Jake Junis has been a popular pickup in recent days, having delivered three successful starts in four on the strength of his newly developed cutter. Him being in line for two starts in Fantasy Week 6 (May 3-9) was just icing on the cake.
Now, he's shaping to be one of the most popular drops, though, because ... well, he won't be making even one start, much less two.
It's not that he got hurt or sick or exposed as a fraud. It's that the Royals decided it's time to call up their top pitching prospect -- so time, in fact, that they're willing to abandon the good thing they have going in Junis, shifting him to the bullpen for the time being.
"He's got the chance to be the MVP of this staff," GM Dayton Moore said of Junis. "He's going to be very effective in whatever role."
It sounds like the Royals simply couldn't wait any longer for Lynch, who Moore says has been "locked in" at the alternate training site.
"It was pretty much a consensus," Moore said. "He's ready for the next step. Daniel right now is throwing the ball, delivering his pitches at a very high level and is the most capable right now of being in the rotation. Plain and simple."
It's not so common to see a prospect arrive under these circumstances, his own performance dictating the timetable rather than an organic need. This isn't a one-and-done situation. It's not even a prove-it situation. The Royals wouldn't have shifted Junis like they did if they didn't intend for Lynch to stay.
That sort of confidence, along with the upside that made Lynch the No. 25 prospect according to Baseball America coming into the year, should have us all eager to add the 24-year-old left-hander wherever we can.
Daniel Lynch SP
KC Kansas City • #52 • Age: 24
A left-hander who repeatedly hits 97 mph with his fastball, Daniel Lynch made strides with his delivery at the alternate training site last year, helping him get more swing-and-miss out of his four-pitch arsenal. His control is solid, he's built like a workhorse, and at 24, there isn't much more for him to accomplish in the minors.
MIN Minnesota • #19 • Age: 23
After a sluggish start to his major-league career, it's safe to stay Alex Kirilloff has earned his stay with four home runs in his past three games. He has hit at least one to all fields already, and his swing is a work of art. The upside is plainly evident if he can just keep the strikeouts down. His schedule this week features a bunch of hittable righties, which should solidify his standing in Fantasy.
ARI Arizona • #40 • Age: 31
Madison Bumgarner saw his average fastball velocity climb back over 91 mph in his seven-inning not-quite-no-hitter against the Braves on April 25, and it was still there in this latest start over the weekend. That's pretty much where he was prior to his disastrous 2020, and we're seeing the production follow. He has allowed a combined two earned runs over his past three starts.
TEX Texas •
With his fifth home run and fifth stolen base Sunday, Isiah Kiner-Falefa is on a near-30/30 pace, unbelievable though it may seem. Statcast suggests he's overachieving as a power hitter, given how often he puts the ball on the ground, but even if he manages just 10 home runs the rest of the way, there's 5x5 value here as long as he continues to swipe bags.
Nico Hoerner 2B
CHC Chi. Cubs • #2 • Age: 24
A higher priority than Kiner-Falefa, even, is this Nico Hoerner, who in just a little over a week on the job has already knocked six doubles and swiped three bags. He's a disciplined hitter who sprays the ball all over the field, which is enough to give him value now that we know he'll use his speed. But we also saw him unlock more power this spring with a new opened-up stance, and while it has yet to result in any home runs in this latest stint, he is making much harder contact.
TEX Texas • #5 • Age: 26
Willie Calhoun seemed tentative at the plate last season after getting hit by a pitch in the jaw that spring, and he was off to an 0-for-11 start this spring when he strained his groin. But he's come off the IL looking more like the slugger who broke through with an .848 OPS in 2019. He's been starting against lefties, even, and it hasn't held back his production. He doesn't strike out much for a power hitter either, which helps his points league value.
TB Tampa Bay • #62 • Age: 24
Shane McClanahan was electrifying in his major-league debut Thursday, hitting 100 mph with his fastball while piling up 15 swinging strikes on just 59 pitches. Jeff Passan of ESPN pointed out that he may be the hardest-throwing left-handed starting pitcher ever. The Rays aren't known for following convention, particularly as it relates to pitchers, so it's unclear if he'll be permitted to work six or even five innings with consistency. But you have to love the upside.
Josh Rojas RF
ARI Arizona • #10 • Age: 26
A 2-for-31 start to the season made all of Josh Rojas' fine work this spring look like just a mirage, but he's come around lately, batting .378 (14 for 37) with four homers, three doubles and a stolen base in his past 12 games. Kole Calhoun's hamstring injury gives Rojas a clearer path to playing time, not that the Diamondbacks couldn't have found it for him anyway given that he can play everywhere. His triple eligibility makes him particularly handy in Fantasy.