In Fantasy sports, we all know results are all that really matters. It doesn't matter how you get those results – style points don't count here.
And yet, we all know that how you get your numbers matters in how you are viewed. A starting pitcher who throws 98 miles per hour with a wicked breaking ball is going to get more benefit of the doubt than someone who throws 91, even if they get pretty much identical outcomes.
On Thursday, we saw both sides of that at play, with Mike Foltynewicz and Anibal Sanchez putting together nearly identical outings to continue their respective solid runs. Sanchez struck out eight over six shutout innings, with no walks and five hits allowed, while Foltynewicz struck out five and allowed one run, while working six similarly strong innings.
If you're looking for pitching help on the waiver wire, Sanchez is a lot more widely available than Foltynewicz at this point. Both are riding high of late, but have mostly been defined by mediocrity in recent years. Which one should you be making a priority on the waiver wire heading into the weekend?
Mike Foltynewicz Atlanta SP
|Foltynewicz has always been someone who was easy to dream on, with a fastball that can touch the high 90's, but he has mostly struggled in his major-league career. Over 321 2/3 innings, he has a 4.59 ERA, and it isn't just bad luck to blame; his 4.61 FIP is right in line, thanks to a surprisingly middling strikeout rate. With a 2.98 ERA in seven starts since the beginning of June, Foltynewicz is certainly showing some positive signs of late, most notably, with that strikeout rate. He's up to 22.5 percent, compared to a career 20.1 percent mark. He might never be the dominant strikeout pitcher the radar gun suggests, but Foltynewicz is showing enough signs of improvement to dream on again.|
Anibal Sanchez Detroit RP
|Even when he was a young, promising pitcher, with his whole future ahead of him, Sanchez never lit up the radar gun like Foltynewicz did. He hasn't aged particularly gracefully even accounting for that, with a 5.48 ERA over the past five seasons, and Fantasy owners can be forgiven for mostly giving up on him. However, Sanchez didn't give up on himself after a move to the bullpen to start the season, followed by a surprise option to Triple-A, where he worked as a starter. Since returning on June 19, however, Sanchez seems to have discovered the fountain of youth, racking up a 23.7 percent strikeout rate, while allowing just eight earned runs in 23 1/3 innings. I wouldn't bet on this sustaining, but you have to be impressed with what he's doing, and Sanchez is at least worth betting on again in deeper formats.|
Gregory Polanco Pittsburgh RF
|This was supposed to be the big breakout season for Gregory Polanco, but a shoulder injury in spring training pretty much derailed all hopes for that. All hasn't been lost, however, as Polanco has shown off better contact ability than ever, sporting a career-best 13.4 percent strikeout rate. That has come at a cost, however, as he has just a .139 ISO, nearly 70 points lower than last season. The question is whether he can tap back into that power, and we're starting to see some signs of that, with three extra-base hits among his 11 in six July games. Polanco isn't available everywhere, but if you see him on the wire, his upside is still worth gambling on -- especially when the price is so low.|
Marcus Semien Oakland SS
|Marcus Semien's breakout in 2016 came at a time when pretty much everyone in baseball was hitting for huge power, so his 17 homers didn't exactly stand out. Especially when the power came with a .238 batting average. However, Semien's skill set is still rare enough to be worth pursuing in Fantasy, given that he has also stolen at least 10 bases in each of the past two seasons. He doesn't stand out in any way, but you don't need to stand out to be relevant at shortstop. If he can find last year's power stroke, Semien can still be a starting-caliber Fantasy option at the position, especially in Roto leagues.|
Brad Miller Tampa Bay 2B
|Brad Miller is a lot like Semien, perhaps with a few steals traded for homers. He was a huge disappointment in the early going this season, hitting just .194/.343/.302 before going on the DL. The improved walk rate was nice, but pretty much everything else in his game collapsed, including his strikeout rate, which shot up to 27.3 percent in his first 172 plate appearances. Miller, like Semien, likely isn't going to stand out in any specific way at this point in his career. However, 30-homer pop is still rare enough in the middle infield (he's eligible at both positions) to be worth an add as he gets set to return from the DL this week.|