This time, it was Sixto Sanchez's turn to shine.
His debut last weekend was upstaged by Triston McKenzie, who struck out 10 while allowing two hits in his own debut that same day. But while McKenzie stumbled in his second outing Friday, Sanchez turned up the heat, delivering his own double digit-strikeout effort against the best-in-the-AL Rays.
In all, he allowed no runs on six hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out 10. And here's how he looked doing it:
You'll note that his put-away pitch was the changeup, but his 17 swinging strikes came from a full arsenal overall, including eight from the changeup, four from the fastball, three from the slider and two from the sinker. He was efficient, needing just 92 pitches to make it through seven innings, and the same was true in his first start, when he needed just 66 to go five. He doesn't have the look of a pitcher with much on-the-job learning to do, in other words, but one with a clear plan of attack and conviction behind his pitches.
The fact they're already translating to whiffs, particularly against such a formidable opponent, is cause for celebration. Sanchez's polish was evident in the minors, where no level appeared to be a real challenge for him, but for the high marks his 100-mph heat earned, the strikeouts were always lacking. It stood to reason he'd figure out how to miss bats eventually, once he found himself having to work deeper counts against major-league hitters, but for it happen in just his second major-league start speaks highly of his potential down the stretch.
We already know he throws strikes, issuing just 1.7 BB/9 over his minor-league career. We already know he keeps the ball on the ground, allowing just 0.2 HR/9. If the whiffs are here to stay, it's as optimal of a skill set as you'll find in a pitcher.
As of now, Sanchez remains available in 36 percent of CBS Sports leagues. Let's bring that number closer to zero.
And while we're at it, let's make a play for another rookie pitcher who piled up whiffs over the weekend ...
Dane Dunning SP
CHW Chi. White Sox • #51 • Age: 25
After wowing with 17 swinging strikes on just 73 pitches in his debut against the Tigers a couple weeks ago, Dane Dunning came back with more of the same Sunday against the Royals, throwing five no-hit innings with a 16.5 percent whiff rate. He's not the most hyped prospect, but he has compiled a 2.74 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 10.2 K/9 over his minor-league career and should be here to stay this time.
MIN Minnesota • #35 • Age: 31
Out since last September because of a PED suspension, Michael Pineda will make his grand return Tuesday, just in time for a two-start week. While the track record is spotty, he looked as though he had turned a corner with his changeup just before getting shut down, delivering a 2.76 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 10.1 K/9 over his final 11 starts.
Tyler Mahle SP
CIN Cincinnati • #30 • Age: 26
Though he's rostered in more leagues than both Dunning and Pineda, Tyler Mahle would be behind them in priority for me since it's not clear the Reds have an opening for him beyond his next start, but it's also possible Friday's outing was the eye-opener they needed to commit to him. While he lived and died with his fastball in previous years, making him a liability the second and third time through the lineup, his development of a cutter/slider, which was responsible for 12 of his 19 whiffs Friday, has rounded out his arsenal and given him a better chance of sticking in a starting role.
ARI Arizona • #53 • Age: 29
Despite entering Sunday's game as the No. 6 first baseman in points leagues and No. 9 in Rotisserie, Christian Walker hasn't got much love at that position of need, which certainly needs to change now that he has hit three homers in his past six games. The total is still lagging, but with his hard-hit rate in the 99th percentile -- giving him a .573 xSLG to go along with a .316 xBA, according to Statcast -- his best days may still be ahead of him.
BAL Baltimore • #6 • Age: 23
Ryan Mountcastle's two-homer game Sunday may have been the clearest indication yet that he belongs, but he's also up to four multi-hit games in his first eight and has gone three straight without striking out. His bat will have to carry him, but his hit tool is as advertised so far. Now that he's eligible in the outfield as well as at first base, you can probably find a spot for him in a Rotisserie lineup especially.
Gregory Soto RP
DET Detroit • #65 • Age: 25
With Joe Jimenez on the outs, 25-year-old Gregory Soto appears to have stepped into the closer role for the Tigers, converting two save chances without incident over the weekend. Though he throws left-handed, his swing-and-misses stuff and remaining years of control make him a logical choice, and we can't get too picky about the supporting cast given how cloudy the saves landscape is across baseball.
BAL Baltimore • #60 • Age: 30
The Orioles never seemed to want Mychal Givens in the closer role, but maybe the Rockies will given that they're actually competing for something and recently resigned themselves to 35-year-old Daniel Bard in the role after losing their top two bullpen options. Givens has the stuff for it, averaging 10.9 K/9 over his six years in Baltimore, and manager Bud Black has at least confirmed he'll use the right-hander "in the back end of the game."
Bobby Dalbec 3B
BOS Boston • #29 • Age: 25
After dealing Mitch Moreland, the Red Sox seem content to install Bobby Dalbec as their primary first baseman, and the right-handed slugger responded with two hits and a homer Sunday. His 70-grade power bat makes him of immediate interest in deeper Rotisserie leagues, and he may turn out to be not such a liability in batting average after cutting his strikeout rate down from the 30-35 percent range to a respectable 24.7 last year. He may not seem like a priority pickup now, but don't write him off if he gets off to a hot start.