Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Joey Lucchesi would like your attention

I'd like to think this piece does both a good job unearthing guys you weren't thinking about, while also covering the guys everyone wants to know about. With Joey Lucchesi, it looks like we'll get to do both. 

Ownership: 29%

Last week I talked a little bit about Luchessi after he shut out the Rockies for five innings at Petco Park. That was encouraging, if not as headline-grabbing as last night's start. He went into Coors Field and struck out eight Rockies over six innings while walking just one Tuesday. The two runs he allowed were both unearned. 

Even if you want to ignore the Coors Field erffect, this offense should be a nightmare for lefties. Nolana Arenado, Trevor Story, D.J. LeMahieu and Chris Iannetta all had a wOBA over .400 against left-handed pitchers last year. This isn't quite what Sean Newcomb did on Sunday, but Lucchesi is owned in about half as many leagues as Newcomb. I'd expect that will change over the next 48 hours.

I'm not yet convinced that Lucchesi has enormous upside, and he certainly has some regression coming. But his peripherals through three games (2.55 FIP, 3.09 xFIP, 3.08 SIERA) show that he's also pitching extremely well right now. It's not overpowering stuff, but he owns a 13.3 percent swinging strike rate, which is currently 17th in baseball and a tick better than the likes of Blake Snell and Robbie Ray. While I don't expect Lucchesi to match those pitchers in swinging strike rate all year, he may walk half as many as they do.

I added or attempted to add Lucchesi in all but one league, and that was a 12-team league where my pitching staff is just ridiculous. It's not because I'm convinced he's a future ace. It's not because I think he's risk-free, or even low-risk. It's because he's a young pitcher, who's pitching like an ace right  now, and until we get more information I'd rather have him on my roster than someone else's.

Ownership: 30%

I should probably start this section off with a hat-tip to Adam Aizer, who mentioned that Ryu could be a sleeper this preseason. I was unmoved. Ryu's second start was enough to stir me at the very least.

The Dodger's veteran lefty whiffed eight Athletics over six shutout innings on Monday. He allowed just one hit and one walk in the process. It's the type of performance that makes me check in the deepest of my leagues to ensure he didn't fall through the cracks, but it's not quote enough for me to add him in most of my standard leagues. 

Part of that is a natural bias towards younger guys like Lucchesi, Newcomb, Reynaldo Lopez and Jake Junis. The other part is Ryu's history, both recent and longterm. He's thrown 141 innings since the start of 2015 due to injuries. Over those 141 innings he has a 3.96 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. As for the recent history, he lasted just 3.2 innings in his first start, walked five batters and only generated two swinging strikes. 

So I'm awake to Ryu's sleeper potential, but I need to see more before I'm adding him in anything but deeper leagues.

Ownership: 17%

An early quirk in the schedule may have artificially lowered the perception of Mallex Smith's value. But it's not going to stay low much longer if he keeps hitting like this. 

Smith has sat more often than planned to start the year, but only because the team has faced five lefty starters. The Rays have the fourth-most plate appearances against left handed pitchers this season, so we'd expect that to even out. He's started the last two games and collected six hits and two stolen bases. 

Smith is viewed mostly as a one-category contributor (steals) but he's still just 24 and blazing fast so we shouldn't rule out a contribution in batting average as well. Mostly, Smith looks like a guy who will start four-to-five days a week and contribute to the most scarce stat in Fantasy baseball. That deserves ownership in most categories leagues. 

Ownership: 56%

I received plenty of grief for not suggesting Swanson as a Bogaerts-replacement so I took a closer look. Here's the thing:

  • His soft contact percentage looks almost identical to last year and his career, but his hard contact rate is six points lower than his career. This is a small enough sample size you could just ignore that, but it does highlight that Swanson has a .438 BABIP with a 24 percent hard-contact rate.
  • He's hitting a lot more balls in the air. Swanson's line drive rate (28.1 percent) is five points higher than his career average. His fly ball rate (34.4 percent) is up four points. That's cut his ground ball rate way down, which is a good thing. I do expect the line drive rate will regress and Swanson is going to need to make hard contact more often for the fly balls to matter in a good way.
  • Swanson doesn't run, he's not yet hitting the ball hard enough to expect even average power numbers, and he doesn't hit in a part of the Braves order that would seem conducive to run scoring. It's just hard to see where he helps once the BABIP regresses.
Ownership: 13%

The first thing I look for with a player having an uncharacteristically good star is if they're doing anything different. Coming into 2018 Matt Boyd had 289.2 major league innings under his belt with a 5.47 ERA, a 5.00 FIP, and just 7.3 K/9. The only pitchers to throw that many innings with a FIP that high from 2015-17 are James Shields, Hector Santiago, Anibal Sanchez, Mike Pelfrey, Jered Weaver and Derek Holland

So when I see that Boyd has allowed just two earned runs in his first 13 innings of the season, I have to know the "why". If there's one thing he has done better it's that he's only walked one batter in his first two starts. The problem is, he's only struck out five. Boyd has succeeded largely through the trinity of good fortune. Opponents are hitting .154 on balls in play (career .306); They have a 4 percent HR/FB rate against him (career 12.5 percent); He's stranded 92.1 percent of runners (career 68.8 percent). 

Boyd has pitched in cold weather against cold offenses and the ball has bounced his way. But he has a 10.5 percent swinging strike rate and he's giving up hard contact 35 percent of the time. There's nothing new to get excited about here.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Heath Cummings is a Senior Fantasy Writer that covers Daily Fantasy Sports of all types. Before coming to CBS Sports he was a staff writer for Footballguys and the host of The Fantasy Football Show on... Full Bio

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