Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Are Steven Matz and Tyson Ross circling back to trustworthy?
Heath Cummings looks at performances from Steven Matz and Tyson Ross, and asks whether they're under-owned.
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Trust is a funny thing in Fantasy Baseball. It's mostly associated with starting pitchers, and Scott White likes to refer to it as the "circle of trust". But what do we really mean when we say we trust a starting a pitcher? Against the Padres? Against most offenses? Against the Red Sox at Fenway?
Matz lost our trust during the 2017 season when he was one of the worst pitchers in baseball. In 66.2 innings, he had an ERA (6.08) almost as high as his K/9 (6.48). He didn't do much to restore that trust in April, with a 4.98 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP in his first five starts of the season. But he's been remarkably consistent since then.
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Matz has made 13 starts since May 5 and eight of them have been quality starts. He's only given up more than three runs twice, and one of those was at Coors Field. He's only 3-5 because, you know, the Mets... but Matz has a 2.91 ERA over a sample size bigger than his 2017. That's hard to ignore.
If you're looking for reason to doubt, his strikeout rate and swinging strike rate have plummeted over this stretch, but there's signs of improvement there as well. Matz has double-digit swinging strikes in three of this past four starts. A more simple way to look at it is this: Matz has a 3.81 ERA over 330.2 career innings. He owns a 3.38 ERA so far this year. Those are the numbers of a pitcher who needs to be owned in more than 64 percent of leagues, and started more often than not.
Ross is a more interesting case because he worked awfully hard to prove to everyone that he was back to being the pitcher we all trusted... and then he blew it in two starts. Ross had a 3.32 ERA with nearly a strikeout per inning on June 30. Seven days (and two starts) later, his ERA had ballooned to 4.41 and he'd been dropped in more than a third of leagues. That's what will happen when you give up 15 runs in seven innings.
But on Thursday he showed signs of life, holding to the Dodgers to two runs over 6.1 innings while striking out five. It was his 11th quality start of the year and even better than the final line. Ross threw 5.1 innings of no-hit ball before allowing a double to Cody Bellinger in the sixth. When he left the game with one out in the seventh, he'd allowed just one run, but the bullpen allowed the runner he left on first to score.
Despite that two-start blip, I still trust Ross to be a pitcher I start against a majority of the matchups he'll face in the second half. If an impatient owner in your league dropped him, go scoop him up.
This isn't the first time we've talked about Jake Bauers, but until his ownership tops 50 percent, it's going to be a regular feature. Bauers had three hits, including a double on Thursday, and was seemingly the only Ray who could touch Kyle Gibson. That may be because he's their best hitter. In fact, it's pretty clear he has been. Bauers leads the Rays in both wOBA and OPS this season.
Since he was called up on June 7, he's the N0. 26 outfielder in points leagues despite the fact he has an 11.1 percent HR/FB rate to go with a 48.2 percent hard contact rate. Bauers has been startable in both formats since his call-up, and he has more power to come. If you won't add him for what he's been, add him for what could be a monster second half.
Jorge Polanco has struggled to get going since returning from his suspension, which is to be expected for a player who missed half the season. But he has a hit in each of his past three games and he hit a double and stole another base on Thursday. Polanco is still just 25 years old and has some upside from his past production, and his past production is good enough to be rostered in a 12-team league that requires a middle infielder. Polanco should be a passable middle infielder in most categories leagues who actually helps you in steals, and that's if he doesn't make any improvements in the second half.
I understand why a lot of you dropped Fernando Romero when he was sent down to Triple-A. Roster spots are valuable this time of year and we had no indication how long the trip down would be. But if his performance is any indication, it won't be much longer. Romero has a 1.50 ERA in three starts since the demotion, and the Twins are 7.5 games back in the AL Central. This team should be focused on getting its young talent exposure in the second half, and Romero should be part of that plan.
If you're weak on pitching and the waiver wire is bare, Romero makes an excellent second-half stash.
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