Danny Duffy is rostered in 77 percent of CBS Sports leagues, which means I could probably get away with featuring him in another rousing edition of Waiver Wire. But since he was my headliner Wednesday in advance of his return from a flexor strain, I won't go all the way there.
I would like to point out, though, that I was fully encouraged by his return from the IL Wednesday at the Yankees. Sure, he lasted only two innings and issued three walks, but there was no loss of stuff with the injury and six-week absence. He averaged 94.6 mph on his fastball -- almost a full mile per hour higher than his season average, actually, which itself was a big jump from previous years. It's been credited for him having a 1.85 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 10.7 K/9 across eight starts.
The spin rate on his pitches, it's worth mentioning, was also up. He had 10 swinging strikes on 42 total pitches, an incredible rate by any standard. So what if he made it only two innings? He didn't even go on a rehab assignment. His last bullpen session was just 40 pitches. We knew he'd have to build back still.
But if Wednesday's start is any indication, the building back will be worth it.
Let's see who else might be available to add ...
- We talk slumping Juan Soto, would you rather Willy Adames, Brendan Rodgers, J.P. Crawford or David Fletcher, plus Caleb Smith on the Fantasy Baseball Today in 5 podcast. You can follow us to get the latest episodes on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
TOR Toronto • #68 • Age: 28
I've been trying to tell you for a couple weeks now that Jordan Romano is clearly the Blue Jays closer, despite his lack of save chances during that time. His usage had changed since the start of June, and everyone else in the discussion had already disqualified himself. In securing his second save in as many days Wednesday, the right-hander made it plainly evident to all, to which I say ... look at those numbers! Stud city. In fact, over his past 22 appearances, he has a 0.79 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 11.9 K/9.
COL Colorado • #7 • Age: 24
Brendan Rodgers delivered his fourth home run of the season Wednesday and third on the road, suggesting he won't be reliant on Coors Field for his production. The former top prospect hasn't blown the door off its hinges since recovering from a preseason hamstring injury but has quietly lived up to expectations, batting .290 (18 for 62) with four home runs and a .922 OPS so far in the month of June. There's nothing wrong with the strikeout rate, nothing wrong with the batted-ball data. He just looks like a quality hitter in an optimal environment.
DET Detroit • #32 • Age: 28
Michael Fulmer didn't record a save Wednesday, but he further entrenched himself in the Tigers closer role nonetheless, preserving a four-run lead with Gregory Soto and Jose Cisnero, the two other closer candidates, working the seventh and eighth. Each of his previous two appearances was to record a save, seeing him used like a traditional closer with Soto and Cisnero again functioning as setup men. Fulmer's 2.73 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 12.0 K/9 in 20 relief appearances this year would seem to make him plenty viable in the role.
Caleb Smith RP
ARI Arizona • #31 • Age: 29
Caleb Smith turned in his second straight quality start Wednesday and has allowed no more than two earned runs over no less than five innings in four of his past five appearances. I don't fully buy into it. He isn't getting the whiffs he did during his more promising Marlins days, and his fly-ball rate would suggest he's had good home run luck so far. But his RP eligibility makes him an intriguing points league pickup, if nothing else.
HOU Houston • #13 • Age: 24
Three days after his four-hit game, Abraham Toro-Hernandez delivered a four-RBI game Wednesday at the Orioles, with three of those runs coming on a home run. His two home runs are his only extra-base hits so far -- and there remain concerns whether he'll contribute enough power for a corner infielder -- but with just two strikeouts, he looks better equipped than in past stints to live up to his .327 minor-league batting average since the start of 2019. Meanwhile, Alex Bregman is out at least another couple weeks.
SF San Francisco • #6 • Age: 27
I've been dismissive of Steven Duggar's numbers so far because his strikeout rate is up near 35 percent. He has struck out just twice in his past eight games, though, batting .458 (11 for 24) with two home runs, a triple, three doubles and two stolen bases during that stretch. The way he's filling up the box score right now, playing almost every day for the Giants, I'm willing to keep an open mind. The 27-year-old has done a better job of elevating this year, tapping into his power more, and has always possessed good speed.