I entered the day fully expecting to write a glowing review of Brayan Bello's debut in which I urged you to act on what may be your last opportunity to pick him up.
Turns out his first start was a clunker. The final line you can see for yourself:
But there were positive signs. His sinker was as good as advertised, peaking at 98 mph and drawing oohs and aahs for its movement. He made Rays catcher Francisco Mejia look really uncomfortable on this sequence for his first career strikeout:
In the end, though, poor control got the better of Bello, which I suggested could be the case in my latest Prospects Report. He threw just 57 percent of his pitches for strikes as compared to 62 percent in the minors -- a rate that still resulted in a less-than impressive 3.5 BB/9. Nerves surely played a factor in this one, but it probably won't be the last time he struggles to find the strike zone.
Of course, you could make the argument now is actually the perfect time to pick up Bello seeing as there will be less competition for his services. Imagine passing up Spencer Strider after he threw a clunker in his first start May 30 at the Diamondbacks. Those of us who agonize over every drop, though, might appreciate the leeway Bello's sour debut gives us, especially not knowing how long of a leash the Red Sox will give him, what with Chris Sale on the verge of returning and all.
If you're not in the mood to speculate, here are some other potential waiver wire pickups.
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MIN Minnesota • #19 • Age: 24
It finally happened. My boy's all grown up, socking two dingers in a 3-for-4 performance Tuesday at the White Sox. They weren't the first balls Kirilloff has hit hard since returning from the minors in mid-June. In fact, judging from his 92.7 mph average exit velocity during that time, he's hit everything hard. But it was a rare alignment of results with expectations, and I for one expect it to continue. As a reminder, Kirilloff hit .359 with 10 homers and a 1.106 OPS in his latest stint in the minors, finally shaking the wrist injury that's plagued him since early last season. He did leave Tuesday's game after a collision at first base, prompting cries of "here we go again," but word is he's fine.
Jhoan Duran RP
MIN Minnesota • #59 • Age: 24
Emilio Pagan was recently removed from the closer role, at least as much as someone who never officially had it can be, and though the Twins haven't had a save chance since then, we have a pretty good idea what direction they'll go for their next one. Duran worked the bottom of the 10th inning Monday after the Twins rallied to take a four-run lead in the top half. He then worked the ninth inning of a tie game Wednesday. These are situations where you'd normally expect to see a closer. Pagan, meanwhile, continues to put himself in a deeper hole, allowing two runs while working the fifth inning Wednesday. Manager Rocco Baldelli probably won't anoint Duran in any official way, but judging from his numbers so far, he could take the job and run with it.
ATL Atlanta • #8 • Age: 31
Rosario returned Monday -- a little sooner than expected, actually -- after missing 10 weeks for a vision problem, and has started all three games for the Braves, even connecting for a home run Wednesday. The problem? His return has forced Adam Duvall to the bench, and that's unlikely to be an everyday thing. Manager Brian Snitker has said the two won't be in a strict platoon, that he'll play it by ear and ride the hot hand at times, but there Duvall was pinch-hitting for Rosario with a lefty on the mound in the seventh inning Wednesday. I like what Rosario did down the stretch last season, batting .316 with 10 homers and .975 OPS in 48 games, postseason included, but we'll need some clarity on playing time before he's must-add across the board.
Nate Lowe 1B
TEX Texas • #30 • Age: 27
It's a little surprising how slow Lowe has been to gain traction on the waiver wire. With another two hits Wednesday, including a double, he's now batting .337 (34 for 101) with seven homers and a near-1.000 OPS in his past 26 games. Maybe he's just hot, but his 12.9-degree average launch angle during this stretch may point to an underlying change. It was just 3.3 degrees before then. The 27-year-old has always impacted the ball like a power hitter but hasn't elevated enough to make good on it. If the change is sustainable, then we could be witnessing a breakthrough for a player once hyped as the next big thing. Oh, and unlike most left-handed hitters, his numbers are actually better against lefties.
Nick Lodolo SP
CIN Cincinnati • #40 • Age: 24
April isn't exactly fresh on our minds at this point, but for a hot minute there, Lodolo was, well, the hot thing. He registered 15 swinging strikes in his second start and allowed just one run over 5 2/3 innings in his third. He went on the IL with a strained back immediately afterward and was sidelined for long enough (2 1/2 months) to make us forget all about him. The reminder came loud Tuesday when he struck out eight over 4 2/3 scoreless innings in his return against the Mets. The outing was understandably short, but the stuff appeared to be fully intact, namely the breaking ball. After the game, several Mets were even comparing him to Chris Sale, so if you were disappointed in Brayan Bello's debut, here's your flashy alternative.
LAA L.A. Angels • #19 • Age: 31
Yes, I too get the distinct feeling we've already mined Villar for all he's worth in Fantasy, but with Anthony Rendon out for the year, the 31-year-old does have an exciting new opportunity as a replacement third baseman and, better yet, leadoff hitter, a spot he has filled three games in a row. It would be a good place to hit in any lineup, but particularly the one with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani batting second and third. Villar remains a willing base-stealer, swiping his seventh bag as part of a two-hit day Wednesday. Of course, he'll need to hit to keep his spot -- something he didn't do in sporadic duty with the Cubs earlier this year -- but we've written him off before only to see him come roaring back. It could happen again.