You get greedy, you get burned.
Framber Valdez's performance Thursday in a showcase game to kick off the second half is a fine example of that.
You were aware of the risks if you rolled the dice on him, no doubt. He had shown some promise in the past, combining elite ground-ball tendencies with a respectable strikeout rate, but his last two outings in his previous major-league stint went poorly. And to make matters worse, he was facing a loaded Rangers lineup in his return to the majors.
Sure enough, they tagged him for four runs in just two-thirds of an inning. He walked three, striking out none.
"We've seen this out of [Valdez]," manager A.J. Hinch said after the game. "The good version is really good, and the version that struggles it's tough for him to manage innings and get out of innings and avoid the big inning. That's been the big issue for him."
So now, Valdez goes from being the one pitcher who had a chance of making three starts in leagues that opted to begin the second half with an 11-day scoring period (July 11-21) to maybe not even getting a second start. And at this point, would you want him to?
Here are some potential waiver wire pickups who will hopefully fare better in the days ahead.
MIN Minnesota • #35 • Age: 33
In six starts since returning from an IL stint for a minor knee issue, Michael Pineda has put together a 3.21 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, striking out more than a batter per inning. Maybe it's a coincidence and he simply needed more time to find his footing in his first year back from Tommy John surgery, but he has thrown his fastball harder and his changeup more often (possibly because of the velocity difference) during that time. He's suddenly looking useful again.
Zac Gallen SP
ARI Arizona • #23 • Age: 26
It may be a stretch, but the Marlins' decision to start Zac Gallen in the second game back from the All-Star break seems like a pretty good indication they plan to keep him in the starting rotation even with Caleb Smith back in the mix, which means Fantasy players should be pursuing the rookie with renewed gusto. Gallen went only two innings last time in a rain-shortened start nearly two weeks ago, which may have disenchanted some of his early investors, but it obviously wasn't his fault. And I needn't remind you of his incredible minor-league numbers.
PIT Pittsburgh • #55 • Age: 33
You mean to tell me a catcher is on pace for 29 homers with an .872 OPS and isn't universally owned? Not even close, actually. And while it's true Robeto Perez is a bit of a johnny-come-lately at a position that has seen a handful of notable options emerge in recent weeks, the Statcast data mostly supports the production. He also has a playing time advantage over most catcher alternatives, having started nine of the Indians' past 11 games.
Emilio Pagan RP
SD San Diego • #14 • Age: 30
True, Diego Castillo is making his way back from a right shoulder impingement and may seem like the more obvious choice to claim the save chances forfeited by Jose Alvarado (who's out 6-8 weeks with a strained oblique). After all, he was already handling a sizable share before getting hurt. But he had a rough few weeks leading up to the IL stint while Emilio Pagan still boasts a 1.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP with 11.8 K/9.
Robel Garcia 3B
HOU Houston • #9 • Age: 28
A complete unknown coming into the year after playing the past six in Italy, Robel Garcia launched 21 homers in just 256 at-bats in the minors and already has two in three games with the big club. He started each of the final three games of the first half and would seem to have a path at second base, where the Cubs have struggled to find a reliable option all season.
MIL Milwaukee • #43 • Age: 27
In some ways an even bigger mystery than Robel Garcia, Mike Brosseau also put up impressive numbers at Triple-A, batting .317 with 15 homers and a .998 OPS, and delivered when given a chance to start the final five games leading into the break. With Brandon Lowe set to return from the IL this weekend, Brosseau's path isn't so clear, but the Rays are also without Ji-Man Choi and have enough moving parts to make room for the 25-year-old if they so choose.