Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Luis Castillo, Joe Musgrove more than just matchups plays
Our Scott White looks at some pitchers showing signs of a breakthrough at this late stage of the season and a possible new closer in Arizona.
I will not write about Tyler White again. I will not write about Tyler White again. I will not write about Tyler White again.
TYLER WHITE, YOU'VE DONE IT AGAIN!
I realize it's a slow time of year, and the waiver wire fire isn't stoked as easily when so few still have skin in the game. But German Marquez has made the slow climb to 89 percent ownership over the past few weeks. I feel like White, with another home run Tuesday, has become sort of the hitter equivalent.
We're talking almost six weeks now of a sustained 1.000 OPS, complete with a modest strikeout rate, a reasonable BABIP and a mountain of minor-league data supporting it.
Is he really the fourth-best first baseman in Fantasy, as the numbers since July 28 suggest? Hey, as light as the position has become at the top, it's not so far-fetched. I'd bet against it in the long run, but we're not so concerned about the long run now, are we? If you got excited about Jesus Aguilar once upon a time, there's no reason not to get excited about White now.
The upside is palpable, the contributions immediate, the red flags few and far between. Bats like his are what you dream of finding on the waiver wire this time of year, so don't be like the guy who passed over Marquez.
Or wait ... was that you?
So is a 4.84 ERA something to get excited about now? Don't get distracted — it's everything else Joe Musgrove is doing during that six-start stretch that has my attention. He went from having a 10 percent swinging-strike rate in his first 12 starts to better than 14 percent in those latest six, which would put him in the top 10 among qualifying pitchers alongside Justin Verlander. Once again, the earned runs were a little high in Tuesday's start (four in six innings), but those who started him against the Cardinals probably aren't feeling too many regrets today. I'm going to bet on that strikeout-to-walk ratio every time.
It took guts to start Luis Castillo against the Dodgers on Tuesday given how erratic he has been all year, but he came through, continuing the more recent trend of piling up whiffs with his changeup to give him 38 strikeouts to just four walks in 28 innings over his past five starts. Of course, he did serve up three home runs against the Padres last time out, but with a 2.89 ERA in those past five, the 24-year-old is peaking at the right time and is a promising option with a projected two starts next week.
Glasnow, like Musgrove and Castillo, lines up for two starts next week, so those who dumped him after his seven-run disaster last time out might want to get back on board. He didn't have a great feel for his breaking ball in that start and was short on whiffs in Tuesday's rebound effort as well, but he shut down one of the majors' best lineups by getting back to the basics, throwing 73 percent of his pitches for strikes. That's been the key for him since joining the Rays, with whom he has had just the one bad start.
Brad Boxberger has blown one game too many in September, compelling the Diamondbacks to adopt a by-committee approach to the ninth inning. But when do those ever last? Yoshihisa Hirano got the first post-Boxberger save Tuesday, and his main competition for saves, Archie Bradley, has also faltered of late. Hirano doesn't have a typical closer profile, but he brings plenty of closing experience from Japan and would get to close for a team in the thick of the playoff race.
In retrospect, it makes sense that Michael Conforto would need a few months to regain his power stroke after having surgery to repair torn shoulder capsule late last year, and it seems to be playing out that way judging by his first- and second-half splits. He homered for the third straight game and fifth time in eight games Tuesday, giving him a second-half ISO that's basically on par with last season's. The BABIP still hasn't normalized completely either.
If you didn't already pick up Brad Keller for this week, bad news: It's probably his last two-start week of the season. The way he has pitched lately, though, most recently giving up one run in seven innings to the White Sox on Tuesday, suggests he's still usable even in one-start weeks, especially when that one start is against the Tigers, like next week. He doesn't have a high ceiling as a pitch-to-contact guy, but his elite ground-ball rate, which would be top-five in all the majors if he had the innings to qualify, gives him a high floor.
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