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Nick Kingham is 26 years old and hasn't been on a top prospect list since 2015. He missed most of the last three years with elbow and ankle injuries. He was on no one's radar coming in to the season. But that's all changed now.
Kingham went seven shutout innings in his major league debut, and he was perfect through the first six. Kingham generated 14 swinging strikes and got 20 called strikes against the Cardinals and his ownership spiked to 29 percent by Monday morning. But what else would you expect after arguably the greatest pitching performance in a major league debut ever?
The question of course, is whether Kingham can keep this up. He has a career 3.74 ERA in Triple-A, with a subpar K.9 of just 7.7. The one thing he's consistently shown is great control; Kingham has never finished a full professional season with a BB/9 above three. But great control alone won't get it done, you've got to miss some bats. If you're looking for a reason to believe that Kingham has found something new, he had struck out 27 batters in 22 innings this year before his call up.
The truth is that Kingham likely just had the performance of his life. He probably won't be an above average starting pitcher. But I'd add him in any league deeper than 12 teams just in case.
Tyler Mahle has now made six starts in 2018. Two of them were awful, but the rest have been pretty encouraging. On Sunday he struck out seven Twins in 6.1 innings and picked up his second win of the season. I could understand if the 4.32 ERA or 4.71 FIP scare you off, but I'm actually pretty encouraged.
Mahle has excellent strikeout numbers (10.26 K/9) and he's shown the good control that he's had throughout his professional career. His main problem has been the long ball, but you can't expect he'll have a 21.9 percent HR/FB rate all year long. I'm adding Mahle in just about any league where I need pitching. The rollercoaster ride probably isn't over, but I expect more good than bad.
With Yasiel Puig on the DL and Yoenis Cespedes banged up, you may be looking for a replacement option in the outfield. My favorite is Reds' outfielder Jess Winker. With so many hitters in the Reds lineup struggling, Winker has settled in as the team's leadoff hitter and he's responded with a .415 OBP. That's aided by a fortunate .377 BABIP, but also held down by the fact he still has a 0 percent HR/FB rate. Neither of those numbers will last, but the bottom line is I expect Winker to be a high-OBP guy hitting in front of Joey Votto for most of the year. With his batted ball data I'd expect the pop to show up soon as well.
The main beneficiary of the Puig DL stint should be Joc Pederson. Pederson has cut his K rate down to 13.4 percent so far this year, which continues a three-year trend. He's also walking more, both more than he did last year and more than he's striking out. Part of this could be because the Dodgers have only given him nine plate appearances so far against lefties, but it also looks like Pederson is continuing to improve his plate discipline. We're talking about a 26 year-old who has already shown 30-HR potential. If he can just make these improvements stick I'd expect him to be a very useful player. At the very least he's an excellent option in daily-lineup leagues.
Should we retrace the steps of the Jorge Soler hype? First he was a . Then he was a . Now I'm considering adding him to almost all my rosters. Like Pederson, Soler has a career-low K rate and a career-high walk rate. I'd also bet he has a big-time power surge coming. Despite an absurd 45 percent hard contact rate and a higher contact rate than ever, Soler has just two home runs on the season. His HR/FB rate is at 10 percent and his batted ball profile suggest it should be close to double that. The .307 average Soler currently sports won't last, but there are better things to come.