Earlier this week, I highlighted some potential streamer pitchers for the season's final week, acknowledging that it was too early to be a complete (or entirely accurate) list. A couple prime candidates have emerged in the days since.
First up is Jose Urquidy, a popular sleeper pick at one point in time who wound up missing the first six weeks of the season for a condition that was never disclosed. He has ramped up quickly in three starts since returning, throwing six two-hit innings in his second start back and then spinning this gem in his third start Tuesday:
His matchups for the final week (at the Mariners and at the Rangers) couldn't be more favorable, both of them being bottom-10 offenses, and there's no questioning he's fully stretched out now. Efficiency has always been his game anyway, and the uptick in strikeouts in that most recent outing suggests his secondary arsenal is fully up to speed as well.
It would have been easy to dismiss the first of those two starts as a fluke. Given the way his rookie season had gone to that point, the eight strikeouts and 16 swinging strikes were totally out of place. But then he scored another eight strikeouts on 13 swinging strikes Wednesday (with actually a better whiff rate considering he threw fewer pitches overall). According to MLB.com, he has more or less ditched the changeup to focus on "tunneling" his fastball and slider — i.e., using their similar trajectory to fool hitters — and it seems to be paying off.
And just like in the minors, he has been keeping the ball on the ground for the most part. The control seems to be coming around, too, with him issuing just 1.9 BB/9 over his past five starts. Yes, the former first-round pick is rounding into form at just the right time.
His matchups against the Cardinals and Tigers are favorable, too, and he's rostered in just 40 percent of CBS Sports leagues. Urquidy, at 68 percent, is a tougher find, but both look like must-haves for the season's final week. Even you're too loaded with pitching to slot them into your own lineup, you'll want to keep them out of your opponent's.
Here are some other players making noise on the waiver wire:
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #77 • Age: 26
Clint Frazier homered and walked twice for the second straight game Wednesday, and while the power is obviously alluring, the improved on-base skills might be the more meaningful development. They were evident as far back as spring training, when he was making headlines for a new timing mechanism that he thinks unlocked more of his natural bat speed. Manager Aaron Boone has already confirmed that Frazier will remain an everyday player even with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton back.
Chris Taylor SS
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #3 • Age: 30
Quietly, Chris Taylor has become an everyday player for the Dodgers again, starting 14 of the past 15 games while bouncing all over the diamond. He has been the fourth highest-scoring second baseman in Head-to-Head leagues during that time, batting .327 (18 for 55) with four home runs, and is also eligible at shortstop and the outfield. The Dodgers are looking at some homer-prone pitchers against the Athletics and Angels next week.
Rafael Dolis RP
TOR Toronto • #41 • Age: 32
Rafael Dolis becomes far more interesting with Ken Giles' return to the IL Wednesday. There's no longer the looming threat of him losing the closer job -- one he appears to have earned by recording each of the Blue Jays' past three saves. Though the 32-year-old has been around a while, the splitter is a pitch we haven't seen from him before, and he seems to be taking off with it, having yet to allow a hit while striking out 10 in six September appearances.
Jared Walsh 1B
LAA L.A. Angels • #25 • Age: 27
Jared Walsh's matchups for the final week could be better, but if home runs specifically are your greatest need, he has delivered six in his past seven games after delivering 36 in just 98 minor-league games last year. He has overhauled his setup at the plate, standing much quieter while the pitch is in flight, and is putting the bat on the ball at a higher rate as a result, going 19 for 45 (.422) so far in September.
Tarik Skubal SP
DET Detroit • #29 • Age: 23
Granted, the Tarik Skubal turned in a solid outing two turns ago, striking out six over six two-hit innings, but this was the first start that made me say, "OK, I get it. I see the talent, and I want in." The 17 swinging strikes were by far the most he's had, and the changeup is beginning to emerge as a much-needed weapon to pair with his fastball. It might not be enough to compel me to use him even with two starts, but I don't want him used against me either.
ARI Arizona • #58 • Age: 28
How good is Stefan Crichton? OK, not very. But he has recorded three saves in the past six days, and with Archie Bradley and Kevin Ginkel both out of the picture, the Diamondbacks don't really have anyone else. Saves are saves are saves, so here's hoping they can put him in a position to close out three more games the rest of the way.