In the classification of winners and losers, it's not always clear into which bucket a player belongs.
Was Yu Darvish a loser Thursday? The easy answer is "yes," and yet he's a loser who gave up one hit and recorded nearly two strikeouts per inning. It was quintessential Darvish, or at least his 2019 form. Despite being virtually unstartable right now, the guy isn't doing everything wrong. His average exit velocity is more or less the same as always. His swinging-strike rate is actually a career high. If he can just figure out how to put the ball over the plate, you could see him getting back to being an impact pitcher in Fantasy.
Impact pitchers aren't so plentiful in today's game, so I've been reluctant to drop him. Granted, anytime a player is performing so poorly that you can't justify having him in your lineup, it's hard to make the case he's undroppable. But if you play in a league deep enough that you yourself or some of your competitors are stashing prospects away in the hope of a big payoff later, I don't see how Darvish's case is any different. Given how much success he has already known at the big-league level, I like his chances of mattering better than any pitcher who might get called up tomorrow.
So that's who not to drop today. Now who, pray tell, might you add?
Four players to add from Thursday
Wade MIley, SP, HOU (51%) — I've gone back and forth on Miley, who it turns out isn't another Astros success story on the level of Charlie Morton or Collin McHugh. But he has continued to succeed in the same unexpected way he did for the Brewers last year, thriving on weak contact. Thursday's two-hit, two-run outing against the Rangers gave him four quality starts in his past five, which is saying something in today's environment.
Chris Bassitt, SP, OAK (44%) — At 30, Bassitt probably isn't on the verge of a breakthrough, and it's worth noting the swinging strike rate has come back down in his past two starts. But the results haven't — he struck out nine in 7 2/3 innings Thursday, surrendering three earned runs — and you just don't see too many pitchers putting together those kinds of efforts on the waiver wire. You need pitchers, so grab on and see where it takes you.
Tommy La Stella, 2B/3B, LAA (30%) — La Stella's career high in homers coming into this season was five. He has more than that just counting the two-homer games, the third of which came Thursday. His fly-ball rate is up, but not to the point he should have a sub-.200 BABIP, and his strikeout rate is so low it would have led the majors last year. He's getting to be pretty interesting, even if he does sit against left-handers.
Chris Martin, RP, TEX (6%) — With Shawn Kelley headed to the IL with an infection, Martin is the choice to close now for the Rangers and could be surprisingly useful in the role. The Rangers would like to see Jose Leclerc reclaim it eventually, but after a three-walk appearance Thursday, he doesn't appear any closer to doing so.
Winners and Losers
Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, CHC — Bryant's home run Thursday was his fourth in five games, putting him on pace for 32 to go along with 111 RBI and 130 runs scored. And suddenly, concerns about him bouncing back from last year's shoulder issue seem entirely overblown, especially since it looks like he's still owed some batting average correction.
Luke Weaver, SP, ARI — For the second straight start, Weaver allowed one run on three hits in seven innings, capping an incredible six-start stretch that has him sitting on a 2.98 ERA and 1.06 WHIP for the year. His cutter is playing much better as a third pitch than the curveball he tried last year.
Hunter Pence, OF, TEX — Pence homered for the third straight day Thursday (and had a fourth one robbed by Josh Reddick), continuing the torrid pace that won him a roster spot in spring training. The 36-year-old rarely starts against righties, but he's pushing for more at-bats with his play so far, responding well to the work he put in with hitting guru Doug Latta this offseason.
Felix Pena, SP, LAA — Though it technically wasn't a quality start since he was following an opener, Pena turned in his most impressive outing so far, allowing just three hits over seven scoreless innings with no walks and seven strikeouts. He's basically just a two-pitch pitcher, but his slider shows big swing-and-miss potential, if usually in four-inning spurts.
Joe Musgrove, SP, PIT — After two straight ugly outings, the control artist's ERA has jumped from 1.54 to 4.20, and Thursday's outing was especially out of character given that he walked five for the first time in his professional career. He told MLB.com after the game that he watched the tape and thinks he just needs to clean up a few things, so no need to panic here.
Braves bullpen — Luke Jackson was given a second straight save chance and blew it this time, serving up a home run to David Peralta. A.J. Minter, the intended closer, then took the loss in the 10th inning, allowing three baserunners without recording an out, and now there's talk of him getting sent to the minors. This is becoming a mess only Craig Kimbrel can solve.
Kyle Freeland, SP, COL — It's looking more and more like Freeland's deal with devil has come due. His strikeout and walk rates are just as underwhelming as a year ago, only now he can't keep runs off the board, giving up five (three earned) against the lowly Giants. His ERA has jumped from 4.23 to 5.84 in his past three starts, making him decidedly less than must-own.
Trevor Richards, SP, MIA — After opening the year with three straight quality starts, Richards has just one in his past five, most recently allowing four earned runs in five innings Thursday. His control issues may be too much to overcome, and yeah, he's still winless for the lowly Marlins.