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I'll admit MacKenzie Gore and Tarik Skubal are kind of freaking me out.

I've been there for a while with Gore. The reason he lost so much ground as a prospect last year (only to reemerge as a Rookie of the Year favorite early this year) is because his mechanics got out of whack. His velocity dipped, his control suffered, and he spent most of the year trying to iron things out in extended spring training.

So what's gone wrong in his past four starts? Well, his velocity has dipped (down more than 1 mph in each), and his control has suffered (15 walks vs. 11 strikeouts during that stretch). Here's how things shook out in his latest start Sunday, which was far from the worst of the four:

WAS Washington • Age: 23
Sunday at Dodgers
INN
5.2
H
5
ER
1
BB
4
K
3

Isn't it possible he's lost a feel for his mechanics again, what with the high leg kick and all? And if so, how long will it take him to find it this time?

Skubal has had a rough time of late, too. His latest start Sunday brings him to a 9.00 ERA and 1.91 WHIP in his past five.

DET Detroit • #29 • Age: 25
Sunday vs. Royals
INN
4.2
H
5
ER
5
BB
3
K
1

The walks and home runs have been elevated for the entire five-start stretch, but the new development Sunday is that his velocity was down more than a mile per hour on everything. Could he be out of sorts mechanically, too? Is it possible he's concealing an injury?

For players as unproven as Gore and Skubal, these sorts of stretches are especially difficult to ride out. For all we know, their earlier successes were a total aberration. In the shallowest of leagues, there may even be an argument for dropping them.

Then again, in the shallowest leagues, most anybody who isn't a surefire early-round pick is dispensable, so it's important to put these things in perspective. I think the concerns for Gore and Skubal are legitimate, but so are the pedigree and upside. Neither would be worth dropping for any of these eight potential pickups -- not yet, anyway.

Possible waiver wire pickups
HOU Houston • #65 • Age: 27
Rostered
75%
Saturday vs. Angels
INN
6
H
2
ER
1
BB
3
K
8
The Angels offense had a rough weekend, striking out a combined 27 times against Cristian Javier and Framber Valdez. It makes Urquidy's performance Saturday seem tame by comparison, but his eight strikeouts and 17 swinging-strikes were nonetheless his second-highest single-game totals this season. Moreover, he now has three consecutive quality starts, having allowed one earned run in each, and his previous two came in much tougher matchups against the Yankees and Mets. He won't deliver big strikeout totals forward, but as an efficient innings-eater on a first-place team, he's a worthy pickup.
KC Kansas City • #9 • Age: 24
Rostered
62%
2022 Stats
H
2
AB
14
HR
1
BB
5
K
2
Pasquantino's first five days on the job would seem like a disappointment given that he's gone only 2 for 14, but he's already connected for his first home run, hitting a screaming liner that barely cleared the right field fence Friday. He hit that ball 112.7 mph, and his average exit velocity through five games is an exceptional 97.1 mph. He's also struck out just twice in his 14 at-bats, and anyone who makes contact of that quality with that consistency is destined for stardom. Consider yourself lucky if he's still available to you.
TB Tampa Bay • #17 • Age: 23
Rostered
58%
2022 Stats
AVG
.252
HR
13
OPS
.911
AB
127
BB
9
K
24
When Paredes homered three times in a game on June 21, I was willing to shrug it off. Even when he homered the next day and the day after, I figured he was destined to cool off. His previous major-league stints were largely unproductive, his minor-league track record revealed no more than middling power, and his average exit velocity was on the low side. But he refuses to cool off, homering in both games of a doubleheader Saturday and then adding another two hits Sunday. The key to his success rate has been an incredible pull rate on fly balls, which is one way for an otherwise light hitter to maximize power. I remain skeptical, but Paredes' low strikeout rate and triple eligibility only add to the intrigue.
BOS Boston • #40 • Age: 25
Rostered
51%
2022 Stats
AVG
.333
HR
1
SB
4
OPS
.919
AB
66
K
13
Duran's vaccination status kept him out of a three-game series at Toronto early last week, but he was right back to hitting leadoff Friday at the Cubs and connected for his first home run in that game. In all, he went 5 for 14 in the weekend series and continues to do everything he can to ensure he sticks around this time. He has a swing built for batting average, an inclination to run and, of course, a premium lineup spot batting ahead of Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts. It's the stolen bases especially that have Duran threatening for must-start status in five-outfielder Rotisserie leagues.
NYM N.Y. Mets • #23 • Age: 26
Rostered
41%
Friday vs. Rangers
IN
6
H
5
ER
3
BB
0
K
10
Though Peterson's 10 strikeouts Friday represented a season high, they weren't an isolated event. The left-hander has seen his whiff rate spike over his past three starts -- up to 15 percent as compared to 10 percent in his first nine appearances -- which has yielded a combined 25 strikeouts. The cause may be a simple matter of throwing his best pitch, the slider, more often. It has a near 50 percent whiff rate on its own. He still has to prove he can sustain it while also keeping his walks under control, but whenever a ground-ball pitcher like him can add some swing-and-miss to his game, it's cause for excitement.
CIN Cincinnati • #40 • Age: 24
Rostered
39%
Rehab assignment
INN
12.2
H
16
ER
4
BB
3
K
18
Lodolo is set to resume his rookie season Tuesday after missing the past 2 1/2 months with a lower back strain. He made only three starts prior to the injury but flashed definite potential, striking out 19 in 14 2/3 innings. The third of those starts, in which he allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings with no walks and seven strikeouts, was particularly impressive. The left-hander generates whiffs on all three of his pitches and generally doesn't struggle with control. His 15 percent swinging-strike rate on his minor-league rehab assignment would suggest he has no lingering effects from the injury, so if you want to make a play for some upside, don't forget about him.
SEA Seattle • #37 • Age: 32
Rostered
34%
2022 Stats
SV
9
ERA
2.73
WHIP
0.71
INN
29.2
BB
7
K
32
Don't look now, but Paul Sewald seems to have emerged as the closer for the Mariners. He threw a perfect ninth inning for his ninth save Sunday, giving him five of the Mariners' past six. If not for him needing a day off after working two days in a row, he might have all six. Manager Scott Servais has been all too delighted to mix and match in the ninth inning since the team traded away Kendall Graveman last summer, but if he's developing new habits, we shouldn't sit idly by.
HOU Houston • #51 • Age: 33
Rostered
34%
2022 Stats
SV
4
ERA
3.19
WHIP
1.29
INN
31
BB
16
K
32
A.J. Minter, who has been the Braves' eighth-inning guy and best reliever this year, got the first save chance after Kenley Jansen went down with an irregular heartbeat last week, but Will Smith, the team leader in saves a year ago, got the second and third. The latter came during a game in which Minter worked the seventh inning, which itself would suggest a pecking order. Minter did get to work the ninth inning in a tie game Sunday, but he allowed four baserunners without recording an out and ended up taking the loss. Jansen may not be sidelined for long, but if you're looking for cheap saves in his absence, Smith might be the better bet after all.