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Everybody loves prospects, and for good reason. They come with seemingly limitless potential and they often come cheap. But it's kind of funny how we draw the line. We know we aren't perfect at projecting minor leaguers, especially starting pitchers, but if a pitcher doesn't make the top-100 prospects on at least one site, we often ignore them. Well, Joey Lucchesi and Yonny Chirinos should have your attention now.
Lucchesi (9 percent owned) struck out seven Rockies over five shutout innings, which is a big improvement over his first start against the Brewers. After two difficult matchups he's given up three runs over 9.2 innings, striking out eight while walking three. That's an encouraging start to a career.
Lucchesi is a funky lefty who isn't overpowering, but he had a 2.20 ERA and a K/9 of 9.6 last year in the minor leagues. Pitching half of his games at Petco (with a few more in San Francisco), Lucchesi could easily be a 5th or 6th starter you start based on matchup. His ceiling is even higher than that, at least until everyone has seen his delivery.
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Yonny Chirinos (6 percent owned) wasn't even supposed to be in the Rays rotation but with their injuries and the way he's pitching, I'm not sure they have a choice. He has thrown nine innings this season, all of them against the Boston Red Sox. He's only given up four hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. He still has a perfect ERA.
Chirinos doesn't have much strikeout upside at all, but the elite control is very real. He had a 1.4 BB/9 in his minor league career and had a 2.73 ERA last year. He's still more of a speculative add until the Rays confirm that he's a part of the rotation but Chirinos should be owned in all AL-only leagues and leagues with 15-teams or more.
Nick Pivetta wasn't exactly a nobody, he was a Round 4 pick in 2013 and was traded for Jonathan Papelbon two years later, but he was never a top prospect and he was terrible in the majors last year. But he's always had tempting stuff.
That stuff was on full display on Thursday, generating 15 swinging strikes in 5.2 shutout innings against the Marlins. The fact that it was against the Marlins definitely deserves some scrutiny, but not enough to completely overlook the performance. I would prioritize him behind Lucchesi for sure.
Dan Vogelbach came into the season as a man without a position, but an injury to Nelson Cruz has opened the door and he's taking advantage. Vogelbach has four hits in his first first four games, which is three more than Ryon Healy has so far this season. Why does that matter? When Cruz comes back Healy will be Vogelbach's main competition for playing time.
In the minor leagues Vogelbach has walked almost as often as he struck out, which is how he's maintained an OBP over .380 each of the past three seasons. He should be owned in all OBP leagues and deeper points leagues now.
The Brewers closer
Corey Knebel left the Brewers game on Thursday with a hamstring injury and it looked serious. That's sent everyone scrambling to the waiver wire to pick up the new closer in Milwaukee. If only we knew who it was. There are four relievers that you could possibly consider, but I'm probably only going after two of them.
The first priority is Matt Albers. All three of his performances thus far have come in the 8th inning and he's yet to allow a run. That's generally a good indicator that a guy is next line. Jacob Barnes is also in the hunt. Watching Barnes, I really like his stuff but the numbers have never been as good as I expect them to be. He does already have a save this year, but it came in an extra inning game after Albers and Knebel had already pitched. .
Finally, Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader could be in the mix. Hader is the best pitcher in the Brewers bullpen, but I really think they like him more in the multi-inning role. Jeffress has closing experience, but he's less likely to succeed in the role than the others.