley Jansen went down. The Braves have had five saves, with three going to Will Smith. I think Smith probably has an edge, but it's a clear committee.
- COL: Daniel Bard entered in a tie game, did not record an out, gave up a walk and three hits and took the loss.
- SF: Camilo Doval started the ninth with a three run lead, walked three with a hit before being pulled, with Sam Long coming in to close it out.