Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Looking for stars with rosters expanding
The season might be winding down, but with rosters expanding, there's plenty of new faces for Fantasy players to get excited about.
It's too bad roster expansion happens at the end of the season, because this is the kind of stuff Fantasy players live for. Young players, finally getting a chance to show what they've got, with league-winning potential available all over the waiver wire…
And yet, most Fantasy leagues are essentially over by now. It's a shame. Well, not for those of us still alive, fighting for the top spot in a Roto league or scraping by one week at a time in a H2H league. For those of us still playing, this is an incredible time on the wire. Let's focus on some of the young difference makers available out there.
There's no such thing as a pitching prospect.
This is usually meant to suggest that, because they're so volatile, you can't trust top pitching prospects. But it works the other way, too; sometimes, guys take an unexpected leap forward and become stars.
It's too early to say that's the case with Josh James, but he's sure looking like another feather in the Astros' developmental staff's cap. A 34th-round pick who never rated as a top-100 prospect – for good reason, as he had a 4.81 and 4.38 ERA in 2016 and 2017, respectively – James has taken a huge step forward in 2018. He has a 3.23 ERA on the season in the minors, with 171 strikeouts to 49 walks, while dominating at both Double-A and Triple-A.
James was called up to start for the Astros Saturday and mostly lived up to the hype. He averaged 97.4 mph with his four-seam fastball, while flashing a slider and changeup combination that could prove potent. He only generated eight swings and misses on 91 pitches in the outing, but still racked up nine strikeouts in five innings of work. It'll be interesting to see if he remains in the rotation moving forward with Charlie Morton working his way back from a shoulder issue, but I sure want to see it happen.
There isn't much of a question whether Chris Shaw will play regularly for the Giants, it's more a question of whether he'll play well enough to matter. There's pop here, for sure, but he's heading to arguably the worst park in baseball for all-or-nothing lefty power hitters. Can he be more than that? It's hard to say; he's hit just .259 with 21 walks to 144 strikeouts in 101 games at Triple-A this. He hasn't had quite as severe contact issues in the past, so if he can get back to his 2017 level, when he struck out 25.6 percent of the time, his bat should play. I won't call him a must-add player, given the risk in his game, but he'll play every day after the trade of Andrew McCutchen, so he's at least worth a look.
As with James, there's no guarantee Touki Toussaint will stick in the rotation for the Braves, but he showed enough in his debut a few weeks back to be worth a second look. He struck out four in six innings of two-hit ball against the Marlins, after taking a big step forward in the minors this season, sporting a 2.38 ERA with 163 strikeouts in 136.1 innings of work. His first start back will come against the Red Sox, a tough landing spot, but if he holds his own there, he'll likely earn an extended look for the Braves – and Fantasy players.
Tyler Glasnow just isn't slowing down. Walks will always be a concern, but he continues to keep them in check, and that's all he needs to do. After Friday's seven innings of two-hit, one-walk ball, Glasnow has struck out 33.0 percent of opposing hitters while walking 8.7 percent in six starts with the Rays. This is exactly what we were hoping for when Glasnow got his change of scenery in Tampa. He's still available in 35 percent of CBS Fantasy leagues, and if you're leaving him on the wire, you're only hurting your chances of bringing home the title.
It's been an up and down season for Steven Matz, who has struggled with injuries and consistency in equal measure. We saw him at his best Saturday against the Giants, limiting them to one run over six innings, with 11 strikeouts and only one walk. You can write it off as just one start, but Matz has been showing signs for the last few months, even if the surface stats don't show it. Matz has an ugly 5.12 ERA over his last dozen starts, but the underlying stats are a lot better; he has a 24.1 percent strikeout rate and 6.1 percent walk rate in that span, the best peripherals we've seen from Matz over a similar stretch since 2016. And it isn't just a coincidence, as Matz's increased strikeout rate has come along with an increase in the usage of his slider. That slider was key to his breakout in 2016, and he's doubled his usage of the pitch in this stretch. If you're skeptical, I get it, but there are reasons to believe Matz is set to close the season out strong.
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