Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Max Fried's flirtation with perfection headlines winners and losers

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Trevor Bauer had a no-hitter through seven innings Thursday, but it wasn't the most notable pitching performance of the day. Those are the kinds of outings we've come to expect from Bauer, after all.

Max Fried taking a perfect game into the sixth, though ... that was unexpected. It was also a real eye-opener for a pitcher with a top prospect pedigree who has nonetheless been overshadowed in a Braves organization chock full of them.

Entering spring training, it wasn't even clear that they intended to make him a starter after he showed improved velocity and strikeout ability in a stint as a reliever to close out last year. The velocity gain carried into this start, though, with him averaging 94.4 mph on his fastball. So did the reliever mentality.

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Max Fried ATL • RP • 54
2018 minors
ERA3.94
WHIP1.34
IP77.2
BB34
K87

"I'm not going to lie, going to the bullpen is something that helped me a lot with my mentality," Fried said. "It helped me go after guys. It was like I said, 'Here's my stuff, hit it if you can.' I'm going to try to adapt that to my starting routine too."

Sometimes a stint in the bullpen is exactly the confidence boost a developing pitcher needs — and for exactly this reason.

With this start, Fried presumably leapfrogs Kyle Wright as the favorite to hold down the fifth starter job once Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman return from injury, and he of course introduced himself as a viable pickup in mixed leagues, currently sporting just a 20 percent ownership rate.

But a word of caution before you discard a Caleb Smith or Matthew Boyd for him: Fried featured basically just two pitches in this start. He had less than a strikeout per inning and a grand total of seven swinging strikes. While he clearly has upside, this start isn't the clearest evidence of him making good on it and isn't a particularly strong endorsement for him doing it again. Plus, for all the upside, the track record is pretty spotty in both the majors and minors.

Again, solid pickup, but I wouldn't put Fried in my top 10 among pitchers who've shown us something this first week.

Four players to add from Thursday

  • Spencer Turnbull, SP, DET (7%) -- Granted, it was against the Royals, but after a tantalizing spring and season debut, the 26-year-old rookie showed us the full extent of his potential Thursday, striking out 10 in six innings after averaging 10.0 K/9 in the minors last year. Of his 15 swinging strikes, seven came on a cutter, which shows signs of being a plus pitch. 
  • Niko Goodrum, 2B, DET (56%) -- Goodrum is looking more refined after catching the league by surprise by year, having already drawn seven walks while socking six doubles in eight games. He'll soon be triple eligible and isn't a complete zero for stolen bases, which gives him Rotisserie appeal if nothing else.
  • Jake Junis, SP, KC (54%) -- He issued three walks against the Tigers but is already well established as a control pitcher, so more notable were the eight strikeouts in six innings, giving him 14 in 11 2/3 innings overall. Hard to say yet whether he's actually improved from a year ago, but it's a worthy reminder he was pretty reliable last year apart from a month-long stretch midseason in which he gave up a ton of home runs.
  • A.J. Minter, RP, ATL (31%) -- Though a save opportunity didn't present itself, the Braves said Minter would have gotten it in his first game off the IL, so it's looking like a split role between him and Arodys Vizcaino. In leagues where saves are scarce, you may have to make do with some of those this year, so check to be sure Minter is rostered.

Winners and Losers

Winners

  • Vladimir Guerrero, 3B, TOR -- First day of minor-league play and Guerrero was in the lineup for high Class A Dunedin, which suggests he's on track in his recovery from a strained oblique. The Blue Jays can slow play it and still have him up in late April.
  • Nick Markakis, OF, ATL -- With five hits (including three doubles) and five RBI, Markakis offered the clearest indication yet that there's something left in the tank after faltering down the stretch last year. And while the home run power is limited, his high-contact bat should lead to plenty of RBI batting behind Josh Donaldson, Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña.
  • Ozzie Albies, 2B, ATL -- Albies is looking more like the player we thought we were getting last year (and not the one who ultimately sold out for power), trading off fly balls for line drives while being more aggressive on the base paths. His two hits actually lowered his batting average to .478.
  • Tyler Mahle, SP, CIN -- The second-year pitcher leaned heavily on his fastball, as usual, in his season debut, but after throwing it on 31 of his first 39 pitches, he unveiled a better secondary arsenal the second time through the lineup, which is exactly what he'll need to do to make it as a starter. The result was six shutout innings, but before you get too excited, it's not clear he has a job once Alex Wood is healthy.

Losers

  • Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, BOS -- The velocity is down almost 2 mph through two starts, which helps explain the performance. To make matters worse, he might be the one Red Sox pitcher who can't use spring workload as an excuse.
  • Arodys Vizcaino, RP, ATL -- Yes, Vizcaino was given the day off after recording a save Wednesday ... in what was only his second appearance of the season. And they weren't on back to back days or anything — the Braves are just being that careful given his past shoulder issues. You shouldn't be valuing him like a full-time closer.
  • Yu Darvish, SP, CHC -- It was a vast improvement over his seven-walk season debut, but Darvish was again inefficient and wasn't allowed to go five despite the Cubs' early bullpen woes. He deserves a long leash given his history and upside, but you probably shouldn't be starting him right now.
  • Mychal Givens, RP, BAL -- Once again, he wan't used as a closer, brought in for the eighth inning with his team trailing by a run. As rarely as the Orioles figure to have save opportunities this year, Givens is fairly worthless if he's not the lead dog.
Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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