Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Add Frankie Montas, Erik Swanson; plus winners and losers from Wednesday
Frankie Montas shows again Wednesday night that his new splitter has raised his profile as a starting pitcher worth riding in Fantasy.
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Did we miss Frankie Montas? It's hard to say. He had a 3.88 ERA in 65 innings in 2018, but showed just average control, and a below-average strikeout rate. Nothing about him really looked special, and his 4.00 ERA in the minors didn't exactly suggest a ton of potential.
However, this isn't the same Montas. He's always thrown hard, which made the lack of swings and misses a bit hard to understand, but he just didn't really have a great secondary arsenal to put batters away. Now, he might.
Montas introduced a splitter this offseason, and he's already throwing it about 18% of the time. With a swinging strike rate right around 20%. It's given him another option against lefties when he's ahead in the count, while he can lean on the slider to righties.
Add it all up, and we've seen a massive spike in ground-ball rate, a move toward average in overall swinging strike rate and an increase in K-BB% from 7.8 to 15.2% since last season.
Is there ace potential here? Probably not. But Montas deserves more respect than he's getting, and with half his games coming in the A's spacious home park, Montas should definitely be owned in more than 50% of leagues.
Four more players to add on waivers
Erik Swanson (4%) — Swanson got a nice soft landing, making his first career start against the Indians, but he still pitched well, limiting them to one run in six innings with five strikeouts. He had 10 swinging strikes on 80 pitches and has been pretty effective overall in the minors. He should stick in the rotation with Wade LeBlanc sidelined, and is worth a look in deeper mixed leagues.
Brandon Lowe (66%) — Lowe got off to a disappointing start, going hitless in his first nine plate appearances and only starting two of the first four games. That took some of the momentum out of the preseason hype, but he's been exceptional since, hitting .353/.414/.725 in 14 games since. He can be a starting-caliber option in all category-based formats.
Blake Parker (41%) — Parker may not have been one of the pitchers getting hype in the Angels' bullpen this preseason, but he's the one getting saves, including four of their past five. He hasn't pitched all that well — five walks in 6.1 innings — but the job appears to be his right now, and he's pitched well enough in the past to think better days are ahead.
Greg Holland (69%) — Given the way much of his 2018 season went, I don't blame anyone for not rushing out to grab Holland. However, he had an 0.84 ERA (2.97 FIP) in 24 appearances with the Nationals to close out the season and has four saves and 12 strikeouts in seven innings to begin this one. There's no closer controversy here, and he needs to be owned more widely as a result.
Winners and Losers
- Kevin Gausman — He's too highly owned to be worth putting in the waiver wire section, but Gausman is still out there in about one-fifth of CBS Fantasy leagues, and after the start he's had, that needs to change. Gausman has struck out 31.0 percent of opposing batters, and has finally gone all-in on his splitter, throwing it 42% of the time so far. It's always been his best pitch, and this could be the key to unlocking his potential, finally.
- Carlos Carrasco — It was a rough start for Carrasco, but he showed you why you shouldn't lose faith this early with a magnificent performance Wednesday. He struck out 12 over seven shutout innings against the red-hot Mariners. He's fine, guys.
- Walker Buehler — So is Buehler. He got off to a rough start after barely pitching in spring training, but he struck out eight in 6.1 innings Wednesday. His velocity has been fine all along, so Buehler just needed to knock the rust off. Looks like he did just that.
- Lucas Giolito — Yesterday might have been the best I've ever seen Giolito look in the majors. The fastball had life, he was spotting the slider where he needed to and the curveball actually looked like the one that made him such a promising prospect. And then he got hurt, suffering a hamstring injury in the third inning. Hopefully it's not too serious, because it would be a shame if Giolito got derailed just when it looked like he was figuring it out.
- Nick Pivetta — Everyone in the Fantasy industry had Pivetta pegged as a breakout, but he has once again been too hittable for a pitcher with his kind of stuff. It's a question of mindset and approach, and if he can't figure that out after being shuttled to the minors yesterday, it may never happen.
- Corbin Burnes — In 260 minor-league innings, Burnes allowed 11 home runs; that's the same number he has allowed in 17.2 innings in 2018 to date. With no guarantee of a spot in the rotation moving forward, Burnes can be safely dropped.
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